Letter from the Editor 

This is a story of man versus wild, played out in the blistering summer heat of Memphis, Tennessee. It's a story of love, passion, and persistence, of wills and willpower, of victory and defeat.

The tale began in late May, when my wife bought a bird-feeder and hung it from a plant hanger on the corner of our garage. I look back now at those days of innocence and smile — at how we watched for a week, hoping in vain for a bird, any bird, to find our offering. And then, how happy we were when they came. And come they did, in great numbers — cardinals, finches, sparrows, red-bellied woodpeckers, mourning doves, ring-necked doves, cowbirds, grackles, blue jays, and more. We had to start filling the feeder every morning.

But we didn't mind. We sat outside with our coffee and looked upon our work, and it was good. What's $10 a week in birdseed, we thought, when it brings such pleasure to all?

And then came the furry, gray intruders. Squirrels. At first, they were content to forage on the ground, seemingly unable to get to the feeder. Then I looked out one morning and watched as one jumped, from a trellis more than four feet away to the feeder. I rehung the feeder farther away. The next morning, I watched a squirrel boomerang up onto the feeder from a small bush. I trimmed the bush back. The next morning, I watched a squirrel drop off the garage roof, land in a hanging fern, then leap four feet across to the feeder. They were starting to tick me off. I moved the fern.

The following morning, again, a squirrel was on the feeder, gorging itself. I have no idea how it got there. I walked closer, and the squirrel didn't move, thinking, I suppose, that I wouldn't notice him sitting on the far side of the feeder. I grabbed the base of the feeder, pulled it slowly toward me, and swung it as hard as I could. Is it wrong that I got enormous pleasure from watching the little bastard fly spread-eagle through the air? I don't care. I want to feed the birds, not fatten up every squirrel in Midtown.

I hung the feeder farther under the eaves, and it's been several days since I've seen a squirrel make it to the promised land. They have learned to content themselves with the seeds the birds knock to the ground. I don't even mind that they've turned the birdbath into a squirrel bath. It's summer, after all. I can spare the water. I also bought a BB pistol, but I think we're good for now.

Bruce VanWyngarden


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