A little update on the squirrel situation--
I did buy the hardware cloth. It wasn't quite enough, but with it and some bricks and stakes and chicken wire, we managed (yes, I had help from my beloved) to build a little fortress around the petunias that we hoped was impenetrable.
I covered four planters of impatiens with chicken wire and a couple of garden utensils, and the other four I booby-trapped with some single strands of wire that had been wrapped around the hardware cloth when I bought it. Well, I didn't really booby-trap them; I just arranged wire around them hoping it would make it hard for squirrels to "dig in."
At Home Depot, I also saw a squirrel feeder for less than ten dollars. And here is where St. Francis comes in.
I had really struggled with some questions because of this situation (and still do):
Would and could I really shoot a squirrel, either to kill it or just to hurt it?
What is the best thing to do when the ecology is out of whack and creatures have no "natural enemies?"
Why should a squirrel suffer just because it is hungry and trying to get food?
Why am I so easily angered by creatures that have no malicious intent?
How do my beliefs about being a good steward of God's creation apply to this scenario?
Is the life of a squirrel worth more than the life of a flower? Or vice versa?
(So, now you can see why I almost went into a master of philosophy program. And would love to study more theology. Though I'm not sure any of these issues would be addressed in either program!)
Anyway, I bought the squirrel feeder. And they have found it and have partaken.
And I did not buy a pellet gun.
And so far all the flowers are okay.
And I have been able to sleep at night.
I'll try to share the story in photos tomorrow.