Squirrels are little buggers sometimes. I was walking this morning and came upon a squirrel … well, the hind end of a squirrel with his big, fuzzy tail flared out making the rotund gourd look like it had donned a Daniel Boone coonskin cap. The squirrel was bent over, rummaging around inside the pumpkin, and I don’t know why he bothered to go through those machinations, when clearly it was him who either bashed in or ate through the cut-outs representing the pumpkin’s eyes, nose and eerie grin. He could have merely walked through what was formerly the face. There was fresh pumpkin rind pieces everywhere. My lanyard with its whistle, pepper spray and house key jangling as I walk, usually makes the squirrels scram as soon as they hear me. They bolt for the nearest tree and clamber up to the highest branch, until I’ve walked past them and it is safe to come back down. But this squirrel was enjoying his treat so much, he was oblivious to me.
My neighbor, Marge, and I used to complain more about the squirrels because no matter what type of bird food we’d put out, the squirrels managed to finagle their way into the feeder. We called one such mischievous squirrel “Sammy” for no particular reason but it was easier to refer to him by name, instead of “critter”, “varmint” or other unmentionable monikers which shall not be shared in this forum.
In exasperation, I finally decided “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” and gave Sammy his own supply of raw peanuts in the shell. Every morning when I fed the birds, he got his quota of peanuts which I placed in a low dish on the porch. He promptly scurried over, grabbed them and squirreled them away somewhere, then returned to gorge himself on the birdseed. No matter where we hung the bird feeders, he was industrious and would shimmy up the shepherd’s hook then tilt the feeder with one paw and scoop out the contents with the other paw, all the while clinging to the pole with his hind feet. What an acrobat he was! Sammy liked corncobs too, but he knew the birds wouldn’t bother with those, so he would abandon the corncob and only return for it when the birdseed was gone. He dearly loved suet. He would scramble up Marge’s deck and inch along the top deck rail or hang upside down from the gazebo to wrest apart the cage to remove, then slurp down the waxy suet cake.
Sometimes, Sammy was amusing to watch, but most of the time we’d shake our heads in disgust at him, especially when we found out he played a prank on me making me look rather foolish. One particularly cold, snowy Winter I started putting three peanuts out every day just for the blue jay. I spotted him sitting in a tree one day and purposely laid the three peanuts in a row on a brick ledge by the garage door. I made a point of putting them there and looking at him, assuming he would know this was his special treat. He was no bird brain and “got it” and over the next few days, I watched him swoop down from the big plum tree to retrieve one peanut at a time. I continued this ritual through the long Winter, all the while happily thinking I was making this blue jay’s day. However, one very sunny Winter morning, Marge raised the blind in her computer room, and while looking at the monitor, she saw some movement out of the corner of her eye. It was Sammy scaling the wall vertically and reaching up with his paw blindly to knock down the peanuts. She watched him over the course of a week’s time, and as soon as Sammy saw me put the peanuts there and then go into the house, he went over and helped himself. What a sly little piglet he was! Sammy is long gone now but I’m sure his offspring still linger about. The advent of the rats in ’08 and to date has restricted our feeding and watering of the birds. Marge is a good soul and still has some feeders out, but I abandoned food and water entirely after decades of taking care of my wild, fine-feathered friends year-round.
As for the pumpkin mishap, you can bet the pumpkin artiste will be mad tonight when he sees the squirrel’s handiwork. Next time he’ll decorate his porch with whole pumpkins and use fake jack-o-lanterns.