It started out innocently enough, as most things do. Eric and I had a cute young squirrel that lived mainly in our yard, foraging for food, chasing other squirrels around the lawn, and racing up and down the birch trees. We enjoyed watching his antics, as we sat peacefully on the porch, relaxing with a drink and (me) with a cigarette.
We also enjoyed having a few nuts with our drinks at times, but never cared for the large Brazil nuts that came in our jars of mixed nuts. So, one day, instead of throwing them in the garbage as usual, Eric tossed a few onto the lawn, just wondering if the squirrel would find them. He did. And he seemed particularly happy.
So, we upped the ante for him a bit, and started putting some nuts on the Adirondack chairs that Eric had built. We put a few on the arms and even a few on the very top of the chairs’ backs. Well, by reason of what appears to be a fine sense of smell on the part of squirrels, our little friend found them immediately—and began to check the chairs on a regular basis. A ritual had begun.
Then one day, while I was sitting on the porch, the little squirrel—by now getting fatter and fatter—came slowly and cautiously up the stairs and stopped right in front of my chair. “How adorable,” I thought, “he knows where the nuts are coming from!” I immediately tossed him a nut and he scurried away with it, to chomp it at the bottom of the stairs. A new ritual was beginning.
The squirrel continued to come up onto the porch every so often, mostly when I was alone, since Eric seemed to scare him a bit, especially once the weather turned colder and he sat there in a giant blue down jacket, looking like something out of a demented cartoon. But, the squirrel not only adjusted to Eric’s strange appearance, he once came up onto the porch while our granddaughter Emilia was there—much to her absolute delight—and she promptly named him “Nutty.”
But, then, ever so slowly, things took a turn. Now, the moment that I appear on the porch, even after placing nuts on the chairs, Nutty races up the steps and right to my feet (ignoring the nuts on the chairs until I go back inside). I’m quite sure that he would now take the nuts from my hand, but I just don’t trust those sharp little teeth, and I find a disturbing resemblance between a Brazil nut and a thumb. So, I toss him the nuts—which I now always carry with me onto the porch—and he scurries away with them, only to return minutes later for more. It is now quite impossible to have a relaxing drink or cigarette on our own porch. Somehow, Nutty always looks as though he will attack if not given his daily fix. He’s still cute, I suppose, in a nightmarish sort of way, and I am completely at the mercy of his appetites.
Of course, I could stomp my feet and yell at him when he approaches, but that seems unkind and we did start this whole thing, after all. So, now, I carry my drink, my cigarettes, and an open jar of nuts onto the porch each time I go outside. And I am getting just a tad bitter about it. Nutty, however, is now fat as a toad and the most self-satisfied squirrel I have ever seen.