Squirrels in the Garden

The Garden Tea House

Several weeks ago, after work, I went out to my eccentric little Tea House to commune with the cold Winter’s ire and when I went to turn on the lights, nothing happened. The fountain out there was not running either and I have it set so that it is supposed to go on when I get home around 11:00. No lights, no fountain and of course it was as cold as a banker’s heart, so I decided to commune later and retreated to my electric blanket and the warming trinity of dogs.

The next morning I went out in my bathrobe to have a look at what might be the problem, still cold and wet out there and my bare legs positively prickled with exposure. The first thing I notice are little pieces of orange plastic all over the ground. I mean little too, I think I kind of wondered where it all came from, but it didn’t really register at the moment, and I had the electrical problem to deal with.

So I climb up on a somewhat fragile patio chair and I try to get a better look at my little electrical hub. What I see suddenly makes the orange stuff take on a new meaning. Something has chewed through all the orange extension cords as well as most of the way through a couple of hard plastic plugs. When I look around up there I also notice that there are tiny teeth marks on some of the bamboo back wall as well. It seems there is a problem out in paradise.

My first thought is squirrels as the dogs periodically go berserk every time one swings through the back yard like Tarzan across the African Jungle. You’ll be right in the middle of some absorbing program and suddenly there is a telepathic communication and the dogs start barking and carrying on. God forbid you should be eating when that happens or you could end up with a butter knife sticking out of your eye.  I mean, I don’t even know how they know something’s out there, it’s like a string of firecrackers going off without warning and then there’s this big rush to get outside and catch one, as if that were even a remote possibility.

So, I just happen to have a small live animal trap that I picked up at a yard sale for next to nothing. It’s indicative of my yard sale obsession that I happen to have exactly what I need around the house, regardless of what that need might be, but as unlikely as it is, I do have this humane trap and I set it up with a piece of bread slathered with peanut butter.

Sure enough the next morning there is a general uproar from the dogs and when I get out there I find myself in possession of an extremely pissed off gray squirrel which unfortunately meets a demise I will not go into at the moment. The next morning it is a similar story and I capture another bushy tailed garden intruder who is then relocated to a more appropriate venue.

Everything seems to going smoothly, but the next day, the bait is gone and the trap is not sprung. I adjust the sensitivity of the triggering mechanism and place a full sesame seed hamburger bun covered with Skippy chunky peanut butter in the trap and then return to the house full of Hunter instinct and manly expectation. The next day, the bun is still there and the trap is still open for business. And so it goes for the next few days until I notice that the whole bread and peanut butter concoction, although it has not moved is getting smaller.

Everyday I go out there to take a look and everyday the bait is diminished. I have a vision of the damned squirrel tip toeing into the trap, stepping lightly over the trigger, having a light snack, snickering at me and then without even a thank you note, absconding into the trees. What I finally noticed after a couple of weeks was that the teeth marks in the peanut butter were extremely tiny… Too tiny, in fact, to be a squirrel. To test this theory, I put the bait in the trap but then left it closed and sure enough, the bait continued to be slowly pilfered regardless of the door being shut. This tells me that I now have a mouse problem.

So this morning I pull out a set of three Victor Easy Set Mouse traps (yes, I had those laying around too) and proceed to totter out to the Tea House, once again in my fluffy white bathrobe. What can I say, I like wandering around the garden in my bathrobe. I have with me the three mouse traps, a butter knife, and a jar of Skippy, again the chunky variety.

Following the directions, I rub a liberal dab of peanut putter on the yellow plastic trip mechanism, lift it up, slip the tension wire under the lip and, Smack! The thing goes off in my hand, neatly catching my thumb and forefinger in the wire trap. As the thing goes off, I react by letting out a brief scream followed by a series of expletives that I hope my neighbors don’t hear. I also yank my hand up, throwing the damn trap off into the bushes and ending up with peanut butter all over my robe.

Well, I think… I’ll just be more careful next time… Smack! Just one finger this time, but it is more painful and I again react by letting out an embarrassed scream and cursing the morning air. I keep on trying… Smack! There is peanut butter on my glasses. I persevere… Smack! There is peanut butter in my hair. Smack, there is peanut butter all over my hands.

I should have given up.  I’m sure the neighbors have heard me by now. I’m cursing the Victor Mouse trap company loudly and extensively, “What the f*** is this some kind of God Damned Joke? Smack! I have peanut butter on my chest… I notice there is an area on the trigger named sensitive and one named firm, so I slide the little tension wire over to the firm side and Smack! There is peanut butter everywhere.

Finally, after maybe 20 tries, the thing is baited and set and I slowly, ever so slowly put it down on the table next to the humane trap, then I carefully draw my hand away from the implement of my torture and Smack! The damned thing flips up in the air and lands peanut butter side down right in the middle of my God Damned lap! By this time, the dogs have all gone back inside and closed the door behind them and I am alone in the Garden Tea House with greasy fingers, peanut butter everywhere and two traps that have plenty of peanut butter but simply will not set. My only solace is the review I am composing in my head for the Victor Mouse Company regarding their so called, Easy Set Mouse Trap… Easy Set!

Somewhere I figure there is a PETA operative working in the hierarchy of the Victor God Damned Mouse Trap Company and he is laughing his ass off at the thousands of people vainly trying to set the Victor God Damned Easy Set Mouse trap… Smack! Ha, ha, ha! Smack! Ha, ha, ha!

Well to get on with the story, I finally get the two traps set, they are completely covered in peanut butter, as am I and I ease away from them, hardly daring to breath. Then, I go back into the house, clean up and go online where I write no less than 5 bruising reviews on this product on every review site I can find. As I do this, I notice a majority of other writers saying more or less the same thing, which again makes me think there is a mole, or a rat in the Victor Company who is just rolling on the floor. On the Victor site, every negative review is followed by a statement from the company saying they’re sorry you didn’t like their product and referring you to a youtube video on how to set a trap…

I already know how to set a trap you bastards! Smack! I think this has got to be a joke. Could it possibly be that no one from the company has ever tried to set this damned trap? So after the day is over and I’ve finally calmed down and I’ve finished watching Mad Men… One of the best things on television. And I’ve had some Chinese food from the great little place down on St Johns Road…

I get my flash light and I go back out into the quiet moonlit garden and I go into the hushed sacred interior of the Garden Tea House… and there, both of those traps still sit, unsprung and with every bit of peanut butter licked off.

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