Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Hickory Nut Mystery...Solved!

Well, I think I finally solved the Mystery of the Hickory Nut.

As I suspected, I believe it is a very large grey squirrel.

The reason I suspect the squirrel is that for the last week, I have been finding half-eaten tomatoes scattered across my lawn. I am not happy about this; my tomatoes have taken forever to ripen this year anyway so over the past two weeks, I've slowly been plucking ripe tomatoes off the plant. Thus, when I find half-chewed tomato remnants taunting me on my lawn, I find it slightly irritating.

I also have a larger tomato plant that the nice old lady who lived in my house left me. It has nice, big, green tomatoes on it. Every time I go outside to check to see how they're doing, whether they're ripening, I find a new one with bite marks on it. Thus, I have to throw it away.

I used to like squirrels. When I worked at USC, I had a pet squirrel named Nutley. He would come and eat lunch with me. Actually, he would stalk me as I ate and then, finally, launch himself so that he actually landed on my backpack in which my lunch was stored. The first couple of times, it sort the crap out of me. I finally accepted it; Nutley would seem to wait for me. I finally learned that the only way to stop him actually trying to crawl in my backpack was to appease him with food. He rather enjoyed grapes and cheese puffs best but he didn't say no to cherries either. He just didn't like carrots which was too bad as I always had carrots.

I know; I was really just encouraging him by feeding him but there were a couple of days when he'd be on the ledge behind my head and he attempted to reach over my shoulder to eat my food. Though I appreciated his courage and gutsiness, I also didn't want the fuzzy rodent to actually get that close to me. I may have thought he was cute but I also know that squirrels are a little...uh...germy. So if it meant sacrificing a couple of grapes or cheese puffs in order to stop him divebombing my head, then I could live with that.

Of course, I don't actually know if it was the same Nutley every day. There were a lot of over-tamed squirrels on campus and they all had the same cockiness to them. I just took to calling every squirrel Nutley. It was easier.

To be honest, I'm not sure if I really liked Nutley or I just was afraid of his tendency to lurch at my sandwich. I think I mostly just tolerated him. I wouldn't, say, want to take him home as a pet or anything.

Of course, now I have my own pet squirrel. I caught him in the act on Monday. I looked out my bedroom window and I see something by my tomato plant. There, in broad daylight, was the thieving, chewing squirrel who doesn't even have the courtesy to eat the entire tomato but, instead, leaves partially eaten, fully ripe ones that would have been nice in a salad.

He was bigger than Nutley. I now think him fully capable of carrying a hickory nut. I'm planning on watching him. I've seen him before but it was always in my neighbour's yard, boldly running around the yard even though at any moment, those yappy dogs could come bounding out and chasing him.

Speaking of those yappy dogs, I was outside grilling last night. I'd like to acknowledge that it was the first time I'd ever grilled on my own grill at that house. Sure enough, a few moments after I had gone out to lay my food on the grill, out come the neighbour's dogs followed by by neighbour. He actually said, "You shouldn't be out here!"

I think he said that because it was raining. It had only started to rain after I'd planned to grill and had turned it on. I wasn't about to change my plans. Also, I love rain and see no problem in grilling in the rain.

However, the way it came out was as though I wasn't supposed to be in my own yard because it meant he had to control his dogs. It's getting to the point where I'm starting to be a little rude and I completely ignore him if I'm trying to do stuff outside. Yes, I appreciate his Dog Whisperer attempts to get his rat terrier to stop barking but it is my house, my yard and I go out there to relax. I do not want to have to make awkward conversation every time I go out there. Rant over. Thanks for letting me get that off my chest.

I digress. Back to the squirrel. I don't quite know how to save my few remaining tomatoes from the jaws of The Squirrel. I'm wondering if the hickory nuts are, perhaps, a barter. Maybe he thinks if he gives me hickory nuts, it's ok for him to snack on my tomatoes. Of course, he does take them back the next day so maybe it's just a loan.

Nevertheless, I am rather relieved that it's just an ornery squirrel and not some crazed lumberjack whose leaving me the hickory nuts as a sign that I'm next on his list to be axed. Of course, maybe a crazed lumberjack wouldn't eat my tomatoes. Maybe he could also take care of those yappy dogs.

I think I'll stick with the squirrel.

Happy Wednesday.

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