Iam engaged in a long-running battle with a cunning and ruthless foe. My enemy has so far outwitted me at every turn, but I remain steadfast and resolute. I call him Kim Jong Squirrel.
My wife tells me I can't possibly be dealing with the same squirrel each time — they all look alike, she says — but I have seen the malice in his beady black eye, and I recognize his singular intelligence. This is the Dr. Evil of rodents I'm up against, a bushy-tailed weapon of mass distraction.
Allow me to recount two of Kim Jong's infamies. Last winter we hung a heavy bird feeder from our back porch and stuffed it with suet. One morning we awoke to discover that the cage had inexplicably disappeared. I searched the yard, thinking the wind might have played some mischief, but the feeder had vanished utterly. Only weeks later did I discover the feeder — pillaged — atop the porch roof. The rubberized metal bore the unmistakable marks of squirrel teeth. It scarcely seemed possible. How had a single rodent managed to haul a heavy feeder up two feet of chain? Was he some sort of Schwarzeneggerian supersquirrel? Had he employed a gang of buck-toothed accomplices?
Like many older Maine homes — the subject of this month's special issue — our house has a nonfunctional chimney. One winter's night, our cat, Emma, began studying the vestigial ash door with special interest. Casually, I opened the door to find a furry form slumbering peacefully within. I nudged it. With a squeal, the squirrel leapt three feet up the flue. Not knowing how to evict him, I turned to the Internet, which is replete with strategies for dealing with delinquent pests. On one point, all the Web sites are clear: do not try to smoke a squirrel from your chimney, not unless you want its asphyxiated carcass stinking up your home. I ended up climbing onto the moonlit roof and dangling a rope down the smokestack to serve as a ladder for his escape. Still, he didn't take the hint. I gave the rope a determined shake. Up sprang the maddened beast. Chicken wire has so far prevented another incursion.
Since that episode I have watched Kim Jong's innocent-seeming antics in the backyard. Every once in a while he will glance up from excavating craters in our lawn or deforesting my wife's sunflower patch. His expression is guileless, but in his black heart I know he is plotting revenge.