The little shits. I just discovered they’ve gone and bitten most of the flower buds off the espaliered apple and pear trees I planted three years ago. This…the fourth year…would have been my first to actually get some fruit off these trees, but now? There will be nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch.
No flowers, no fruit. I’m beaten before the season even started.
Squirrels. I hate them again. I spit to the side after saying their name. I bite my nails at them, chop my elbow and flick my fingers in the air. I suddenly remember everything they did to the garden last year (every year!) and abhor them with the same passionate loathing I feel in the beginning of each new spring. My animosity towards them resurrects like some dark and toxic perennial plant, the longer days and increasing warmth calling it forth from its long, winter dormancy. I recently received a wondrous book for my birthday, The Synonym Finder by J.I. Rodale, and I turn now to look up hatred because this terrible lust for vengeance I feel requires long and sharpened words on which to impale the little, rodent horrors.
Malevolent, bitter, venomous, antipathy. They are abominations. An execration upon the land. And I hold them, my enemies, in eternal aversion and disaffection.
It’s so strange, how this resumption of hostilities takes me by surprise every year. I’m not sure how it happens but, every winter, I seem to mysteriously forget the previous year’s vandalism and begin to think they’re cute again. Probably because they are, with their flicking tails and miniature hands and adorable, pointed little faces. During the season of Long Cold I somehow forget how they laid waste to my peach harvest and bit the heads off every last sunflower and ate my bean sprouts just as they were emerging above ground. The fact that they gnawed vast patches of bark off our trees and dug up the potted plants and chewed big holes in the tool shed eaves slips my mind and instead, I enjoy watching them hop around the porch, nosing among the fallen bird seed and coming up to peek at me through the sliding glass door.
In winter they’re like a meditation, these tiny gifts of life itself. A reverie. A delight. A lovely, hope-filled reprieve from an otherwise bleak and dreary garden hibernation. And then? Spring comes…poof!…and their true nature reveals itself as they start mindlessly destroying things like the furry, four-footed Jekyll and Hydes they are. Warm and fuzzy one second, then fanged and slavering the next.
So the battle resumes. Time to go load up on packages of carpet tack strips to tie along the branches of the peach tree and run some electric wire along anything espaliered. I need to make more muslin bags to cover the grape clusters as the gray monsters chewed holes through a majority of them last year, but I think I still have enough chicken wire to protect the veggie beds until the seedlings reach a stage where they’re no longer so enticing.
And last but not least, as the most important weapon in my arsenal, I have the squirrel-catapult-is-awful-yet-we-can’t-look-away video. (Click top video if you, too, need release.) And just so you know, this time of year I make no apology (none!) for laughing oh-so-hysterically when I watch this. Firstly because, as I mentioned in last year’s squirrel rant, I once saw one fall fifty feet out of a tree in our backyard, stand up, brush its pants off, and light a cigarette. You can’t injure these things. C’est impossible. But second and more important, even the squirrels are glad I have an alternate outlet for the violent emotions I feel towards them right now.
copyright 2011 Dia Osborn