hanks to the
media, even before 9/11, Americans were made aware of worldwide
terrorist strikes against us. The worst part was the shocking knowledge
that there were creatures scattered everywhere who did not like
us. That hurt.
We have since learned of many terrorist cells operating throughout
the United States which even the most experienced covert CIA operatives
cannot ferret out. We have seen attacks on U.S. Embassies, ships,
and buildings in Europe, the Middle East, on the high seas, and
the American cultural mecca, Manhattan.
I hate to tell you this, dear reader, but, incomprehensible as it
may be, we have the problem right here in our own back yard. Individual
homes are being attacked with no attention whatsoever paid to the
Geneva Convention. Within the pastoral and picture-perfect environs
of our little village, these enemies of the American people are
not called terrorists, they are called squirrels.
This year, these diabolical rodents are deadly serious about creating
a fear factor by taking over our territory without so much as offering
to make even one mortgage payment. They are not fooling around.
They are no longer the cute little nut-gatherers of the past, scampering
over hill, dale, and pine; they have become decidedly militant,
and we have the battle scars to prove it.
I refer in particular to their leader, "Osama bin Squirrel," a rodent
of a different kind. This fat fellow, his heirs and assigns, his
kith and kin and fellow Lodge members, have been terrorizing residents
all spring, summer and fall and it's been a very good year for all
You may think he's nobly trying to alert us to a bad winter ahead
with tons of snow due, or no snow at all due to global warming.
But what if he's telling us something else altogether? What if he's
telling us to get out? What if he and his friends think we've been
here long enough and now it's their turn?
What if he lobbies Gray Davis (if he's still governor) to sign yet
another bit of legislature placing him on California's Endangered
Species list, which will not only permit him to thrive anywhere
he likes, but will also entitle him to monthly welfare checks?
Sure, maybe all you can see if you look hard is a cute little fuzzy-tailed
woollybugger scampering up and down the plentiful pines among which
we live. Alas, there's much more to these critters than being cute
and fuzzy-tailed. Inside the head of each, there's a fiendish plot
Osama bin Squirrel & his malevolent forces have taken to hurling
missiles at human beings with more terminal force than it would
take to lift a Hummer off the checkbook of a Beverly Hills High
Recently, new dimensions to the meaning of the word "irritation,"
were reached when Osama bin Squirrel, apparently bored with hurling
fully or half-eaten pine cones down upon the persons of my outdoor
party guests, turned to the real thing. He went Full Metal Jacket
which, in squirrelese, means unopened, uneaten, dark green, solid
pine cones. They are Mother Nature's homemade hand grenades.
Too wily to even consider suicide bombing sacrificing the lives
of valued gang members, he chose instead to arm his followers with
the heavy cones, barking instructions like a drill sergeant that
the cones should be propelled with ferocious velocity. Weighing
a minimum of a pound apiece, this weaponry is as deadly as the Tommy
Gun of the 20's, made infamous during the St. Valentine's Day Massacre
in old Chicago.
This may not be Chicago, but the rat-tat-tat of whole pine cones
and their sharp segments as they separate and hit the deck, have
the same ominous sound as Capone's "Chicago typewriters," and engendered
such fear in all humans present, that hard hats had to be issued
to each new guest upon arrival.
On the day Osama bin Squirrel pays as much in taxes and fees to
the state of California as we do, he can have equal rights. But
until then, heed this warning, you gnawing, nibbling nemesis: this
According to the Wildlife Animal Information Center, squirrels generally
rank as the top problem-makers among all species of urban wildlife.
Paradoxically, these charming, bushy-tailed creatures are also consistently
judged "Most Popular" among our wild neighbors. It seems we want
them and we don't want them, depending on what they're up to at
any given moment. Either way, squirrels are undisputedly one of
the most successful mammals in human-altered environments.
This must be true because, among the huge piles of debris strewn
daily over the decks at my place, not to mention the sharp-edged
cone sections that jam up the gutters and downspouts, there can
be found peanut shells. Some rodent lover apparently feeds Osama
in an all-out suck-up effort to indicate that they are friendly
humans and the squirrel should go elsewhere to wreak havoc. My house,
In the spirit of wildlife cooperation plus the fact that nothing
else worked, I concluded that if they wanted devious, I'd give them
devious. I devised a demoniacal strategy -- it only worked once
-- and not on Osama bin Squirrel but one of his hunchbacked henchrodents,
Saddam Squirrel. I greased the pole which supports one of the birdhouses.
I confess without shame to a fit of immature and gleeful giggling
when Saddam Squirrel attempted to shinny up the pole but this time
found himself spiraling down it instead at an extremely rapid rate.
A photograph of the surprised expression on his nasty little face
might've made the cover of National Geographic.
After months of dizzying combat duty on the front lines, I now realize
it's time to write directly to Tom Ridge and remind him that part
of the American homeland he's been hired to defend is right here
in Pine Mountain.
In "Introduction to Rodents and Other Vertebrate Pests," author
Stephen L. Tvedten suggests some of Grandma's remedies for squirrel
squelching, such as ammonia, black pepper, boiling water, and other
easily available household items.
But, since there's no way to get any of that stuff way up into the
tall pines, I'll settle for my favorite on his Grandma's list: Beer.
Not for the squirrel. For me.
Copyright Maggie Van Ostrand
"A Balloon In Cactus"
September 29, 2003