Call me stupid, but I helped a squirrel escape death last night.
For a vegetable gardener, that’s akin to an American soldier on patrol in Iraq who help a pinned-down Taliban fighter find safety during a firefight.
Well, maybe not exactly like that. Actually nothing like it. But you get the idea. Anyone growing vegetables in our part of town is in a constant battle with Mr. Bush Tail and his army. Deer are a bigger problem for gardeners in further-out neighborhoods, where coyotes, bobcats, foxes and hawks keep the squirrel population under control.
Here, we rarely see a deer. But the squirrels are everywhere, poised to steal tomatoes and anything else they can get their claws on during the growing season.
Everywhere includes the mature maple tree towering over our deck. Squirrels nest high up in its branches. We often see them come and go.
But last night, one of them made a quick exit, falling out of that nest and landing hard on the grass.
This is him
The dog and I were on the porch around 9 just chilling when we heard it shriek . The only thing I could compare that cry of surprise and agony was the squeal that baby rabbits give out when Einstein finds one and starts to “play” with them.
But the dog was minding his own business, lying there next to me on the concrete. Unsure what happened, we go over and discover this miniature squirrel that had managed to climb from the ground to the deck where it sat motionless.
So tiny. The babies you never see because they normally stay up in the trees until they’re big enough to scamper, frolic and chew your siding and electrical wires.
He looked stunned. Eyes barely open. As you might imagine, the dog was extremely interested, but as I wasn’t in the mood for bloodsports I put Einstein inside. Then I nudged the little guy to see if was mobile. Must have been a long fall out of that tree. Could have broken something.
But no, he had some life in him. When I prodded, he grabbed the wheel of the barbecue grill and clung on.
What to do? Clearly the dog wouldn’t stay inside forever. So figuring that maybe the problem would take care of itself, that maybe squirrel mom or squirrel dad would come to the rescue if no humans were about, I joined the dog in the living room.
But Einstein would have none of it. He wanted out. His barking was annoying the rest of the family. That’s when I figured I’d try something. What if I picked up the tiny squirrel and put him on the tree? If he could cling to the grill tire, surely he could cling to the trunk of the maple, then climb home.
So donning one of my thick winter gloves, I plucked him from the grill tire and attached him more or less to the side of the tree.
“Go on,” I said. “Take off.”
He didn’t move. Just hung there as if paralyzed. Perhaps, if I went away, he’d make a move.
But I had barely gotten to the door when suddenly an adult squirrel scurried down the trunk like a commando and either grabbed him, or he grabbed it. It was like one of those spectacular movie rescue, with Bruce Willis playing the hero.
Except Bruce would have been ballsy enough to save me some trouble and gotten the little squirrel from his hiding place on the grill
Which tells you a lot about squirrels, I think.
Anyway, for the reunited squirrel family, it was a tragedy averted.
Good for you, little squirrel, good for you. But should we meet again and I catch you taking a bite out of some juicy tomato that I had my eye on, rest assured, it will be as if last night never happened.
Posted by: Mike
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