More Critters Than You Can Shake a Stick At

This is not a metaphor or hyperbole or anything like that. No. I know there are more critters than you can shake a stick at in my yard, because I’ve tried it. Shaking sticks, fists, and random gardening tools in the front yard causes the deer, squirrels, woodchucks, chipmunks, and rabbits to run to the back, which causes the critters already in back to run around to the front.

wikipedia chipmunk

wikipedia chipmunk; mine’s too fast for photos

The new pair of juvenile eagles haven’t discovered the joys of sitting around for hours on my fence and deck posts the way last year’s did. This has emboldened the earthbound deer, rabbits, and woodchucks to tramp on my flowerbeds, and the aeronautical squirrels and chipmunks to invade my barricaded tomatoes.

The chipmunks, if they’re having a world-weary day and not in the mood for climbing and jumping, run right up to the chickenwire, say some magic chipmunk word, and materialize on the other side. You may think they squeeze through, but I never see them do it. I see them run up to the fence and then suddenly there they are inside it, on their way to rip the critterproof netting over the tomatoes. My best defense turns out to be a nose-irritating spray


hole in the chew-proof netting

that keeps them from staying in the garden long enough to bite through the netting. It’s very satisfying to see them run in, turn around, and run out again, foodlessly.

And yet, they are cute, and they’re just trying to live. They have a libertarian attitude to private property: every critter for himself. Herself. Itself. They fight each other tooth and nail for seeds, nuts, possession of my deck. Chipmunks know nothing of government being instituted to secure everyone’s rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Unlike us.

But what does the cat say? Read it here.



In Memoriam Joyce Turner

I had a post all ready to go, about the chipmunk eating my tomatoes; but chipmunks, squirrels, and tomatoes don’t matter much this morning. My dear friend of many years, Joyce Turner, died yesterday.

She’d had health problems for some time, so though I hoped she was getting better, I can’t really say the news was a shock. But it’s always a shock, isn’t it? Are we ever prepared for this? The permanent removal from this world, from our lives, of someone who has been a reliable and expected part of them?

We were young together, and so in my mind we both still are. We ended up living far apart, but any time we met or spoke it was as though no time had passed. A few years ago when she proposed Doug and I go with her and Ed on an Alaska cruise, her grown son laughed – all you ever do, he said, is sit and talk. Why bother with the cruise? Just sit in each other’s living rooms. He was right, but the cruise was wonderful, I’m very glad we went, and I would never have done it if not for Joyce’s enthusiasm.

Joyce was a Special Education teacher, and possessed by the boatload patience, enthusiasm, and optimism, big hearted for her students as for her friends, and fierce in the face of any threat to them. Once when she saw the then-governor of New Jersey at dinner in a restaurant, she marched right up and chewed him out for his lack of support for public schools and teachers. Though she loved animals, I’m sure if I’d gotten her out to my garden, the chipmunks would not have stood a chance.

Rest easy, Joyce. I don’t think I believe yet that you’re gone.