Last night a little after 7 p.m. the phone rang. It was my grandkiddos’ other grandmother, who lives close by.
From her voice I knew something was wrong.
“I don’t know what to do,” she said.
“What happened?” I asked, thinking something happened to her mom--the kid’s great-grandmother--who is 90, and lives in a nursing home.
“A squirrel is stuck in my fireplace.”
I breathed a sigh of relief and repeated. “A squirrel in your fireplace?”
Michael, who was sitting nearby getting out his books to do homework, perked up immediately.
She said, “I called for someone to get it out but they want almost three-hundred dollars to come tonight or one hundred if I wait till tomorrow. Do you think Michael can bring his b-b-gun and shoot it?
"Michael's b-b-gun?" I asked, thinking I didn't hear her right.
Woa! Wait a minute. That wasn’t going to happen. First, you don’t shoot a gun in the house—not even a b.b. gun, but I didn’t want to make things worse by lecturing her on gun safety.
Instead, I asked her to hold on, and I gave the phone to Walt, squirrel hunter extraordinare.
It was déjà vu all over.
Several years ago, right around Christmas time, my sister Kathleen had a squirrel stuck in her fireplace. Kathleen’s husband Jim was at work, so she called her daughter Angie then me, and it was Walt to the rescue.
My niece Angie tried to help Walt catch the squirrel, which darted from the fireplace when Walt opened the door. The squirrel sprinted between Angie's legs and hid in the Christmas tree. The squirrel jumped from branch to branch, knocking down ornaments. My sister freaked out because it was her “Irish” tree--the one with several
Long story short: Walt caught the squirrel, but the little guy gave up a fight, biting Walt all he way out the door. As blood dripped from his hand, Walt squeezed, hoping the squirrel would stop biting. But the harder he squeezed, the harder the squirrel bit down. Walt survived, although at my sister's insistence he visited the ER to make sure he didn't get rabies. A few ornaments (thankfully none of the Waterfords) and the squirrel were not as lucky. For Christmas that year, my sister gave Walt a stuffed toy squirrel. It was the hit during the gift exchange.
Back to last night. Before he left the house, Walt found a pair of leather work gloves. He didn't want to get bit this time. Michael put on his hoodie, and when Cari heard what was going on, she rushed out of her bedroom and asked them to wait for her. Michael’s b-b gun, our dog Harley, and I all stayed home.
Less than an hour later, Walt and the grandkiddos came back. They were exicted and couldn't wait to tell me what happened. Walt had caught the squirrel in a towel and released him out the front door, unharmed. And this time Walt didn't shed any blood.
Not exactly a romantic Valentine's night, but definitely a squirrely one, and the makings of a good story.