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Monday, February 19, 2007  

Squirrelly

The year we first moved into our neighborhood, we saw a white or albino squirrel frolicking in the park a couple of blocks from our home. We saw him several more times since then, of course, and were always glad to see he was still around and healthy. Once I went outside and found him perched in the tree in our own back yard, as close as Phantom usually lets me get. And once I almost ran over him when he dashed out in front of my car. I didn't see him in my rearview, squashed or otherwise, but the next time I sighted him I was quite relieved. I don't like killing small animals anyway, and I would have hated to be the one to have killed one this special.

Every time we see him, we think it'll be the last. The most recent sighting was at the park where we had M. Small's post-baptism party last summer. This was thirteen years after we moved to the neighborhood, or thirteen years since we first saw him.

At this point, we're beginning to wonder if maybe there isn't more than one, or that the first one we saw died and now there's a new one. I know it's easy to look up the life expectancy of a squirrel, but I don't really want to know.

* * *

Before my niece Deniece moved up her from Iowa, she had a little neighborhood friend named Buttercup. Buttercup was the name that she had bestowed on a squirrel that came to their yard sometimes. How did she know which squirrel was Buttercup, you ask? Simple: all squirrels were Buttercup. Unless there were two squirrels in sight, in which case it was Buttercup and his friend.

While this is a remarkable and excellent thing about Buttercup, his wonders had only just begun. Imagine Deniece's surprise and relief when she and her family packed up everything they owned, schlepped it all north for four hours, piled it all into an entirely different house, and then looked out the window one day to discover that Buttercup had followed them.

Not long after that, however, she stopped talking about Buttercup and only mentioned squirrels in the general sense. Whether it was because she realized it wasn't the same squirrel that had followed her from Iowa, or was just too saddened at the thought of Buttercup's friend still living all alone down there, we'll never know.

* * *

The past few Christmas cookie baking weekends have been menaced by a squirrel. I suspect it is the same one.

A few years ago, Trash and Blaine put a pan of fudge out on the front step to cool. They forgot to cover it, and when they went to get it an hour or so later, there was a crater gnawed in the middle of it. There were barely enough pieces without claw marks to go around, and they learned their lesson.

The next year, they were careful to cover the pan with cellophane. This probably slowed the squirrel down a little bit before it was able to gnaw a crater in the fudge. When cutting it into pieces afterward, they had to look out for both claw marks and cellophane shreds.

The next year, they used a pan with a lid that clips on. We don't know how the squirrel managed to pry it off, but pry it off it did.

They weren't messing around any more this year. With space in our house at a premium due to the remodeling in progress and a careening toddler, more goodies had to be left to cool on the stoop than ever before. Fortunately they made use of a cooler with a zipper top. Unfortunately, the squirrel was able to not only ruin several plates of cookies, but a perfectly good cooler zipper as well.

All of these years found us using more and more active countermeasures. The first year, we would just open the door if we saw a squirrel face-down in fudge. This year, I was literally chasing the squirrel off the porch, across the yard, and up the nearest tree with a spray bottle. It would perch just out of range and mock me from above, then get back to snacking the second I went back inside.

We created a monster. Like bacteria that develop resistance to antibiotics, this sweet-toothed squirrel developed into a ravenous beast with the appetite and diabolical ingenuity of a raccoon. And, if you'll pardon me for being indelicate, an ass to match.

When we found some plastic storage bins in the garage that we'd been using to hold cookies completely shredded and no sign of the cookies they once contained, we knew we had to get serious. So, and I'm sorry to say this, all of our Christmas cookies next year will contain prodigious amounts of cayenne pepper.

* * *

Last week, M. Small and Trash were looking out of our bedroom window at the squirrels in the back yard. When I got home, Trash explained to me that M. Small had given one of them a name, at her suggestion.

"First it was Acorn," Trash explained. "Then it was Acorn Nut Squirrel. And now he's decided it's Squirrel Good Nut." Somehow "Squirrel Nut Zipper" never came up.

Which is what he's been calling all squirrels ever since, much as Deniece called all squirrels Buttercup. I couldn't help noticing that one of the squirrels in question had a distinctive girth that I recognized. It was probably good that he'd been given a name that was different from the one we'd been using, which was "That Motherfucker."

Labels: , ,

posted by M. Giant 4:43 PM 9 comments

9 Comments:

In one day I ran across TWO mentions of white squirrels:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=437203&in_page_id=1770

By Anonymous Heather, at February 19, 2007 at 6:20 PM  

somehow those fat little critters knew it was baking weekend. batman swore as we got out of the car that he saw the squirrels laugh heartily and start to drool. i think next year we will need to resort to a metal Craftsman toolbox with some ice bags in it. i refuse to believe that something with a brain the size of a hershey's kiss can outwit us!

By Anonymous blaine, at February 19, 2007 at 7:02 PM  

<< Labels: fetish tailoring, industrial lubricants, Lee Horseley >>

Heh. I think New Blogger and you are gonna get along juuust fine.

If they'll let me, maybe at school I'll work on isolating some compound that is deadly to squirrels, yet delicious to humans.

By Blogger Febrifuge, at February 19, 2007 at 8:01 PM  

This is going to sound overly simplistic, but why don't y'all set down the pans by an open window instead of out on the deck?

Oh, wait, you're in the North. Too cold. Nevermind.

Maybe try metal cages?

By Blogger Sleepless Mama, at February 19, 2007 at 10:10 PM  

We had a squirrel named Shirley Squirrely who moved with us from Pennsylvania to Texas when I was in first grade. (I still see her sometimes.)

By Blogger Jenny, at February 20, 2007 at 4:42 AM  

Once they know there's food there, you're toast. When I was in college, my roommates and I stored our dry goods on shelves by the dining room window (kitchen space being somewhat on short supply, as there were four of us crammed into a tiny apartment). We had a squirrel gnaw through the screen three times before we gave up and kept that window - which had allowed us a nice breeze - closed.

By Blogger Her Ladyship, at February 20, 2007 at 6:00 AM  

When I lived in DC during an internship, I found a park where there were at least three albino squirrels. Obviously, they'd been trapped in the middle of the city for so long that they'd interbred and created an entire colony of squirrels with the gene. However, it took me a while to figure out there was more than one of them, much like with Buttercup.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at February 20, 2007 at 7:51 AM  

The Sharks and the Jets like quarrels between the gray and brown squirrel varieties in our backyard is quite the spectacle.
The girthy head-honcho is known as Albert. As in Fat. And his spry lady friend squirrel goes by the name Louise. She's the nimble one.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at February 21, 2007 at 2:21 AM  

I cannot help but laugh, my mother, sisters and I also get together for a Christmas cookie baking bonanza. A few years ago we too needed to utilize the back porch for cooling. Well a couple of squirrels had helped themselves to what we now have named squirrel snacks, a yummy mixture of pretzles, chocolate, coconut and nuts. I am glad to know we were not the only victims of this humor filled crime.

By Anonymous shoddygirl, at February 21, 2007 at 6:34 AM  

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