Summer is almost over, and though I regret the waning of the light, I am glad that the reign of the varmints is coming to an end.
Always have I been a lover of wildlife. Never have I wished harm to my winged or my four legged neighbors. I understand the need of deer to forage and grit my teeth when they devour shrubs and flowers. I tolerate the rabbits that eye my impatiens with delight. But I confess that this summer I have been sorely tempted to wreak vengeance on those pestiferous and rascally varmints, the squirrels.
Take our tomatoes—well, you might have taken some, my friends, but the squirrels have eaten them all. Clambering up the garden fence and somehow managing to leap onto our once sturdy plants, those bushy-tailed rodents have proceeded to decimate every tomato in sight. Oh, they were crafty. They waited until those love apples were round and almost ready to be picked before taking a bite out of each one! Surveying my squirrel-bitten garden I could almost hear the rapscallions say, “Um. Not what I expected. Not nice at all, actually. Let me try that one over there…”
Squirrels are not choosy about what they want to vandalize. They made off with all the fruit on the apricot tree while they were still green. They uprooted my tulips and begonia in order to bury their acorns. They even had the audacity to steal figs while we watched! And now they raid the bird feeders after which they sit on the tree nearest the window and chitter at me. I am not sure what they are saying, but I suspect that they are being sarcastic and vulgar.
There are other and more spiteful pests, I grant you. Voles are one of those insidious and sneaky varmints with which I have no patience—but this year they have not manifested themselves. For this I am grateful, just as I rejoice that we are free of woodchucks in our back yard. Those waddling miscreants used to torment me when we lived up north, and many is the time that I almost wept at their thievery. Once I found a very large woodchuck ensconced amongst my lettuce, chomping away. How it managed to get over the fence I have no idea, but there it was. When I charged out waving my arms and shouting, it looked at me with disgust and contempt and continued eating. Only when I was practically upon it did it sulkily and very slowly saunter off.
I wasn’t the only one afflicted by woodchucks, to be sure. Many of our friends and neighbors were reduced to employing have-a-heart traps to catch whistle pigs after which they carried them off to some spot far away from home. In fact, a dear friend once told me that she had helped in the capture of a particularly pernicious woodchuck.
“My neighbor asked me to help her dispose of it,” she related, “so we got in the car with the have-a-heart cage and the woodchuck and started driving. After a while we passed a nice wooded area, but that wouldn’t do. ‘Keep going,’ said she, so on we went.”
“Did you ever get rid of the thing?” I asked.
My friend chuckled. “Finally we came to a suburban neighborhood, and I was instructed to stop at a house. ‘Surely,’ I protested, ‘you aren’t going to leave the woodchuck here?’ ‘Oh, yes, I am,’ replied my neighbor, calmly. ‘This is my ex-husband’s house.’”
I suppose that on rare occasions even woodchucks can be of use.
This ruined garden
Once was full of tasty food…
Not for us, alas.