Trees: We grow them, we depend on them, we even hug them. But have you ever wondered why? This short, humorous, fantasy story will make you see them in a whole new light.
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Somebody in my family (I won’t name names, but I’ll call him “Son”) has a real thing for encouraging and fostering wildlife.
What this means is that anyone visiting their house feels like they’ve just walked onto the set of a National Geographic special. This is because they have no fewer than nine different feeders and about five houses, not to mention all the various bushes, flower patches, trees, gardens and other assorted habitats.
All of this would make the perfect setting for a writer, except for one problem: the wildlife is starting to get, well, pushy.
Take, for example, our little gang of squirrels. Not content with eating any one of the 3,000 pine cones that fall out of the trees on a daily basis, the little thugs have developed quite a racket.
First, there’s Rocky “Mission Impossible” The Squirrel who has learned how to strip all four cobs of corn off the ‘squirrel twirler’ in 25 minutes or less by hanging upside like a furry Tom Cruise. Then there’s Scarface Capone, last year’s embattled veteran, who figured out how to send the bird feeder in the tree crashing to the ground. His partner-in-crime is Nutsy MacPherson, who must be Scottish, because to dump out the seed, he heaves up one end of the feeder like he’s tossing a caber.
Yet another squirrel (we don’t know who, yet — because they may be rodents, but they never rat each other out), has stormed the front porch and chewed a hole in the plastic feed bin. This one mustn’t be a ‘made’ squirrel though: the little wise guy hasn’t made the hole quite big enough, and he keeps getting caught with his little squirrel butt hanging out the bin.
Their leader? Don Squirrelione, of course. I figure he must be a Soprano, because when he told me he was going to “make me an offer I couldn’t refuse” he had a really high, squeaky voice.
The squirrels don’t work alone. They’ve hired Chip “Baby Face” Munk, and his brother Thelonious to steal seeds. Pretty Boy Floyd, the oriole from Baltimore, is the lookout. The racoons, with their little black face masks, do the night burglaries. They hire the doves for mourning duty when they lose one of their own.
And the local muscle? Two hummingbirds, Bonnie and Clyde. You laugh, but ask anyone who’s ever put out hummingbird feeders — they are the single most aggressive species on the planet. I now firmly believe the birds-are-descended-from-dinosaurs theory: hummingbirds are just miniature pterodactyls.
Do I have witnesses for these crimes? Not really. The possum just plays dead. None of the birds are stool pigeons. Pepe? He’s usually drunk as a skunk, or else raising a big stink about something else. Louise is just a snake in the grass who can’t be trusted. As for the rabbits, they spend most of their time breeding like… well, you know.
Things got worse last Friday, when were visited by a deer called “Petunia” (names changed to protect the innocent). The poor deer had been orphaned; we can only assume her mother had been rubbed out by a rival squirrel gang; perhaps she knew too much. Cute as a bug’s ear this one — we were soon fawning all over her.
But we couldn’t keep her: as everyone knows, nothing runs like a deer, and there’s too much traffic nearby. So we smuggled her to a safehouse in the country, where some friends of ours prepared her for a new life. This morning, under cover of broad daylight, me and our deer friend took a truck ride to a witness protection plan centre, which uses a wildlife refuge as a front. The upside of the story? Petunia has a new friend, an even younger orphan I’ll call “Nobby” (she was all knees.) The downside? I now smell distinctly of Eau De Bambi — deer get nervous in trucks. Anyone who met me this afternoon sniffed, and said: “Oh deer me.”
So the next time anyone tells you they plan to retire to the country to write in peace and quiet, tell them from me:
Getting anything done around there is like pulling a rabbit out of a hat.
How about you? Any garden antics to share? Leave a comment below.
“Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact, and that is – everything around you that you call life, was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use.
The minute that you understand that you can poke life and actually something will, you know if you push in, something will pop out the other side, that you can change it, you can mold it. That’s maybe the most important thing. It’s to shake off this erroneous notion that life is there and you’re just gonna live in it, versus embrace it, change it, improve it, make your mark upon it.
I think that’s very important and however you learn that, once you learn it, you’ll want to change life and make it better, cause it’s kind of messed up, in a lot of ways. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.”
– Steve Jobs
Photo Credit: PolarityFlow / Pixabay
This week, I have good news for all of you poor slobs who are out there doing crazy things like watching what you eat and working out. There’s no need! The world’s junk food manufacturers are going to look after us.
For example, according to a Reuters’ report, a prominent chocolate bar maker announced that it was doing its part in the battle of the bulge: it was cutting its king-sized bars in half. It is not, however, actually removing the other half from the package. No, instead it plans to market the halves as two bars in the same wrapper, thereby making it, and I quote, “shareable.” For the record, the minute everyone who reads this column is suddenly struck with a case of Chocolate Bar Generosity Syndrome, I want your first thought to be: Chandra.
Meanwhile, a major hamburger retailer, which I won’t name in this mcspace, has added salads to its menu. Presumably this is because nothing counteracts a huge cola and fries better than a few pale greens soaked with sweetened dressing.
No word yet though on whether a famous North American convenience store will jump on the healthy eating band wagon any time soon. It currently sells soda pop in cups that clock in at 1.3 litres in Canada, which is approximately as big as three football fields in American terms. It used to boggle my mind to think that anyone could consume that much liquid in a single sitting; of course, this is before I discovered the Englishman’s capacity for ale.
While portion size reduction can only help, I suspect there are other factors at work in the obesity epidemic. For instance, according to the World Health Organization, the average American ate 147 pounds — yes, pounds — of sweeteners in 2001. I’d say that’s the equivalent of eating your own body weight in sugar, but clearly when you eat that much sweetener in a year, your body weight is an upwardly mobile and hard to track number.
Further, about 62 pounds of that amount was high fructose corn syrup. Now I know what you’re thinking: you’re sitting there, saying to yourself, “Ha! Ha! Silly columnist! Obviously, I am safe because I did not drink 62 pounds of corn syrup last year.” To which I reply, “Ha! Ha! Silly reader! That’s what I thought!” Then I started looking at the ingredient lists and found it in things like iced tea, lemonade, jam, fruit drinks, and bizarrely, a package of boneless, skinless chicken breast meat. I’m not sure why anyone thought I might want my chicken sweetened, so I can only conclude the chickens themselves drank a lot of cola on the farm.
Now before the farmers start pelting me with corn awareness pamphlets, let me say that there’s probably nothing wrong with corn syrup sweeteners per se. It’s just there’s an awful lot of it and other highly refined products in our food supply these days. We’ve developed lazy palates — we want things super sweet or super smooth and super sized.
And the problem is that our bodies don’t seem to be designed for taking on that much highly refined or processed food on a constant basis. If you’ll forgive a little scatological etymology (translation: word history best not discussed in polite company), consider pumpernickel bread. Pumper comes from a German word meaning ‘breaking wind,’ while nickel means ‘demon’ (translation: your body could extract nutrition from the bread, but by heck it had to work like the devil for it).
I’m definitely not one for glorifying the old days and I admit there was a really good reason why people switched from ‘old world’ pumpernickel to other kinds of bread, and that is: you can also build brick houses out of pumpernickel loaves.
It’s just that eating a peanut butter and jam sandwich on white bread with a glass of iced tea may well be the digestive equivalent of sticking your finger in an electrical socket.
What’s that? Oh, sorry.
Didn’t mean to ruin your lunch.