Saturday, June 29, 2013
SQUIRREL ON YOUR HEAD, OR BAD HAIR DAY?
That was a squirrel on my head! This is from a Polaroid from 1972/1973 of my pet squirrel (Squirrely - original, right?). If you look closely, you can see that she is gathering my hair up under her. Luckily, she never gave me any Johnny Carson-naughty-monkey-on-the-head moments.
My boyfriend (now husband) and I found her in the road when she was very small, almost dead, and barely recognizable as a squirrel. What little fur she had was crawling with fleas. I emptied out my purse and used it to scoop her up off the road. I took her home and gave her water, milk and baby pabulum from an eyedropper. We used the flea powder that we used on the dogs, cats, and rabbit and that took care of the fleas. When she got big enough, my dad built a big cage for her that hung from the apple tree in the back yard. At the top of her cage was a little nesting box made of cedar shake shingles. She had leaves and branches in her cage and all sorts of nuts to eat, plus she liked apples and bread.
I suppose because she had been raised having her face wiped with Kleenexes after she had her pabulum and milk, she always preferred Kleenexes to leaves for inside of her nesting box. Every morning she would take all of the Kleenexes out of her nesting box and hang them around on her cage wire and the big driftwood branch in her cage. Every evening, or before a rainstorm, she would gather up all of her Kleenexes and take them back up into her nesting box. She would hang them out for a good airing every day that didn't have rain. I have wondered ever since if squirrels in the wild do that with leaves. In the summer, after she put her Kleenexes in for the evening, she loved to be misted with the hose. She acted like a little person in the shower when we sprayed her. She was very tame and sweet to me, my boyfriend (now husband), and my dad. But she would go into attack mode if other people reached into her cage.
Years went by, and my husband and I got married and moved into an apartment. Squirrely still lived in the cage in the apple tree in the backyard at my mom and dad's. People would stop their cars to see the big Lassie collie, our gold-eyed wolfish looking dog that just came to the house, various cats, and a white rabbit all gathered together sleeping in the shade under the squirrel cage.
Then the morning came when my dad went outside and the squirrel cage had been stolen. We always thought we knew who did it, but had no proof. It was someone that the dogs knew. I know that when the thief reached into that cage for Squirrely, they must have thought that they had grabbed a Tasmanian Devil. I hope she bit the heck out of them.
Anyway, a couple of months after the disappearance, my dad was out washing his car. As he was spraying the car, who do you think came running across the roof and down the tree trunk? Yes, it was Squirrely! She came down to be sprayed with water. He knew it was her because she was much smaller in length than other squirrels, but very round. She appeared whenever he washed the car many times after that, but she never came to his hand anymore. The last time he saw her there were a couple of young, half grown squirrels with her. Maybe she had babies?
When I ran across this Polaroid picture with Squirrely on my head, it brought back so many memories. Do any of you remember wearing smocks in the 1970's. All of my friends and I were wearing them. It was the style. Some of them were tunic length, and some of them were real short, kind of a baby doll look. Halter tops were a big thing then, too.
I can't believe how blond I managed to get my hair. My cousins and friends and I used to put lemon juice or spray Summer Blonde on our hair, put on our two-piece swim suits, and then smear baby oil on our skin and go roast out in the sun for as long as we could stand it. I never could stand it for very long. It wasn't like we were at a beach or pool. We were on towels out in the itchy grass in the back yard, with the transistor radio turned as loud as it would go, but that wasn't very loud. Our big collie would think that this was wonderful and couldn't resist coming over to us and drooling on us. We would squeal about the drool, and the big old collie never did understand what he had done wrong. After the dog drool, the gnats would come and then I would be done. It was a good thing about that dog drool and gnats, or I would now have even more freckles and age spots than I do.
Still to this day, every time a squirrel seems to come a little closer than normal, or makes that little chuckling noise at me, I wonder if it might be one of Squirrely's descendants.