Friday, March 18, 2011

The Squirrel That Came Back to Life

Quilty of breaking and entering


There's a squirrel in the church.  Larry came face to face with the critter down in the furnace room.  Later on the little guy showed up in his office.  Obviously he's been checking the place out.  Too bad.  The first spring-like day we have and he's stuck inside.

To be honest, I am not crazy about squirrels.  They're a nuisance. Just take a ride through my neighborhood on trash day and you'll see what I mean.  I personally think they've worked out a deal with the blackbirds and the gulls to drive the sanitation workers crazy.   And I'll bet if you took one of those man on the street surveys, you'd find that only a few empathize with Mrs. Squirrel having to provide for her family because hubby got flattened on the corner of First and Maple.

Growing up I lived in a big old house surrounded by trees.  There were squirrels in them there trees, and they took a liking to our attic.  I remember hearing them above my bedroom ceiling, scurrying around, doing whatever it is that squirrels do. My father starting trapping them, determined to remove them from the premises. One day we were playing outside with some neighborhood friends and found a flying squirrel lying underneath one of our pines, obviously an escapee from the genocide taking place in the attic.  We excitedly gathered him up, put him in a cage and left him in Mark Lowe's garage for the night.  The next morning a few of us went to check on him before school and were horrified to find him lying cold and stiff at the bottom of his cage.  A few minutes later we boarded the bus with our little dead friend.



Beware.  Behind that cute exterior is a monster!
 
As you can imagine, that rodent created quite a stir that morning.  There were plenty of oohs and aahs as we held him up for all to see.  And then the miracle happened.  Nancy Williams, a high schooler, asked if she could hold him for a moment.  Before our eyes she began to rub his little body between her hands and amazingly he began to stir.  A few minutes later he sat in her palms totally recovered.  But then the unthinkable happened.  Lazarus bit down. 

The biting incident was pretty much forgotten as I importantly carried my new pet from class to class, allowing the other students to peer into the cage and see what a real flying squirrel looks like.  That is, forgotten until that evening when the constable showed up at our door wanting my squirrel.  He said something about it being sent away for tests and all.  Gene Williams was a big intimidating guy with a booming voice and I was always a bit afraid of him.  He also happened to be Nancy's dad.   A bus full of kids, and that mangy animal had to go and bite one of the Williams girls.  Stupid squirrel!

Actually,  I don't think this particular species of rodentia is stupid at all.  Many years later my dad's war against the squirrels went full-scale.  Now retired, he had more time to devote to his flower gardens and bird feeders.  Here came the squirrels, determined to get to the seed and other delicacies placed there.  But my father had anticipated the coming aggression and had wisely installed squirrel-proof feeders.  His adversaries, heavier than the average bird,  quickly learned that the additional weight would close the feeders.  Undeterred, however, it was no time before they were hanging from their back feet at the top of the feeder, emptying out its contents. 


They're sneaky and smart!
 
Sometimes in a war you don't kill,  you simply take prisoners.  So my dad set out his traps.  There's a lovely cemetery on a hill in nearby Portville with lots and lots of big trees. For a time he hauled the little buggers there and let them go.  But the squirrels continued coming, and no matter how many he trapped and hauled away, the population never seemed to decrease.  He later found out that some nice people in Portville were trapping squirrels as well and releasing them in Weston's Mills, back behind the Methodist church, not all that far from his home on Chestnut Street.  The war had taken an ugly turn.  Desperation can drive otherwise nice people to commit unconscionable acts.  This was the case with my father.  I won't go into the morbid details, but let it suffice to say that he kept a very nice, very full rain barrel back behind his garage.

So is there anything good to be said about the lowly squirrel?  Well,  next to the moss covered good-for- nothing sloth hanging from his tree in the rain forest, these annoying, hyperactive little creatures actually look pretty good.  I mean, they are most definitely persistent.   Their tenacity, keeping at the task until they get results is pretty admirable. I've found the lids pulled off our trash cans on numerous occasions.  It seems they know how to get others in on the act as well, cooperating when they need to.  Or should I say when there's something in it for them?  And how about innovation? Not too many of us would think to hang upside down by our feet to get at some good grub.  Have you noticed how alert they are, constantly taking in everything around them?  I know, I know.  They have an advantage.  I mean who wouldn't with those giant eyes protruding off the sides of their head?  Then there's the issue of personal hygiene.  Have you ever seen a dirty squirrel?   Granted the male is a bit vain and spends twice as much time grooming himself as Mama they say.  I think she is simply too busy to do anything but have babies and teach them to be respectable. Oh, and the hygiene issue extends to their living space as well.  If the nest gets bugs in it, the family's off to a new locale without even a word to the landlord.

Larry just heard a loud noise in the basement of the church.  It's probably the squirrel trying to open a drawer or something.  Perhaps he'll find his way to the bathroom and fall into a commode.  Wanna help me hold the lid down?

The only good squirrel is a dead one
 
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