When All Else Fails... Make Friends with Nature!
Up until a few months ago I just didn't seem to realize how friendly the squirrels are at my apartment complex...especially this one squirrel named "Patches." Yes, Patches is a special one! And she actually has a white patch of fur on her back so she's very easy to spot! Although at first I didn't know that she had a name nor did I know that she was a female. So in the beginning I affectionately referred to her as "Squirrel".
The first time I was formerly introduced to Patches was when I viewed my neighbor (who also works in the leasing office at my building) feeding nuts to her right out of his hand. I was amazed! I didn't realize that there was such a friendly squirrel living at my building... one that would actually eat out of a person's hand. So from what I can remember my neighbor gave me a peanut to share with Patches, she took it from my hand... and I immediately fell in love. This was the very first time I was able to get so close and personal with a squirrel.
So I started buying nuts and sharing them with Patches. At some point I found out that Patches was raised by a female neighbor of mine who lived in a townhouse on the property. This lady actually named the squirrel Patches and had been feeding her nuts ever since she was a baby squirrel. No wonder she was so friendly with people!
I was visiting Patches almost everyday and so I started teaching her tricks. I was able to get her to sit in my lap and climb up my legs...all the way up to my shoulders... all for a nut ofcourse! I started getting a lot of attention from the neighbors. They were calling me the squirrel trainer. One neighbor took some videos of me with Patches and another neighbor had his little girl come outside to watch me with Patches. We were a hit sensation at my building!
Then one day I was able to get Patches to follow me all the way up to my 3rd floor apartment where I spoiled her with a ton of nuts. I couldn't believe it! What a brave squirrel! She walked up 3 flights of stairs and down a long hallway to get to my apartment. I noticed something very interesting after a moment. Patches saw some of her squirrel friends running across the power lines outside on my side of the building. She paused for a moment looking through the metal bars at the end of my outdoor hallway and had a very concentrated look on her face as if she was gauging the location of my apartment. You have to understand... I live at a very large apartment complex and I've never seen Patches on my side of the building before... although I was never actually looking for her either! But now that we were best of friends... and she knew where I lived... I decided to leave some nuts outside my front door just in case she was brave enough to take the long journey to my apartment again.
So the next day I look out my front door and see that some nuts are missing so it's apparent that Patches had been visiting me...probably earlier in the morning before I was awake. Then the next day or a day or so later I see that one of my neighbors placed some nuts on the floor across from my door, so apparently Patches was running into my neighbors! But after a few days it seemed as though she stopped coming to my apartment for nuts. Perhaps the trip was becoming too dangerous for her... she was encountering too many people I suppose... and perhaps even their dogs? There are a few dogs living on my floor... and ofcourse don't forget my cats! 2 of them enjoy taking walks in the hallway. No, sadly the hallway was not a safe place for Patches. But she wasn't ready to give up so easily!
All of a sudden... perhaps a week or so later Patches appears on my balcony! Wow! I have been living at this apartment for over 11 years and Patches is the first squirrel that's ever found its way to my apartment! Talk about an intelligent squirrel! So I started feeding her on my balcony and leaving bowls of nuts out for her. My cats were in heaven! They had a new pal! It was amazing! Patches wasn't afraid of my cats at all! But it made a lot of sense to me... the lady who raised Patches had a cat... and I always saw other cats outside with Patches as well. She was used to them!
But now all the squirrels running across the power lines outside of my balcony were getting quite jealous. They didn't understand how Patches found her way to my balcony and so they were trying to figure out the route. In an effort to bring peace to the situation and make the other squirrels happy I started throwing nuts off of my balcony everyday. It became a daily ritual. The squirrels would make noises outside my balcony and I would throw nuts to them. They would stop right in front of my balcony on the power line and stare at me until they got my attention... Then I would talk to them and ofcourse throw them nuts.
Soon another squirrel appeared on my balcony. It was a boy. I named him Eddie. My two male cats seemed to get more aggressive around Eddie... perhaps it was a territorial thing. So I had to watch Eddie closely and not leave him alone with my cats. It seemed that another squirrel had found his way to my balcony as well and was eating nuts when I wasn't around. I think he must've been scared of people. A little more feral and less domesticated then the others. He was very sloppy and always knocked over the bowls of nuts scattering the nuts everywhere. Whenever I found this mess I knew it was the one shy squirrel that never showed his face.
The squirrels gave me a lot of joy. I have to admit I woke up everyday looking forward to seeing them... It was a good time while it lasted, but unfortunately the neighbor who lives under me and his girlfriend were not too happy about the squirrels. The squirrels were going onto their balcony and tearing up their plants. When this neighbor first approached me about the situation he told me that he shot one of the squirrels with a bb gun. I was appalled... what a barbarian! However I continued to feed the squirrels anyway. I just tried to do it when the neighbors weren't around. But that didn't work out. I got caught throwing nuts off my balcony one day and overheard the lady in the apartment under me talking very loud explaining the situation to some people who were visiting her. They had placed some squirrel deterrents on their balcony... which didn't appear to be doing anything to keep the squirrels away at all!
Finally one day my neighbor told my roommate that he filed a complaint with the building and that if I didn't stop feeding the squirrels from my balcony the building was going to poison them. He also told my roommate that he was considering buying a silencer and killing the squirrels himself. I started to cry uncontrollably. I was very upset and angry! So I went down to the leasing office and told them the story. They told me that they would never ever poison the squirrels... but just to keep the peace, and protect the squirrels from the neanderthals living under me, I should stop feeding the squirrels from my balcony.
This was a very heartbreaking situation for me but I couldn't be responsible for putting the squirrels lives in danger. So I removed the nuts from my balcony and then had to continuously explain to the squirrels that I couldn't feed them anymore because there were some very bad people around (and I would point to the neighbors under me) who wanted to hurt them. They finally understood and stopped coming around. However, every night I still put out a bunch of nuts for them on the other side of the building far from my apartment... So I can at least feel good about that. Interestingly, just as the squirrel saga came to an end... the bee saga began! The universe always has a divine plan... and there is a season for everything! To bee continued!
Jennie H is a Reiki Master Energy Healer, Co-Founder of Self Saviorz Society California Non-Profit 501(c)(3), Poet, Author and Entertainer with goals to help raise the vibration and consciousness of humanity!