When a curious squirrel with a passion for walnuts sees a big bowl filled with his favorite treat on the other side of a window – he wants them – and a puny window-screen is not going to stop this determined squirrel. The furry one’s victory over screen and walnuts takes a leap towards hilarity when a 5-year-old boy discovers there’s a squirrel in the house.
I met a squirrel one day when I was living in LA . In those days, I drank morning coffee outside on the patio. Pete was a curious fellow and showed up like clockwork every morning just as I sat down.
As time passed, he inched his way down from his branch, going lower and lower, clawing his way down the tree trunk. One day, I brought a walnut with me. When Pete caught sight of that he leapt onto the table. We sat still and looked peacefully into each other’s eyes. I smiled and said hello and asked what I should call him. After a meditative moment, I got a clear answer: Pete.
Since we both shared an affinity for yummy walnuts, it became a natural bridge to friendship.
Pete knew I lived in the world of the house beyond the sliding door. I would often catch a glimpse of him while I was making coffee. It came as no surprise that he sauntered in one day when I left the sliding door open. Pete made his way over to the cabinet where I kept treats for my dog, Latka. I knew he was craving a walnut so I opened the treat cabinet and gave him one. That well-intentioned move turned out to be a big mistake.
Fast forward a few weeks. One day, I returned home, opened the front door and stopped in my tracks. Someone – and we know who that someone was – had placed a walnut in every corner of the house. What was he doing? Was Pete literally squirreling away food for the winter, or was he marking a trail a la Hansel and Gretel? But there was more: How did the critter get in?
The answer to the last question revealed itself one evening when I was cooking. Things were getting smokey in the kitchen, so I turned on the exhaust fan . Suddenly – KABOOM! – the fan blade shot out of its housing along with lots of debris. Pete had chewed his way through the exhaust screen on the roof, shimmied down a very narrow duct, and chewed through a plastic fan blade.
If I’ve learned anything over the course of writing about Pete’s adventures, it is that he was good hearted, very curious, a highly intelligent problem solver, single-minded, very determined, and had an unquenchable love of walnuts.