Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Squirrels and Pumpkins

Our lovely little village is not exactly wilderness, but these days it seems sometimes like we’re truly living “in the country.” We haven’t seen them for a while, but a family of wild turkeys was visiting our yard each morning this summer. Lucia would spot them from the window and shout “Turkeys! The turkeys are here!” We’d watch them trot through our backyard and then hop into someone else’s.

We have a lot of chipmunks, which, since I don’t have a garden, I think are quite adorable. Last week we watched one snacking on all the crumbs I’d swept off the porch. He was nibbling very close to us, in the unlandscaped dirt right in front of our house.

We have raccoons. Our trash cans have to be locked in our garage lest we wake in the morning to a garbage-strewn yard. I haven’t actually seen a raccoon, but I’ve seen the aftermath.

We have weird jumping crickets in the basement, a stink bug here and there, and very very big spiders.

And we have squirrels. Lots and lots of squirrels. Armies of squirrels. They run through our yard, down our walkway, up into our trees. They jump onto our porch to eat leftover bits of lunch—I learned quickly to take our lunch dishes inside immediately. Before I learned that lesson, a squirrel gnawed the top off one of Lucia’s sippy cups, which had been filled with milk. Ick. At the duck pond, squirrels will jump onto the stroller if any snacks or bread are lying unsecured. This is a bit too much squirrel for my taste.

Lucia thinks the squirrels are cute, and always waves and calls out a greeting when she spots one—“Hi, squirrel! Mama, he’s visiting us!” Indeed. But now that we have a veritable pumpkin patch on our porch steps, the squirrels have become unwelcome—even unsettling—intruders, even for squirrel-loving Lucia. We went outside one morning this week to find a few bites had been taken out of a pumpkin. Each day, more bites. This morning, an entire side of a pumpkin had been bashed in and gnawed through—it looked gruesome, like a smashed skull. Very Halloween-y. And then, later in the day, another pumpkin ravaged. Pumpkin pulp and seeds have been all over our steps all week.

Andrew has chased squirrels off our steps and into the yard; they don’t care. I run outside when I see them, yell at them, stamp my feet—they just sit on the steps and look at me. They are fat, and big, and I really don’t want to get too close. “My pumpkins!” Lucia wailed today when she saw the damage. “I don’t want the squirrels to eat my pumpkins!” It is pretty nightmarish.

On the advice of a friend, Andrew poured white vinegar over the pumpkins tonight. We’ll see if we can save the rest.

We did not have these problems in Brooklyn. (Of course, we didn’t have ginormous pumpkins, either.)

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