Confession:  it was really lunch and a show, but both were excellent.

The weather was perfect for eating outside today, so I took advantage of it by take my lunch, some tea, and a book out to the little table in the backyard.  I had risotto patties (just cold risotto shaped into patties, dredged in dried bread crumbs, than sauteed in olive oil), smoked tofu from Trader Joe’s and a pile of perfectly ripe, sweet, perfumed strawberries from my morning foray to the farmer’s market.  I settled into my chair in the dappled shade and prepared to eat.  Then the show began.

The six or seven baby squirrels who made taking our foster dog Bernie outside so difficult have grown up, but they’re still living in the old neighborhood.  (To enjoy Bernie’s squirrel issues, see, although they were enjoyable to us only later.)  Today was squirrel frolicking day and they were in full frolicking mode.

Their little claws scritched and scratched as they raced up, down and around the trees.  Leap!  Onto the chain link fence.  Across the piles of firewood (that’s why I keep finding pieces on the ground!)  Up another tree, then around and around it. Tightrope act on the electrical wire and then they were on the ground, rushing towards…me.  I grabbed my camera, desperately trying to focus it but not succeeding very well.  One brazen individual came right onto the stump used for chopping firewood, about two feet at most from me, paused, then trotted off, not at all concerned.  I sat as still as I could while still watching them.  Once when I moved, the closest squirrel flattened itself on the ground, looking like a miniature skin rug with head and legs attached.  They raced across yards, up, down and around everything, squeaking at each other constantly, and performed impossible feats of leaping from one insubstantial-looking branch to another, the receiving branch whipping up and down.

My risotto patties, I regret to say, cooled off a bit while the show went on, but it was worth it.  Squirrels aren’t always so entertaining.  We’ve had issues with them in the past (besides trying to get Bernie successfully out of the house), when we were feeding birds.  We started out with a black metal arm attached to the tree with the bird feeder at the end.  This, I soon realized, was like a health food store with free food for the squirrels. I cut a pie tin, put it around the arm and taped it to provide a barricade.  When I looked out to enjoy my triumph of inexpensive defense against the squirrels’ depredations, there was a squirrel hanging down, two back feet holding him on the arm, two feet feeding bird food into his mouth.  Grrrrrrr!

I moved the tin closer to the tree…and the squirrels leaped over it, making that leap look so easy, like tightrope walkers in a circus.   The oft-repeated idea of feeding the squirrels by impaling an ear of corn on a sharp piece of metal on a base worked a treat.  The squirrels loved the corn…and when they were finished, they went back to the birdseed.  So we finally instituted the final solution.  We bought a pole to put in the ground and put a baffle on it, part way up.  That was the end of it.  But it’s true that hope springs eternal and periodically I would look out to see a squirrel ascending the pole.  When it came to the baffle, it would stop and slowly slide down the pole a ways before turning around in defeat.  But it would be back again on another day to try again, just in case.

The show went on for about ten minutes, with squirrels coming right by me more than once. I sat admiring my newly mowed lawn and laughing at the antics.

Nothing like lunch and a show, all for free!

  1. Shira says:

    “Nothing like lunch and a show, all for free!” Summed up so well…what adorable little animals!! I’d love to have seen that..

    • Shira, it was really something, especially having so many squirrels “performing” all at once. I couldn’t believe how close that one got twice…and so casual about it. I hope to see more another time and besides, it’s so much fun sitting outside.