Weekly Shorts

Story of the Week

The title of this week’s story is …

Seeing Red

By Mary Penner

Photo by David Selbert on Pexels.com


I have recently set my sights on a bully.  I have never liked bullying or being bullied, but here I am once again.  When I was twelve years old, I was constantly bullied by a girl named Donna.  She picked on me every opportunity she had, stating she was always in charge.  One day she and I had words, and I decided enough was enough and I stood up to her. 

We both wore eyeglasses and she yanked mine off, threw them on the ground, and stomped on them.  This was war and I eyed her glasses and was tempted to do what she had done to mine.  Something deep inside me made me hold back, and so I couldn’t follow through, but my blood boiled.  We threw a couple of punches at each other, and one of mine hit her solidly on the nose.  It started to bleed, and she stopped fighting.  I went home with my broken glasses in hand, thinking about how I would explain this to my parents.

          Today, my opponent is a red squirrel.  Yes, a red squirrel who is aggressive, mean, and picks on other squirrels and birds.  It doesn’t seem to matter whether they are smaller or bigger than him.  At the bird feeder, he constantly chases them all away, eating everything in sight.  After seeing this, time and time again, I decided to stop him from monopolizing all the food and scaring the others.

          The first thing I did was to grease the bird feeder pole with axle grease, and I mean, I lathered it.  His paws were covered with it, but he just licked it off and was back again.  Next, I put small pieces of wire up and down the pole, hoping this would deter him.  It did not, for he used them as a ladder, and gleefully scampered to the top, munching away at the seed.  I then filled a water bottle and tried spraying him, thinking he would stay away, but I couldn’t reach him.  He seemed to sense this and always managed to put a fair distance between us.  He would climb a nearby tree, perch on a branch, and we would have this staring contest.  Sometimes I won, and sometimes he won.  I need to mention, that I’m a redhead too, and also filled with determination.

          I seemed to be losing this battle, but I was not ready to give up.  A week later, I was at a Canadian Tire store, buying some bird seed when I happened to look at items supposed to keep squirrels away from feeders.  Obviously, I was not the only one experiencing this problem.  I spotted a long cylinder-shaped tube, called a baffler, guaranteed to keep the pests away.  I have heard this line many times, but I thought I would give it a try anyway.  I arrived home and showed it to my husband, Dave.  He looked at it, shook his head, mumbled something about another contraption, but installed it on the pole of the bird feeder.

          Well, bless our baffler!  It worked so well that Dave and I became believers.  The red squirrel was no longer a problem.  He couldn’t get to the feeder, no matter how hard he tried, and believe me, he tried many, many times.  However, this little fella didn’t give up so easily, and little did we know our paths would cross again.  He had other plans and was now looking at invading our space. 

One day, I was cooking at the stove, when bits of grass and twigs began raining down into my spaghetti sauce.  A closer look and I could see they were coming from the air vent above.  Dave was called into action and went up on the roof to take a closer look. 

He opened the vent, and sure enough, found a ready-made nest, measuring four by eight inches deep.  Our little buddy had been very busy building his home, so he could settle in comfortably for the winter.  Dave removed the nest and secured it with mesh.  As he was coming down the ladder, he could hear squeaking sounds in the tree nearby.  There was our red squirrel, obviously upset, about the removal of his home.

          The story doesn’t end here.  A few weeks later, our tenacious red squirrel got into our attic, busy seeking a new home.  We bought a large cage, put some peanut butter in it, and placed it in the attic.  We waited and the next morning we heard some rustling sounds.  Dave went up, and sure enough, our furry little critter was in the cage.  It was brought down, and the three of us went for a short car ride.  We released him with his own stash of peanuts in the woods.  We said goodbye, good luck, and good riddance…

          Several days later, Dave called out saying he had seen another red squirrel.  The following week, I told him I saw, not one, but two red squirrels.  The family kept expanding, and with winter fast approaching, we would see what adventures awaited us next Spring.  Indeed, this could be a very long story.  However, these red squirrels were never a problem to us, nor to other squirrels.  I guess it comes down to the personality of all critters, as it is for us humans.

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I sympathize completely. Thankfully, I’ve never had this problem Mary, but I did have the chipmunk from hell who was living in my roof. It would rain down on me all kinds of its discarded shells, especially walnut shells from my black walnut trees, each time I stepped out of my back door. It came to a predictable end when it overstepped its welcome and invaded my house. My cat took a fancy to it as her new play toy…another story for another day. B.S.