I don’t know about where you live, but around these parts we’re being inundated by squirrels. They’re everywhere, but mostly they’re in the road. When I’m driving it’s like avoiding potholes. I’m gripping the steering wheel, banking the car sharply to the right then to the left to avoid hitting them.
A squirrel is an indecisive creature. Unlike a deer that will run through a field and leap over a fence to spring into the road right in front of you, a squirrel can’t make up it’s mind. It’s not that the squirrel isn’t planning to cross in front of you; it’s just a matter of timing. He’ll wait by the road until you get close, then he’ll dart halfway out, stop, lunge forward a few steps, then run back in the direction he came from, turn around, then run all the way across the road when you’re right up on him.
I have a theory about this. I think the squirrels all go to a school to learn to annoy humans. The young ones gather in some hollow tree somewhere and learn the essentials of being a nuisance. “Now today we’re going to learn about burying nuts. The thing you want to keep in mind is that a nut will bury easier and taste better if it’s stored in a person’s flowerbed. The dirt is already loose in there, and it’s generally better quality dirt. You go over there and pick through a clump of flowers until you can get your nut right in the middle and it will stay safe all summer long.”
When it’s time for recess, the squirrels all head for the nearest playground – our city streets. They hide in the bushes until one gets up the nerve to try and cross. If he goes when there’s no car around he gets taunted. “What a sissy squirrel you are. You’re grandmother’s got more guts than you do.”
The brave ones wait until the car is right there, then they dash out. Some of them get scared and start back, but seeing their friends, they turn right around and try to make it across. This game is like football to Texans. They never get tired of it.
One time a squirrel dashed across in front of me. I slammed on my brakes, but I knew I hit it – the timing was perfect for it to go right under the wheel. I had my two small children in the car, and I was afraid I’d only maimed it. So I got out of the car to assess the damage. I honestly didn’t know what I was going to do – back over it to finish it off? Put it in a shoebox and nurse it back to health?
I dreaded the blood and guts, but when I looked under the front driver’s wheel, I saw the squirrel’s tail, then the squirrel jumped out and scared the crap out of me. Just as quickly it stopped and started running from side to side. I realized my wheel was on its tail – and just on the fur. It wasn’t harmed, but it was held in place.
If I tried to go forward, it might swish in front of the tire – it had a whole tail length of range of motion. Same with backing up.
What to do? I finally made my son get out of the car and terrorize the squirrel away from the tire so I could ease forward enough to free him. My son thought that was pretty fun. “Grrrrr,” he said. The squirrel strained away, and I eased forward a few inches. “Grrrr,” he kept saying, and I kept easing. Suddenly the squirrel was free and leapt across the road just in time to get smashed by an oncoming car.
Just kidding. The squirrel escaped unharmed, and the three of us clapped and cheered at its good fortune and our creativity. I bet that squirrel had some pretty good tales to tell his friends. “And this giant bully of a kid was trying to pound my head off while the one in the car kept pulling forward to try and squish me flatter than a stink bug, but I outsmarted them all and escaped without even a scratch!”
Judging from the roads, some of his friends haven’t been so lucky. Still, weaving in and out of squirrels all over the road is about to drive me nuts (get it?). DRIVE me NUTS! LOL.