Friday, September 23, 2011

Suck It Squirrels!

Little bits of nature make their way inside our house almost daily.  Our kids love to be outside and they are acutely aware of how much I appreciate a beautiful leaf or perfect acorn.  Rocks, tree bark, uniquely shaped twigs, random seeds, berries, leaves, rabbit turds, and acorns can all be found taped to art projects, displayed in vases, or in the lint trap of the dryer. 
My personal favorite is perfect acorns. I can’t explain it so I won’t try.  Just know that a competitive spirit that I didn’t know I possessed has been unleashed in the pursuit of perfect acorns to display with our Fall decor.  For a while I thought that I should purchase some of the fake acorns but I struggle with the concept of displaying fake nature.  My children would bring me acorns that had been bitten, or cracked, or were missing their cap.  In the beginning I would smile and place them in the “nature bowl”.  And then one day I couldn’t lie any longer.  I started to reject the imperfect offerings from my kids; each time building more and more bitterness towards the bushy tailed rodents that were ruining them….squirrels.  Picture the “no wire hangers” scene from Mommie Dearest! “No cracked acorns!”
While I dealt with my acorn issues, my husband was harboring his own issues concerning squirrels.  Pete is young but I have seen the potential mean old man that exists within.  Pete became enraged watching squirrels repeatedly steal bird seed from our bird feeder.  It started with stomping his feet or clapping his hands as he watched the robberies from our sun porch.  Then he would be seen sprinting to the back door to go and scare squirrels away.  Comments were thrown around about the strong desire to own a BB gun.  I tried to squash the problem with a Father’s Day gift….the Yankee Flipper……..  The only truly squirrel proof bird feeder on the market. The videos online were both astonishing and eerily enjoyable.    
Pete loved the gift but his hatred for the suburban rats worsened.  He became obsessed with capturing some squirrel carnage on video, while his baby girl would yell, “No Daddy, No”.  And finally Pete collected rocks and piled them up at the back door to use as ammo against the buck toothed beasts. Mabel asked over and over again what the rocks were for and each time Pete came up with explanations...."I think the chipmunks made that pile".   
Who knew that over 15 years into a marriage, you could find yet another commonality….we both despise Squirrels.  There is something so attractive about a man who goes to great lengths to protect the family bird seed. Sure, I judged Pete and made disapproving faces as I watched him giggle with delight and chase a squirrel off the deck.  But was I any better when I almost militarily trained my children to toss aside imperfect acorns or glue the little lids back on the bulbous corns?  
Our son noticed that the oak trees in our front yard have unusually large and beautiful acorns this year. Gus mentioned on the fly, “wouldn’t it be great if I could climb that tree and get the perfect acorns for you?”  And with that, a giddy adrenaline rush started.  We concocted a plan….maybe I could stick a rake out of my bedroom window and shake the tree while the kids waited below to catch the bounty?  But then we realized that it was too far to reach from the window.  And then Pete appeared, so excited to join in our plan.  Squirrel hunter came running out of the garage with a tree branch saw complete with extended pole.   That too proved to be fruitless.  I had given up all hope and mosquitoes were attacking my ankles so I went inside to brainstorm. 
A few minutes later Pete appeared at the front door with two pockets full of the most pristine acorns you have ever seen!  I was speechless!  I peaked around him through the small window alongside of our front door and saw Pete’s enormous ladder.  That man got out a ladder, placed it on our front porch and then proceeded to pluck more acorns than I could count!!!  For a moment I worried and asked, “How many people went by and saw you?” but then I snapped right back into pure glee. 
 All the while Mabel stood in judgment and repeated, “Really? You are stealing acorns from squirrels?”  That’s right baby girl, the squirrels can suck it!  We won!  Sure they were snacking on bird seed in the back yard during our acorn mission but little did they know that we were decreasing their winter supply in the front yard at the same time.    
I promise you that the ladder will be out again and this time, with pride.  My acorn stash is proudly displayed in a beautiful glass bowl on the dining room table.  Mabel has started to embrace our actions but was reprimanded when I realized that she had taken perfect acorns from my stash to make “acorn soup”.  “Mabel, go outside and get cracked acorns for the soup” I said.  Gus chimed in, “yeah Mabes, the cracked ones have more flavor anyway.”  After a strong judgmental stare, Mabel walked away saying under her breath, “I know a few cracked acorns but you two won’t fit in the bowl.” 

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