It's me or the squirrels
May 22, 2010 6:37 am
Updated: May 26, 2010 10:27 pm
If you know our family, then you know how important apricot season is. You also know of our extreme distaste for rodents, despite the pet guinea pig we keep so lovingly spoiled with carrots and hay. We live in a little townhouse in the middle of the city. Our neighborhood was once riddled with gangs activity and was probably the backdrop to more than one newspaper article on organized crime. After 20 years of biding their time and waiting for the inevitable change that comes with urbanization, my parents now find themselves sitting on one of the most sought-after bits of real estate in the area. We're near the metro, there are daycares and book stores and super markets everywhere. There is a dog walking park and a gas station just a few blocks away. Though the opportunity to move to a large suburban home à la American dream came up many times, my brother and I remained adamant about our beloved little townhouse. Here we could have the social lives and entertainment teenagers so ardently crave. But I digress. There is still one unwanted gang in the neighborhood. They live on our front lawn. They're fuzzy and cute in appearance, ferocious and greedy in demeanor. I'm talking about the Eastern grey squirrels.
Since as long as I can remember, we've had a tall, handsome apricot tree in front of our house. In the summer time we practically live off of its delicious fruits. These are naturally smaller than the ones you would find at a supermarket, but I assure you that no one has had a real apricot until they have had one of ours. In every sticky, succulent mouthful, there is more flavor than the pallet could even begin to describe. Whenever my friends would come over, they would ask two questions: Hi, how are you? Got any apricots yet?
Now, we normally wouldn't mind having one or two squirrels in the area. They help populate trees and generally they don't make much of a fuss like snakes or rats. However, they are remarkably dumb. It is not an uncommon sight in summer to find a squirrel happily romping through our tree, plucking a still green apricot from its bud, taking one bite, and dropping it to the ground, unfinished. Now imagine them doing this 50 times, in a row, without learning their lesson. Green fruit = bad, little fella. My mom's tried to coax them away by offering a bowl of peanuts or raisins by our door, but they never seem as interested in these. When she is particularly exasperated, she'll take her broom, open the window, and practically chase after the beasty herself.
I just tasted my first home-grown apricot of the year this morning. I had found it bright and orange, sitting cheerfully outside the kitchen window waiting for me. I plucked the fruit with as much stealth as I could muster and slammed the window shut immediately. A forlorn looking squirrel watched me from outside as I took the first bite. I felt kind of bad, having clearly stolen the apple - apricot - of his eye, and opened the window again to give him the leftover pit. He took it from the windowsill and scrambled away. Perhaps there is fruit enough for the both of us after all.