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Not So Nuts About Squirrels

December 5, 2011

Squirrel Sock StuffieI used to think squirrels were cute. That was before I owned a house in a mature treed neighborhood and discovered that they can carry the plague. When I was a little girl I tried to catch one with my bare hands. I baited the end of my finger with a greasy glob of peanut butter and stood patiently at the base of a tree. All I wanted was for one of the cute little critters to come play with me. Eventually one cautiously approached and started to nibble on my lure. In my excitement over successfully making a new forest friend, I tried to pick it. Needless to say the squirrel did not share in my elation. It morphed from friend to foe, becoming a rabid, scratching, nasty fur ball from hell. It clawed itself out from my clutches and dashed into the tree canopy above. Confused, shunned and heartbroken I bawled my eyes out. This was the childhood moment when I realized I was being mislead by the cartoon world, which often portrays humans and wild animals living in a Snow White-esque land of peace and harmony. Not so.

Years later, while traveling through the States, my friend and I stopped to spend the night on the south shore of Lake Tahoe, California. The alpine setting felt peaceful and safe. The local wild life consisted mainly of ground squirrels that had become well adapted to sharing their living space with humans. Squirrels, if left alone, are harmless enough right? Wrong. It wasn’t until after setting up our tent that we took notice of the warning signs posted all around the forested campground. It read something like, “BEWARE squirrels in the area are carriers of the plague!” Our eyebrows raised and jaws dropped. The plague?! I turned to my friend and asked “which plague?”  She answered, “You know the deadliest plague pandemic in human history, responsible for the death of an estimated 200 million people during the Middle Ages!” So now I think, not only are squirrels an unfriendly lot to play with but they are also bequeathed with The Black Death virus dating back to the 14th century. Lovely.

The final nail in the proverbial coffin regarding my not so warm and fuzzy opinion on squirrels came when I bought my first house. As it pertains to matters of property ownership I was pretty green. My brother on the other hand was not. I’ll never forget our first night in our old shabby shack. Shabby because it had long since past its prime and was in need of major TLC. My husband, brother and I were enjoying a beverage in the kitchen when a sound coming from upstairs interrupted us. It sounded like sawing wood. Baffled I looked to my brother hopping to tap his wisdom and experience for a possible explanation. He smiled widely at me, put his arm around my shoulder, guzzled the last sip of his beer and said, “welcome to home ownership sis!” Then he let out a big laugh, put his empty bottle down, and fled out the front door.

For the next three months we were at war with a community of squirrels that had been living in our ceilings and walls, for many years as it turns out. Whenever we opened a hole in the ceiling, piles of pine cones and half-eaten walnut shells showered down on our heads. The whole house appeared to be insulated by food scraps from generations of squirrels that had lived in its labyrinth of wall joists. They chewed at our electrical wires threatening to start the house on fire and liked to have very loud parties at 3:00 a.m. The sawing noise, we came to learn, was from their teeth sharpening exercises and renovation sessions. We particularly appreciated (not) when they would obsessively scratch the back side of the drywall in the bedroom ceiling. Their tiny, razor-like claws, seem to know the exact moment we were about to fall into a deep sleep, thus kicking off yet another night of sleep deprivation.

They literally drove us nuts. It was an epic battle in the end, reminiscent of the relationship between Elmer Fudd and Bugs Bunny.  Alas victory was ours in the end (knock on wood) – their eviction noticed was served and acted on. For fear of offending anyone, all I’ll say is the final act looked a lot like this guy playing a game of  Whak-A-Mole.

Creativity Challenge:
Last weekend one of the girls arrived with a how-to book on making sock monkeys. Before we could say boo the whole family had been sweetly coaxed into making one. There were a few different animal patterns to choose from. I picked a squirrel (my nemesis) who I named Nuts. Don’t let the cuteness fool you though, squirrels are glorified rats with furry tails.  Peter choose the crocodile who he aptly named the “Cuss-a-dile”. He has since sworn off getting sweet talked into sewing a sock stuffie ever again. Arnold the rabbit and Madeline the monkey are the handy work of the girls. It’s not very often a whole family finds themselves sitting at the kitchen table sewing together for two days straight. How Victorian it was and a lovely bonding experience to boot.

Sock Stuffies

Family of Sock Stuffies

© Dana Aubrey, Our Sock Stuffie Family

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Nancy permalink
    December 5, 2011 7:29 pm

    Ha ha … I love how all the sock animals look super cute, even the alligator, but your scheming squirrel looks truly diabolical!

    • December 6, 2011 8:23 am

      So glad you said that. I had the hardest time picking the eyes – all the buttons kept making him look cute and cute was not the look I was going for.

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