I actually got up and went to Meeting this morning. It's only been about 9 years since I was a fairly regular attender at Homewood Friends Meeting in Baltimore - and it was nice to be back at Meeting. And I was filled with the spirit and was going to write this great post about theology and Buddhism and the seasons and all kinda good crap like that which would probably have bored you to tears, not to mention cutting into my party girl image rather severely, but fuck that, because when I came home my front porch was under siege by squirrels, and for the last two hours or so I think I've been in a National Geographic special.
It all started because I had this idea that I would sit on the newly cleaned front porch and drink coffee, smoke a cigarette and read the paper. As I think I have mentioned before, a family of squirrels took up residence in one of my porch columns (columns is a rather grandiloquent term; it sounds like I live in Tara or something. Pillars? Square brick porch supports? Trust me, I don't live in Tara, but let's just keep on calling them columns anyway.) at some point this winter. Well, so far we had managed to successfully more or less ignore each other, but this morning they were having none of me being out there. There were three of them climbing up and down the column and they made menacing noises at me when I went out. I am, it is widely known, uncomfortable in the presence of rodents. Squirrels are rodents, but it's my porch. I said as much. They kind of snarled at me and made threatening twitching moments as if to say, "At any moment I could spring and rip off your face, human." I tried more calming reasonable conversation while backing towards the door. I even offered to build them a new house, but they met my kind offer with scorn. So I retreated to the living room and started watching them.
It was definitely a mother squirrel and two semi adolescent kid squirrels. You can see the two kids in this picture - you can click on it, by the way, and make it larger and really see their blurry squirrely faces. It took me a while to realize what I had was a family group, but there was one large squirrel and two 3/4 sized ones, who were, even though I don't like squirrels: cute, okay, yes, they were definitely cute. The largest squirrel kept on biting the smaller ones around the haunch, and they didn't seem to object much at all; in fact, they kind of went limp and allowed themselves to be herded back up the column. That rang a bell. As a mother of two myself, I'm completely familiar with that particular form of limpness - it's the "gravity has suddenly become much much stronger around my body and you will have to carry me Mom if you expect me to move at all" attitude. All this was fascinating, but it wasn't solving my immediate problem, which was access to my front porch. I wondered why they hadn't bothered me yesterday when I was cleaning said porch and thought, aha, music. Yesterday I had music blaring out of the open window, and they must not share my taste. It worked for General Noriega and the bats in my house in Maryland, perhaps rock n' roll will yet again save me.
So I turned on XTC, who I adore but squirrels apparently do not, and Mom Squirrel, a mother of the old school, decided that her children should absolutely not be exposed to this kind of evil music. I realized what she was doing, summoned up my bravery and ran through the front door with my camera. The pictures are horribly blurry because I was afraid to get too close - Mom Squirrel made it quite clear what might happen if I did that - but here's the whole set if you're interested.
She carried first the one child and then the other across the street. She carried them by one haunch, which looked ridiculous, but I guess squirrels, having those tails and all, counterbalance badly if you (and by you I mean a busily parenting squirrel) try to carry them by the more traditional mammal method: the nape of the neck that works so admirably on kittens and small boys. She took the one squirrel child over to one of the big oaks across the street. I don't know why she bothered crossing the street, since there's a perfectly wonderful big oak right there in my front yard, but she was clear on her destination. She shooed the first youngun part way up the tree and came back for the second, who had been sitting on the top of the column the whole time watching nervously. He didn't want to leave. She got him down twice and twice he broke free and hauled ass back up to the hole at the top of the column. Mom Squirrel was ticked off by this and on the third try she had him in a seriously secure hold, as you can kind of see in this picture, which is blurry because they came down rather quickly and kind of fell a little and, since I am a coward, I thought they were coming for me and I had to make a kind of squirrel like leap myself in through the safety of the front door. She carried him all the way across the street and to the tree; she'd let the first kid walk himself on the last bit but she carried the second one right up to the tree and put him on it. Then mother and children scampered up to the top.
I, on the other hand, ran to the basement, got some steel wool and another brick, and tried to block up the hole. I feel kind of guilty about this, but not, you know, too guilty. It is, after all, my house, and squirrels barricading my front porch poses kind of a severe threat to my peace of mind, since that's the only sensible way in and out of the house. My mother says to throw mothballs down there, or pour ammonia, and I guess I will do that as well. I yelled down the hole and made clonking noises, because I was worried that there might be younger siblings still at home, but I don't think there are. I think that family of three was it and I hope they find a nice new house.