I walk, talk, think, dream, and live gardening and sometimes I get tired of writing about it, so I decided to take a little break and wander through my childhood, just for fun. Thanks for stopping by.
I watched gray squirrels playing recently and wished I had some in my yard, but we have a lot of cats in the neighborhood and the two just don’t mix.
I’ve always liked squirrels-probably because when I was a boy there was a very tame gray squirrel in my neighborhood who would take a peanut from your teeth if you lay very still. If you were real lucky he’d even sit on your chest and roll the peanut in his paws for a minute or two. Of course, you couldn’t breathe much or you’d scare him away, so you were always kind of happy when he finally ran off with the peanut in his cheek.
When I was in fifth grade I found a squirrel frozen in a snow bank on my way to school one morning. I don’t know how he got there, but he was board stiff and splayed out almost as flat as Popeye was after being run over by a steam roller.
I had a teacher at the time who fancied herself a frontier woman and told us stories about frontier life. She also said she was a taxidermist and had stuffed all kinds of animals, so I brought my frozen squirrel to her. After some prodding from the entire class, she said she would stuff it for me.
I waited several weeks, all the while imagining my squirrel sitting on a shelf in my room and wondering if I’d be able to put a peanut in his paws so he’d look alive. Meanwhile the teacher told us how the Indians tanned hides and how my squirrel probably would have been a hat on the frontier. We even learned a new word: Pliable.
Finally she brought my squirrel back in a paper bag, but when I pulled him out he looked worse than he had when he went in! Not only was he still all splayed out but was almost as flat, and had a line of thread up his stomach. His body was all lumpy like he was full of walnuts, but worst of all was the white cottony stuff where his eyes should have been. He was a zombie squirrel!
Girls squealed and boys turned away; we sure didn’t want anything to do with a squirrel that looked like that! The teacher told us she didn’t have any glass squirrel eyes, but too late-we were just plain traumatized. Gosh, didn’t she even know what a squirrel looked like?
We found out that our teacher was no taxidermist that morning and we were pretty sure that she wasn’t any old frontier woman either. We were glad we’d be moving on to the sixth grade soon, let me tell you.
As I write this I realize that maybe I’m better off not having squirrels in my yard-I’m lucky to still have lips. I’m also surprised that I never caught rabies or the mange. What was I thinking?
Squirrel Photo © 2011 by Keven Law