Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Shedding Light On Squirrels

I was out in my yard yesterday, minding my own business, when all of a sudden a ruckus exploded above my head. I looked up and there he was... the diminutive, yet menacing red squirrel. His eyes watched my every move. His ears, like horns of the devil, heard every leaf crackle under my step. His mouth was in constant motion, chirping and squawking, as if to say 'hey fatboy, I'm up here, try and catch me'. I'm not fat, which should give you some sense as to the nature of the varmint. He's a fecal agitator of the first order. I wouldn't have shed a tear had a hawk swooped by and picked him off the branch. At the same time, I love the red squirrel.

He taunts, he teases. If the red squirrel was human, he'd be a teenager. If he was a student, he'd be the class clown. He'd be the redhead at the back of the class, always twitching. As a teacher, you'd simultaneously like him and hate him. He's full of ebullience and you wouldn't want to contain his joie de vivre...you just want to rein it in a bit, likely with duct tape.

The red squirrel is the kind of animal that would drop acorns on your head, just for a lark. He's playfully aggressive. I've seen red squirrels chase grey squirrels around my yard. It wasn't playful though. The grey squirrel looked like a picnic ham being chased by a 1990 Oprah Winfrey (during the insatiable O era).

The grey squirrel is a bushy ball of fur, twice the size of the red squirrel with half the bravado. My grey squirrels are shy. When they see me, they run to a tree and launch themselves skyward. Perhaps they know that on my kitchen shelf sits a copy of the Joy Of Cooking. On page 515 of said book, it instructs how to 'skin a squirrel'. The authors, Rombauer and Becker, have obviously given the matter some thought, they go so far as to suggest that grey squirrels are the best (red squirrels are too gamy). No wonder the grey squirrels are nervous. It's worth mentioning that the authors are from Missouri (I would have guessed Appalachia). Both Tennessee and Arkansas, which border Missouri, have annual coon, as in raccoon, dinners. Enough said. All this food talk has me drooling, perhaps I'll have some lunch...why not skunk or muskrat? Certainly not chipmunk.

The chipmunk is the most lovable of all the squirrels. Cute, friendly, approachable. The chipmunk has manners, as though privately tutored by Emily Post. You can rest assured that Ms. Post, the American doyenne of all things proper, never dined on squirrel. I have nothing bad to say about chipmunks, especially because they make holes in my wicked neighbour's beloved lawn. He loves that lawn more than he loves people. It's just weird.

One year my neighbour trapped over 50 squirrels and chipmunks because they were putting holes in his precious lawn and eating all his birdseed (duh!). He's the kind of guy who would coat himself in honey and run naked through the forest for exercise, then get pissed off when a bear licked his back. He doesn't understand nature.

Have you ever played the game where you try to equate a human to an animal? I know people who remind me of chipmunks. I also know people who are like red squirrels. I live next to someone who's reminds me of a jac......, a donkey.

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