Cookin', Critters and Chillun

Little (animal) problems could be bigger

The moral of this story is “Don’t worry about small problems. They could be bigger.”

Last week, it all started when a white-footed mouse moved into our guest room and had a party. Evidently, she (he, they…) had multiple picnics with a dried-out braid of garlic that was temporarily lying on the bed. We were blissfully unaware, since we had closed the guest room door to keep the cats off the bedspread. Little did we know about the mouse celebration until about 1 a.m. when Bill and I were freshening the bed before our daughter, Meredith, and son-in-law Frederick were due to arrive from Charleston, S.C., an hour or so later.

It was too late to wash the quilted bedspread and get it dry before they arrived, so we sticky taped the “presents” the mouse had left, shook the spread outside, sprayed everything well with Odormute and put fresh flowers in the room.

Whew! Crisis averted. Right? The next night, Frederick awoke with a start as a mouse ran up his arm while our sweet son-in-law was sleeping. So much for keeping the mouse invasion a secret. Time for Mice Cube traps.

The same week at breakfast, Bill and I had watched with irritation as an especially pesky squirrel attack our suet bird feeder. No matter how many times we yelled “Bad squirrel!” at him and lobbed overripe fruit, he kept returning to gnaw on the fresh suet cake. Only once did the “Twirl-a-Squirrel” start turning. It’s never been quite calibrated since a big bear took down the feeder about four years ago.

By that night, the animal aggravation had escalated.

“I’ve just come in from straightening out the bird feeder pole,” Bill reported. “About 3 this afternoon a bear pulled it down and ran off with the bird feeder and the Twirl-a-Squirrel. I ran after him, but he went off into the woods.”

A daytime bear! Drat. That’s unusual at our house. Usually they are sneakier than that and only occasionally steal something – like breaking into my car to steal homemade cookies – under cover of darkness.

From the description, he must have been a yearling bear and probably pretty hungry. But did he have to take the Twirl-a-Squirrel? It at least gave us another source of amusement when trying to outsmart the rats-in-fur-coats, as Charlie Stebbins used to call them.

Even though we searched the underbrush, Bill and I could’t find the half-dome twirler. Our boy kitty, Sunny, walked with us for a few minutes before he lost interest. I guess we should have taken the dogs, instead. Maybe they could have sniffed out the robber bear’s trail.

Anyway, there you have it. Don’t worry about small things. They could be bigger.


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