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  • One Friday in October my landlord's maintenance man came over and closed a fair sized hole in the side of the house to keep squirrels from living above my kitchen ceiling. For weeks they had been creating a ruckus up there making it hard to sleep. It was the following day that I realized that one of those loud squirrels was a mom. I figured this out because it continued for two days to try desperately to get back into the house, coming up to the solarium door over and over and staring inside with urgency in its eyes. It was during one of it's visits that I noticed it had very large engorged nipples. On a normal squirrel you can't even really see them. After doing lots of research about squirrel babies I began to feel a sense of dread that the babies were still in the ceiling.

    I talked to vets and animal control folks and found out lots of interesting information about squirrels that I never knew previously. Being a softie when it comes to animals tears came to my eyes several times worrying that the babies would die and I'd have their deaths on my conscience. The kitties seemed to enjoy the whole experience though as if it was cat t.v. Eventually one of the babies ended up in the upstairs neighbors house. They were able to catch it and put it outside. An interesting series of exchanges between the neighbors (whom don't speak English and have been reluctant to interact) occurred while trying to get the baby out from under their van. It was the most interaction I'd had with them aside from occasional exchanges while bringing them fresh garden veggies. I also was surprised by the next door neighbor's reaction which was basically that they'd had their own squirrel issues and felt that they were kind of akin to rats and that personally they would exterminate them.

    The first baby ended up dying overnight under the neighbor's van. We did eventually manage to herd it into the backyard the day before but apparently out of confusion it went back to the van overnight. It was a sad sight. The neighbor buried it for us which seemed interesting in light of the 'pest' attribution. The second baby ended up finding its way into my solarium and poked it's head through a hole around the pipe in the ceiling, (wish I would have gotten a picture of that!) Before I could catch it, it disappeared again. In the meanwhile the mom was still frantically trying to get in not realizing one of her babies had already gotten out and passed on. Eventually the second baby somehow managed to make it outside and was reunited with the mother. I assume the baby has grown and is probably on it's own now. So, a somewhat happy ending.

    This story was interesting for me because it revealed a variety of differences in how one values or interacts with other living creatures as well as a range of emotional responses, (including my own). It is always interesting to see how one out of the ordinary event can reveal new insights about yourself, other people, values, reactions, etc... I looked up squirrel medicine/totem/energy (something I always do after any significant non-human animal encounter) some of the main qualities mentioned were: resourcefulness, abundance, preparations for and connection to the seasons, productivity and more. This was interesting because it resonated with my own personality as well as the main goals of that particular weekend. My mother had driven down from Bellingham, WA to spend the weekend teaching me how to can all of the late season harvest from my garden. The canning was a success and resulted in many pints of delicious rattatouille and a new appreciation for squirrels, my mom's teachings, neighbors and the abundance all around me...
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