Of Squirrels and Maple Blossoms and Spring Chores

img_5582This year, spring is coming in fits and starts. One day it will be warm and sunny, and I can have lunch on the patio. The next day it will be cold and gray, and time spent spent outside involves wearing a fleece jacket and maybe even gloves. (Thank goodness I’ve been able to ditch the hat!)

But however fitfully, spring is here. Above the bird feeders, the maple tree is fringed in red. In the garden, irises and day lilies are a tender green. Finally, the peepers are singing at night. A most welcome sound.

Chickadees, purple finches, goldfinches, tufted tit mice, and nuthatches come to the feeders. So do the squirrels—red and gray. They are stymied by two of the feeders—one has a baffle, and the other is weighted so that it closes when the squirrels step on the bar. The birds, much lighter than the squirrels, can land on the bar and eat without the feeder closing on them. The squirrels yearn to eat from the feeders, but experience has taught the squirrels that it is a waste of effort to try to get seed from them, and nowadays they seldom try. Most of the time, the squirrels just gaze longingly at the bird seed, so close, but so inaccessible.

It seems to me that it is unfair to think of squirrels as rats with bushy tails, as some people do, and to resent them. Like the birds, squirrels are concerned with making a living, and they must deal with harsh weather and predators, two of which live with me. Given the opportunity, my cats would gladly kill the squirrels, but the squirrels are fast and watchful and so far have eluded capture.

However, it can’t be denied that squirrels will clean out a bird feeder in a day or two, and my budget simply isn’t big enough to support the squirrels’ big appetites. (Like me, they are good eaters.) So I compromise. Once a week, I fill the tube feeders that are not squirrel proof, and when the seed is gone, it is gone until the next week’s filling. As always, life is a series of compromises, some big, some little. For me, this is an acceptable compromise. The squirrels, no doubt, have a different take on the matter.

After the hard winter—the snow and the storms and the wind—the backyard was a tangle of blown-down sticks, pine cones, and dog-do. In other words, a real mess. I am happy to report that while almost nothing is in bloom, the backyard is clean and raked. It is ready for us and for family and friends as soon as the weather allows.

Now, onto the front yard, to rake, to remove the leaves from the flower beds, and to the most dreaded chore of all, cleaning the heavy sand from the edge of the lawn and the end of the driveway. Last year, I hurt my back when I scooped that heavy sand, and I was out of commission for several days. This year, I am going to take it very, very slowly.

This is no time of year to be out of commission for several days.



4 thoughts on “Of Squirrels and Maple Blossoms and Spring Chores”

  1. Hello darling, Sounds like spring is springing in western Maine and this gives me hope that Downeast will not be far behind. Enjoyed reading about your squirrel treatment; most fair and equitable I’m thinking! Love you. XOXO

  2. Hi Laurie! Spring has sprung although it is a bit of a cold one! We are back from the “nether-lands” and happy to be home even though we are a bit chilly. Already traveled with Jen to RR Square to see the latest Maine produced and directed film “Beneath the Harvest Sky.” Interesting shots of Van Bure
    n. Solid “coming of age” flick. See you soon…Hello to everyone at your “little house in the big woods” and beyond!

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