DOWN HOME: Why would God let squirrels do that?

down home

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If they did, maybe the squirrels would show some respect. And the red oak tree in our backyard would be in better shape.

I think I told you about the red oak last fall. One day I came home from work, and the top branch of the tree was dead.

Our local tree-service guy showed me the damage and said a male squirrel had stripped the bark, “marked” his turf and planned to convert the now-dead leaves into a bachelor pad.

“Pour some fox urine on the trunk of that tree,” he advised. “That’ll scare him away.”

It worked. Or so I thought.

This spring, I discovered some new branch damage, so I went down to the hardware store and bought a fresh batch of fox urine. And I got three little plastic bottles with holes around the top, so I could leave fox-urine-scents galore up in the tree.

A few weeks later, I came home from work and found dead red oak leaves blowing around the backyard. The squirrels were back, and so was the bark-stripping in that tree—right beside two bottles of you-know-what. (Did I tell you my hammock swings under that tree? It’s my third-favorite tree.)

Out-foxed 

Joanna calls the pest-control people, and this guy calls back and tells her: “Fox urine doesn’t work around here. These squirrels don’t know any foxes, so they’re not scared.”

You don’t say. One afternoon, I saw squirrels up in the tree, with tiny straws in those plastic bottles, having a party. They ain’t scared.

Now, if I were the manly man advocated by some preachers and at least one seminary president, I’d be out in the yard, shooting squirrels with a rifle. But since I’d just as likely shoot (a) the storage shed, (b) the neighbors’ house or, worse, (c) our house, we’ve got a trap in the tree, and we’re catching squirrels night and day.

We’ve become friends with Donnell, who hauls the squirrels far, far away. Once, he hauled a possum far, far away, and I think the possum cost us more than the squirrels.

Real wildlife 

Last night on the way home from work, I heard a radio reporter say, “Coppell residents have spotted a cougar, or possibly a large bobcat, off east Beltline Road, near North Lake.” That’s my neighborhood.

At first, I was afraid for our dog, Topanga, who’s about the right size for a cougar dinner. But then I realized if I could get that cougar to “mark” our tree, maybe our squirrel problems would be solved. Wonder if he has a cell phone.

By now, you know I’m the kind of guy who looks for God’s handiwork in all the happenstance of life. But for the life of me, I can’t figure out why God would make squirrels to destroy trees, especially in Texas. When I get to heaven, I’ll have to ask God about squirrels. From my hammock. Under my perfect red oak.

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