Monday, March 10, 2008

Gillen and the squirrel

Last year, infuriated by the number of squirrels that were eating from his bird feeders, Gillen was ready to obliterate the entire species. Several times, I found him sitting in a tree with his BB gun. We had told him that he could not shoot the gun anywhere but at the farm but he got satisfaction just from aiming at them. I bought him a bottle of red fox urine (one of those things you never anticipate needing). He sprayed it around his garden. That seemed to help, until it rained.

And then, last fall, the Mayor of our tiny city, who happens to live diagonally across the street, commissioned Gillen and his friend Aaron to shoot the squirrels in his yard. He said that he would pay them a dollar a squirrel.

I was pretty shocked. Where did we live that our Mayor thought it was normal to offer this job up, casually, like the mowing of his lawn? Aside from that, how would we be able to eat that many squirrels? We had told Gillen that he had to eat any animal he killed, giving the animal a blessing of thanks first. How was Gillen going to cook them? Was I going to cook them? How did one de-skin a squirrel? I had visions of squirrels on the grill and then saw them, tails extended, lined up on long sticks over an open pit in the yard, the Mayor and his family slapping Gillen on the back while the squirrels' fat dripped into the fire. Do they have fat? Sounding very urban-yankee, I described the possible carnage, not to mention the karma. Nicolas sided with the Mayor. I was outnumbered.

What Nicolas suspected was that these two ten-year-olds were not the sharpshooters that they or I thought they were. How right he was. Despite hours spent stalking the Mayors' squirrels, over a few weeks, nary a one was killed. Gillen stopped talking so much about squirrel hatred. I suspected that he'd even begun to respect them and their squirrelly, sneaky, Speedy Gonzales ways.

Which brings me to yesterday, when a squirrel baby that had fallen into our chimney got out into the boys' room. Nicolas captured it in a yogurt container and gave it to Gillen to bring outside. Nicolas even suggested letting it go near Tuki. He really didn't want to be woken up by this guy's echoing screams in our chimney again the next morning.

Last year, Gillen created just such a scenario. He was sorely disappointed when the squirrel ran over Tuki's nose and successfully escaped down her back. But this year, the hunter has softened. Here is what he chose to do instead:He'd have kept it as a pet if the swarming fleas hadn't scared him off.

It's so appropriate that this baby squirrel showed up on the morning of Naomi's birthday. When she moved here from Australia for a few years, several years ago, she used to watch the squirrels with the same kind of excitement and affection that we would watch kangaroos.

Happy Birthday Naomi from the squirrels and us.

10 comments:

Kaat said...

what a funny and sweet entry!

Tamar Orvell said...

Priceless! The baby is too cute and the narrative gripping. I don't like your Mayor. Nothing rational; just don't like his instant fix ideas laced with commercial lures.

kelli said...

So cute! It reminds me of myself, with bats. *g* Both in college and when Tim and I were first married I had screaming fits from bats flying around my head in homes I lived in; Tim would come to help me, swat at it with a broom, but then I'm there whining about it getting hurt. They would scare the crap out of me... but don't kill it! :)

Madeline said...

Yes, Kelli, I am so the same with the bats. They visit us(fortunately only every few years)as well. They're so cute when they aren't flying towards your face.

Alecto said...

oh my. OK, that's exactly where I went: how is he ever going to eat all those squirrels?! All I ever managed to do was shoot off a few squirrel tails which just made them mad which just made things worse until I finally made some sort of uneasy peace by chopping down the peach tree that was causing the problem in the first place. Nobody won. I'm so glad the baby came!

whimsigal said...

I'm just glad that you guys didn't have to eat squirrels!

Dodged a BB on that one!

:)

Sara said...

One of my uncles shoots and eats squirrels. True story. I'm trying to remember how he cooks them up...stews them I think? He's in Michigan and works on a grounds crew at a college. Times are tough there and he was raised to be a hunter...What can I say?

Bhu said...

i love the first photo of gillen and the squirrel so much.

littlepurplecow said...

Loved reading this. And I too am thankful that you didn't have to hunt down a squirrel recipe.

Naomi said...

Thank you Maddie! I had a fabulous birthday! And I LOVED reading your blog about the squirrel. I love you. Naomi