The Squirrel Whisperer

autumn-leavesAll right!  Let’s get this guest blogging party started!  We start our week of fun with Marcia from Menopausal Mother!  Marcia is one of my best blogging friends-she previously led off the last week of guest bloggers with her post Cleavage and Kilts!  Without further ado-I give you her post:

photo-1It started with a bag of peanuts. I was relaxing in my garden with a good book and a handful of nuts when I heard an impatient clacking noise above me. It sounded like an angry woman with loose dentures arguing with someone in a Walmart line. Assuming I wasn’t going to find a Polygrip wielding woman perched on a tree limb above me, I scanned the branches until I found the source of agitation. A gray squirrel was barking her displeasure at my peanut popping habit, so I tossed a few nuts in her direction. She timidly approached me, then scooped up a peanut and tore through it faster than a Chipper Shredder.

And I was smitten.

558408_352364684846494_1969345042_n

Photo credit: Jon Whiting

The squirrel became a regular visitor to our yard and was easy to identify because of a little notch in her left ear. Her arrival peaked my interest in squirrels and motivated me to entice more of her rodent friends to my home. I stocked my yard with enough feeders to rival a petting zoo. It wasn’t long before my husband noticed the exorbitant amount of money I was spending on mega-sized bags of peanuts and bird seed. The peanuts I could pass off as something I needed for cooking purposes, but I had a hard time convincing him that bird seed muffins were a necessary source of grain in our diet.

Within a few months I had colonies of squirrels camping out in my yard, making me single handedly responsible for the increased squirrel population in our town. I became their main food source, and over time they trusted me enough to eat right out of my hand. This is what earned me the title of “Squirrel Whisperer” by my friends, much to the dismay of my kids.

Ever since that first squirrel encounter, I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time studying the fuzzy little rodents (yes, I know I need to get a life but this is what happens when you hit middle age). I consider my “research” a hobby, but my husband has another name for it: OBSESSION. He begged me to join a five step program and tried to teach me the squirrel serenity prayer, but I was immune to his pleas.

photoI’ve never thought of my love for the furry critters as an obsession but there must be some truth to it since my home is decorated in Early Americana Squirrel. Yes, I have it all: squirrel rugs, blankets, pillows, paintings, clocks, light switches, lamps, wine glasses and dozens of figurines. They litter my yard as well —resin squirrels that have multiplied in my garden faster than their plastic bunny counterparts.

I’m fascinated by the aerial acrobatics and nut-gathering work ethic of the squirrels. In many ways, we share similarities with these rodents: sibling rivalry, the gathering and hoarding of food (so typical of some teenagers I know) and their frenzied activity (think of a houseful of preschoolers cracked out on Kool-Aide and Halloween candy). The agitated “barking” that occurs when one squirrel warns another that a threat is nearby reminds me of the sudden bonding between children when one feels threatened and the others step in to support and protect.

8969_447786991970929_425405678_n

Photo Credit: Jon Whiting

Not everyone on my block is thrilled with my furry friends. One complained that squirrels damaged his phone lines while another expressed his frustration over the abundance of peanut shells clogging his pool filter. And it appears that more sunflower and peanut plants are popping up in everyone’s yards these days.

The squirrels entertain me while reminding me of some simple truths. Life need not be so difficult—-stick to the basics of gathering and storing of food for the young, take time to play in the garden and steer clear of the animals in this world that are harmful.

I no longer need to buy mulch for my garden due to the excessive amount of peanut shells dropped by my little “pets.” However, we have so many squirrels to feed now that we’ve taken out a second mortgage on our home to buy their food and the peanut farmers in Georgia send us a thank you note every year.

I think it might be time to hire a contractor to build a squirrel condo in our backyard…..are we nuts???

marciapropicMarcia Kester Doyle is the author of the humorous blog Menopausal Mother, where she muses on the good, the bad and the ugly side of menopausal mayhem. Give her some wine and a jar of Nutella and she’ll be your best friend.  Her work has appeared on Scary Mommy, In The Powder Room, The Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, Mamapedia, Bloggy Moms, Messy Moms Radio, The Woven Tale Press, the Life Well Blogged series and was voted top 25 in the Circle of Moms Contest 2013. You can find her at: http://www.menopausalmom.com. http://www.facebook.com/MenopausalMother, and http://www.twitter.com/MenoMother