Scarves, space heaters, and warm socks hold significant meaning: squirrel season is over for another year.
I used to call it gardening season but who was I kidding?
Yeah I know—those furry speed-freaks are all-season agitators. But they shine brightest when the sun is ascendant and humans are inventorying seeds and designing plots for those inconsiderate fuckers to raid.
I’ve never asked what those little assholes prefer because, frankly, the answer appears to be ‘everything’.
I’ve read books and articles and web pages. I’ve followed the advice for deterring them: marigolds, ground cherries, cayenne pepper.
Yeah, cayenne pepper. Who knew?
Not the neighbour’s cats apparently. The guilt was overwhelming when I spied their cantankerous elder sitting by the wayside sneezing and utterly confused: for the first time in three years he could not comfortably shit in my tomato bed.
Devastating stuff so I ixnayed the cayenne pepper—not because I love my tomato bed subbing for a litter box but because I abhor the thought of a hapless creature (squirrels included) getting it in their eye.
This kindness was rewarded with carrots dug up by their roots, missing cucumber flowers, and half-nibbled tomatoes strewn across the lawn.
The little bastards don’t even eat what they pillage—they chew and harvest and sample whilst mocking me with their refuse. They strew the remnants across the lawn—tiny, premature corpses marking their retreat.
I’ve tried other tactics such as waiting for dawn, boots on, seashells in hand, at the ready for targeting the enemy in early morning raids on their early morning raids. The neighbours are asleep at that hour so it matters not if I’m pelting across the yard half-dressed to disband those furry rodents mid-loot.
Besides, one of my neighbours has a five year old while the other is a functioning alcoholic—my behavior is perfectly acceptable.
Those destructive bastards don’t like marigolds, to be sure. But they will tolerate perching within inches of them so that one squirrel can lower a branch for the other to pick my damned tomatoes.
Since when do squirrels work in tandem? Is this yet another only-in-Verdun* occurrence? Jesus Christ.
Mid-season I instituted the most effective measure of all: I planted more stuff.
Yes, instead of six tomato plants I have fourteen, and four of them are in unprotected buckets shoved into the earth as to be more accessible to those tiny antagonists.
I even surrounded them with ground cherries.
How fucking nice am I?
Is it good enough for them? Of course not, but really—what the hell ever is? Sometimes it’s just wiser to bend instead of break.
So here’s the real agreement: the critters eat from the bottom and the humans eat from the top. Except the kale—turns out nobody is interested in that shit outside me and the slugs.
I swear I caught my husband rubbing cherry juice over the leaves one evening when he thought I wasn’t looking.
To no avail, I might add.He now thinks the squirrels have exquisite taste.
So there it is. Humans vs. rodent in a win-win situation. More or less. Still, every once in a while when I’m feeling nostalgic I put on my rubber boots and wait. It’s only a matter of time before those stealthy bastards make their pilgrimage across the yard to pilfer what is rightfully theirs.
And when they do I run out the patio door, seashells in hand.
Like they care. Like they do more than watch my galloping advance with side-eyed amusement as calculating as it is infuriating.
Oh well. Eat up you little assholes—you have thirteen more plants to go.
And then it’s over till next year.
*Verdun is an old and eclectic Montreal neighbourhood. Or it was until hipsters invaded and imported their Champagne taste into Labatt’s 50 territory. It was once a working/lower class French borough with bakeries, discount stores, and really great beer at the supermarket (no, I’m not referring to the 50—cross my heart). It’s also where un-self-consciously weird and unexpected things used to happen. Until we were overthrown. Now we’re being near-shamed into normality. Some shit just isn’t acceptable at the fair-trade, Arcade Fire-fancying, quinoa pie cafes.
Thankfully the squirrels have remained eccentric assholes. But I’m might have to start wearing pants whilst chasing them down.