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When I was young, I used to love feeding the tiny chipmunks that skittered around our cottage up north. I still think they’re cute, but I didn’t appreciate how obnoxious they and their big cousins the squirrels could be. When I moved into this house, I struggled to get any birds to come — since there were very few large trees to offer them protection. But over the years, I have, if I do say so myself, built up quite a ‘following’ in the bird world.

A couple of years ago,during a particularly harsh winter, I welcomed the chipmunks to my eavestroughs and fat squirrels to my deck — even though they crammed their rolls of fat and fur into one of the open bird feeders to steal the bird seed. “They’re wildlife too, ” I rationalized to myself. Well, that was then. This is now and they are eating me out of house and home and wreaking havoc on my yard.

When Gill was here in the summer I proudly showed off my new ‘system’ of bird feeding — three ‘squirrel proof’ cylindrical feeders. One contains only sunflower seeds, the other two, regular mixed seed. Oh, the hubris I displayed. I boasted of my high end clientele–nuthatches, chickadees, goldfinches, blue jays, cardinals. Gill was delighted to watch the tiny chickadees flit around Mrs. Beeton’s cage, trying to get her attention.But things have taken a turn since then.

The cardinal turns up looking for dinner only to find that the squirrels have eaten everything! All I see from the kitchen window is the ass end of one greedy black squirrel, reaching out to the feeder, digging into the slots meant for the birds.And today, when I noticed the feeder was empty again, I put a bucket of seed just outside the door while I went to get a jacket on, and the squirrel had dumped the bucket and was helping himself directly from the bucket!

When I told Gill of my battle with the squirrels, she commented:”Well, they have to live too, Ma.”

“Harrumph! They don’t have to be greedy. They’re like glutinous CEOs and shady investment bankers living high off the hog while millions live in poverty.And the worst part is, they don’t even have the grace to look guilty!I admit I’m not nearly as scary as the SEC or Feds, but come on!”

The final straw came this week when I walked across my back yard. There were small tufts of grass everywhere. And holes. Apparently, the squirrels have been digging up my lawn to plant the sunflower seeds they’ve been stealing. I was furious.

Gill laughed. “Oh, that’s too funny, Ma! Now in the spring, you’ll have not only the crop circles (ground covers run amok, turning the yard into circles of pink and purple flowers), but a fine crop of sunflowers! Imagine how pretty that will be.You should be pleased.”

“Oh, right. I already can barely cut the ‘grass’ and chop down the random crop circles and clumps of daisies after they bloom. Their thick stems require a machete. Sunflowers will require a chain saw! And those plants grow so tall I’ll be lost in a forest of them. Nobody will be able to find me…it will be like a corn maize. The neighbors are already pissed off at my ‘naturalized garden’. Soon they’ll be demanding the city sanction me…and all because I wanted to watch a few pretty birds!”

“We all have our crosses to bear, Ma. You’d better just hope those squirrels don’t turn feral on you one day.Oh, in related news, did I mention that I have a pigeon that comes to my little balcony? He’s so cute…I really want him to come inside.”

“Ha! And that’s how it starts…first it’s one squirrel or one pigeon…good luck to you. And don’t say I didn’t warn you!”