A Wicker Chicken and the Savage Squirrels
November 1, 2018
A Wicker Chicken and the Savage Squirrels
On the one hand …
… it has been with us now for over fifteen years, a gift from a friend when we moved to an apartment – our first real home since moving back to the Midwest from Maine. We think of it as a wicker chicken although it could well be a duck. It’s one of those things you look at and wonder how in the world did someone make that? It reminds me sometimes of rug weavers, another impossible task that always seems more magic than craft.
Chicken or duck, it has had many nests, all of them outside – front steps, back steps, in a garden, on a tree branch (currently – see photo above). It has endured torrential rains and blizzards, sub-zero temperatures and the blazing humid heat of summers. Without comment it has witnessed the horror of 9/11, our country’s longest war, Sandy Hook, George Bush, and Barack Obama, along with countless family gatherings, a few deaths, a neighbor’s idiocy, the publication of five books, a fall off a ladder, several surgeries, three new cars, the purchase of a new home, grandchildren, and, well, that plethora of minutiae in a life that’s never committed to memory.
A thing is all it is and we are, of course, surrounded by things. The tenure of our wicker chicken, though, has proven longer than several televisions, a beloved dog, a lawn mower, a couch, a furnace, a washer and dryer – all durable things that couldn’t outlast our silent sentinel. Doggedly, she sits her perch impervious to the harshest winds because they blow right through her much in the way that the winds of change blow through so many of us. As Heraclitus once said, you can never step into the same river twice.
Permanence grows increasingly rare in a digital age where a year of change takes about a week. While it may seem rather droll to find my El Capitan in a bit of stick sculpture, still, as I look out my front window as the sun rises and I see her on our miniature crabapple tree – maybe a bit wet and drippy, perhaps covered in snow – I’m reassured that this particular sun will rise, that this day will come to be, and that a wicker chicken might well have made it all happen.
On the other hand …
… I might wish that it presented a bit more in the way of ferocity. Indeed, if it could at least emit a fearsome cluck or two a minor holiday tragedy might have been prevented.
Every year in the fall we buy, along with a gazillion other people, a few pumpkins to decorate our front steps. Just pumpkins – a sign of the changing seasons. We’ve never gone all out and done the cornstalk thing along with an array of gourds and pumpkins. Out here in farm country cornstalks are hardly a novelty and I’ve never quite understood the function of gourds.
Nor have we gotten into Hallowe’en decorations, said effluvia now supposedly a multi-billion dollar profit center each year. I’m not sure I understand the whole business of putting up lights and ghoulish figurines for what is really just a minor calendar moment. Just a couple of blocks from here we have a house with a front yard literally full of every piece of Hallowe’en junk that Menard’s or Lowe’s or Party City or Kohl’s ever had on sale. There is no theme, no pattern, no scary story being suggested, just a massive placement of plastic ghouls and witches and spiders and ghosts and skeletons.
So, not to be totally bereft of autumnal joy, we buy our couple of pumpkins and put them on our front steps. Often they’ll be there until Thanksgiving, a little worse for wear by then with maybe a chunk or two sampled by the squirrels.
This year they lasted barely a week.
As mentioned, pretty regularly we’ll see that a bit of gnawing has taken place, but nothing more. Within a couple of days, however, one pumpkin was totally gutted with even that woody green stem reduced to fibery bits. It was, perhaps, half gone when the squirrels started on the second pumpkin with, by then, our steps and sidewalks a messy mush of pumpkin parts and seeds. Truly, they ate half of each (roughly) ten-inch pumpkin.
You don’t always get a lot of feedback from your readers, but, since this had never happened before, I like to think this was payback for the nasty comment I made in a recent Cold Iron about the squirrels eating our sunflowers and how I hoped our neighborhood hawk would get them.
I wish our little sentinel could have put a stop to the carnage. It is, however, just a wicker chicken and the squirrels are cunningly savage.
G.K.Wuori © 2018
Photoillustration by the author