The Lost Files – Quarrel With The Squirrel, Nevermore

Oct 26, 2009 by

The Lost Files were weekly columns written back around 2001-2003 while I was running a newspaper in the Midwest. They seem to have disappeared from the Internet, probably after some redesign of the newspaper’s web site. So, from time to time, I’ll report some of my favorites from saved hard copies (that’s paper to you new media types).

I have met the enemy, and it’s squirrels.

I’m not talking about the cute little things people throw peanuts to, but rather the furry, tree climbing rat-types.

To put it simply, squirrels in Nebraska are similar to ravens in Alaska. There aren’t a lot of squirrels in Alaska, at least not that you can see. That’s basically because they are scared to death of ravens. If a squirrel is stupid enough to come out, they are quickly attacked. 

Ravens are huge. And they are smart. I’ve watched them swarm around trash cans on pickup day and literally pull the handles off the trash cans and scatter trash all over. In Juneau, it was so bad everyone had to get those bungee cords and tie down their garbage.

Sometimes they figure those out too, and many a time I got a call from my wife swearing it was the last time she was going to pick up the trash scattered all over the yard because I didn’t sufficiently, glue, tie down, batten down, put enough concrete blocks down or whatever to keep the ravens out.

Native Americans in Juneau are primarily from the Tlinglit tribe and they are either members of the Raven or Eagle clan. Tradition has it that if you hear a raven calling your name, you’re toast – as in death is right around the corner.

That in itself is pretty scary because ravens talk a lot. You’ll be out in your yard with some neighbors talking and the ravens start yapping. Everyone gets real quiet, waiting to see what happens. If it’s just jabbering, and we didn’t hear our name, we’d give a big sigh of relief. Of course if you did hear something remotely like your name, your neighbors would give you this “gee sorry” look, pat you on your back and start putting their names on your stuff.

Here in Grand Island, the squirrels have taken the place of ravens, especially when it comes to: 1. scaring me to death and 2. getting into my garbage.

The death scare came around Halloween. We had put out several pumpkins and a harvest wreath with corn, squash and the like out on our front porch.  Bad idea. Very bad idea.

I remember walking out one morning to get the newspaper and noticed a hole in one of the pumpkins about the size of a tennis ball. Hmmm. I picked it up, looked into the hole and I swear a squirrel stuck its head out of the pumpkin and looked right at me.

It scared me to death. So much so that I threw the pumpkin out into the middle of the yard, smashing it and sending the squirrel squirreling. I think it ticked the squirrel off, whom I have since named Rat One, because the next morning I open the door and was startled by three squirrels at eye level munching away on the corn on the wreath. Rat One had brought his friends. Rat Two and Rat Three. (they don’t deserve anything fancier.

Now it was war.  As in any war, a key military strategy is to cut off the enemy’s supplies. So eight pumpkins and what remained of the wreath quickly went into the big rubber dumpster. Case closed, war won. Ha!

Two days later I noticed the evil mutants had literally chewed a hole through the dumpster and several trash bags were eaten through. How can anything eat through rubber or hard plastic? You’d think they’d at least be polite enough to clean up after themselves, but no, we have to just spew it all over.

It’s obvious I need a raven, but I’m afraid the squirrels would have the advantage here with home territory and all that.

My only solace is that the squirrels can’t speak and therefore can’t say my name. At least I think they can’t.

Until next time.

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  1. just be thankful they aren’t Jedi squirrels.

    hilarious post, man.


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