Stranded without a car that could traverse the fresh three inches in the driveway and a sore back that couldn’t shovel it, I had gone to bed the night before in my mid fifties only to wake in my late fifties. The day was gray and quiet. I could feel the muscles of my face settling in for a lengthy pout.
Sitting at the kitchen table, even my coffee tasted lousy as I disconsolately watched the branches outside bend in a stiff February wind. Suddenly, my nemesis -- the red squirrel named “I’ll Kill You!” -- made a leap out of nowhere, managing to successfully cling to the tray of the squirrel proof feeder that hangs outside the window. Jumping up, I ran over to use my successful squirrel deflecting technique of cranking open the window to tap the feeder and scare him off. Today, however, there were different results.
I’ll Kill You, in his panic, somehow managed to squeeze inside the Lucite feeder.
He quickly realized he’d made a big mistake--after thinking for a second or two, he began hurling himself against the sides of the feeder. This morphed into a pitiful mime’s routine of feeling around inside the clear plastic as if searching for a seam through which to burst. He then tried to push himself though the conical top but soon realized that, since he wasn’t a cartoon character, this was impossible. He proceeded to thrash wildly for a very long time, causing the black oil sunflower seeds to scatter and fly, settling around him as he, in resignation, decided to try and eat his way eat out, perhaps in hope of locating an escape hatch once the feeder was empty.
I called Seth. Please come home and get I’ll Kill You out of the feeder. Seth responded with a few not-nice-to-say-to-a-person-on-her-birthday-words but promised to do it when he got home later but I knew evening was too late. I considered calling the police or Animal Control but I’ll Kill You had already grown listless.
|"Squirrel proof." Really?|
The feeder was beyond my reach so I dragged the old step stool up the stairs, returning to the garage for boots (there was two feet of snow on the deck), my warm coat, a hat, gloves and an assortment of tools whose names and uses I do not know but looked like they might loosen the frozen nut that held the top of the feeder on so tightly.
All the while, despite my determination to save him, I am sputtering curses at I’ll Kill You as I worried about falling, injuring myself and being found later--squirrel and birthday girl frozen motionless on a frigid day. I tucked my cell phone into my bra to call 911 in case I survived long enough to request help.
As I gathered my supplies, I kept checking to see if the squirrel might have escaped on his own but he was now dreamily eating seeds as if he knew this was his final feeder raid. My last trip downstairs was to grab the sledge hammer. If I could not remove the nut, I was going to put the feeder upside down and bash the outer edge, smashing it to bits and, hopefully, not killing my friend as his prison splintered around him.
As I reached the top of the stairs and looked out--to my jubilation, I saw that the feeder was empty! I’ll Kill You had freed himself! It must have been an adrenalin fueled burst of energy because the feeder was now totally askew, its lid forced off at one edge. I sat down, sledgehammer at my side and smiled, joyful that I could remain safely inside and I’ll Kill You and I would meet to fight another day.
From that moment, my birthday changed. I was happy that I had decided to stop at nothing to free a little squirrel who I, apparently, like more than I hate. Phone calls and flowers followed. It was an excellent birthday.