People who feed squirrels are kindly people. If they happen to live in the country, they can be decent, even thoughtful people, particularly if the country is west of the Rockies or in the northern parts of Ontario, where the squirrels are the small red squirrels, not much bigger than chipmunks and nowhere near as annoying and garden-destroying as eastern grey squirrels, which are double the size of red squirrels and carry a squirrel pox virus that is fatal to red squirrels and are such dreadful creatures that most people believe they were imported to poor defenseless North American cities from either Nazi Germany or Stalinist Russia when in fact they’re native to the North American northeast. That virus they carry, in case you were wondering, is only half the reason you no longer see red squirrels in Canadian cities. Those virus-carrying, aggressive, untrustworthy furry-tailed rats, which come in black, grey and beige, also beat up and torture red squirrels and eat their young.
A lot of people who live in cities overlook the rotten personalities and aggressive, genocidal behaviors of grey squirrels. They not only overlook the nastiness of grey squirrels, they feed them peanuts. They do this because they are kindly people who consciously love nature and also love the thought that they are kind enough to feed wild creatures—and because they are people who don’t garden. They feed the squirrels even though the city’s wildlife managers ask them not to, because, well, they like to feed wild things because it makes them feel kind, and perhaps because they know someone who imports peanuts or works in a Skippy peanut butter factory or maybe it’s just that they wish to support industry in general.
Grey squirrels don’t eat peanuts. They’re too stupid to open the shells or anything else that’s not in the squirrel’s operating manual. But their senses tell them that peanuts are protein, and so they do what their instinct tells them to do when they have surplus food: they bury the peanuts the kindly people give them in the nearest patch of open ground. And then they immediately forget where they buried the peanuts, because, as I said, they’re stupid, and because they really don’t need the peanuts in the first place because cities provide adequate supplies of foods natural to squirrels. But then, every once in a while, the squirrels remember, in their dim way, that they have buried peanuts, and they go looking for the gardens they buried them in, which they then dig up in search of their lost peanuts, plant after plant, pot after pot, perennial bed after perennial bed. If they’re lucky enough to find a peanut, they immediately bury it again, because their unrevised operating manual still doesn’t see it as edible and maybe because peanuts quickly go rotten once buried.
Wait! I haven’t explained why kindly people who feed peanuts to city squirrels aren’t gardeners. This is because if these squirrel-feeding kindlies were gardeners, they’d instantly see the squirrels take the peanuts given to them, push them into their furry rodent cheeks, and trot over to the nearest open patch of soil and bury them. The squirrels would bury them in the kindlies’ flower pots, or tomato pots, or pots filled with organic herbs that these days cost $4 a crack. Or the squirrels would dig deep holes in their perennial beds, or potato beds, and they would dig up all that young lettuce that had just been planted. And unless they were complete morons, the squirrel-feeding kindlies would recognize the spiteful damage being inflicted on their own gardens, and they would stop feeding the squirrels.
But kindly people who feed squirrels don’t ever garden, and so they have no idea that the squirrels to whom they feed those not-quite-recognized-as-edible peanuts fill their furry rodent cheeks with peanuts, come over to my garden, and dig up plant after plant after pot after pot, all containing carefully nurtured, costly seedlings, and generally speaking, make me crazy and sometimes homicidal.
Now, I don’t want to kill the grey squirrels, even though the rats that sometimes invade my garden have nicer, sweeter personalities. Grey squirrels are dumb animals—very dumb—and are, when they dig up my garden, forced to it by irresistible instincts. So, no. Not them. It’s the kindly, non-gardening people who feed them I’d like to, well, not exactly kill but at least pinch and shake until they get it, or better—if they want to continue feeding the squirrels—spend their nights sleeping in my garden on nice portable cots where they can be harrassed by the raccoons they’ve probably also been feeding, and which, later in the summer, will be coming over my fence because the kindly squirrel- and raccoon-feeding people have gone off to their cottages and country estates without leaving anything for the raccoons and squirrels they’ve corrupted, something which the non-gardening kindlies can do because they don’t have gardens to maintain, and so won’t, as their jet-skis whizz around the waterways deafening the fish and upsetting the loons and frogs and making their neighbours wish they could fight back with mortars, their unfed racoons will be feasting on the hand-grown heritage tomatoes in my garden the fucking grey squirrels didn’t dig up in the spring.
875 words, June 19, 2020