Stressed By Nature

Well, the weather is FINALLY starting to be more acceptable for Canada in May, which of course means that you only wear a sweater in the morning until about 1 pm, then you can take it off for two hours and then put it back on at 3 o’clock. The nice thing about my home office is that it’s drenched in sunshine all morning, which I hate to complain about, but it’s hard to see the computer screen for the glare. Still, as we say in Canada whenever we can, about literally all weather, “It’s better than snow”. Also, from my vantage point, I can watch the woodland creatures like a stalker-y Snow White, but I have to say that nature is stressing me out.

Last week, I decided to be kind to the squirrels and bought a big bag of shelled peanuts. I put them out and the little fellas were having a great time until the Blue Jays showed up. (For those of you picturing a group of strapping young men tossing a baseball around my yard, believe me, I was just as disappointed as you.) They kept swooping in and stealing the nuts, even though there’s a BIRDFEEDER 20 feet away. It was infuriating, and between meetings, and sometimes during them, I was shaking my fist and swearing like a baseball player. So Ken suggested that I move the peanuts to a spot under the trees next to my window:

Ken: It’s a great spot. You can watch the squirrels eating their nuts while you’re working and the branches hang low enough that the jays can’t swoop in and upset you.
Me: Well, it IS upsetting. They’re like those people who were hoarding toilet paper. And now those same people are hoarding tofu. TOFU!!

(Slight tangent: It’s true. The other day I was at the grocery store and I wanted some tofu. There’s been a rumour going around that meat is getting a bit low due to problems in the processing plants but it looked fine to me. I’m not a vegan—I mean, you’d know if I was because I would be telling you about it every week—but I actually really like tofu, so I went to the vegetarian cooler where there’s usually a plenitude of soy products, and all the tofu was gone. Well, not ALL the tofu—they still had the soft stuff, which is disgusting, and something called “Dessert Tofu” and I was like, “I’m not a monster, so no.” I guess the last laugh is on all the people who cleaned out the cooler because a) you can’t keep 40 bricks of tofu in your laundry room cupboard in case you need to wipe your ass 4 months from now, b) it doesn’t taste like meat, even if if says it does, because that’s a lie, and c) if you’re a man and you eat a lot of tofu, which contains estrogen, you will grow boobs. It’s a scientific fact which I just googled.)

Anyway, I put the aluminum pie plate filled with peanuts under the tree by my window, and everything was fine for a bit. The first squirrel came along, zigzagging the way they do, like they’re pretending they don’t have a clue that there’s a cornucopia of nutty delight just waiting for them. Then he found the nuts, picked one up, and gave it a sniff. ‘Aw,’ I thought, ‘That’s so cute.’ But then the squirrel took the peanut, hopped a couple of steps away, and BURIED IT. My pleasure turned to perplexity. The squirrel zigzagged back to the pie plate, took another peanut and buried that one. And another one. And another one, until half the plate was gone. Just then, I got a Zoom notification and had to go to a meeting:

Colleague 1: Good morning, Suzanne! How are you?
Me: I…there’s this squirrel stealing all my nuts out of the pie plate under my window.
Colleague 2: A squirrel is stealing all ze nuts?
Me: Yes, and burying them in the grass!
Colleague 3: Maybe it’s putting them away for winter.
Me: But winter is over 3 months away! (*This is Canada, remember?*)
Colleague 1: Maybe you should put the nuts somewhere you can’t see them.
Colleague 3: I agree. You don’t need this stress.
Me: It’s not fair. He’s hoarding them and now the other squirrels can’t have any.
Colleague 2: Ah, oui—just like ze toilet paper.
Me: And the tofu!

(I had to take a quick break from writing this post because Ken interrupted me:

Ken: I’m going down to the basement to fix the sum pump.
Me: The sump pump?
Ken: Sum pump?
Me: I think it’s sump.
Ken: Sump. Yeah, I think you’re right. That’s what I thought too but it sounded weird.
Me: Weirder than sum?
Ken: What does sump stand for anyway?
Me: Um…Subterranean…underwater…mechanical………pump?
Ken: Does it?
Me: Absolutely. I just googled it. It’s a scientific fact.

