Illustration by Christine Marie Larsen; www.Christinelarsen.com
There I was, glued to the kitchen TV set and Oprah.
There he was, stomping around, shouting, “I will not be defeated!” and glaring out at the bushy-tailed terrorist who had been brazenly emptying the winter bird feeder day after day.
“Hey, I’m watching Oprah here,” I barked.
“Hey, I’m at war here,” he barked back.
That’s when it hit me: Forget TV. The real show was right in front of my face: Squirrel Wars, starring my husband and a tiny backyard beast.
Sure, the man didn’t look like he was in the middle of battle, not with a NY Mets baseball cap on his head and some old Nikes on his feet. But in his hands, he carried evidence of his latest skirmish behind enemy lines: The remains of two large plastic garbage bags, chewed to bits at one end by the enemy out in the yard.
Ah, this is what we empty-nesters of the Hudson Valley do in the winter months. When the cold and ice won’t let up. When the wind howls up the river. When the greens on the golf courses look more like skating ponds. We amuse ourselves with ballroom dancing lessons. We pretend we can keep up with Facebook. And we fight off critters that get too close to hearth and home.
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Admittedly, I must give credit to our squirrel. He has destroyed all the barriers that have been put in his way before. But my warrior practically invented DIY. Plus, he rejects any plan that might cost real money (at least on the first go-round). So he had taken a double layer of bags and tied them around the feeder, figuring the pole would be too slippery to climb.
His anti-squirrel bagging device worked for a few days. Then we spotted a little hole in the top of the bags.
The next day, it was a bigger hole. The enemy was shimmying around inside the bags, up and down the wooden pole, eating birdseed and having a grand ol’ time. And the bags that were supposed to keep him out became his wind block once he was inside them.
It was like a squirrel tanning booth in there, what with the sun beating down on the plastic and all. When the squirrel poked his head outside the hole, he looked relaxed, bronzed, triumphant.
That left my husband stomping around the kitchen with the chewed-up bags, a head full of steam, and an annoyed wife who was just trying to get her Oprah fix.
He vowed right then and there to take off the kid gloves. He even took his wallet out of the vault and went to the hardware store to buy a contraption that will feed the birds and repel the squirrel at the same time.
Looks like it’s every man and rodent for himself. By spring, my husband could be living in the yard and the squirrel could be lord of the manor. Until then, at least I’ve got a cure for cabin fever: A front row seat as my reasonable man morphs into a warlord armed with Hefty bags.
Go ahead, Oprah. Let’s see you top that.