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After week of disruption, it seemed safe to put the small plants back on their shelves on the porch and bring back the amaryllis plants. The Aphrodite was still producing its magnificent flowers and by now, a gift plant from my sister Ellen had produced its first flower on a 28-inch stalk. In all, this pot of bulbs will make at least 16 brilliant red flowers.
Earlier that day, the squirrels that have taken up residence in a dropped ceiling were madly chasing each other, squeaking and chirping in some sort of mating frenzy. They crashed through a flimsy plastic light panel and ran amok in a 9- by 32-foot enclosed porch that is one-third of my small apartment. Plants, CDs, books and lots of other things were knocked over by the invaders while they tried to find a way out.
I was beside myself. My concerns about the squirrels in the ceiling had gone unanswered for more than a year. Anticipating a possible incursion, I had taken a large screen off one of the 10 jalousied windows, but I was too scared Wednesday to go out and open it.
Finally my neighbor came to my rescue. She went in and cranked open the window. Out they went, only to come back in the ceiling and peer down from the hole under the light fixture.
I had found out through numerous phone calls that no official help exists for the hapless renter with a squirrel problem, except through Inspections putting some heat on the landlord. An exterminator finally came and set traps, but because the hole was open, I left the window open in case one of the squirrels made its way into the porch again. The temperature went down to 30 degrees out there.
On Thursday, the landlord and a worker came to look at the situation and left. Nothing happened Thursday except that I could see one dead squirrel next to the hole. Early Friday, workers arrived and removed the squirrel and replaced damaged ceiling tiles, including the missing light panel. Chewed-up wads of insulation and squirrel mess rained down when they moved the panels.
All was quiet until 4 p.m. Then my heart clutched as I heard the familiar scuttling overhead. Another squirrel.
According to this web site, 2008 is going to be a boom year for the Eastern Gray Squirrel, so others should soon have their own squirrel tales if they have left any holes in the exterior unsealed. The soffits at this building have several holes where they can come in.
In looking up information on the computer, I found that the gray squirrel is now displacing the red squirrel in England. It carries a disease for which the smaller "Squirrel Nutkin" variety has no resistance. Click here for details.
Squirrels also get in the news by way of self-immolation from chewing wires. Here's one story.
Besides red and gray squirrels, there are white and black ones as this web site explains.
All I know is that I don't want any more squirrels to drop in, no matter what color!
But today, the image above reminds me of Plainfield's traditional political adage that a city power broker must only be able to count to four to make things happen (or not happen) in the city.
I hope not.