Every year I run this column with hopes of different results. Isn’t that the definition of crazy? They are back—the squirrels I mean—and I am fed up. We have a large patio area in front of our house with a roof overhead. I have tables and chairs and it becomes an outdoor kitchen when it is hot in the summer. We know better than to leave food outside where, God forbid, the Sandia bears might come looking for a meal, however, we do leave food in the refrigerator and freezer. I do feed the ground squirrels white bread and leftover pancakes from Denny’s.
My brother, Arch, says it is tantamount to paying tribute like the Romans did in temples to their gods. My sister, Maggie, says she wonders if I only plant flowers that they like. Ha! This year I planted 120 geraniums and a bunch of marigolds. I was told they did not like them and indeed the geraniums are fine. They are now ripping up the marigolds and eating the roots. I hate them!
As I sit here on the porch, three have come out and gotten a dirt bath in a small divot in the gravel and used the Squirrel pond we fill to let them drink. I am surprised they don’t get a pop out of the fridge. And then there are the crows that try to be courteous and share the bread. The squirrels run at the crows and fend them off. When I went to Mario’s in Albuquerque with my two granddaughters, both girls ordered garlicky, buttery bread sticks. There was too much food, so I brought the sticks home. I tossed them out for the squirrels, and they got into terrible fights. They really did this. They fought, chased, showed off their best war faces and then rolled in the butter and garlic and dragged the breadsticks back to their home. At least now we know where they live; you can smell the garlic. The show they put on could have been used on TikTok.
The last straw was when I came down yesterday morning and two, TWO squirrels were in my hanging geraniums. They had ripped up the beautiful blue lobelia, eating the roots and leaving the pots looking like a tornado had hit. I walked around and looked at the dirt on the five tables and found the clawed, armed bandits had also ripped up my 10 tablecloths, for nesting material. I pride myself on having 10 matching plastic tops with felt bottom covers for all the porticos. I snapped. I went to the Dollar Store, slapped a twenty down on the counter and bought 20 bottles of Cayenne pepper. I slipped back to the house, opened one up and tossed it over the hanging plants first.
I forgot the wind. It blew into my mouth, and I swallowed what did not find its way into my lungs. They burned and I thought I might quit breathing. Did I mention I got hit in both eyes like tear gas? After sobbing and running the hose over my head, I continued to dust the plants and the tables. There was a cloud of cayenne everywhere. I went into the house and returned 10 minutes later. They got the message. Two pots were knocked over and they landed on a 90-inch cloth on the bar. And they ripped it to shreds. I thought I might be able to cut off the original damage. But no, it all looks like a tent city. The wind blew the cayenne away. When I came out later to water, the kitchen garden dill was gone. I briefly thought of green chile and realized these are New Mexico squirrels. They were born here, like all natives, they are chile nuts. I have only been here 60 years from Iowa, where we had big red squirrels that tore off window screens and stole cookies from the counters. They are all rats with fuzzy tails. Roaring Mouse, over and out.