A number of you sent me a link about an attack squirrel yesterday. While this warms my heart, it also makes me paranoid, because yesterday was also the day Odd Trundles almost caught one of the little furry bastards.
Napoleon and Josephine survived the winter, of course–it would take more than a few weeks’ worth of deepfreeze to put the tubby Emperor of the Cedars down, and his coeval-consort had plenty of hanging Metamucil bars to gnaw on. She–I’m going to assume that’s her pronoun of choice, fully aware of…what? Why are you looking at me like that?
Yeah, I fed them. Sort of. I hung a single bar of pressed squirrelfood on the dogwood in back. It was getting cold, you see, and…well, our crotchety old Fox-News-watching stray-cat-rescuing neighbor (he’s a complex man) kept them in peanuts and bagged squirrel food too. No, I have not told him about Neo and the old backyard. I don’t think he’d believe me. Although he has seen me shoeless and screaming on the deck, mostly when I saw one of the goddamn tree rodents digging up my daffodil bulbs and tripped over Odd Trundles trying to get to the stairs to chase that motherfucker down. I went down hard and barked my elbow, Odd decided I was wounded and walked all over me trying to help, Miss B herded the squirrel away and started digging to find out what they’d been so interested in, and it began to snow.
That’s a different story, though. Where was I? Oh, yes. I bought one bar of squirrel Metamucil to hang in the dogwood, it doesn’t mean I really fed them, right? It just means my soft heart got the better of me that one time.
Yesterday was unseasonably warm and sunny, and in between beating my head on the current book(s) I went out to do a little weeding and turn over the compost heap. The heap, its container cobbled together out of wood pallets and spare lumber, is actually doing quite well, and by the time fall comes I should be able to spread a lot of it in the garden to soak in through the winter, and next spring even more so my tomatoes get the size of human heads.
That is, if the dogs don’t eat the entire thing, and the damn squirrels don’t take up residence as they may have been trying to do yesterday. Or, more precisely, one squirrel.
So. Me, a pitchfork, a [amazon chan=default&asin=B000RYL1BQ&text=compost turner], and the dogs approached the compost heap. A tumbleweed drifted past–wait, no, sorry, that was in the cyborg Western.
I may have been humming this, though.
Anyway, I rounded a corner and came face-to-face with a squirrel.
She crouched atop the steaming pile of decaying vegetable matter, and my first thought was that she was after the sprouted garlic heads I’d tossed in the previous day. (Better to have too much garlic than not enough, I always say.) She chittered, a little–what?
How did I know she was, well, a she? Easy. She had no nuts–um, she did not possess dangles of a testicular nature. Of course I looked, she was standing straight up and–Christ, never mind.
Anyway, she made a very soft, very dangerous chattering sound, and I had to decide what to drop.
I wasn’t going to face a squirrel without a weapon, for God’s sake. I had the pitchfork, and while it could do a lot of damage, I had my doubts about my agility rolls overcoming its inherent speed deficiency. Which left the compost turner, fast but exceedingly difficult to bludgeon a dancing squirrel with in any meaningful way.
I was saved the trouble of choosing–even now, the conundrum has no clear answer–by Odd Trundles, who snuffled up behind me and found out the Stinky Pile had hatched a basilisk for him to play with. “NEW FRIEND!” he bugled, and threw himself for the board holding the bottom of the pile in place. “NEW FRIEND NEWFRIENDNEWFRIEND!”
“OhChrist–” I began, but that was when the girl squirrel–oh, let’s call her Moxie, that’ll work–opened her mouth.
“FWEEDOM!” she bellowed, and leapt sideways. I flinched–I have a healthy respect for those little furry barstids–but she wasn’t aiming for me. She gained the top of the pallet-wall, an explosion of decaying matter below her showering the other side of the compost heap and causing a respectable divot in the pile, and…
…tripped. She landed with a splat in the rosemary next to the compost. Odd, of course, saw this as an invitation to play, and his considerable bulk shot forward. (Bulldogs, like Gimli, are very dangerous over short distances.) He landed in the middle of the rosemary too, and I began swearing, dropping both pitchfork and compost turner. Moxie!Squirrel shot away for the very large pine tree in the middle of the yard–this is the tree that SQUIRREL DEATHRIDE 5000 hung from–in a series of bounds that were quite impressive, and a reddish streak from the other side of the yard was Miss B, whose midafternoon elimination break (translated: she was pooping in her favourite corner) had been truncated by this new excitement. (Further translation: there were still dangles.)
“FWEEDOM!” Moxie screamed again, having become cognizant of this new danger. “I CHAWWENGE YOU, CANINE FIENDTH!”
She got to the ring of rocks around the pine tree, and tripped again. Odd Trundles, shaking himself out of the poor rosemary (serious, that bush is flattened now, and keeps muttering stupid fleshsacks whenever I water it) was hot on her furry heels. Her very fortunate stumble meant Miss B slammed on the brakes, thinking it was some manner of juke-out, and that meant Odd trundled, at high speed, right into Miss B.
The lisping squirrel made it to her feet (paws?) in short order, leapt for the tree, almost fell off as some dead ivy peeled free of the bark, and scuttled up a little further. She froze, tail twitching, surveying us all, and cackled.
The sound drove Odd to new heights of ecstatic wriggling, and he was so excited he scrabbled up the rock-ring and ran straight into the tree, perhaps expecting it to dodge (again). You’d think he’d learn. He staggered away, and since Miss B was in the process of levitating to try to bring down the hysterically-laughing squirrel, he ended up right in the space where the Aussie needed to land.
She, um, forgets about gravity sometimes.
The resultant fracas fursplosion was notable only in that it shook the dangles from Miss B’s hindquarters and distracted Odd Trundles handily. I stood there with my heart hammering and checked my shoes. Yep, still had them on, point for me.
Then I looked up to see the squirrel still clinging to dead ivy, studying us all balefully. “BEWAWE!” she screeched, upon noticing my agonised, fear-laden gaze. “I AM THE SQUWWEL WHO HAUNTTH THE NIGH–” She slipped, regained her footing, and scampered up the trunk.
This does not bode well.