The squirrel was in my kitchen again. I mean, technically, there is a high probability it wasn't the same squirrel who stole the plum last summer, but I prefer to think it is. That he hibernated the winter away, dreaming squirrel dreams of the day that he'd have the opportunity to acrobatically jump through the hole in the screen onto my counter and take whatever I was offering that day.
As the squirrel's luck would have it, I had decided to cook a lasagna for my birthday party which resulted in my kitchen, already the hottest room in the apartment, reaching a temperature approaching core-Earth levels. At a certain point, Trennon couldn't take it anymore, and on behalf of my relieved guests opened the kitchen window.
Then seven days passed. Seven long days during any of which I could have chosen to either get the screen fixed or, more easily, closed the window. But neither of these things did I do, and on the seventh day dragging myself into my apartment after yoga, I found my basil and rosemary plants knocked over, soil spilled all over the counter. I approached the window to see if I could see the little bastard – I knew it was him, Stella being dead, and Poco being too decrepit to jump onto the counter.
What did he want in here? I had been careful not to leave any food out knowing the hole in the screen was gaping open. The squirrel sat on the outside sill looking in at me, at least 4 almonds crammed in his mouth. Ohhh, daaamn. I didn't occur to me that a squirrel would want nuts so badly that he'd chew through a plastic container to get them. But that is what he did.
That is the first of many things I learned about squirrels over the following few weeks. I became charmed by having my very own live nature documentary set up inside my window – because I hadn't closed the window properly when I caught the squirrel stealing my almonds. Oh no, of course I hadn't! I closed only the interior window, not the exterior pane. So, the squirrel no longer had access to my nuts, it didn't matter to him, because he did have access to a lovely dry, sheltered space between the screen and the interior window to build his nest. All he had to do was nip out the hole in the screen directly into the tree and he could set about his day.
Now, I know that as soon as I became aware of what was happening here, I really should have stopped it. But in my defense, I was a nervous wreck. I was two weeks into The Egyptian's Four Week Trip to Egypt and I was feeling very insecure about The Status Of All That. A huge debacle was going down at work and also I was deciding whether or not I should go back to school RIGHT NOW. I guess that's how it came to be that one night when I looked into the window and saw the squirrel curled up in his little bed of leaves, I just couldn't bear to part with him.
My favourite thing about the squirrel was how pissed off he he got any time I entered the kitchen in the evenings. He would jump up out of his bed, hop out the hole in the screen and sit on the outside sill growling at me in an effort that can only be described as fucking fantastic, to chase me out of my own kitchen. One night, while making tea, I explained to him that he needed to calm his shit down because quite frankly he was a squatter in my home not vice versa, but he didn't really seem to care. Some nights I managed to slip into the kitchen without disturbing him from his sleep, but then, because I'm a bit of a jerk, I would tap on the glass to wake him up, because he was just so cute when he'd yawn and stretch his little paws out in front of him sleepily. Then he'd jump out the hole and start growling at me.
The most educational thing I learned about squirrels is how they build their nest. It starts out small, with just a few leaves. As the leaves wither and become crisp the squirrel brings in fresh leaves to lay on top. The nest looked more comfy every day and after a month it was positively plush. After only a week or so he'd brought in enough to make a little canopy over his head. The process was quite fascinating. I would seriously look forward to coming home from work every day to see what progress had been made on it.
Finally, the Egyptian came home from Egypt and it seemed all my fears about The Status of All That had been unfounded. He arranged to come around on the first free day we had, which was a Tuesday.
OMG, I emailed Bryony, The Egyptian is coming over tonight. Should I rip out the squirrel's nest???
No, Leslie. Let him see who you really are. This seemed like sound advice. He might as well know now that I am a frigging nutcase who willingly lets a rodent inhabit her kitchen window. At any rate, as someone who once took in an injured pigeon, I expected him to be somewhat sympathetic to the squirrel's cause. Which he was. In fact, he seemed to appreciate the National Geographic-ness of the situation as much as I did.
But that was about two weeks ago now, and the nest grew and grew every day as the squirrel brought in fresh bedding. Until Saturday, that is, when I emailed The Egyptian and said, I think I need to do something about this – the nest is so big I can't even see the squirrel anymore.
If you like, he wrote back, we can can take serious measures to rid you of that creature. I'm pretty sure this is the part of the story where my Dad falls a little bit in love with The Egyptian too. I suspect my Dad has been waiting very a long time for a man to come along who might share with him the burden of getting me out of these kinds of messes. So, he came over and we (well, mostly him) dismantled the nest which was surprisingly very clean, the whole time me lamenting that the poor squirrel would have no home to sleep in that night. Poor, poor squirrel, I should never let him build it in the first place … but I got attached to it when you were in Egypt!! I don't know, I have no explanation for my behaviour – it made sense at the time I let it happen, is all I can say.
I miss the squirrel in the window a little, but I don't miss him that much. He's building a nest on top of my air conditioner.