Animal wars

Ed
Ed Smith
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I’ve been out on my deck soaking up the rays of the blessed sun.

The same blessed sun has been smiling down on us for eight days in a row. We don’t deserve it. We know we’ll have to pay for it a little further down the road, like next week.

It isn’t as though we live in Florida or California where people expect to be so blessed without thought of retribution. We in Newfoundland and Labrador live under the perpetual guilt of original sin because Adam ate an apple offered to him by Eve who was tempted by a snake who was really the devil in disguise.

Or was it because Cain killed his brother Abel? I can never keep this doctrine of original sin straight. Somebody did something not nice to God or her husband or his brother a few years ago, and we’ve been paying for it ever since.

Oh yes, unless we get saved, the same God who loves us will make us burn in fiery hell forever and ever, amen. Knew I was forgetting something.

Meanwhile I, who rarely feel warm any time, felt as though I had somehow bypassed this original sin and burning in hell stuff and was already languishing in heaven.

I know some of you are thinking that I have myself in the wrong place and with far less heat than there’s likely to be for me, but that’s all right. You crowd have to be judging someone, so it might as well be me — again.

Suddenly I was startled by something hitting the deck not far from me. Somebody throwing rocks at the house? No, no rock would penetrate that canopy of trees growing in over our deck.

There it was again! Bump bump bump. What the devil?

I looked carefully around and then I saw it. Curving up and inward over a part of our deck is a very large apple tree (you can see how I got into the original sin thing). This year, it’s loaded with lovely apples about the size of ripe tomatoes. They’ll get a lot bigger before they ripen.

Now the darn things were falling from the tree like … like little  green apples. But why?

Some of you have seen the movie “Predator,” with the alien entity that has the nerve to attack the governor of California.

You will recall that the thing lived in trees and neither you nor Arnold were sure if you saw something or not. Just a ripple of a leaf, or a distortion of the air gave the impression that something might be there.

That’s what I first saw. Then, remembering the movie, I kept staring into the tree until I saw it! There it was, chewing off the apples at the stem and letting them fall to the deck beneath.

The serpentine, evil-looking, brown body of a devil’s spawn squirrel, dashing in and out among the leaves and choosing the biggest apples to execute.

Oh sure, some of you think they’re cute. That’s because you’ve never had two or three get into your cabin late in the fall, make their nest in a clothes basket, die there, rot there and completely stink out the cabin and otherwise pristine forest lands surrounding it.

That’s because you’ve never had one get in your rabbit snare and had your finger practically amputated by its surgical teeth when you tried to do it the favour of releasing it.

That’s because you’ve never had one crawl up under your car engine hood and strip every bit of insulation off the wires that run from your battery to everything else.

Cute? Yes, the way giant squid are cute. The way Portuguese man-of-war jellyfish are cute. I love them dearly, and wish Stephen Harper hadn’t confiscated my .22 rifle with his stupid gun registration laws.

I rushed to confront the little devil but it was too far up in the tree to get near. I looked around, but the kids hadn’t left any rocks on the deck to pitch at it. Have to speak to them about that.

But not to worry. The evil-eye’d little bugger rushed to confront me! It stood on its hind legs on the deck rail about three feet from my face and yammered at me for a good 10 minutes. I tell you, the thing knew I could do nothing to reach it. It laughed at me and insulted me and swore on me.

I don’t speak his language, mind you, but I know it was swearing just as an American tourist would know a Newfoundlander who caught him stealing caplin off his flake was swearing the big ones on him, even though he doesn’t understand the words.

I felt better knowing that the squirrel understood me just as well.

And then help arrived from a most unlikely source. I feel about jays much the way I do about squirrels, except not as much. The jays strip the cherries off our large cherry tree in no time flat, and just before we’re about to pick them. They also flick 99 per cent of the small seeds out of the bird feeders with their large bills to get the one per cent of seeds they like. We could do without them.

But then the blue-feathered Air Force flew in, two of them in close formation and landed on a branch near the aforementioned robber squirrel. Then they let him have it. In rapid staccato fire, they told him exactly what they thought of him, and it wasn’t pretty.

He tried to fight back, but never got two words out before they totally overwhelmed him in decibel and content. I thought perhaps on occasion they might have been listening to OH’s card club for practice.

Finally, that squirrel just purely gave up and slunk away to another part of Springdale, hopefully somewhere below the Jehovah’s Witnesses church. I asked Other Half to order some special blue jays seed from Wal-Mart. Then I went back to enjoying the blessed sun.

       

Ed Smith is an author who lives  in Springdale. His e-mail address

is edsmith@nf.sympatico.ca.

Organizations: Witnesses church, Wal-Mart

Geographic location: California, Florida, Newfoundland and Labrador Springdale

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