Teri Orr: Moose and squirrel alert!
There have been no recorded sightings of Natasha and Boris but it is only a matter of time now. Things are pretty wild in my little neighborhood and the terrorists are clearly afoot. They exist in the nocturnal hours -as all sinister characters do- but lately the fight appears have all become so bold as to appear in the middle of the day.
The simple backstory starts like this…I feed the birds from bird feeders all over my yard. As an offering- for years- I have left dried corn out for the squirrels. On occasion- in years past -I have heard scratches of the squirrels in my attic but they always disappear so I have let bygones be what they should be.
My small, close neighborhood has a group text system to alert us to important happenings -like “meet at the fire pit in the circle of the cul de sac after dark. Bring your own beverages.” If we are out of season there will be a fire- if we are in season there will be just great conversation. And kids circling us on bikes and skateboards and dogs weaving between our legs and the laughter that comes from shared stories and even time for concerns about our community and the dismay over the rapid growth none of us (knowingly) signed up for.
This time of year the group text alerts us to The Hazards of the Hood. A repaving schedule causing a change in traffic patterns. A neighbor who had surgery and needs some attention. A possible VRBO rental with wild folks hot tubbing late into the night.
And of course Moose Alerts.
We live about one big city block away from a creek that runs all year long. It is home to creatures large and small – four legged and winged and those that slither silently underfoot. The moose and their babies have summered there for years. And when they start their walkabouts with the kids, they venture into our yards. They eat from my crabapple trees. They sleep in the shade in our backyards and stand in our driveways just as we were walking back out to unload the groceries from the car trunk.
They are moose. They are creatures grand and magnificent and fierce. We give them space.
This week the texted Moose Alert detailed an encounter one cul de sac over where a moose had entered the zone of the backyard badminton game and took with him …the net. He reportedly still had it between his antlers and was none too happy about it. I laughed at the visual in my head of the angry netted moose and then slammed the front door as I walked to my car to head out for dinner.
The slamming of the door probably saved me.
I heard a crashing sound in the side yard. And in front of me I saw freshly-snapped branches off my tiny crabapple tree and an upturned piece of yard art. And there, laying on the grass…the remains of a badminton net. I looked around quickly and jumped into my car and saw on the other side of the driveway branches broken off the aspen trees. Moose had been loose in my yard.
I sent my own text out to the group and detailed the destruction and went to dinner. I returned tired but happy after a great conversation with old friends. I was ready to sleep. But the squirrels would have none of that. They had been all achatter earlier and I understood in hindsight they were probably sending their own group text about the Moose Alert. But now they decided to have a dance party… in my attic. They were racing about and I was NOT sleeping. I remembered my neighbors had said they used a basketball thrown at the ceiling to annoy the squirrels in their attic and eventually they went away. I no longer have children or basketballs in my home. I searched for a substitute. And then I remembered a ball thingy I had several of-dryer balls of soft wool about the size of a tennis ball but without the solid whack-able constitution. I went downstairs and retrieved a few and started throwing them against the ceiling in my room.
I’m pretty sure I heard the squirrels laughing. I looked down and saw a wooden coat hanger and started pounding the ceiling with one end of it. It immediately broke up the dancers like a parent’s car pulling into the driveway of an unsupervised teenage party. The scattering was wild. And then the quiet.
I loved those Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons of my youth when Communism was always the obvious enemy and we needed -in the 50 and 60’s- to be On Alert. I watched the same cartoons later when my children were young; the cartoons had a resurgence because a goofy moose and a flying squirrel seemed wise and funny all at once and the fears of an Evil Empire we thought were…distant.
But right now moose and squirrel seem harbingers of the return of something just beyond the ability to name it. When Boris and Natasha show up in shiny cars with designer children and start buying up neighborhoods and businesses and land and too late, we discover their disguises.
I am on Moose Alert this week as we all should be since the grand creatures need their space to start their children with their own back to school lessons. Squirrel maybe trying to send coded messages through the floorboards- maybe I shouldn’t have been so quick to dismiss him. As for Boris and Natasha I will not be surprised by their reveal , just disappointed we didn’t see them coming this time.
Which is enough to consider this Sunday in the Park…
Teri Orr is a former editor of The Park Record. She is the director of the Park City Institute, which provides programming for the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Center for the Performing Arts.
$110.7 million could be spent on doing a lot more good than just the acquisition of a Monet, Tom Clyde writes.