At Large : Critters
It's been a cool, swampy spring. The pocked road, the grass that the easterly wind whips at the windows, the mold gobbling the shoes in the closet - all have conspired against us in this very Vineyard spring. And, as if that weren't enough, tensions grow between the critters and the humans at our house.
We're optimistic about June, though we've no reason to be. It may be one of those Junes when the grass is as high as an elephant's eye (Or was it the corn? It was the corn, wasn't it?), but the hay won't make in the rain, mist, and fog. Easterly wind, drizzle, 40 days and nights of rain in a couple of hours, a few promising mornings giving way to overcast and thundery afternoons: one hopes for something more. I know the gloominess has me in a mood. I'm thinking of joining In Treatment, the HBO thing where the dark, demented, depressed psychiatrist fights with his patients, each of whom should probably offer him counseling, if he'd only open himself (to use the favored modern phrase, whatever it means) to advice. Or, maybe they should just flee. Who wants a mooning, moaning shrink adding to life's already intimidating load?
Indoors, Diesel, the English mastiff, is a very sweet dog, but he's a mess. He is indifferent to rain, snow, heat, cold, smells, and most commands.
He is out of communication with some of the distant parts of himself, so he lets these parts do as they choose. Mostly, they like to get filthy, lying in the perennial garden in the rain. Then he likes to paw at the screen door, come in, beg for a treat, shake, and jump on the sofa. The sofa now smells so bad that visitors wince and blink when they enter the house. They ask, What is that awful smell? We say, What smell?
Outdoors, there are the squirrels. They and the crows have been messing relentlessly with the bird feeders, which are across the lawn away from the house. Through the everyday mists and fog, with my bird watching binoculars, I've seen a crow and a squirrel hanging upside down and side by side from the big feeder's perch. My usual treatment for squirrels, crows, skunks, and raccoons is a pheasant load, but when the critters are in close proximity to the feeders, which are expensive and, in this case, innocent of wrongdoing, I just let the gun sound off heavenward, which disperses the pests and lets the Big Guy know that at least one of his constituents is not happy with the behavior of the lesser orders.
The other day, we had an indoor squirrel problem. How he or they got in, or rather why he or they decided they would intrude, is a mystery. But their comings and goings, and their scrabbling presence was unambiguous. The squirrel expert, shaking his head sympathetically at my problem as I shook my head despairingly at his bill, fashioned some wire chutes at the various exits and entrances our visitors had used. Each chute had a one way - out - flapper valve on the inboard end. He said we have to leave them up for a year, or else void the squirrel-free warrantee he offers.
He also told us he roamed throughout the house making squirrel noises and listening for replies. He heard none, so he thinks we're all set. I wonder what he said to them. Did he say something like, It's me, the squirrel whisperer. Don't reply. Just keep quiet for a few days, then you can raise a ruckus. They'll have to call me back."