Wednesday, May 23, 2007


A view of our street, looking north.

And a view of the sidewalk where the following occurred.
(I'm taking a break from the squirrel saga. No major damage observed today.)

Our street is a lovely little street. One of the best things about it is that it has sidewalks, and the sidewalks often have people walking on them. Often with their dogs or with other people.

I was sitting on the porch just now and saw the cutest thing. (Yes, in our neighborhood we have front porches, and people do sit on them.) A neighbor was riding down the street on his bike, and alongside him came his daughter's bike, which he was pulling with a rope. His daughter was on the bike. The bike had training wheels, so she was stable.

After them, on the sidewalk, came the family dog.

And bringing up the rear was the older brother, also on the sidewalk. He was a good ways back, and they were going downhill, so he was getting further behind.

As I watched him walking along, I wondered if he would catch up, if he might start running soon.
And then as I watched, he skipped. Not for long. Just a few skips, and then back to walking.

And I thought, how long has it been since I saw someone skip like that? How long since I skipped like that?

Then I thought, I wonder why only children skip? Why do we not skip as adults? Not to be funny or silly, but just as a natural movement, the way children do. A response to some inner joy or energy, or just a fun way to pick up the pace.

And now I am thinking, of course there are reasons: high heels, back pain, we're often carrying bags, purses, whatever.

But I bet the main reason a grown-up wouldn't skip, if they had a sudden inclination to, is that grown-ups don't do that. Other grown-ups would consider it odd, at best.

So now I'm wondering, are there those among us who do skip when no one else is around? This is not a survey, but I'm curious. Does the impulse to skip continue into adulthood?

It has made me want to skip, I know that.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

What would John Muir do?

Well, the squirrels are still around.

My petunias are still covered with hardware cloth and chicken wire.

My impatiens are mostly surrounded by chicken wire, but the squirrels still dig in the parts that they can reach, and in one planter, one guy actually went under the wire and dug a hole. (See photos below.)

Here's the one where he (she?) went under the wire:

They have partaken of the fake corn cob I got for them, but it doesn't seem to be their preference. (I wanted to put a picture of it, but for some reason that has been coded bX-dwurj8, Blogger is not letting me download more photos.)

Today I went and looked at the big fake owls. $30 for these guys. They do move their heads in the wind, which is kind of cool. But it will mean getting out the ladder and putting a little stand onto our beautiful oak tree. I hate to scar a tree in the process, not even knowing if these squirrels will be fooled by it.

I'm continuing to sprinkle the fox urine granules every 3-4 days. Hope springs eternal. I won't sprinkle that stuff eternally, though, if I don't see some results within a week or so.

I'm wondering if I could somehow lure a hawk to come live in our neighborhood....

I remember in eighth grade in a Wednesday night Bible class, having a lesson based on the phrase "catch us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines . . ." from the Song of Solomon. What I recall about the lesson was that we need to be on the lookout for bad habits and vices that can start out really small and even seem like fun, but if not addressed, can spoil our character and development into mature Christian people.

That just came to mind as I consider how much time and effort I'm putting into stopping these squirrels, these little bitty creatures that are so cute when they are young, because they are capable of destroying everything I plant! The Old Testament verse makes much more sense to me now than it did in the eighth grade.
(Oh, and if perchance you think I'm obsessing over the squirrels, you must look at my sister Lisa's comment on the previous post and watch the videos she provided links to.)

Thursday, May 17, 2007

What would St. Francis do?

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.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Going nuts

Aaaaagggghhhh ! ! !

Okay, maybe I can think a bit more rationally now. Or maybe not. We'll see.

I planted petunias and impatiens yesterday afternoon and evening. But I didn't buy and plant them until I had ordered "Shake Away," a granular product composed of fox urine, which I was assured would repel squirrels without harming them or the plants or anything else.

Unfortunately, not until I had the product in my hand and could read the label did I learn that it might take up to two weeks to become effective, with repeated applications.

In two weeks, my flowers might be no longer viable. I had to get them in the ground.

So I planted them, and shook the fox urine around in hope that "effective" might mean the squirrels would have learned to stay away for good. And that up until two weeks, they might keep coming around, but would back off from the scent of a predator.

I came home from work today to check on the flowers and to finish planting the ones I didn't get to last night.

I should have taken a picture of my flower bed. It looked like a war zone on a small scale. If you remember the photo from last year, it's a small area, a circle with about a five-foot diameter or less. And about a quarter of the area is covered in bricks. So in the part that actually holds dirt, I saw between fifteen and twenty distinct holes. Some of the plants looked as if they'd been fighting for their lives.

And I thought I must have miscounted my petunias, because one spot was clearly empty--until I noticed that one entire plant had been dug up and carried, dragged, or perhaps thrown (?) five feet away from the bed!

I had in previous weeks noticed pansies that looked as if they'd been intentionally uprooted and tossed out of their pots. My first impulse was to shout imprecatory things at the creatures up in the trees, unable to believe their nerve. But then I thought they couldn't be actually uprooting the plants on purpose. My anger was getting the better of me, assigning such intentionality to simple squirrels. Of course, they were just digging around and happened to kick the plants out.

Tonight assured me that they were intentionally removing the plants. And I'm afraid I would have continued my anthropomorphizing, letting myself think they were doing it just to show they could, or because they took some glee in watching me lose my cool every time I walked out on to the porch. Or perhaps even to get me back for not filling the birdfeeders for two weeks, thus cutting off their food supply.

That may actually be somewhat true. My neighbor came out, and I lamented and asked his advice. He recommended a pellet gun or bb gun, which I just can't quite see myself employing. But he also informed me that squirrels will dig up plant to eat their roots.

And since the squirrels stuck in the city have no natural enemies to speak of--well, our dog Tosca has killed a few, but she is confined to the back yard--their population is out of control, and there is not enough food for them all. That's my neighbor's theory. Oh, and the red hawk that lived around here last year has not been seen lately.

I don't know. I just know that they have been driving me crazy.

Okay, as a trained counselor, I know they can only drive me crazy if I let them. In fact, I was actually taking deep breaths and telling myself to calm down a half hour ago, as I stood out there surveying the damage!

I'm going to Plan B, which involves a trip to the hardware store for "hardware cloth," a fine type of wire that I'm told should keep them out.

And maybe in two weeks the fox urine will become effective.

Which doesn't encourage me anymore, because I also read tonight that it only works for a while, until the squirrels get used to it and figure out there's no real fox around. . .

Sigh. . . Anybody got any other ideas? This is getting to be much more work than it ought to be, I think. But if I don't get those flowers covered tonight, I will lose money and time already spent. Not to mention that the flowers can't fend for themselves. I brought them here, I feel a responsibility to protect them!

I also have a responsibility to be at chorus rehearsal right now, but I'm not. I'm on my way to the hardware store. Lives depend on it.