Before we moved to our charming neck of the woods, many, many years ago, we lived as far as one could get from the woods.
The property had no trees. The street had no trees. The neighbourhood had plenty of concrete, but very little that was green.
It wasn’t surprising, then, that when we made the move, the kids raced outside, tore around beneath the canopy, then shot inside to breathlessly make an announcement.
“Mommy!” they yelled. “We saw a squirrel!”
Not sure they’d ever seen a squirrel. Asphalt, yes. Squirrels, probably not.
Over the years, of course, the excitement gradually abated. Squirrels by the dozen would race across the lawn and up and down the trees, and the sons would make fewer and fewer announcements.
The squirrels ceased to be a novelty, but to the sons, they were still like pets — just ones that lived outside.
This is not the way the husband has regarded them, not from day one.
Squirrels, he has always informed me, are vermin, nothing more than rats with bigger tails.
They take pleasure in annoying him.
First, they got into the attic, scampering above the ceiling and doing who knows what. Then they got into the shed, leaving behind nasty little souvenirs, and gnawing into whatever they could find. Gardening gloves. Lawn chairs. Bags of topsoil.
“There’s another one!” the husband hollered recently, jumping off the patio and heading for the shed. He’d spied one of the non-pets squirrelling in beneath the roof.
Of late, the bushy-tailed rats have been going to work on the grass. That is, the patches that the husband had painstakingly aerated, covered with soil and over-seeded.
Squirrels, it became apparent, are mighty fond of grass seed.
The husband became obsessed. That is, even more obsessed.
He took to standing by the window or sitting on the porch. Whenever a squirrel appeared — which was every other minute — the husband would dash on the lawn to give the creature a piece of his mind. I can hardly repeat what he’d say.
This has, well, consumed a good amount of the husband’s day.
“You know,” I said eventually. “You’ve got to let this squirrel thing go. I mean, you must have other things to do.”
“Like what?” he asked.
“Like eat lunch?” I suggested. “Or go to work?”
So far, the husband hasn’t taken my advice. The squirrels provoke. The husband reacts.
You could say he’s been making announcements. But they’re nothing like those of the kids.