Published: Jan 04, 2012 02:00 AM
Modified: Feb 06, 2012 05:58 PM
I'm taking an informal poll ... Squirrels: love 'em or hate 'em?
Sure, they're cute. Puffy tails, intense little black-button eyes. ... C.S. Lewis had a Proustian spiritual experience reading Beatrix Potter's "Squirrel Nutkin," so that's at least two literary heavyweights who thought they were at least kind of nice as animals go.
But right now, I'm coming down on the other side of the debate, the side of the aisle that says, as my husband Tom does, that squirrels are just rats with fluffy tails.
I'm in one accord with those who squawk about the critters eating all the food from their bird feeders. And while I would never kill one myself, and I'm certain I wouldn't eat it - not even in the form of Brunswick stew - I am not exactly sorry the cat I had as a kid killed and ate one all by himself. Yep, that was one scrappy cat.
Now before all you animal lovers go all Chapel Hill on me, I want to explain that I love animals, as a rule, and I am just trying to add a little humor to a mostly humorless situation. Because the reason I am hatin' on squirrels right now is that one is currently loose in our attic.
We were all packed and dressed and ready to climb in the car for a family trip to Colonial Williamsburg. Just one shower and roughly a hundred miles away from delicious yeast rolls at the Nottoway Restaurant in greater Warfield, Va., when Tom heard a little scratching, gnawing noise coming through the upstairs ceiling.
While he went to take his shower, I slogged out to the "Amish barn," got a ladder, and climbed up the side of the house and beat on the gutter with a broom handle, in the vain hope that the noise was coming from the outside of the house. The gutters, maybe. Or the stove vent.
I guess I should tell you that: a) I was wearing a dress and cute little fashion boots, and b) ever since my husband broke his ankle falling off a ladder, we both approach ladders as most people would poisonous snakes.
Since I've already told you the squirrel is in the attic, then you know that my climb up the ladder was futile.
But I did have this thought: It's kind of cool to beginthe day with an act of bravery.
Our next tactic was to actually peek into the attic armed with a garbage bag and a Louisville Slugger; fortunately it was Tom's turn to be brave.
He didn't get very far, though.
He crept up the fold-down stairs, pulled the light string, and "AAAAAHH" shot back down the steps, letting the ceiling door flip back up.
"Yep. It's a squirrel."
So now here I am in my mother-in-law's luxurious hybrid zooming up to coastal Virginia - without my brave husband, who will follow us later, after he has let the critter control guys have their way with our attic and the mammal therein.
Although I've been talking trash about squirrels, I was a little freaked out that the cute little thing might get hurt.
The guy on the phone assured me, though, that all will be done in a completely humane fashion.
Because, he said, "You're in Chapel Hill, after all."