Critters, Ducks and Other Water Fowl: Off-Topic From Squirrels

About fifteen years ago, the Demonic family lived in a far northern suburb. We were so far north, we were almost in the next county. Back in those days, it was desirable to move far away from the metropolitan center. When the Mr and I first married, we moved to a relatively close northern suburb. After four years and a most positive change in fortune, we found a beautiful French colonial atop a hilly lot, far, far away from everything, and that’s where we stayed for a long time. What snapped me out of genteel suburban living was having to drive back into town for school and work five days a week. Most days, we spent a good hour on the road, and that was just getting there. Add to the mix a major snowstorm, unexpected road construction or fatal car crash, and that road time all of a sudden expanded into three hours or more – one way.

Still, it was nice to be out so far, yet still enjoy the civility of manicured lawns and nearby neighbors with which to share barbecues and play dates. However, there was a downside, and that was the wildlife situation.

Up there, there are squirrels, but squirrels are in the minority. Those squirrels would have to fight with opossums, wood chucks, skunks and other creatures for their share of the pest pie. In fact, the biggest pest in that area would be skunks. We trapped fourteen of them in one summer, one right after another. Before you think I did this on my own, I should clarify. We hired a pest control company to rid us of the family of varmints that were nesting under our deck. At $40 a pop, we probably should have moved back to town several years earlier.

The other form of pestilence in the northern suburbs would be waterfowl. Ducks are present, but our neighborhood was scourged with a preponderance of Canadian geese. Ordinarily, I don’t have any beefs against Canadians, but I have to complain about their geese. Entire large flocks would congregate at the neighborhood lake, making the sand and boat ramp slick with birdie doo-doo. The lake was thick with floating goose byproducts, thus making swimming uncomfortable at the least and a health risk at the most. During the summer, when the temperature climbs to the high 90s with a 100% humidity reading, one likes to take a dip into the lake, especially when one is married to the Tightwad known as Mr. Demonic, a man who wouldn’t buy central air conditioning. (He has, of course, accepted it if it was already installed in the house.)

Our Canadian geese were fat and tired. They never migrated south, nor did they ever move back to Canada. The reason for this is painfully clear. We had neighbors who fed them daily. Why fly to Mexico in the winter when you can survive on Aunt Bessie’s bread crumbs today? Once a year, the neighborhood would pay to have the geese rounded up and taken elsewhere. This was done right at molting, when they couldn’t fly away. Of course, after the feathers came in, they flew back to the comfort of their old neighborhood, so it was a lose-lose system. Terribly flawed.

My backyard neighbors in that subdivision had a pool. Having a pool is a good thing if your lake is infested with geese. The mother, a gorgeous blond who had four children but still looked like a Hollywood starlet, or at least a retired cheerleader, stayed at home and cared for the pool, which was not fenced. They never invited us over to the pool, but that was cool. She kept Mr. Demonic entertained, as she laid out looking quite fetching in her bikinis.  We could see all of the action when watching TV in our family room.

One day, a friend of mine gave me a bird feeder as a present. Mr. Demonic had a great time putting it up in the back yard. As soon as we launched our feeder, we discovered the sneakiness of the squirrel population. Sure it is nice to watch birds as they take seed from your bird feeder, but those pesky squirrels (and other critters) were eating everything up.

Daily I would fill the feeder, and then attach all sorts of items to it to prevent squirrels. These included big round feeder umbrellas, coyote pee, nails, heck, I even greased the pole with Crisco. Every day, they found a new way to thwart my attempts at keeping them away.

There was a byproduct to this exercise in futility. As soon as the squirrels knocked all of the seed to the ground, the geese would head over to eat giant mouthfuls of seed.

One day, my gorgeous blond neighbor knocked at my patio door. She wasn’t happy. In fact, she was pretty tense. “Yes, could you please stop feeding the birds? The geese are flying into my pool and making a terrible mess.” She didn’t wait for me to respond, she just turned and left.

I was probably this close (like two millimeters) away from giving up bird feeding completely, but after that, I bought a 25 pound bag of bird seed and kept feeding the squirrels and everything else.

Of course, these days, I wouldn’t feed the birds if they came up to the back door with a tin cup.

Misadventures on the Golf Course Part I

I took up golf about ten years ago. It was about the time that my husband took it up, because I insisted my son take it up. My son was about ten at the time and has never been athletically inclined. He’s now approaching 21 and still not athletically inclined, but he can bang a mean Steinway. He can also golf fairly well.  Golf is the one sport where literally anyone can participate, whether or not you are athletically inclined. In fact, old duffers and youngsters with no clue are usually the best at golf.

Now me, I’m really not very good at golf. In fact, you could say I’m awful. I tend to dig up a lot of fairway. In fact, I hate to hit the ball if it’s on the fairway, because I’m afraid I’ll mess up the grass. I’m fairly decent off the tee, but it depends. Some days I can really nail the putts too. I’ve shown some brilliant moves as well as some downright stinkers. If I’m in a good mood, if I’m not paired up with a Tiger Woods  wannabe, if I’ve had some liquid refreshment beforehand, I can look like a genius. If not, I can look like a blind golfer. I’m not kidding when I say that I can sometimes throw the ball much farther than I can hit it with a golf club.

I have many golf stories, even though I now only golf maybe once a month. Back when my son lived here and was on the golf team in high school, we probably went out a few times a week. We don’t seem to have the time for it anymore, even though he moved away. I don’t do it to beat the pants off my opponent; I like fresh air and the fact that I can do this by myself. The only person I want to beat is me. Some days that’s easier said than done. I’m the kind of person who has always taken two steps forward and one step back.

You have to admit that golf courses are really pretty. They seem to attract a lot of wildlife, too. One time, my son hit a flying goose with a long drive. I’m not sure if the goose survived. It was too bad, because usually he hits straight into the woods. He’s hit balls there and deer have emerged, shaken but alive. Speaking of the woods, it’s usually more fun to hit out of them, plus the bonus is that you can find a lot of stray balls in there. I would not recommend looking for stray balls in Florida, where there are alligators or in the Bahamas, where some of the insects are bigger than my palm.

I once hit my husband in the neck with a ball. The ridiculous thing is that he was in the cart right across from my tee box. Yes, my tee shot went laterally. (I happen to be the only one who can do that.) For a long time after that, when I approached my tee box, he would yell “cover your neck” and proceed to back up to the black tees. Oh, yes, Mr. Demonic is a comedian.

When I first started golfing, I would have my own cart, and Mr. Demonics Senior and Junior would share a cart. This is because Ms. Mini-Demonic doesn’t golf. She thinks the clothes are ugly and make women’s butts look big. When she was younger, she would go just to ride, but now she has other things to do. The other two would circle my ball in the fairway, and proceed to make faces at me while I lined up my shot. If you’ve ever seen Mr. Demonic Junior’s face, you’d know that he’s his own cartoon when it comes to facial features. This would either leave me steaming mad, or laughing so hard I would fall to the ground.

Thinking about golf makes me wish it were nicer out.