Magazine article Sojourners Magazine

Squirreling Away for the Winter

Magazine article Sojourners Magazine

Squirreling Away for the Winter

Article excerpt

This being our special issue on the environment, I must preface my remarks about wanting to strangle the squirrel in my bedroom wall by first reassuring the reader that, here at Sojourners, I'm known as Mr. Nature. I consistently put the natural world before self, causing staff members to see me as no less than a modern-day St. Francis. (Or maybe it's because sometimes I come to work in my bathrobe, on account of I forget.)

For me, there are no pro-environment laws too restrictive, no endangered species legislation too protective, no wetlands undeserving of care. Err on the side of Mother Nature, I always say, as I brake for crossing wind gusts. Paper or plastic? It's not a choice, it's an outrage!

That said, however, and with a clear understanding of the biblical call to care for God's creation, I want to wring that little squirrel's neck. I want to teach him a lesson that will say to squirrels everywhere that my home is not theirs to move into for the winter, as cozy as my home may be, compared to--and I might be going out on a limb her--a tree. As a general rule, I believe that undomesticated creatures, with the possible exception of Winnie the Pooh and Rush Limbaugh, should not live in houses.

Unfortunately, I have had little support on this matter from those of my own species. The other humans in the house--those whose side of the bed is not next to Grand Central Squirrel--have been taken in by said squirrel's bushy tail and cute expressions. They stand at the window and smile warmly as the animal scampers about, gathering leaves in its mouth and occasionally stopping, in a Kodak moment, to raise up and look at us. Then it scampers up the gutter spout and poops in our house.

Apparently the cuteness of these moments outweighs any concern for my discomfort during the night, which leaves me coming down to breakfast with baggy eyes and a face gaunt from lack of sleep. (My looking like a jet-lagged Alan Greenspan obviously makes no difference to these squirrel-lovers.)

NIGHT AFTER NIGHT I am kept awake by the sounds of crinkling leaves as the squirrel wriggles in his makeshift bed, perhaps dreaming of a glut he once enjoyed. Or maybe some other nut.

I've tried to see things from the squirrel's perspective, and I imagine it's not easy settling in for the night. You know how it is when you're trying to get comfortable on a pile of dry leaves and fiberglass insulation. …

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