Back to writing.)

Then on Thursday, Ken and I were in the back yard when we heard this beautiful birdsong. We looked around just as a goldfinch flew past us and landed on our patio door screen.

“Quick!” I said, “Get a picture!” Ken got right close and took a picture of it, and it didn’t show any sign of flying away, so I crept closer until I was able to reach out a finger and pet it on the head. It still didn’t move—it just kept singing away. So I took another step and stroked its feathers. It was still for a minute then it launched off the screen and tried to land on my arm, at which point I think it realized I wasn’t a Disney Princess but was, in fact, a human woman, freaked itself out, and tried to escape by flying into my hair, which freaked me out, and we both kind of screamed, and I ran into the house and the goldfinch flew into a tree. But it was a nice moment. For a moment.

As a final note, I just want to say thank you to everyone for all your words of comfort and support last week. And I need to tell you that I will never ever again write about our new young neighbours in any critical way because when I stumbled to the end of their driveway sobbing a week ago last Wednesday and told them our dog had just died and that Ken needed some help moving him, they immediately and without question (although I’m sure they had MANY), dropped what they were doing (literally–it was a hose and they were washing their truck again but that’s not a criticism; in fact, it’s nice that they take such good care of all their vehicles, right?) and ran across the street to help us (yes, we maintained social distancing). And a couple of nights ago, I looked out my kitchen window and could see them in their breezeway. “Look,” I said to Ken. “The new neighbours are dancing!” and with that, we saw him pick her up in the air and twirl her around and she laughed, and it was one of the sweetest things I’ve seen in a long time. So it turns out that we’re the weird neighbours after all, which should come as no surprise to anyone.

42 thoughts on “Stressed By Nature

  1. You don’t know how refreshing it is for me to read about someone who put out food for the squirrels and got upset because the birds swooped in to steal it! For some reason, the Bird Appreciation Society had a huge fan club, and they are usually trying to chase the squirrels out of their birdfeeders! As for the burying….. well, that’s just what they do. You should see if they sell any of hard corn kernels (either loose or on the cob) in the birdseed section. Squirrels LOVE that, and they’re much more likely to nibble away at corn rather than bury it…

    Liked by 4 people

  2. A sweater in the morning and in the afternoon? Sounds like Germany. Actually, I rarely take mine off. A have a thing for sweaters anyway.

    I’ve been feeding ‘my’ squirrels too lately. Poor things, they were so skinny (I miss Canadian ones btw, I loved the grey ones most, we don’t have them here).

    I’ve been wondering how you’re doing (I wish I had neighbors like those).

    Liked by 3 people

  3. First of all, I’m kind of envious, we have not needed sweaters since January, and now it’s getting to the point where it’s 80 degrees at 5:30am here!! In any case, I think the squirrel is just being greedy, and he/she won’t be able to remember where they buried those nuts, seriously.

    You had an actual Goldfinch in your house! How wonderful, well before it freaked out that is. And as for your neighbors, so I’m assuming Wolfstein has not made an appearance in a while? It’s sweet that you saw them dancing in their house, and kind of disturbing as well, lmao. 😂😝😆

    Liked by 2 people

    • I like to take extra-firm tofu, slice it and pan fry it til it’s golden, then drizzle it with soya sauce and sesame oil. I think it’s delicious but Ken won’t touch it🤣


  4. My neighbor across the street text me the other morning with this bit of exciting news:

    “The neighbor behind us cut their big oak tree down yesterday, the one that the mocking bird [sic] is usually in. I can still hear him, but he’s now at a distance in someone else [sic] yard 😆 yess!!!!”

