Patricia's Porch Talk: Talkin' squirrelly
By Patricia Paris
Apr 30, 2007
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A couple of months ago, I heard something scampering around in my attic one night.  A few days later, I heard it again.   Then one day I saw the culprit…or rather, he saw me.  And froze.  When I opened the back door, he was sitting on my fence looking for all the world like one of those whimsical garden ornaments, not moving a muscle.   He kept his eyes on me and never blinked.


I looked at that bushy tailed critter and knew I was at last face to face with the enemy.   I was looking at a squirrel-in-residence.   


He had guilt written all over him.     


He knew the taste of my insulation very well.  


That renegade creature had abandoned all tradition and everything his momma had ever taught him about living in the wild.   Each night he left his family, arguing that he shouldn't sleep in a tree when there's a perfectly good stick-built house just a few feet away.


Night after night, I have lain awake, listening to him and wondering what on earth  he's DOING up there and assuming  it was something destructive and costly and very, very smelly.


Various friends and acquaintances, upon hearing of my attic resident, have stopped by to give educated guesses on where and how this clever creature is getting in.  


Several pointed to the screening that appeared to have been pried away from the air vent, but none had a ladder tall enough to reach.    


Some nights, I've been so sleep-deprived and desperate that I've actually wondered if one fireman and a fire truck could be rented … on a slow day, of course. 


So, this morning, when I heard the inimitable sound of a crew of roofers hammering away atop a building in my neighborhood,   I did a little dance, then clasped my hands and rolled my eyes heavenward. "It's here!   The tall ladder I've been praying for!  Yes!   There IS a God!  Thank You Thank You Thank You." 


I bolted out of the house and towards the sounds, my mission bolstered by the piece of dark chocolate hastily grabbed up in a gesture of celebration from the kitchen counter just before leaving the house.    


The message printed inside the Dove foil had said, 'Make a list of your dreams.'   But such a list wasn't necessary for me.   Not today anyway.   My most pressing dream was coming true just down the street, on my neighbor's roof.  


Arriving at my destination, I stood back a few feet, so they could see me, and waited.  I correctly guessed they would sense me staring at their backs, because one at a time, they stopped hammering, turned toward me, and stared back.    


One of them muttered something.  I couldn't hear him, but it was most likely something like, "Now what's HER problem?"


I attempted  my best damsel-in-distress smile and waved. 


"Hi!   eh….Hellooo."  


I waved again, then pointed.  


"I live… eh…..just over there….and I… eh….need to hire you for a small job.    It's really a very small thing.  It won't take long  but will require… one of your men and your ladder."


They just kept staring.  One of them looked at the others and I could hear more muffled muttering.


"I have a squirrel in my attic."


As soon as the words were out of my mouth, a tall, lanky roofer scrambled down that ladder and in a matter of seconds, he was standing before me…looking like he'd just received a bad news phone call.


"That dang squirrel could be doing you some real damage."


"I know.  I can hear him scampering around every night and I'm sure he's rearranged my insulation to build his nest."


"Oh, THAT ain't nothing.  They'll chew right through your wiring.  It might even cause a fire.  You gotta get him out of there."


"That's what I'm hoping you'll help me with.  I know where he's getting in….down at the end of the vent.   I can see where he's pulled the screen down, under the eaves."


He began walking in the direction I had pointed.  "Show me where that dang critter's getting in."   


I pointed. 


"See?  Up there?  I hear him scrambling through that corner vent every night.  He roams around all night in the attic, and then I hear him leaving through that same vent in the morning.    He doesn't sleep well!   He scurries around most of the night and keeps me awake.  And I thought I was an insomniac! "


He squinted towards my roof and rubbed his chin thoughtfully.


"They're nocturnal.   That's why he's roaming all night.   He's probably chewing through your wiring.  How long's he been up there?"


"Oh, a couple of months, I guess."


"hmmmmm, so he's been there for a while.  He's had time to do a lot of damage.   Before we leave this evening, I'll cover his entrance with something solid.   Then you gotta hope he doesn't miss his comfortable nest and find a new way to get in. "


"How much will you charge?"


"It won't be much.  Don't worry about it."


He looked up at the roof again, "Yeah, he's probably eating into your wiring.  You need to get your attic checked out….'specially the wiring."


And so we had an agreement, albeit a loose one.  He walked back to his roof in progress and I ran some errands.   When I returned a couple of hours later, I looked up at the roof vent.   There was no longer a gaping hole in the vent screen; it had been covered over so neatly it just blended in.   While I was shopping, the roofer with his tall ladder had evicted the squirrel.  


That was this afternoon.  I hope the roofer will return tomorrow and present me with an invoice.    Men with tall ladders are sometimes hard to come by so I want to pay him every penny.  You never know when you might need them again.


Now it's getting dark and I'm starting to get squirrelly.   I keep going upstairs, standing very still, cocking one ear towards the ceiling, and listening…..listening.    


If that little beady-eyed, bushy-tailed critter finds his way back into my attic, I'm declaring all out war. . . or open hunting season.  


Copyright 2007 Patricia Paris
Patricia Paris is an author/columnist from
East Tennessee .
Tennessee Mountain Writers, Int'l Women Writers Association, Tennessee Writers Alliance , Chattanooga Writers Guild