Last night we had a big wind and this morning palm branches were strewn in our path. Cloudless sky, cool breeze, sunshine. Beautiful day.
We greeted some neighbors with “Good morning!,” others with “Shabbat shalom!,” Latinos laying sprinkler pipe and Latinas walking to housecleaning jobs with “Buenas dios!” We nodded at passing whippets, Collies and various -poos and -doodles. Birds were busy in the magnolia, eucalyptus, and sycamore trees and–
My mind was immediately jerked back to a conversation with an old acquaintance we ran into on yesterday’s walk. I knew him and his wife when I was a Shaver, before the Changing of the Guard, before the Renshaw administration, before my hair turned white.
We got to talking about squirrels. John said he should write a book about his battles with them. Seems he and Geraldine have 35 fruit-and-nut trees, everything from almond to doughnut peach to pineapple mango.
He has tried everything to keep the squirrels from stealing his harvest. Everything. Pellet guns. They climb up the back sides of the trees, peering at him around them. Metal bands around the trunk of the trees. They jump over them. Dangling CDs to blind and confuse them. They wait until night. Fishing nets over the trees. They eat holes right through them. Mothballs, $200 worth, tied up in panty hose–“it looked like a scrotum tree”–lasted five days before disintegrating in the sunlight. Dried fox urine around the trunks of the trees. They rolled in it.
John finally used chicken wire. The squirrels were held at bay. The harvest was bountiful. He planned to enjoy the fruits of his own labors the next day.
During the night–the night before Farmers’ Market–every tree was stripped by human beings who parked in his alley and stole them to sell.
John called the police and reported a “drive-by fruiting.”