This is an edit of a wee something I was writing for something else… I’m supposed to be writing about Texas today, but I always seem to be able to find reasons to postpone writing about Texas, such as my mother’s dislike of squirrels. Writing about Texas is hard, writing about squirrels is easy. Texas is the hardest chapter of them all. I’m not sure why. Pesky Texas. Also, I drew this squirrel and made this bag for a present for my mum. She’s going to be so proud…
My Mother Does Not Like Squirrels
From the conservatory I look down to see my mother stepping deliberately through the battered gate and into the garden, bags of nuts and seeds closed with elastic bands and clutched tightly in one hand. She fills the bird feeders, one by one, shaking out and folding the bags and carefully putting the elastics around her wrist for tomorrow’s breakfast for birds. Peanuts for the finches, nuthatches and siskins. Sunflower seeds for the sparrows. Oats for the yellowhammers. She clambers cautiously onto a slippery rock that surrounds the tiny pond, hoisting her olive, ankle-length raincoat as she steps, and clutches a thin branch while she fills another feeder. My mother adores birds. She can tell a black-headed gull from a herring gull from the smallest dot in the sky. Even over the sound of a turbo engine, my mother can hear the first cuckoo of spring. Without encouragement, she’ll whistle the songs of rare siskins, willow warblers, wrens.
Birds who visit my mum’s Glasgow garden, it seems, are entitled to as many nuts and seeds as they can cram in their wee beaks. But, according to my mum, squirrels are an entirely different matter. Those she pelts with leftover potatoes — kept in a pot by the window expressly for such purposes. Always elegant when in public, when it comes to squirrels, my mother no longer cares what the neighbours might think, and bombards any misfortunate bushy-tailed visitors with heartfelt potato projectiles.
“Take that, you great oaf!” she’ll holler, while missing a surprised squirrel and belting a potato off an adjacent tree.
“Oh, you think you’re cute?” she’ll accuse the visiting rodent, while thwacking another leftover from last night out of the window.
“You nasty,” pelt, “greedy”, pelt, “ignorant thing.” Pelt, pelt, pelt.
Conveniently, for the squirrels, my mother appears to have lost the legendary aim that made her a champion stone skimmer in her youth on the shores of Lough Derg, and, despite near daily attempts, she has yet to smack a squirrel with a day-old root vegetable. Conveniently, for my dad, my mum tends to cook a lot of potatoes, so he doesn’t have to do without in order to keep the house supplied with squirrel ammo.