Last autumn, I began noticing little squirrel squadrons had taken to lolling on my porch rooftops and lounging on the window ledges. Little sun sponges who used social media from the looks of it, because a crowd was starting to gather. I’d see them scrabbling horizontally on the vertical brickwork, enjoying the radiant heat and just showing off in general. I had a feeling they were getting kind ofcozy. I was right.
One rodent in particular, now referred to as "Rocky," decided that this was the greatest place EV-AR! He pretty much took up residence wherever he could find shelter, and find it he did. When he wasn’t inside the porch eaves and roof, he was on an east-facing windowsill up here on the second floor. I suppose he enjoyed the view as much as I do. It was no mere coincidence that Rocky chose that spot. That exact window holds an air conditioner for cooling one half of my house.
For several days my dog had been walking back and forth from dining to living room, all big eyes and restless. She didn’t need to go out, she wasn’t begging for treats, her bone hadn’t gotten trapped under the loveseat. She would just linger and stare at me, inscrutably. When I finally was goaded from my recliner I heard this scritchy-scratchy sound coming from the dining room window. So I went to investigate.
I can still see his beady eyes looking into mine as he perched atop the air conditioner, tail switching. I watched him while he climbed down to the window ledge. And it was there that I realized that Rocky had made his winter home. He chewed through the plastic cowl surrounding the a/c unit, shredded the denim I had used both to support and insulate the space underneath. He’d dragged leaves and twig bits into his nest. And there were little poops everywhere. Everywhere.
I spent much of my winter banging on the unit, pushing a few nests off the sillas I repaired and re-blocked off the hole he gnawed through - in general being a pest to that pest. He didn’t seem to mind. I know this because he stuck around through it all, finding new niches in which to ride out the season.
Rocky paid us a visit Sunday. There was an odd noise, a crash, strange sounds. A Weimaraner with worried eyebrows and a wet nose abruptly nudged me. I went toward the noise and there he was. Inside my sunroom running around like crazy, throwing himself into the (closed) windows trying to get the heck out of Dodge, was Rocky. He launched his furry little butt from place to place until he entered the kitchen and then got between the screen and the north window, still furiously seeking escape. I was concerned that he’d backtrack into the house and was working out in my head how to keep that from happening when – rrrrrriiiiipppp – Rocky let himself out via the screen. Problem solved.
I retraced our steps, trying to understand where and how he got inside. At another kitchen window was an inward-torn screen made weak from years of sun damage. Ah ha!
Sitting directly below the window on a counter was a freshly baked triple chocolate cake, cooling.
It must have made for a soft landing when he barged through that screen, as there were many teensy footprints and some of the aforementioned poop decorating the top of the cake. Well. At least I hadn’t frosted it, right?
I’ll miss little Rocky. Rocky has moved on to a better place now. A nice man in a pickup came today and retrieved the live trap containing One Rocky Squirrel, to be relocated to a sweet place by the river. In another town.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go bake a cake.
SHANNON HIGGINS CONNOR is a mom, a voracious reader, a jewelry maker, a bipolar wonder, a dog mom/chauffeur, a tequila enthusiast, and (kind of) a writer who currently lives with her Weimaraner, Meeshka in Streator ... but is always scanning the horizon for the next move. She is a believer in both climate change and "Leave things better than you found them." She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org