Monday, September 13, 2010

I'm sorry my crazy fell on your roof. Nice to meet you.

So I'll be the first to admit that from time to time, when I experience periods of stress, I get a little extra neurotic. It's hard to hold the OCD down when I'm tired.

I'm at the kitchen sink several times every day getting water, and for a week it seems, it had been raining out my kitchen window. There's an overgrown Cedar Elm over the neighbor's house that dapples the light in the late afternoon, and while the neighbor's house is not very pleasant to look at, I still like to look out when I'm there.

Saturday afternoon, on the way out of the house, I was enjoying my window when I noticed something hanging out of the neighbor's gutter. A squirrel tail and two little back paws. It was terrible that a squirrel had died up there, but now it was all I could think about when looking out my kitchen window. I started to think about ways to get the remains down from the eave of the house since I certainly couldn't watch the poor thing decay, but finding the neighbor lady scaling your house to get dead rodents off the roof is certainly no way to meet those neighbors for the first time.

Bart was already in the car waiting for me to leave, so I went out to run errands and see if he had a better idea for getting the squirrel down. We came home really late and had to be at his sister's house early on Sunday. When we were finally home Sunday afternoon, Bart wanted to assess the situation so I pointed out the kitchen where the carcass was, but it had MOVED... I shivered in terror thinking that I could have helped this poor sick animal yesterday but thought it was dead and it lay suffering all night because of my assumption. It must have dragged its poor little tired squirrel body a few inches down the gutter trying to get comfortable. Now what do I do? It's Sunday afternoon, Animal Control probably won't come out until morning, and here I am with a mostly dead squirrel 15 feet from where I do my dishes!

At that moment I look to the right, and another squirrel sits staring at me, 10 feet down-gutter from the first. We make eye contact as he drapes himself over the edge of the gutter and coughs as dramatically as a squirrel can. Two dying squirrels on the neighbor's roof? Bart, who is still standing next to me, says something about poison... Are my neighbors poisoning squirrels? What kind of people do I live next door to? How can we ever get a dog now? What if the dog catches a poisoned squirrel? Will the neighbors poison the dog too?

Overwhelmed with panic, and sickened by the suffering unfolding before my eyes, I go to the other room. I think about how I'm going to end their misery, most of the options involving lots of courage I can't seem to find right now. Bart, who is a veteran in coping with the Katy-style panic attack, offers to go talk to the neighbors. He walks next door and introduces himself and comes back through the house a few minutes later to get the ladder.

I was just getting the hysteria under control when he came back in the house. Do I ask him how he did it? Do I even want to know? All of the images of squirrel euthanasia swirling around in my head were surely worse than reality, right?
"Well, our neighbors think we're crazy", he says. Crazy? Are they as heartless as I thought? He tells me he met the family, but the teenage son is the only person in the house who speaks english, and he and Bart got up on the ladder. I brace myself as he recounts reaching for the sick squirrel, all the while thinking how this was way braver than him stepping on a cockroach for me.

He reached up in the gutter, ready to fight the potentially contagious squirrel, and both of the squirrels hopped up out of the gutter, ran up the roof, and away into the trees.

Carlos, the teenage neighbor, laughed as Bart climbed down the ladder. Bart, the neighbor he has never met but has lived here for 8 months, just knocked on his door and climbed up a ladder to point out that squirrels were lounging on his roof. Lounging!

All this time, the squirrels were just kicking it up there in the gutter. I guess they sleep in very unconventional positions, like the one I saw on Saturday upside down with his hind legs and tail up in the air, and the coughing squirrel, who draped himself over the edge of the gutter like he lacked the strength to properly lay down. LOUNGING!

Bart, as usual, had to pay the price for my insane little episode with his dignity. Now Carlos and his family, who are not actually squirrel-poisoners, know us as the crazy white couple next door, who came knocking to tell them squirrels were on their roof. No squirrels suffered.

Today, since it's been long enough since the incident for me to talk about it, I went to the window while talking on the phone. One of them is sitting up there right now, mocking me. That's right, the squirrel is back lounging in the gutter again. He probably told his friends to come over and mock me too. That's fine, it's no secret that I'm nuts, you little varmint slacker!