Saturday, July 26, 2008

A Squirrel Story

As so often happens, sadness has been followed by a day of pure farce. As I was quietly working in my upstairs office, with Vixen (the dog) and one of the cats dozing at my feet, I heard what sounded like something being knocked over downstairs. I looked down, and was startled to see Tenzing sleeping beside me. He was a climber as a kitten — thus the name — and since he’s lost quite a lot of weight in the last two years, he’s rediscovered his Sherpa habits. So normally if I hear strange noises in another part of the house, it’s just Tenzing exploring another route up the North Face of the icebox.

This time, though, it clearly wasn't him, so I decided to investigate. At the top of the stairs, I heard another, more ominous crash, and hurried into the living room to find — a squirrel. A big — nay, gigantic — gray squirrel, hanging from the valance over the main windows, twitching its tail and chirring at the other cat (Pretty Boy Floyd), who was sitting in the middle of the room, head tipped to one side, just… looking at him.

I must have made a noise, because the squirrel leaped into motion, scrambling around the upper edges of the room. It looked like a cartoon animal, legs pinwheeling, tail straight out and bottled — and Floyd lay down in the middle of the rug to watch the fun.

Needless to say, I was less than pleased with Floyd’s response. I picked him up, dumped him down the cellar stairs, and closed the door. I closed the door to the upstairs — which trapped me with the squirrel, but the rational part of my mind told me that I didn’t really want help from the other animals.

And then the fun began. I emptied a wastebasket, thinking I’d drop it over the squirrel. (This used to work with the flying squirrels that got into my folks’ house when I was a kid.) The squirrel threw a dish at me (OK, he just knocked it off the shelf) and raced higher. I grabbed the dog’s towel, thinking I’d throw it over him. He shoved a lamp in my path, and snarled at me. I retreated. I propped open the front door (which took a minute because I couldn’t find anything to prop it with except the snow shovel, and I thought that might discourage the squirrel from leaving if it fell on him) and went back to the living room — and the squirrel was gone.

I swept through the living room and dining room and kitchen, checked the bedroom (you can imagine how much fun that was, then grabbed the leash, went upstairs, put the dog on the leash and brought her back downstairs to see if she could find anything. She looked completely confused — willing to help, bless her sheltie genes, but not at all sure what I was after.

It was gone.

I cleaned up — bought a new lampshade, replaced the broken dish, hung the pictures back on the wall — and then stuffed rags into the hole where I suspected it had gotten in. (I’ve replaced them with copper wool since then.) But I can’t believe that, in a house with two cats and a squirrel-hating — indeed, squirrel-obsessed — dog, the damn thing would come in here in the first place.


At 12:22 PM, Blogger edired said...

Hope squirrel isn't hanging low waiting for chance to escape . Nice 2 hints to cat name . I'm waiting . Saw reference to R A MacAvoy story up for Locus voting . Want to see something of yours out there soon !

At 9:47 AM, Blogger Jude M said...

Heee. Gigantic squirrel! Flinging things at you! (Have you ever read the oscillant chipmunk passage in Shirley Jackson's Life Among the Savages?)

A few years ago, one of the field mice that live in the barn managed to get into our upstairs bathroom. K discovered it as she went in there of an evening. This was during a time when we fed Beltane in that bathroom, so Bel was there, howling for K to put out food for her. We said, "Look, Bel!" and pointed at the mouse cowering behind the toilet. Bel refused to dignify this with even a glance, and howled again for food. This was too much for the mouse, who dashed across the bathroom and into the space it probably emerged from. We haven't seen one in the house since.


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