‘Close Encounters of the Squirrel Kind…..Tales from the Urban Front’
We awoke early one morning to the sounds of chewing and scampering above our heads…not a good thing, as the attic is above us, so we knew it wasn’t the innocent antics of the cat or the dogs. (Please don’t let it be rats, please don’t let it be rats). This went on for many days, as the sounds became louder and closer to us. Dan said, “Honey, they’ve brought power tools!” It was becoming irritating, waking us up, and we determined it was a squirrel after watching one jump from the tree outside our bedroom window and onto the roof several times…Game on. My sweet husband, ever the industrious fix-it-all man of the house, decided to find out where the intruder was getting in. He crawled onto the giant extension ladder to check out what was happening at the second story, which in itself about gives me a coronary just worrying about him plunging to his death. (I am the official ladder-holder for his arial escapades).
Dan repaired the hole, and we assumed that the problem was solved. Now, my middle school band director used to say, “When you assume, you make an ass out of u and me.” As usual, he was right. The drama continued. This squirrel was cold and liked his warm condo in the sky with city views at Chez Gainey, and he wasn’t going down without a fight.
A few days later, I walked into our bedroom and saw our cat, Rosie, sitting on the ottoman, staring intently at the fireplace. I looked around, and sure enough, there was the squirrel (we had named him Charlie by this point), peaking out of the fireplace, staring at Rosie. I have to admit, this scenario freaked me out quite a bit- I’m no chicken where wildlife is concerned, but there’s something about seeing a fast-moving creature with teeth and nails out of their natural environment and IN mine that is unsettling. I called for Dan (okay…I may have screamed), and he came upstairs to assess the situation. He instructed me to get a broom and gave a detailed plan of attack as to how we would ferry Charlie from our bedroom to the back door and outside to freedom.
If only I had a video of the military-like maneuver…Dan herding the squirrel, me screaming and laughing, broom in hand, Rosie watching the whole scenario with her “I can’t be bothered” look, the dogs downstairs barking at the commotion happening above them. After a couple of fast-paced, frantic minutes, Charlie was born free and back to nature….until the next time.
I walked into our bedroom about a week later, and there was Rosie on the ottoman again, tail twitching madly, staring at the decorative juniper-filled baskets next to the fireplace…only this time, the juniper in one of the baskets was moving. Uh-oh. Oh, yes, Charlie had come down the chimney and decided to take a siesta in the sweet smelling juniper. (Insert girlie scream here). Rosie was absolutely no help, so I again sounded the alarm for Dan, and we reenacted the Battle of Little Bigsquirrel once more to escort Charlie back to nature. I am still deeply grateful that, a) Charlie didn’t run downstairs and wreak havoc, and b), the dogs were blissfully unaware of the drama unfolding above them this time.
Okay, that had to be it, right? Oh, no, not by a long shot- wily and determined Charlie still had fight in him. I went into our bedroom days later and heard a chewing sound, this time coming from inside the wall by the chimney. That little buggar was now tunneling his way into our house. Sweet Jesus, this was getting to be ridiculous. I looked again, and this time I saw Charlie’s beady little eyes staring at me through the now gaping hole in the wall. I can’t be sure, but he looked pretty smug to me, and he may have flipped me off.
Dan had had it by this point. He wasn’t going to be out-maneuvered by a squirrel. He bought metal flashing, more nails. He studied, he planned. He climbed back up the high ladder and fixed every issue he saw, secured ever bit of seams that he could. He crawled out onto the metal roof, sliding down to the chimney to put metal netting over the openings in the fireplace. When my husband is on a mission, he leaves no stone unturned. Charlie had met his match in Dan Gainey.
We lived through a blissful time of only having the animals that were welcome in the house come inside. Then one night I got home late from playing a concert and went downstairs to talk with Dan. “Honey, I have good news and bad news….the good news is that while I was sitting here working on the computer, I thought the cat was sitting by me…but it was a possum. The good news is that it’s gone. The bad news…I don’t know where it is.” . But that’s another story…