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.

Today’s Stark Realizations

Every so often, I’m struck by glances of intelligence. Today was one of those days.

I just realized that as long as my son is here, visiting us from his new home on the West Coast, I am not going to get anything of any importance done.

This is not because he needs his mommy to hold his hand or to help him figure out things to do. He hasn’t been here in a year and a half; he has plenty of things to do. Besides, he has a girlfriend in attendance to help him with that.

My stark realization came when I went to tidy up the house a bit this morning. Not only is my daughter a slob, my son is one, too. My world is now complete! He had his checkbook, Christmas cards, gifts, shoes and jacket in various spots in the house. Although he is in his adult years, he sometimes acts like a helpless child. He is using the power cord to my laptop, since his no longer works. This means that I can’t write at home. He “borrowed” my USB storage for all the pictures they took. (I said, “Go ahead and take it” because it is easier to buy another one than to hope for him to send it back.) He ate (among many other things) an entire box of Godiva chocolate I received as a Christmas gift from one of my employees.

The other major thought I have is that perhaps I have gotten too used to my semi-empty nest. This is somewhat disturbing, yet also exhilarating. It’s disturbing in the fact that my children are not my main focus, but it’s exhilarating for exactly the same reason.

I love my children, but I really wanted to get away from those days where I was defined by them. “Susie’s Mom” or “Charley’s Mom.” I didn’t have a first name, and only rarely had a last name. The only good thing about being a mom was to finally be known as a “missus” someone. The school would call and say “Mrs. Demonic, I’m afraid you’ll have to come down and get Charley. He stabbed a classmate with a pencil.” Ah, the glory days.

My children were most annoyed when I started taking art classes and violin lessons. At the time, my son was in high school, and I knew my days as Taxi Mom and all-around gopher were almost at an end, so I purposefully made commitments that didn’t include them. They pouted every Monday night when I went to my nude drawing class and they were left to their own devices for dinner. (Just a clarification: I wasn’t nude, the models were.) I found that even though most of my utensils ended up broken and some of my pots burned beyond salvation, they managed to survive their own meals.

Sunday will come soon enough. I always cry when I say good-bye to my son, and no doubt I will again. After the trip to the airport, I’ll go home and kick up my feet in my lovely purple stuffed chair and turn my laptop on using my own power cord and enjoy a bit of peace and quiet.