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Thursday, October 29, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports >  Outdoors

Ammi Midstokke: Beauty of nature indisputable – sometimes

A squirrel checks out the neighborhood. (Jerret Raffety / Associated Press)
A squirrel checks out the neighborhood. (Jerret Raffety / Associated Press)
Ammi Midstokke

When I moved back into the woods, I had this impression that I would be traipsing around the wilderness in a flowing dress singing old Disney tunes while birds and squirrels perched on my arms.

I thought that moving into nature demanded a sort of meshing with the animal kingdom – the kind where the deer visit and you name the domesticated family of raccoons that live under your porch.

Instead, I find myself fantasizing about creative ways to destroy critters one at a time.

In the beginning, I considered it my rookie backwoods skills. I must have failed to seal off the house appropriately and mice were getting in. I figured I ought to catch them and put them back in the forest where they belong.

It only took a short while before I realized the mouse nation was making a methodical and coordinated effort to conquer my home and claim it as their own country. I snap their little necks now.

There was a woodpecker that I thought was just helping me get rid of my stink bug problem.

“Look how amazing it is that nature keeps all things in balance,” said my naive city-girl brain. That was until the sunrise jackhammer noise drilled a hole the size of a baseball in the most inaccessible part of my third floor exterior.

A few BB gun pellets and we had an understanding. Maybe that’s all it would take – set boundaries with the animals so they could go do their animal things at a safe distance from my house. Yeah.

Now there is a family of squirrels living in the wall of my third floor. The woodpecker managed to make a gorgeous room-with-a-view suite for them including a French door entrance and spacious south-east facing windows for excellent morning light.

There is plenty of pine cone storage space for year-round eating and I think I may even occasionally hear a tiny little boudoir flushing.

Naive as I am, I refused to put traps in my garden for whatever was eating my peas and chard. If I lived in the forest as an animal and found peas and chard, I’d munch them too.

I reinforced my fencing and hammered those little peeping gopher deterrents into the ground. My spacious garden sounded like a video arcade until some other critter got tired of it and dug a series of trenches tearing them out of the ground. Then it ate the last of my peas and chard.

Even my brown cow dog, who is only still alive because of her cuteness, chomped down my entire patch of Brussels sprouts and nearly a complete row of broccoli. It’s like she is siding with them.

And at 5:00 a.m. Wednesday morning, as the sun began to creep over the hills, the daily squirrel brawl outside my window was all I could take. I think the squirrel family has a loose cannon, maybe a squirrel with anger management issues.

He just sits in the tree a few feet away from my pillow and chatters like a psychotic, rabid, over-caffeinated varmint until my brain threatens to explode.

For the last hour and a half of my broken sleep, I had dreams in which I was a renegade exterminator, laughing madly with flame throwers and rat poison, and all the nature ran screaming from my granite mountain top like the animals from a forest fire. Behind me laid destruction as artillery explosions rose into the sky, my house unscathed, the wisteria in full bloom.

When I got up, cranky and tired, and wandered downstairs for coffee, the squirrel stopped chattering and there was a hummingbird stuck in my window. I reached out, cupped him in my hand, and took him onto the deck to fly away.

But he didn’t. He just sat there in my palm, sipping nectar from the flowers while I sipped my coffee. A half hour later he finally took flight. Maybe I shouldn’t have started singing.

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