When I was in college, these two guys did a funny skit making fun of all the squirrels around campus. At the time I thought it was kind of mean. Squirrels aren’t that awful, I thought. It’s not their fault there is 250 of them for every eligible tree in North America. They’re just misunderstood, I thought.
Certain events have transpired in the Smartt household that, were I not to witness them myself, I would surely never, ever believe.
It started like this. Yesterday our heat went out. Of course, the boys and I escaped our frigid 54-degree house to my parents. That afternoon, I got the following message from my husband:
“Waiting on guy to fix the furnace. I am currently trying to kill a squirrel that is in our chimney. With a broadhead arrow. This can only end one way. Dead squirrel.”
I guess I should be alarmed or fazed or surprised to receive texts like these, but I know my husband. I know that he hasn’t done anything resembling hunting in about ten years, and I know the crazy glimmer that gets in his eyes when he hears a mousetrap click and runs to check his prey. So I sort of expect this kind of thing every once in a while.
We arrived home that night to a working heater, but an empty-handed husband.
“He’s still in there. I opened up the fireplace to see if it was working, and he was staring in my face. I tried to get some weapons to try to attack him. But a bow was the only thing that would fit. I did ask Dan (our brother-in-law) if he had a BB gun. But I realized I couldn’t get to him. So I guess he’s still in there.”
For an hour or so, our family enjoyed our new (to us) cozy, warm fire. It was a really special time. Sam and Ty were cozied up right next to the mantle, laughing, hugging, and singing “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire” (more or less).
A little while later, I was relaxing on the big red chair next to the fire, when I heard some rustling noises coming from the chimney. I started to say, “Todd, I think he’s still up the–”
When All Of A Sudden.
Folks. I kid you not. I heard a loud, clanging crash like someone was smashing all the windows with baseball bats, and then saw, out the corner of my eye (but dangerously, horribly, terrifyingly close to my chair) I saw A HUGE FAT GRAY SQUIRREL LEAP FROM THE FIREPLACE INTO OUR CHRISTMAS TREE.
“Todd!!! Todd!! AHH! AHH!! HE’S IN THE HOUSE!!!” I leaped from the chair and the living room, like I was sprinting over burning coals.
Not that I needed to make that much commotion, because it was clear to both Todd, and Sam (who unfortunately had not yet retired to bed and was receiving the most interesting wildlife lesson he’d ever seen), that there was, indeed, a squirrel frantically jumping from branch to decorated branch of our brightly lit Christmas tree. The same Christmas tree, mind you, that has already fallen over twice, and is currently secured by lines of fishing wire.
Well, the squirrel kept making frantic laps around the tree, obviously a bit confused by this glittery domestic version of his habitat.
Todd jumped into action. “Quick! Get Sam upstairs!”
My hunter/husband and I made eye contact for the briefest of seconds, and I saw in his eyes, not fear, or alarm, or even surprise, but joy. Sheer, exhilarating joy.
He was a man. A hunter. He would catch this squirrel.
In the meantime Todd had acquired, in lightning speed, a few tools for the hunt: some rubber-lined gloves, a rake, and a fishing net. I was a little surprised by this combination, but what do I know about catching squirrels. Then he started eying up the tree.
“WHAT THE HECK are you going to do??” I shrieked. “HOW IN THE WORLD ARE WE GOING TO CATCH HIM???” (I am extremely good in crisis situations.)
At this point our worst fears came true.
The squirrel leaped out of the tree and started running all around the house.
Yes, there was a squirrel (rabid, poisonous, or vicious, for all I know) making laps past our TV, jumping on our sofa, parading around on top of my children’s blocks and toy cars. And my husband, chasing him with a rake and net.
It was chaos.
I couldn’t tell you exactly what happened, but a few minutes later, there was silence.
Scary, deafening silence, like after a tornado ravages the landscape.
“Todd? Are you telling me…we don’t know where he is?”
“Um. I think he ran out the door.”
“You think??? Are you sure??”
It did seem that the squirrel had escaped, but if he did, he would remember us forever. Todd had proof. He walked over to me, a gloating smirk on his face, holding…something. What is that? Oh…the tail.
The squirrel’s tail, guys. My husband ripped a tail off of a squirrel, in our own home.
As if I needed more proof, we surveyed the wreckage, and found a bunch of tree bristles, a broken ornament (sniff, sniff), AND, BLOOD STAINS!!! From a squirrel! In my house!
Chaos mostly ended, Todd and I retired to our independent tasks. Todd, to wipe up blood stains; me, to put Sam to bed, answering nothing short of 57 questions about who the squirrel was, where he lived, why he was in the chimney, where he was now, etc. etc. Fortunately Sam has not discovered that this creature is running around without a tail.
Yet, that is. When I came downstairs, Todd was holding the tail, proudly, like a rack of deer antlers, and asked me for a plastic bag. No, a clear one, he demands. So I can show people.
I’m not sure where the tail is right now. I think Todd has sequestered it in his truck to take to show off to all his friends at work. As he should, really. Now, if he wants to mount it, I might draw a line. (Even if it was a highly memorable night.)