We have squirrel problems. I know I’ve mentioned this. I even wrote a story about one particular furred lunatic in Yarn Harlot. That one stole fleece and yarn, and generally had a wool fetish that was a wonder to behold. Anything I put out there to dry, he was off with – right up until Rams and Presbytera invented the squirrel deterrent system way back in 2007. (I still use that. Works a treat – although it could also be that the squirrel in question has passed from this earth to his eternal wool laden reward. Squirrels still try to get into my yarn and wool, but not with the fearless aggression of the squirrel of 2007-2009. That little arsehole was legend.)
The trouble doesn’t end with the yarn though, and I dare say that out of everything the squirrels have screwed with over the years, the wool and yarn (while being the most enraging and deeply personal of the attacks) has been the least expensive. These insensitive members of the order rodentia have ruined wiring, chewed multiple holes in our roof so that they can nest in our attic, stripped shingles off the porch for no reason other than their own entertainment, and have taken to crapping in just about the most offensive spots in my garden. They are completely unafraid of all humans, simply can’t be scared off of any part of the urban landscape and while you’d expect their wool fetish to endear them to me, It doesn’t. Far from feeling a sense of camaraderie or understanding for a little mammal just trying to keep warm in the harsh Canadian winter, I have always felt that the squirrels attacks on my person and property were personal.
Joe, who hates squirrels as much as I do, does occasionally try to talk me down. The squirrels are, he maintains, simply trying to do what we do. They just want to have a nice home, keep warm, get enough to eat, have a nice family… they’re just being… squirrels. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing loving or generous in his heart for them. He just thinks that when a squirrel rips a hole in your roof and gives birth in your insulation, that they’re running on instinct, not making a personal attack on us based on who we are as people. This doesn’t stop him from calling them names while we write the cheque to the roofer, but you dig where I’m going. (For the record, if I was a roofer, I would LOVE squirrels. I would have a squirrel stencil on the side of my new car that the squirrels bought for me when they chewed through another twelve roofs. I would feed them bon-bons off my porch and sit around with my electrician friends toasting chewed through wiring in attics and making plans to go to the Bahamas together. I would be talking about how we could encourage Toronto’s squirrel population. In short, if I were a Toronto roofer, the only animal I would love more than squirrels is freakin’ raccoons.)
Up until now, I’ve felt a little bit like Joe was right. I mean, I like wool, they like wool, I like to be warm, they like to be warm… their existence probably isn’t the attack on my personhood that it feels like. I shouldn’t take it so personally, you know what I mean? Sure. Then yesterday morning I headed outside to go on the last official training ride of this year. The bike rally rolls out on Sunday, and I think we’re ready. I had my bike tuned up a couple of weeks ago, because really, there’s nothing worse than a broken bike on the road, and you want to make sure that everything is in good working order, but on the other hand, you don’t want to make any last minute changes to the bike.
I pulled my bike out of the little roofed bike spot in the back, and put my hand on the seat to turn it.
THE %^&*&^%$#ing SQUIRRELS HAVE EATEN MY BIKE SEAT. Took a big freaking chunk out of it, and they ate my seat-bag too. Just gnawed it the freak up, and scratched the hell out of the inner tube that was in there, and let me be clear, that’s all that was in there. Bike repair stuff. Not bike repair stuff smeared with peanut butter, and my seat wasn’t sprayed with the pheromones of another squirrel in heat, and there is no reason, my friends, no damned reason at all for a squirrel to EAT YOUR BICYCLE SEAT. That’s not squirrels being squirrels. That’s not instinct. There’s nothing in wreaking my bike that supports the betterment of that squirrels life, unless we include his personal satisfaction.
That, my friends, was personal. More than that, it was rather mean, and disturbingly prescient. My bike has been outside all summer. All spring and summer. Every day. There’s been ample opportunity to eat my freakin’ seat if the urge was there. Did they? No- no, they waited. Biding their time, lingering by the bike and whispering to each other “Wait… not yet. Be patient. We must not eat the seat until no time at all remains to break in another saddle before the rally. Restraint, my brethren. Soon we eat the seat.”