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This time of the year when we look out our kitchen window we are treated to the sight of all the beautiful multicolored flowers my wife, Mary Ann, has potted and lined up on our deck railing. Various-sized containers are overflowing with verbena, begonia, pansy, petunia and marigold in every color of the rainbow. Others with descriptive names like Johnny jump-up, raspberry parfait and silver fog all share space and are accented with spikes and vinca vines.

This array, besides being beautiful and delightful for us to look at, is also attractive to birds, bees, butterflies and … SQUIRRELS! The birds, bees and butterflies are an innocuous and even pleasant addition to the scene; the squirrels, on the other hand, are definitely NOT.

One day as I was admiring Mary Ann’s handiwork, one of these “rats with bushy tails” went from pot to pot digging out the plants that she had so painstakingly selected and arranged. I don’t think the little varmint was being critical of her horticultural talent as much as he was looking for whatever might be buried there.

Whatever his motivation, this little scavenger was destroying her floral montage.

Banging on the window and shouting got his attention, but only briefly interrupted his activities. Finally, I went out and chased him away with curses and threats of bodily harm to him and his offspring – if he lived long enough to have any.

I didn’t always have this animosity toward these little barbarians; in fact, when I was a kid, I thought they were really kind of cute and it might be cool to have one as a pet.

When I was about 6 or 7, my bedroom window looked out on our porch roof and I would watch the neighborhood squirrels scamper across it. That’s when I got the bright idea that one of those cute, furry little things would make the perfect pet. With a perforated shoebox prepared for his new home, I scattered a few peanuts on the roof to entice one of them close to my window.

Eventually, the cutest one came right up to the open window and as he sniffed at the nut I held between my fingers, I stealthily reached around behind him with my other hand. BAD IDEA. My hand barely touched his tail when this cute, furry little thing reared up and instantly transformed into Godzilla. Chomp, chomp, chomp! I cleverly distracted him with my screams of pain and he eventually let go, shot me a dirty look, picked up the last nut and sauntered down the roof.

My mother came running at the sound of my screams and carried me into the bathroom where, between sobs, I explained about the horrible monster that attacked me. She washed the blood off my throbbing thumb and left it under running water while she went to phone the doctor. I heard her explaining to the doctor what happened.

He must have told her to bring me in for a tetanus shot, but all I heard my mother say was “shot.” My little pea brain took that in and decided that meant they were going to put me out of my misery like they did horses. “NO, MOM, NO!” I was screaming again – Pleeease! It’s not that bad! I’ll be OK! Pleeease don’t let them shoot me!”

I think – given the situation – all her laughing was completely uncalled for. @#$%^&* squirrels!