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October 10, 2007


By: Gwen Hunter

Life Lessons of the Squirrel War

Topsail-Island

Topsail Island, NC - There are gurus, televangelists, modern day prophets, and ancient writings offering metaphysical or spiritual explanations for every life experience under the sun.  Everything from global warming, to middle eastern wars, the latest lifestyle-changing diet, or the karmic implications of breast enhancement can be found on some parchment, radio channel, TV screen or Bible class.  But I never found an explanation for the squirrel war.

In our part of the rural South, nature makes its home with humans, more or less peacefully.  Usually.  Until the altercation of the birdfeeder and Stumpy.  The birdfeeder hung beyond the big windows of my writing room, an attractant for yellow buntings and wrens, doves and raucous blue jays.  They loved the cute wood house full of seeds, hung in a protected spot where they could feed, safe from the preying attention of hawks nesting high above the creek.   

Unfortunately, squirrels discovered the same safety and quickly ran off the birds.  And ate herbs on the deck, and overturned pots of begonias, and generally made a mess of things.  My anti-hunting hubby, a rarity in this neck of the woods, figured he could dissuade the squirrels from raiding the birdfeeder.  He did quite well, sitting at his desk on the third floor, lobbing balled-up, used typing paper and hitting them on the heads.  He’s a good shot with paper balls.  We’d have been wealthy if his shoulder allowed him to make the majors, but that’s another story.  He did well, that is, until Stumpy.

Stumpy was a rotund, fertile, aggressive female squirrel with a lovely gray coat and a tail that something had snacked on.  It was an inch long with an abrupt, squared-off tip.  Stumpy found the birdfeeder and began raiding it daily, eating a third of the contents at one sitting.  Stumpy was pregnant and eating for four, but, hey.  The feeder was for birds.  Hubby began lobbing paper bullets. 

Stumpy ran the first day.  On the second day, she slid under the rail, waited a beat, then went back to din din.  The third day, when Hubby hit Stumpy on the head, she turned to the third story window, bared her teeth and growled at him.  An evil sight, all that bristling fur, claws, and teeth.  Squirrels crack nuts with their teeth, you know, when they can’t find an obliging birdfeeder.  Hubby resorted to tiny pellets, tossing them with marvelous accuracy. 

By day five, Stumpy was pretty well ticked off at being thumped in the midsection during lunch and began racing up the deck rail, chittering and barking at Hubby when her dining experience was interrupted.  Needless to say, Hubby and I both work from home.  And Hubby hadn’t been to his truck during the five days of war.

Friday, Hubby went to said truck, sat, and turned the key.  Nothing happened.  So, man-like, he opened the hood.  And found both Stumpy’s nest and the remains of her dessert.  She had made a fluffy nest of leaves in preparation for the blessed birth event, and eaten half the truck’s wiring harness as dessert.

For the next six hours, Hubby scraped out leaves and replaced the wiring harness. Stumpy lost her nest, but ate in peace, watching Hubby work, while, no doubt, smirking. 

On day six, Hubby redoubled his pellet and paper wad efforts.  Me?  I just watched the show.  I didn't get much writing done, mind you, but was having a ball! 

Twenty-four hours later, Stumpy had rebuilt her nest in the engine of the truck.  And eaten the new wiring harness.  In a rage, Hubby dumped the birdseed into the trash and left the empty feeder on the railing.

For an hour, I waited as Stumpy planned her revenge.  Finally, she scampered along the railing to the empty birdfeeder.  She inspected it carefully.  Looked at the truck below her.  Then glared at the third story window, and over at me, watching her.  She bared her teeth, reared back, and gave the birdfeeder a mighty shove.  Off the railing.  Onto the shiny hood of Hubby’s truck.  It landed with a horrendous clatter, making an abundant dent.  Stumpy swung from the railing, hanging by her back feet, smiling.

Life lesson learned?  Never go to war with squirrels, especially a pregnant one.  The little suckers fight dirty.

Topsail-Island

About the author:

Gwen Hunter is the author of 13 books, sold in 22 countries, including "Shadow Valley" (2005) a finalist for the Mary Higgins Clark Award for best mystery, and "Blackwater Secrets", (2007) available from amazon.com.  Her DeLande Saga trilogy has garnered awards and worldwide acclaim, with a screenplay being touted in the industry. 

In addition to writing, Gwen works full-time in a rural hospital.  She lives with her husband and two Pomeranians.  When not writing, she attends church, loves to travel in their RV, make jewelry, go whitewater rafting, and pretends to cook. 

Sometimes, she finds time to sleep. 

For more info, see www.gwenhunter.com.

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