Who are the people in your neighborhood?


Growing up in a small, rural town and now living in the northwest suburbs of Chicago for the past 15 years, I’ve seen some differences between the two.  But one of the most interesting and infuriating are the squirrels.

That’s right.

Squirrels in my hometown in Indiana know their place.  They are part of the larger ecosystem.  They eat what God intended them to eat, and provide whatever ecosystem service God intended them to provide.

My dad always planted a garden.  We called it “The Survival of the Fittest Garden” because one day a year my dad would get inspired.  The plants would be purchased, the plot would be tilled, the plants would be planted and fed, and life was good.  Then apart of the occasional “throw the sprinkler by the garden” whatever was able to grow deserved to grow.  No weeding. no other feeding, no other care.  Somehow though, we always were blessed with plenty of vegetables to eat, tomatoes being the favorite.

I remember my first foray into container gardening at the condo I was at in Arlington Heights in the summer of 2000. I planted a cherry tomato plant, which grew very well in the container.  Little green buds that would grow up to be cherry tomatoes were plentiful.  They grew and grew.  Subconsciously I might have had a sense that there were fewer tomatoes on Friday than on Thursday, but it was only until I had a precious couple left, and saw a squirrel steal one of them with it’s bare hands/claws/paws/hooves (whatever, I don’t know much about squirrels) that I realized what had been going on.  Now the thing about this that was really surprising to me is the fact that I lived on the 2nd floor.  So the squirrel had to climb up a tree, make a decent leap onto my porch, and then proceed with his robbery.  I’ll never forget the time I saw the squirrel take a wonder bread bag up to his lair (not from my house….never been a wonder bread eater).

Mom and I tried tomato plants up here in Buffalo Grove a few times.  One year we even did that upside-down hanging contraption where the tomatoes hang almost to the ground.  It grew nicely.  However, Rambo, our neighborhood squirrel (yes, I named him Rambo) has always eaten most of the crop.  Sometimes he eats them right on the plant and we are left with a half-chewed tomato.

The Old Man (we don’t know his name), our neighbor who lives in the same building as The Gypsies, The Young Woman, The Qaeda Family (Al and his wife), and Mr. and Mrs. Hoobastank, feeds Rambo and his family year-round.  We’ve seen him.  It’s because of his feeding that Rambo brazenly will come to our porch and look at us defiantly and want to be fed.  One time he even climbed my screen door.

Other neighbors of mine, you ask?  The R’s, The Former Lesbians, Margaret, Debbie, The Bitch, and The Mayor.

I’ll write about The R’s soon, as they are always up to strange antics on Sunday afternoons.

Diet going great.  10 pounds lost as of this morning.  I rock.

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