    (your readers can learn more about the mockingbird, me, my neighbors, UFOs, bigfoot, shamrocks, happiness, and the Rams here:

    Guess where the songbird hangs out these days. Go ahead. Guess. 😠

    Incidentally, I googled “sump” and came up with a suburban urban management program, a summer undergraduate mentorship program (which you would appreciate), a secure unicast messaging protocol (which I assume is gender-neutral), and a cesspool. But, if you are correct in your acronymening then Ken is, once again, more right than he knew. No one in their right mind would say “I’m gonna go fix the Subterranean Underwater Mechanical Pump Pump” without ending that sentence with a hip-hop beat and two arms double pushing upwards with palms flat. Most of us would simply say pump once, and in short say something like “SUM Pump”.

    Unless there was a bevy of them in the basement and we weren’t sure which one to fix, at that point we’d say “Suzanne, I’m going to the basement to fix some pump.” In my house, I might even say “Suzanne,” but Mrs C might look at me weird for doing so.

    At any rate, I think this is 2 squirrel picks in 3 weeks which is a new record for anyone not named “evil squirrel 13.” Gratz on your accomplishment!

    [GRATZ = Great Resounding Accomplishment, Tom Zays]

    Pump pump!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know—it’s like saying PIN number. And he was able to fix the Subterranean Underwater Mechanical Pump, of which we only have one, so I GRATZ’d him. We have a long-standing joke where, if he’s doing something I can’t help with, I stand nearby with a glass of wine and cheer him on by saying Yay, Ken! and toasting him, so now I can add GRATZ to that!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. You and your squirrels, eh? I’m one to talk, though. If you search my blog for that word you’ll find other posts on the behavior of these acrobatic rodents. But this one is reflective of your buried nuts: The fall of 2018 was a time of squirrel psychology, I don’t know why. Maybe I was jealous of their industriousness.

    Your neighbor: So, you’re an author.
    You: I am. It’s a part time thing. Do you write?
    Yn: Who doesn’t these days? You have a blog?
    You: Um, no.
    Yn: Really? That’s odd. So, you’re not Suzanne of MyDangBlog?
    You: That’s a funny name. No, I don’t know who that is.
    Yn: You like wolves?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. No surprise at all I knew you were the weird neighbours in fact I read a post recently about a women running around screaming that a bird was in her hair, I think it was from a young couple in Canada 😏

    Liked by 1 person

  7. What a wonderful ending! A positive romantic ending. After bingeing on criminal minds, I needed that! I wonder if the bird was blind for some reason, doesn’t sound like typical bird behavior?

    Sent from my iPad


    Liked by 1 person

  8. That’s really nice that you’re feeding the squirrels. It puts you pretty close to being a Disney princess. Closer than the mishap with the goldfinch.
    And that reminds me: my wife put out hummingbird feeders and woodpeckers have been sucking them dry. Woodpeckers! Why would they eat hummingbird food? At least the ants were understandable.
    I’m also glad your neighbours turned out to be lovely people. Every neighbourhood needs some weirdos and it’s better when you can fill that role. It makes it easier to keep an eye on the weirdos.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. So Ken was right – it’s either a sum pump or a sump. I learned something new.
    If you ever get the chance find out where the neighbors got the wolf. I think if I put something like that near the road it may keep the chickens for going in the road. LOL.
    I love that you saw them dancing – so cute.
    There may be a method to their madness in cutting the grass so much – when we had thistle coming up and I kept cutting it eventually the thistle died off and the grass and clover took over. I suspect this works for some other weeds as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Only you can give two kinds of tears in one blog post. I love the tofu obsession and have to say I thought it was just a California thing, cause we are a bit weird out here…..not that I have been hoarding tofu… I can’t find any. And the image of your neighbors dancing was such a beautiful and poignant image. So much love!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. First, I like that you used the word “plenitude” which doesn’t seem to get a lot of love these days.

    Second, the thought of a bird flying in someone’s hair freaks me out, and I’m glad you were able to keep your sense of humour about it.

    Third, I love your description of your neighbours dancing. That actually made my day.

    Liked by 1 person

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