|No love for squirrels|
|Monday, 20 March 2017|
by Vivian Lawson Hogue
Before the early 1950s drought, we had nine large oak trees. By 1955, we had lost three. The squirrels, woodpeckers and blue jays were not upset as they still had six to fight over. Since the building developments began in the 1990s, the cacophonous screeching crows add to the competition, finding trees to roost in by the hundreds.
In my young years we had flying squirrels and regular squirrels in the attic. We always knew what the things were that went bump in the night. A few years ago, we found a bountiful harvest of pecans carefully stowed away in an old box by a diligent squirrel. We were just terribly sorry, but I put them in my apron, carried them down to the kitchen and considered it rental payment.
One of the previously mentioned oak trees is alternately a winter home for squirrels or starlings, depending on who gets squatter’s rights. This year, it is the squirrels. Neighbors likely think I’m crazy looking for pecans under an oak tree, but squirrels occasionally lose their grip on their prize and watch it fall into my territory. It’s payback for chewing through the wires under the hood of my husband’s car at the repair cost of $500.
Frankly, I do not like squirrels. I do not think they are cute. I do not feed them. This year, we finally had a bumper crop of pecans after three years of nothing but webworms. We picked up pecans twice daily, and sometimes I dug up from moss or dirt a squirrel-planted pecan that I felt was MINE. But for once, there was enough for them and us.
After we collected 70 pounds of nuts, we made a trek to Foshee’s River Valley pecan cracking business in Blackwell. The pecans are wonderfully cracked and blown and we learn a lot about pecan weevils, fertilizer, webworms and powdery mildew. We bring them home and I sort good nutmeats from bad. They are signed (with the year), sealed (in my food sealer), and delivered (to my freezer).
Once many years ago, I wrote about two things frequently found in the middle of College Avenue and the upsides of Country Club Road. One would be roadkill squirrels in the Old Conway area. They stand in the middle of the street trying to make a decision (Go on across? Or go back?). Evidence says the decision is not always wise. But they are a mystery, as one is there one day and gone the next. I thought perhaps stray animals carried them off, then I wondered if some skulking prankster was moving one around to different streets during the night. Stranger things happen in this town.
The other street scene is after an unsecured bucket of paint bounces off a careless contractor’s truck. It lands with a large splatter, drizzling the length of a block then finally ending in leisurely droplets. Although I have seen blue and red, it is primarily white, developing into an abstract painting as other vehicles mosey through it.
Another twice-told tale is when we had an unexpected visitor at our house. One evening I seemed to be spying movement on one side of the living room. It was a fast mover and I knew it didn’t belong there. I consulted with my husband, and after an assessment of the situation, we determined that we had a baby squirrel who was no happier than we were. My dad’s fishing equipment was behind the front door, so my husband grabbed a fishing net and the grand plan was for me to shoosh it into the net.
For a good while there were two grown people beating curtains and crawling, yelling and lunging at this mite of an animal. I grabbed for dad’s minnow bucket and by some miracle the squirrel was forcibly escorted in. We still don’t know how he entered the house any more than we know how a snake once got into one of the bathrooms. That was a matter of me yelling, “DO SOMETHI-I-ING!” and the man of the house producing a pair of kitchen shears. He still maintains this stuff was not in the marriage contract.
A native of Conway, Vivian Lawson Hogue graduated from the University of Central Arkansas with a degree in art education. A retired teacher, she worked in the Conway School District for 23 years. She is editor of the Faulkner County Historical Society’s semi-annual publication, “Faulkner Facts and Fiddlings.” She can be reached at email@example.com.