Thursday, April 16, 2009

Tree Rats

Spring is HERE people! At least for a few days. Last weekend JB raked the yard of leftover oak leaves and now we can see bits of green peeking out all over our garden. The sad thing is that there are still oak leaves left on the ground (only about a few, but annoying all the same) and even more still in the trees. Never willingly grow an oak in your yard! I picked so many acorns out of our garden that I started to wish that they could be sold on the black market. A nickel an acorn would make JB and I set for life. A friend suggested we spray paint them gold or something and sell them to Michael's as a craft item. Sadly, I don't even think Michael's would want our acorns. And apparently the squirrel army that has amassed in our backyard can't even absorb them fast enough.

They are quite the fat and happy bunch, as they have acorns for life, plenty of tree branches to play in, and a dog that merely chases them away, but never catches them.

I've watched fierce old Lucy lately. She's wicked fast. Fast enough to catch just about any squirrel. So why hasn't she? She's a scaredy cat! She will shoot off after those tree rats like a rocket, and once she's close enough to bite them, she literally hits her doggie breaks (the mulch in our gardens spraying into the air) and lets them get away. Or she'll run past them and circle back, pretending that she was too fast for her own furry good, unfortunately causing her to squander her chance at a squirrel sandwich.

Whatever, Lucy. You don't fool me. And I don't think you fool the squirrels, either.

Those squirrels are even luckier that they don't live in the country around here. Rural squirrels are lean and sinewy, but these city dudes are plump and juicy looking. And after a recent Meijer trip (the Cascade Meijer, again, mind you!) I'm thinking these guys wouldn't make it very long beyond the safe confines of our nutty backyard.

JB, Olivia and I were making our way down the checkout lane a few weeks ago when Olivia started to get fussy. JB pushed the baby in the cart to the end of the lane to pick up our groceries as they got bagged and to try to pacify Olivia. I was chatting with the clerk, a woman with short blond hair who seemed to be in her 40's. She chuckled as she scanned the giant plush squirrel that we were getting for Lucy, which we needed to replace the smaller squirrel that Lucy had removed the legs of. Old squirrel couldn't really put up a fight without any legs so JB and I agreed that it was time to let him go to the big oak tree in the sky. But Lucy wouldn't let us get away with that until we offered a replacement.

JB sees the clerk with the toy and hears me say something to her. Then she says, "....we cut the tails off and our dogs LOVE it!"

"Huh?" JB wondered. "Why would you buy a plush squirrel and just chop the tail off for your dogs? Wouldn't they choke on it?" (This is paraphrased, but as JB is downstairs right now, I'm giving you the general idea.)

Then he hears, "Our cats and our dogs, it's like catnip to them!"

He finishes bagging our groceries, I pay, and we leave. Later that night I said to him,

"Did you hear that the checkout lady was saying to me today?"

"Sort of..."

I told him the story and he cracked up.

After the woman scanned the stuffed squirrel, she laughed, and I said, "I know, it's a weird toy, but our dog loves it."

"No, I'm just laughing because it makes me think of our dogs. See I'm from the country, and out there--now this may sound weird to you--but out there we kill squirrels and eat them. So what we do is when we get a squirrel we cut the tail off and give it to our animals. Our cats and our dogs, it's like catnip to them! It's got that real gamey smell. And when they shake it, you know, it shimmers. They go crazy for them." Her eyes lit up as she told me. Watching dogs and cats fight over a squirrel tail must be quite entertaining. Actually, I'll admit that I'd probably get a kick out of it. While being disturbed at the same time.

I laughed. Then I wondered what "country" she was from, and why she was working in the CASCADE Meijer and not the Lowell or Ionia one. She's quite lucky that she had that conversation with ME, a girl from another hickville. And while I do not identify myself with squirrel eaters, I respect a person hunting for his meal. Well, I think I draw the line at rodents, but whatever. I just hope she doesn't open up like that to everyone, because people could complain and she'd have to hunt twice as many squirrels to make ends meat. Too bad shooting guns in the city is illegal, because if she stepped into my backyard, she could have a squirrely hayday.

And a few hours later, apparently so would her cats and dogs.


The Contemplative Mama said...

That is so funny April...haha, I'm still laughing!!!
That lady sounds like she might have be a little bit country, as they say down here in Tennessee! (Just and verification word is "cropud"...I will now post this after typing cropud, what a great word!)

Melissa said...

When Derek moved into his friend Sean's house a few years ago, I went over for dinner there for the first time...and had squirrel! That and rabbit. It was weird. Only eat it if you're desperate. The rabbit was less weird. I didn't want to seem too picky as I was a guest and didn't yet know Sean, so I dug in. Weird. And he's in the city (shot them in his backyard)!