Monday, January 25, 2010

My Grandmother's Greased Squirrel

My grandmother was an amazing woman.  She had a quick laugh, a quick wit and was quick to give a hug.  She was never too busy to play and had the best pie on the planet.

I remember once when my grandmother decided to teach a squirrel a lesson.  She had a lovely back yard with tall trees and a bird feeder on a pole.  She enjoyed sitting in her sewing room and watching the birds.  The only problem was she also had a squirrel who enjoyed the bird feeder.  The squirrel would get a running start and leap onto the pole.  He would then scurry up the pole and swing onto the bird feeder and devour the seed.  Boy, that made my grandmother mad.

After a lot of thought and consideration, and I think a little conference with my grandfather, she got a mischievous grin on her face and asked me to follow her out back.  When we arrived outside I saw she had a large tub of Crisco and a paper towel.  We proceeded to grease the pole until it had a thick coating of white from top to bottom.  We then ran back to the house and waited with our eyes just above the level of the window.

We didn't have to wait long for the squirrel to come back.  He took a bored look around and not seeing anyone he backed up to make a run up the pole.  We held our breath as he picked up speed and leapt through the air.  He hit the pole as expected, but instead of scurrying up as usual, he slid down the pole with his little arms wrapped around, holding on for dear life.  When his backside hit the leaf covered ground he tipped backwards and revealed a Crisco covered squirrel.  He was coated from his tail all the way to his nose.  He fell over in a stunned manner and rolled right into the fallen leaves.  Then instead of being a stunned greased squirrel he was now a stunned leaf covered greased squirrel.  He was not happy.

Any surprise he had at sliding down the pole was quickly replaced by disgust as this spunky squirrel tried to shake off leaves.  He walked around the yard in wobbly little circles shaking his arms and legs.  He would succeed in getting few leaves off and then put the foot down to be re-coated in more leaves.  The more he moved around the more the Crisco spread and after a while every inch of him was covered.  To really appreciate this you must imagine a little leaf pile with eyes walking around the backyard with a disgusted look on his face.  I'm not really sure how we knew the squirrel was disgusted, but we knew.

Maybe it wasn't nice to laugh at this poor squirrel but my grandmother and I hooted.  I don't mean we laughed politely, we laughed hard.  I remember tears or mirth in her eyes.  We had to sit down we were laughing so hard.  My grandfather even came in to see what was going on.  We laughed and laughed as that silly squirrel ran around the yard coated head to toe in dried leaves. (In fact I am giggling just remembering it now.)

Now before you think my grandmother had achieved victory so easily I must tell you the squirrel did not give up.  He tried to jump the pole again, with the same result I might ad.  Then he decided an aerial approach was better and tried to climb a tree and drop down onto the bird feeder.  This failed as well.  It appeared he was just a little too heavy when coated with leaves and the tree branches bent to the ground just before he reached the feeder.  You do have to give him points for persistence however, because he kept us in fits of laughter for almost 30 minutes.

This squirrel experience taught me a few things...first of which is don't steal birdseed from my grandmother's birds...she gets revenge.  The most important lesson it taught me is actually something much simpler.  She taught me to take time to play.  I am sure she was doing something else that day.  I doubt she had laid in bed waiting for the opprotunity to grease a squirrel.  The funny thing is I don't remember anything about that day, or even that trip to visit my grandparents.  Even now the greased squirrel activity it is one of my favorite childhood memories.

I wonder what my kids will remember 25 years from now.  Will they remember the clean house, the sparking kitchen, the folded laundry and the tidy bathroom?  My guess is they will never have a single memory of the state of my housekeeping.  They will remember the times we chased each other around the house pretending to be Jedi or the time they stripped down to painting smocks to finger paint on the kitchen floor.  They may remember the games of Frisbee golf in the cul-de-sac or the forts we made out of blankets.  They will not remember food I made for lunch or the amazing dinner for the in-laws.

It is up to me to create "greased squirrel" memories for my kids.  It is what they will cherish down the road. 

This week will mark my grandmother's 83rd birthday...well it would have if she hadn't died a little over 25 years ago.  I will always miss her and the fun she had in life.  I wish my kids could have met her and eaten her pie.  I wish they could have learned to sew in her craft room and played games all over the living room floor.  I wish she had been around to see me grow up and to know just how important her little moments of impromptu fun were to me.  The best I can do now is pass the fun down to my kids.  We may not live around any squirrels, but I am always on the lookout anyway.

Thanks Grandma.

P.S. The squirrel did not appear to be greatly harmed by the Crisco incident as he was back at it the next day and for many weeks after that.  I don't think he ever made it back on the bird feeder again, but he sure tried.  Poor squirrel.  He probably still wonders what happened...

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