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Sunday, February 14, 2010

I Know What The Squirrels Did Last Summer

Today I'd like tell you about the animals here where I live outside of Vancouver. First, I should explain that my husband and I had a long-distance courtship for 2 years before we married this past May. I moved into my husband's house in British Columbia last October from Calgary, Alberta.

Last summer my husband, Flabio, returned home after a week with me to find that in his absence, squirrels had gotten in the house and been unable to find their way out. While looking for a way out, they chewed up the inside window frames around every single window in the house. That's about 50 windows. Flabio was not pleased. Flabio was apoplectic.

Squirrels are everywhere here. I don't like them because they like to dig up my tulip bulbs, and that pisses me off. And there's an imbecile in the neighborhood who feeds them peanuts all year round which just attracts all of them within 1000 miles. One day Flabio found a squirrel in his home office. Despite leaving windows wide open, he was unable to convince the squirrel to leave and had to put a stop to him with a 7-iron. He also took out some bricks in the fireplace--oh well. About a month ago there was a squirrel in the laundry room. I had the flu and was unwilling to help catch him while I had a fever and was in my nightgown, so we had to call Flabio's business partner to come over and help catch him. They did--eventually.

After weeks of coaxing ("I don't need no stinkin' help"), Flabio finally hired some pest control people to consult on how to keep squirrels out. The pest control guy found a dead rat in the attic. Wonderful. Alberta's claim to fame has always been that the province doesn't have any rats. Alberta's Absolute Zero winter climate is looking pretty attractive right now.

One night while I was visiting Flabio, our little female French Bulldog, Paris, was barking and barking at the window to the backyard. Paris is skittish and barks easily at noises, so we didn't think much of it. It as a windy gloomy night, and we figured it was the wind. The next day when we went out back we were saddened to see that the wind had taken down a 50-year-old apple tree. That was until we looked more closely and saw that it wasn't the wind at all; a beaver had chewed down the tree.

Our house backs onto a green space, and I guess there are beavers down there. Flabio called the municipality, and they sent someone looking like Daniel Boone to trap the beaver. "I think I got the beaver in trouble," he told me. I mean, look, we're animal lovers, and Flabio will catch spiders, for pity's sake, to release them unharmed, but we can't have beavers cutting down all our trees--and I guess the city feels the same way. I have to admit I did get a lot of mileage out of telling people "Flabio has some serious beaver problems," or "Flabio had a beaver attack the last time I was out there" and watching how people reacted.

We also have raccoons. The photo above was taken last week. If you sit on our front porch around sunset, you see raccoons walking across the front yard into the neighbor's yard every night. I don't know where they're going, but they have a mission. The photo I took was taken one mild morning when I was sitting out front with my laptop. This guy walked right by me, 3 feet away. By the time I ran in to get the camera he had scaled our giant Cedar tree out front.

I just want to comment here that yes, that photo is a little overexposed and not the best focus or composition. Let me tell you it's not easy to hold a camera above your head into the sun and try to take a photo of an animal moving around on a branch. I have a whole new respect for action/sports photographers.

Back to the raccoons. Raccoons are everywhere here. They're at home here and don't scare easily. We only worry because of our dogs, especially Paris who thinks every creature is her long lost best friend.

So I tell these stories because one day someone is going to want to remake Alfred Hitchock's The Birds, and I hope they will consider filming it here in our house. The filmmakers would have lots of animals to choose from to star: squirrels, raccoons, beavers, take your pick.

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