The Lady Anne and I had been watching the strawberry patch with growing anticipation for the last couple of weeks. One plant had no less than six fat sassy strawberries perched on the end of stems, beckoning us with promises of future ripe fruit for a small fruit salad or simply to gleefully eat fresh off the vine. We have eight plants in the new bed, each with burgeoning blossoms and green berries-to-be.
The Lady Anne noted the other day that she saw a squirrel flitting around the ground. Little red flags sprang to mind, and I decided to look into some sort of netting to protect our ‘crop’, but I hadn’t gotten around to it.
This afternoon I went outside to water the gardens and plantings before I take a trip westward. What I found was stunning.
WHERE THE HELL ARE THE STRAWBERRIES?!
Every single one of those promising little green bulbs had been snipped off their stem, leaving its little leafy cap bereft. Over a dozen berries ripped too soon from their parent plant.
Who dares to perpetuate such a travesty? What kind of evil mind plots such a deed? –
Earlier in the winter the woods behind the house played host to a pair of hawks, and squirrels and chipmunks didn’t dare poke their noses out for fear of Terror From The Sky. But the hawks moved on, eager for new grounds where prey innocently roamed out in the open. Their leaving emboldened the local rodents, who now treat my lovingly tended berries as their personal salad bar. It makes me wonder if the blueberry bushes on the other side of the house are targeted as well.
There are dozens of little wild strawberry plants along the side of the house, peeping out from under the azalea bushes and nudging aside the welcomed hostas. But these little berry plants have modest little fruit that the squirrels won’t touch. Oh Nooooo, they won’t deign to nibble at the wild growth, not when Large Footed Person so thoughtfully planted nice fat plants with nice fat fruit right in a group surrounded by easy-to-navigate mulch!
You little bastards! It isn’t enough that you scamper across the rooftop in the middle of the night, startling me wide awake with momentary imagining of giant rats infiltrating the ceiling joists. It isn’t enough that you and your fluffy-tailed fellows like to play dangerous games of Chicken along the quiet street in front of the house, causing soft-hearted drivers to slam on their brakes with exclamations of “Ohhh, did i hit the poor little thing?” (No, you didn’t hit the ‘poor little thing’; the ‘poor little thing’ is scampering along the treetops, getting high-fours from his rodent pals for his excellent psych-out abilities against the Large Loud Rumbling Machine and its soft chewy centers.) It isn’t enough that you suspiciously hover overhead just as a nut or little branch or pine cone or tulip tree flower just happens to land on or near my head, accompanied by the rustle of leaves and I suspect, a small furry chortle of maniacal glee.
The Lady Anne was looking forward to enjoying a handful of berries in the cool pleasant mornings of summer, and now we’ll have to trundle down to the Kroger’s and pluck a clear plastic box of them from the produce bunker like everyone else. You low, thieving rascals have poached from Lady Anne’s private strawberry patch for the first and last time. This isn’t to be borne, and it won’t be borne!
This means War! Squirrel War. Richard Engel should be pulling up any minute now in an NBC news van to cover the fighting that is sure to come.
“Brian, we’re here at Autumn House where peace talks have not only stalled, they have been wrist-rocketed off the table. In this age-old struggle of Nature Vs. Nutjob, the battle lines have been drawn. Juicy berries are at stake not only here in the battle-torn patch next to the gazebo and flagpole, but concerns for the potted fruit on the back deck grow by the hour. This is Richard Engel, reporting from outside Atlanta.”