I have a long history with squirrels. To say they have it out for me might sound paranoid and delusional, but let’s just say that I don’t like them, they know it, and they aren’t backing down. With winter now a faint memory and summertime almost here, the critters are back in full force, taunting me as they hang like Cirque du Soleil acrobats from my “squirrel-proof” bird feeder.
I have no recollection of any childhood trauma that involves squirrels, but I do remember walking around Lake Scranton a few times in high school and noticing how bold the little rodents were. Thanks to the rodent lovers who brought bags of nuts to feed them, squirrels formed a sense of entitlement. If you were human, you were supposed to feed them. They would run after me seeking food and taunt me with threats too dark to repeat. OK, maybe I made up that last part about their threats, but they did scare me when they would appear to be chasing after me or running toward me. It’s not that I’m a mean person who wants to hurt any animal, but I believe that squirrels are dirty, germ-infested creatures who lack social graces. And they’re just a bit too unpredictable.
The lion roars, but the squirrel bites
When I was attending Penn State at University Park in the spring of my sophomore year, I had time to kill between classes and decided to sit on a bench facing the Forum building. I was seated for maybe 10 minutes when a squirrel jumped on the top of the bench and started scurrying toward me. Being the skittish person that I am, especially when it comes to these rodents, I jumped up instantly and started moving quickly in the opposite direction with my arms flailing and my backpack swinging like a pendulum. Most college students did not fear the furry creatures as I did and often fed them like the walkers at Lake Scranton. On a side note, I had a rather smug “ha-ha moment” one day while visiting Penn State’s Ritenour Health Center on campus. As I waited in the lobby for treatment for my stomach bug, I witnessed a guy come in with a bite wound from an overzealous squirrel who mistook his thumb for a nut. I felt this incident validated my theory about how despicable these creatures are, but even with a bloody finger, the frat guy still waved his squirrel pennant.
Flying high with no net
Fast forward to Fourth of July weekend of 2013. I was doing last-minute cleaning before going to a family party when I looked out my living room window and caught sight of a familiar tableau: a squirrel hanging upside down with its back claws digging into my tree and its front claws wrapped around my bird feeder. His acrobatics were matched by his resourcefulness. He reached into the feeder with one little paw and grabbed a squirrel-sized handful of bird seed to shove into his mouth. I banged on my window, as I had become accustomed to doing, to scare him. Many friends of mine have asked why I get so nutty about squirrels. They pose the following question: “Squirrels are God’s creatures, too. Why do you care if they eat from the feeder?” With all contempt aside, the truth is, the squirrels scare the birds away from the feeder and the birds need the food much more. Squirrels are true scavengers. I’ve witnessed one carrying a box of Ritz crackers across the street from my neighbors’ garbage can. I wouldn’t have been surprised if he followed that up with a wedge of Gouda and a glass of California Chardonnay.
Look who gets the last laugh
While I still believe that squirrels are devious little fur balls, I have learned one important lesson: it is not smart to bang on glass windows for any reason. I learned this lesson on that hot July afternoon when the sight of the dangling squirrel sent my blood pressure soaring and my fist a knocking. As I cleaned up the broken glass that landed all over my living room, I swear that I could see a smug grin on the squirrel’s face as I looked out at him through the web of the shattered window. The only thing I would have found more insulting is if he washed down his bird food with Chardonnay from the bottle in my recycling container (which, by the way, has become his new favorite eatery. Be sure to check out his reviews on Yelp). The saga continues!
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