Ahh… the pitter-patter of little feet.
In the South, we eat squirrels. Squirrel jambalaya… squirrel stew… barbequed squirrel… almost as many varieties as Bubba and Forrest Gump’s shrimp recipes.
But we don’t shoot those in our yard. They live a worry-free life compared to those in the woods. They’re beautiful little things (as long as you don’t think about how they’re actually mice with fluffy tails—rats with fluffy tails if you live in Texas, where, of course, everything is bigger).
One of my novels inspired by real events (DELUSIONS OF THE HUMAN KIND):
It was fall, dew heavy on the old Live Oak and pecan trees that shaded the cabins, and a slight flitter of wind slid water off the leaves and pinged the tin roof like sheets of heavy rain. When taupey-gray squirrels hopped onto the roof to pick up the night’s fallen nuts, some of them almost too big to mouth, George’s boys sneaked back into the cabin for their slingshots, and took to shooting rocks at blackbirds. George’s lips curled up with parental contentment at the thought of his children. “Course, watch now, when they get bored, they goin’ start shootin’ at squirrels for dinner.
“It ain’ right to kill critters when they feedin’ they family,” he shouted to the boys, “It’s same as shootin’ ducks on the water. Ain’ no sport in it!”
“Now, just you watch, Ma’am, and watch Ito—tha’s what we call Antonio—he goin’ lead my oldest boy, Rampar’, back to the pecan grove, figurin’ squirrels out there’s different.
“Yes’m, they momma sure can cook up some good squirrel stew and greens come Sundays.”
We hang squirrel feeders in our trees to make their lives easier. We don’t collect fallen acorns. We leave a few pecans for the critters. But critters they are, and, squirrels living overhead, well, that’s another issue.
A few years back, after a neighbor plugged what looked like a mouse hole in his garage wall, the squirrels who once lived there made the short trip to the wooden fence that led to my roof. Though I never discovered each and every loose board through which they gained entry, they set up residence in my attic, right above the desk where I was trying to write the next Great American Novel. Pitter-Patter Be Damned!
While they lived with my neighbor, I loved to sit on my porch with my morning coffee each spring and watch mothers teach their children how to run along the fence.
While they lived with my neighbor, I hung cobs of corn from a tree and watched them swinging, dangling upside-down for their breakfast.
While they lived with my neighbor, they were cute.
I never did get rid of the little critters.
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