Sunday, January 20, 2013

Savage Fur

We have squirrels. They aren't flying, red, or black - they're just squirrels. When the kids were younger, they would stop whatever they were doing to shout "squirrel!" every time they saw one. Which, as you might imagine, was every minute or so.
About ten years ago, outside of our old apartment, I saw a dead squirrel in the road, and later a live baby squirrel who had escaped it's nest scrawled across the pine needles next to the road. I went inside, couldn't get the image of it out of my head, and went back outside to collect it in a shoe box. Once it was inside the house, I realized that I had no idea how to raise a baby squirrel, didn't have any tiny clothes and I wasn't lactating squirrel milk - so I was stuck. The idea of taking it back outside again seemed far more cruel than never taking it in to begin with, so the baby squirrel and I sat down at the dining room table and mulled it over.
After looking around a bit, I found (in the yellow pages, of all things, which shows you how long ago it was) an animal shelter about 20 miles away that was foolish enough to accept orphaned squirrels. Problem was, they were closing when I finally got them on the phone, and I had to keep the squirrel overnight. "Pedialyte," they said, "and an eyedropper. That should keep it OK until tomorrow." This is before I had kids, keep in mind. Beer, I had. Leftover pizza. An impressive mustard collection. I also had a mannequin that I painted blue. It had a clock in it's stomach. It was awesome.
Right, the squirrel. So I went to CVS and found some pedialyte, which comes either unflavored or flavored... unfortunately none of the flavors were "Nut" or "Part Of A Knish Some Drunk Guy Left In The Park" so I went with unflavored.
Now, I don't know how many of you have ever tried to feed a baby squirrel pedialyte, and maybe there was a health class video that I missed, but it's pretty hard - I assumed because a glass eyedropper didn't feel like a squirrel nipple and I didn't smell squirrelish, but it could have been anything. They're unbearably cute though - which is the problem. Once you pick up a baby squirrel there isn't really any turning back. They have the beginnings of fur, which is unspoiled by weather and toil. Their paws are still pink and turned inwards, and with each breath their sides shudder and inflate like a paper lantern, and they look completely and utterly helpless. It's a losing battle, picking up a baby squirrel, is what I'm saying.
He lived, in case you're wondering. The next morning I drove to the shelter and dropped him off, and they gave me a case number in case I wanted to call and check on his progress, which I didn't, because he was a squirrel. I did anyway, though. I couldn't help it.
And now we have squirrels. Everywhere. We grow pears, peaches, plums, and figs - and they eat them. We carve pumpkins and they crawl inside to gnaw their way out. They eat our birdseed, make nests in our gutters, chatter back and forth in intense squirrel arguments, and chase each other in tight circles until we let the dogs out. They look in my windows. I'm fairly certain that there has been some squirrel conversation at some point or another, and they heard that I'm the sort of guy who would like to have a shitload of squirrels hanging around. Which I am most certainly not, and I think I'm going to need some sort of plan to get them the hell out of here, like somehow getting a neighbor to rescue a baby squirrel or living inside an electrified dome. I wish there was a way I could tell them that they're slowly driving me mad, because I fear one day I'll be old and wrinkly, and die while shaking my fist at them on the front porch... and they'll mourn my passing by surrounding me with piles of horse chestnuts and tiny grey hairs. And then they'll eat all my pears.

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