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The Mom and I are probably diametrically opposed in our views of how the outside nature protocol ought to function. I feel that when we were younger she was much closer to my version of operating procedure, but now that Crazy D’s been offering his advice (which is sensible and absolutely no fun whatsoever) I believe she’s changed her tune somewhat.

The squirrel population of outside pets has indeed grown in recent years. But then, so has the population of all the outside pets. It’s as though there’s some kind of bulletin up at the bird and animal version of Starbucks, announcing that The Mom’s backyard is essentially the best soup kitchen going.

Because there are critters aplenty out there. And in the dark winter days, when it’s too cold for my thinned blood to go outside (goes to show you that living in ‘temperate’ Britain has weakened my inner, hardy Canadian) I rather enjoy watching the squirrels and the birds fight it out. It’s not that different to watching TV except there are no ad breaks. Though, if The Mom could figure out how to get sponsorship for her bird feed, then I think we’d be on to something.

Imagine for a moment, if she charged people a reasonable fee to come and watch the wildlife in her backyard. People already bring their kids by to ogle at the massive flock of ducks, so the idea that people might pop by for a few minutes of nature entertainment is not unrealistic.

She could put out a little tin asking people to make a contribution, something in a dollar ought to do it, and then perhaps she could cut a deal with whomever it is that makes bird seed, and put little signs up saying, These chickadees are fed by Red Wagon birdseed company. They’d give her the seed for a reduced rate, she’d give them the advertising, and whatever donations she could scrape together from the neighbours would certainly handle the rest.

I suppose though, the real problem would be when, as she was desperate to show me this past summer, some of the animals get a bit greedy. Mr G-Hog as we call the groundhog, has started making inroads again, and there’s a certain amount of worry that he might lead to other things. We don’t talk about what other things exactly, but The Mom does point worryingly to the basement and shouts the word, Ratty, at me with increasing frequency. It would seem that one cannot run an exclusive bird feeder. If you’re going to run one, it must be the most inclusive thing going.

Each time I argue for leaving nature to do what it will, and let us enjoy the show, The Mom freaks out and starts saying about the cost of the birdseed (a problem I believe I have now solved rather elegantly), I let her rant until she loses steam. But when she starts talking about other critters who might not stop at the birdfeeder, or the back door, but who might one day Come Inside, I’m usually persuaded.

I suppose there’s a tipping point for everything, isn’t there?

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