Another squirrel story for the books

When my dad found a smashed tomato in the bottom of his fishing boat, I knew my latest war with the red squirrel would go public.
I was helping Dad winterize the boat and everything was just fine until he held up that oozing remnant of tomato and said, “How did this get in here?”
I swallowed hard and did a fast analysis of what fib I could reply with:
a). I don’t know;
b). I dropped it while delivering tomatoes by boat to a neighbour; or
c). The fish I caught while on the lake had the tomato in its mouth.
The stupidest reply of all was the truth.
“I was throwing tomatoes at a red squirrel,” I remarked, then waited for a lecture on wasting a good vegetable.
My dad is the greatest. He just looked at me and laughed.
The squirrel and I have had it in for each other for years. In fact, I think this opportunistic rodent has been featured in more of my columns than any other creature with a heartbeat, including humans.
The red squirrel weighs about the same as the half-block of cheddar cheese in my fridge. But I am amazed that all 250 grams of the little bugger believes—and defends—a year-round attitude of exclusive territorial rights to property here that he does not own.
Once upon a time, my nemesis shredded the insoles of, and stuffed his pine cones into, the wrong person’s boots. And ever since I found said boots in said condition some two or three winters ago, I’ve had it in for the squirrel.
I’ve come face-to-face with this beady-eyed varmint on multiple occasions inside my garage; poking its head out of the wicker basket it was shredding my boot insoles into (and giving me a look of rodent contempt) to having a near mid-air engagement with the little sucker as it leapt off the garage shelving and flew by me in a race for the open door.
I have obsessed and fumed about the squirrel all day while at work; about ways to sneak up on it, traps I could set for it, and how I could repatriate the fur ball to the other side of the creek with my slingshot.
And then after making it nearly impossible for the squirrel to get into my garage, I found him climbing into a hole in the old wooden soffit, where I’m sure he was making a winter home out of the down of the sleeping bag I had left airing on the picnic table last week (no, Dad, not your sleeping bag).
I was sorting through the wheelbarrow full of tomatoes I had just plucked from the vines in the garden when I saw the varmint race up the garage siding and into that hole.
When I moved in for a closer look, the hairy little beast did a 360 in the hole and stared down at me in another territorial stand-off.
Then I threw the first tomato.
By the time all was said and done, I’d thrown three tomatoes into the soffit hole, two more across the roof of the garage when the rodent made a run for it (including the rotten tomato that rolled off into boat), and at least four more projectile veggies into high tops of the trees, where the squirrel sat unscathed and scolding me.
I’ve said it before and I said it again, shaking my finger at the squirrel and giving it a piece of my mind, “I would trade dealing with you for cleaning up copious amounts of cat barf.”
Actually, I think the cat and the squirrel are in cahoots with each other. Later that evening when I walked into my bedroom, there it was—copious amount of cat barf all over my brand new reading chair.
Ewww.
No word of a lie.

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