Norman Squirrel first appeared two summers ago, just as the first crop of fresh peaches appeared on the trees that my husband had planted that spring. While Casey watched patiently for the peaches to ripen, Norman apparently decided that you can't judge ripeness by looks alone. Every day we would find more peaches on the ground, a few little rodent bites nibbled from each one, as if they had been tasted and found wanting. As time went on, the number of ripening peaches on the tree got smaller and smaller, and more and more peaches hit the ground. There were still some good looking peaches, though, ripening under Casey's watchful gaze. Then one day, there were none.
Clearly Norman was to blame. It seemed unlikely that one squirrel had managed that much destruction in one night - he must have had a party and brought all his little peach-eating rodent friends over to finish off the job he had started. Of course, once you start talking about a squirrel having a party, your discussion veers quickly right past silly and into ridiculous. By the end of our dinner-time chat that night, Norman was the star of a new children's book, "Party On, Norman Squirrel!" Casey found it much less amusing than the rest of us.
Flash forward a year. For the second year, we put up a nice canopy with screened sides on our back deck, and enjoyed bug-free dining - until Norman struck again. He had decided that netting makes great dental floss. Big ugly holes had been chewed in each corner of the netting, and even into some of the canvas. Now I was beginning to appreciate Casey's increasing desire to "get that squirrel".
This year, we had a very busy summer, much of it spent away from home. Casey put the roof up over the canopy frame, but we never did get around to hanging the new netting. "Well, at least Norman won't be eating it this year." Wrong! He must have really like that netting - this year he climbed to the top and chewed up the netting between the little cupola and the rest of the canopy. Enough is enough, Norman! Someone might just use you and a few of your partners-in-crime to make a stew.
In case anyone is inspired, here's a recipe:
Clean 3 squirrels, cut lengthwise into halves, simmer in boiling salted water with one pound of carrots until tender. [Note that the recipe doesn't mention whether this will be a matter of minutes, hours, or days!] Blend 6 tablespoons each melted fat and flour, add 2-3/4 cups of strained squirrel stock [not available commercially], 1 teaspoon minced onion, 1 bay leaf and salt. Cook until thickened and serve over squirrel for 6.
250 Ways to Prepare Meat, Culinary Arts Institute, 1940