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My Peace with Squirrels

July 7, 2008

The war started when I was 6 years old.

At 6, I was a devious creature. During the summer, I would fill up my latest hand-me-down Super Soaker and scan the side of my family’s brick house for prey. Sure enough, I would see them.

Ants crawling up the wall. One pump. Two pumps. And then I would let it rain.

This is what I would do for fun during the summer.

I would also occasionally ride my bike.

And one July afternoon, I made a mistake that would haunt me for the next 15 years.

I was riding my bike down good ole Pleasant Place in Kearny, NJ, a beautiful suburban street with many large chestnut trees providing delightful shade in those hot, sticky months. Right out in front of me, I saw a squirrel dart across the sidewalk (I followed my mommy’s rules, I avoided the street at all cost).

I still don’t know why I did it. Perhaps I simply was just an evil child. But for some reason I sped up and aimed for the squirrel.

Now I was just trying to scare it, I swear.

But the squirrel got that “deer in headlights” look and froze. At the last second, I swerved away, petrified of what I had almost done. And the squirrel, regaining its mobility, sprinted up a nearby tree. In fact, I had gotten so close to it that I thought I might have even ran over part of its tail.

I was terrified to ride past that tree again, but I had to get home. Like I told you, I followed my mother’s rules. I was going to stick to the sidewalk no matter what, so I had to return to the scene of the crime.

I took a deep breath and pedaled as fast as I could. For some reason, I was scared that the squirrel would try to take its revenge.

Ridiculous, right? Wrong.

Just as I flew by the tree, the squirrel jumped out of the branches and chased me down the street. I turned to look back at it, which turned out to be a monumental error in judgment. I lost my balance and crashed into the pavement. My knees bled, my hands were red, but this was not the time to cry.

I got up and sprinted all the way home, convinced that the squirrel would attack me if it ever got its chance.

Several days later, I returned to get back my bike, my eyes alert the whole time, ready to protect myself if necessary.

But I never saw that squirrel again. But unfortunately for me, the payback was just beginning.

You might not know it, but squirrels have an intricate and extensive communication system. They must have, because from that day on, chestnuts would rain down on me any time I would walk under one of his fellow brothers’ trees.

I was Public Enemy No. 1.

This war has lasted for about a decade and a half.

But as of this week, I am pretty sure that it’s over.

It all happened on an innocent jog. I was running around Roye Park here in Stigler, and I noticed a little baby squirrel. Still alert because I have to be (you never know when they will strike), I noticed a large bird swoop down and fly just above the squirrel’s head.

My first naïve thought: “Aw, how cute. Two animals playing.”

Then I saw another similarly large bird swoop down toward the squirrel. The baby squirrel looked at me. I looked back at him. I would recognize that look anywhere. It had that same terrified expression that the squirrel from my bike incident had 15 years ago. These birds were trying to make this baby squirrel their lunch.

Now, you know I am not a squirrel advocate. We’ve certainly had our differences over the years. But the time had come. My moment for redemption had finally arrived.

Like a madman, I clapped wildly and threw my arms up in the air, running toward the two attack birds. The birds, frustrated but intimidated by my incredibly muscular arms, flew away. The baby squirrel quickly found shelter in a nearby tree but before he scrambled up to safety, he looked back to me, as if to say, “thank you.”

Knowing how impressive of a communication system the squirrel world has, I have no doubt that my heroism will be conveyed back home to New Jersey and to the rest of the squirrels worldwide.

After 15 years, squirrels and I have finally made our peace. Let the celebration begin.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. July 7, 2008 5:13 pm

    “The birds, frustrated but intimidated by my incredibly muscular arms, flew away.”

    Gotta love that squirrel karma. Notice I didn’t type squirrelly karma.

  2. Jessica permalink
    July 8, 2008 12:44 pm

    I think you have gone crazy……maybe you always were crazy……..

  3. Old Faithful permalink
    July 27, 2008 3:36 am

    I don’t think they have squirrels in Vegas. You should take a few pics of your new friends to take with you, just in case, city boy.

  4. Sonja's Mom Speaks permalink
    August 5, 2008 1:17 pm

    It’s August – where are you?

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