It didn’t take me long to realize that something was awry.
My first clue was the absence of songbirds at my backyard bird feeding station.
The second clue?
A long, limp bush-tail draped over the side of one of my feeders.
A chubby gray squirrel, in his lustful frenzy for black-oil sunflower seeds, had unscrewed the cap and gotten himself lodged inside the near-empty steel cylinder.
“Oh holy night,” I muttered as I unhooked the feeder from the branch of its accommodating red oak. “Look what you’ve gotten yourself into!”
The squirrel, unable to see, protested my arrival with a series of stirs and stutters that, if translated into English, would make your grandmother blush.
I began my rescue efforts by turning the tube upside down.
The rodent didn’t budge, so I shook it a little.
Then I noticed his silvery claws latched securely around the feeder ports–the small holes designed for bird bills to slip in for a seed.
I pinched the claws and pushed them back into the feeder.
The squirrel, sensing gravity’s threat, rebutted with a growling sputter of consonants that promised certain death if I were to try my little circus act again.
In fact, no sooner had he finished calling down curses from heaven, than I came out of my house with a tub of Crisco and no shortage of drinking straws.
(You didn’t think I’d give up that soon, did you?)
I dunked the straws in the shortening, squeezed them into the edges of the tube and slathered every bit of fur that I could find.
I kid you not; I buttered a squirrel!
Behold, my clever mind at work! [See footnote #1]
Again, I turned the feeder and shook it.
The squirrel began to slip, his rump emerged from the tube, then quickly retracted.
I was making progress!
The squirrel was terrified. What manner of horrors would he have to face next?
Seeing that rescue was imminent, I grabbed the tail and gave it a tug. For a moment, the squirrel followed my lead, but in a sudden burst of panic, he darted deeper into the feeder.
I gave an extra pull, and the squirrel did just the same until, at one point, the force of pressure on both ends outweighed the tensile strength of the poor beast’s posterior limb, and half of his tail ripped clean off!
I froze for a moment, surprised at my cruelty, and pondered its implications that this poor animal would have to carry until the day that he passes on to meet his heavenly reward.
I considered every possible means of making amends–the best admittedly being duct-taping the extension to the existing stub–but, realizing that my negligence had resulted in permanent damage, I gently apologized to the animal, and promised never to do it again, in the event that the tail should regenerate or be replaced by a prosthetic.
I’m still not sure if he has found it in his heart to forgive me.
But if a squirrel is one to hold a grudge, then he isn’t the only one in town harboring a personal vendetta.
About a year later, Daniel and I were driving across a stretch of country road, thoroughly engaged in planning emergency procedures for a zombie apocalypse. It is useful to know, for example, that zombies are capable of climbing stairs, but are powerless against ladders. Ladders! They may be your lifeline someday. You can thank me then.
While in the heat of debate, a squirrel launched from the adjacent woodlands and bolted beneath Daniel’s car. We cringed, and heard the distinct “BAH-BOOM” of two tires cruising over the animal’s body. I hung my head in shame: I was, once again, a participant in bringing harm to one of these creatures.
But then, much to our shock and horror, the squirrel continued running, charged across a yard, and scurried up a tree. Unbelievable!
They may be fuzzy and cute, but squirrels are capable of withstanding some serious trials and tribulations. It makes me wonder how terrifying a squirrel uprising could be. If nature ever decides to release its sharp-toothed minions into society, then our human race is sure to perish.
If you were wondering, I did finally manage to wriggle the first squirrel out of the feeder. He plopped onto the ground, a buttered mess, glared at me with fire in his eyes, and then hurried away.
That’s at least two candidates carrying a bitterness against mankind.
It only takes one to start a catastrophe, so please, be kind to squirrels.
I hear they have no problem with ladders.
[Footnote #1] Actually, my subconscious memory retrieved the Crisco idea from an episode of Full House, where DJ and Kimmy had to babysit a bratty little boy whose head got stuck between two banister posts. DJ buttered the boy’s head, which made it slick enough to save the day. I thought Crisco would be more slippery than butter, so I have merely made an improvement on the resourcefulness of one DJ Tanner. You never know when those TV sitcoms come in handy.Wait until I tell you about the time Bill Cosby saved me from being trampled by cows.