Lessons from Squirrels

You wouldn’t think a little ball of fur plus a bushy tail could teach you something. But, it’s true.

When my hubby, Guy and I moved from a one bedroom apartment to a two bedroom home, I was ecstatic. Our new home was in the desirable neighbourhood of Riverside with well-established trees and unique homes. Not like the cookie-cutter McMansions so many people live in these days. Mind you, we owned the smallest home in Riverside. A two bedroom bungalow which needed a new roof, driveway and a sump pump. The back yard flooded each spring. But, it was a perfect first home to us, and I did what I never could do in our apartment. I planted a garden!

The soil and lighting conditions were superb. The sunflower plants grew twice the size of me! The pumpkins were award-winning sizes. We needed a power drill to carve them at Halloween. The vegetables flourished without need of any Miracle-Gro.

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And, then there were the tulips. The first year I planted tulips, I was thrilled when they bloomed in the spring. Until a school child plucked all of them on her way to school. I hope the teacher was happy with the bouquet!

In the fall, I decided  to plant a lot more tulip bulbs, much to the neighbourhood squirrels’ delight. You see, well-established trees bring well-established squirrels with well-established tricks. The squirrels dug up most of the bulbs. I’d plant them. And, there’d be a neat little hole later with the bulb missing. I tried chicken wire and chili powder with no luck. I did succeed by sprinkling bone and blood meal around the bulbs. It kinda made me wonder whose blood it was to scare them off so successfully.

When we moved to our new home in Forest Glade, there again were huge trees in the area. Which meant there were squirrels. However, I knew what to do with my tulip bulbs so it wasn’t an issue.

In the first spring, obvious problems appeared. I remember Guy looking out a window onto the back lawn and asking, ”What the Hell happened here?!?”

The backyard was completely torn up. The squirrels were trying to find where they hid their nuts last fall. It happened year after year with me constantly reseeding the lawn. I didn’t have much love for squirrels back then. I’m changed now.

My Dad gave me a bird feeder one winter but it only increased my dislike for the squirrels.  You see, they’d help themselves to the feeder. I didn’t buy the seed for them! I researched oh, so many ways to squirrel proof a bird feeder without success. I gave up. I surrendered. I all but put up a white flag at the top of the bird feeder.

Then, I started to enjoy their antics. Hanging upside down to eat. Flying from tree branches to land near the feeder. Sitting on the small bird bath to get a ring-side seat at the 24 hour buffet.

There was plenty enough seed for the birds AND the squirrels. They took turns feeding.There was no problem.

And, a funny thing happened. My back yard was no longer torn up each spring. Not one hole! We live in harmony nowadays.

There’s one exeption. The squirrels DO like to climb the height of my sunflowers and lop off the heads. It’s okay. I plant extra sunflowers. To see a squirrel making a mad dash carrying a sunflower head is priceless. Sometimes they carry the heads up to their nest in the front yard’s huge tree. I know it’s there when I see sunflower seeds raining down from the tree.

The other day, I forgot to put the big bag of sunflower seeds/birdseed in the garage. It was left on the front porch. A grey squirrel with a white fluffy belly sauntered up to the enormous bag, chewed a hole in the bottom of it and had a hearty breakfast before I noticed him.

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It brought a smile to my face.

Lesson learned:  If you can’t change or modify a situation, just embrace it. Let it be and get along. And, just keep laughing at all the silliness of God’s little well-fed creatures.

And, my tulips? The squirrels leave them alone. Once in a while a little old lady tiptoes into my garden and picks a bouquet. And I’m okay with that. I plant extra flowers. Maybe it reminds her of being a schoolgirl, picking a bouquet for her teacher. And, that’s sweet.

 

 

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