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One day not too long ago my dear mother came to me and said; “If you are going to garden on the front porch will you please clean up the dirt afterwards?”

Always ready to accuse her of dementia (she does not have it) I replied that I had no idea what she was talking about. We both peered through the front windows on to the porch and yes, it was covered with dirt. I looked up and down the flower bed but saw nothing, figured it was a small woodland creature burying something. But upon scanning the potted plants, I saw that something sticking out and went to have a closer look. In this little pot was a fully wrapped protein bar. Mr. Squirrel  (Paul to his friends) had apparently found a snack somewhere and felt this was a good hiding place. He did not bury it totally though and it was a very funny sight. I left it alone and went about my business.  All the while thinking about some poor person who perhaps was lunching at the park and left their bag unattended for too long.

The next day I saw Paul in one of the hanging baskets in our back garden, he was swinging…eating his protein bar. The wrapper was folded down as he held it, nibbling away as if it were totally normal. I couldn’t believe it. Later that day I looked in this pot and found half the bar still in its wrapper, neatly “squirreled” away.  I guess it was at this point my mother decided to feed him.

I enjoy your mothers brownies.

I’ve heard tales of people who feed birds and squirrels, my elderly neighbor feeds the feral cats and has a few raccoons that sup with them on occasion; but raccoons and squirrels are no fools, they know there is a bigger score somewhere inside.  Think Ratatouille.

Just recently my mother had another senior moment and accused me of eating her brownies and leaving crumbs all over the kitchen (clearly she believes I am a slob).  I denied the crime. Later that day she said she had found the thief, and his point of entry: the screen in the kitchen window had a big hole in it. A hole that was not there before.  Okay maybe there had been a tiny hole and Paul put his big, fat head in it, found he could squeeze that soft cartilage through and lo and behold, he discovered my mom’s famous brownies.

All of this has transpired over the last year. With the onset of Winter Wheat heels being left outside by the back door, stale Carr’s crackers and the occasional piece of rye, Paul (and his family Paulette and Paul Jr.) have moved in.

My mother simply closed the window and forgot about it but I knew I had to do something…and then I forgot about it. I also forgot to close the window after one of my mad cooking sessions and found him pinned against the window trying to allude me. Then 3 days ago I strolled into the kitchen and had the scare of my life. There was Paul, sitting on the bread board, nibbling crumbs! I yelled at him (totally normal) and he ran to the window. But in his shock he couldn’t find the hole he had made, and scrambled around the screen like a maniac. I kept telling him to get lost, and if he could speak I’m sure he would have replied that he was trying.

After that I decided (in my oh so brilliant fashion) to put a cookie sheet against the screen. I like to cook with the window open and I wasn’t going to have Paul ruin my cooking experience. It seemed to do the trick…until yesterday.

That morning I had made a Spanish tortilla, which takes a bit of time. The smells are wonderful though and it must have been torture to Mr. Squirrel. (We are back on formal terms) I made my tortilla, did the dishes, went about my day secure in my quick fix of the screen.

And then I heard a noise. Yes, Paul and his big butt had found a way around the cookie sheet and he was about to pounce on my (rather beautiful) tortilla. Again, I yelled at him; “GET OUT OF HERE!” The look of surprise he gives me with each bust is ridiculous. He really has a look of disdain on his face as though I were the interloper.

The problem now is how to fix the screen. If I get a new screen, he will probably just make another hole.

At the moment he is hanging upside down on a tree outside my window, staring at me.

This is war.

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