autumn

Pumpkin Soup and the War on Squirrels

Preparing for an evening of spite-fueled domesticity.

Preparing for an evening of spite-fueled domesticity.

My father-in-law lives with us and takes care of Charlie while Andy and I are at work. For the record, this is a fabulous arrangement. He is, however, at a crucial point in his ongoing War on Squirrels. Few things make him happier than being able to deny happiness to the squirrels who live in our yard. Those decorative porch pumpkins? It’s November 2nd. They have to go. Today. Because Halloween is over and the squirrels have taken an interest. We cannot leave them out until the day after Thanksgiving as I’d planned, because the squirrels are already sniffing them, and probably licking them too. And if the squirrels enjoy a festive holiday gourd, the terrorists win.

Our squirrels are, in fact, a tremendous pain in the ass. We have this lovely apple tree that we’ve never been able to eat one apple off of, because the squirrels get to them first. Though I really enjoy the idea of having a home-grown apple, I was always too taken with the adorableness of my fluffy little squirrel friends sitting on our porch and gnawing away at an apple bigger than their head, like they think they’re people. Even when a squirrel made a nest right outside my bedroom window and I could hear the scratching inches from my head in the middle of the night as she nibbled through our screen, my primary thought was, “Oh! How nice! She’s getting the nursery ready for her baby, just like me! We’re like twins! And she goes so well with the ‘Critters of North America’ decor I’m working on in here!” But then I did let the cats into my room to stare her down, because in practice, I don’t need a next of baby squirrels sleeping next to my head, no matter how goddamned adorable they are.

When Ed moved in, the squirrels went from adorable nuisance to The Enemy at Home. They’re into the bird seed, they’re digging up the flower bed, AND they’re still eating the apples. Probably they would kill us in our sleep if we let them. So the last 14 months, while primarily being dedicated to the care and nurturing of my child, have secondarily been committed to contraptions, concoctions, and incantations directed at the Enemy Squirrels: pepper spray on the apple trees, peppermint oil around the bird feeder, pepper seeds in the bird feed, cages around the plants, wire around the everything, plastic owls and eagles placed menacingly around the porch, an ever-expanding and increasingly greased up bird-feed-holding pole (that the squirrels continue to climb by simply modifying their previous behavior), and, most importantly, dropping everything at a moments notice to run our back and turn the hose on a squirrel when caught in an offending action. Since the squirrels have outmaneuvered us at every turn, getting stronger, jumping higher, and getting less picky about what they want their pilfered crops to taste like. It would seem that the conclusion is the resignation that we just can’t have nice things, and neither can the squirrels. Ed recently uprooted the vegetable garden and removed the bird feeder; I give it a week before he chops down the apple tree while shouting, “If I can’t have you, nobody can!”

Lest the enemy get a pleasant meal, we’ll be having decorative autumn gourd for dinner tonight. I’m searching the internet for a “wow your guests when you bake this soup in a pumpkin and be festive!” recipe, aiming for one that I have most of the ingredients for. Since I’m an ideal homemaker, this will work out perfectly. There’s no need to wish me luck.

I totally have this autumnal domesticity thing down. Look at these amazing Tootsie Pop Ghosts I crafted for dozens of apathetic trick-or-treaters! Cooking show-worthy gourd soup should be no biggie.

I totally have this autumnal domesticity thing down. Look at these amazing Tootsie Pop Ghosts I crafted for dozens of apathetic trick-or-treaters! Cooking show-worthy gourd soup should be no biggie.

7 Phases of Autumn Magic

When it seemed like I wasn’t going to have children, one of the hardest things to come to terms with was missing out on Kid-Having Autumn Magic. It was something I held in very high regard. Toddlers who wore tweed on their hayrides before cheerfully collecting multicolored leaves for the cinnamon-scented centerpiece that would be in plain view in my clean home during every evening meal from October 1 to Thanksgiving. With the leaves starting to change, with Andy’s mom in town, and with Charlie beginning to appreciate activities and novelty, we made plans to make today our special outing to the pumpkin patch. Probably we could get slightly lost in a corn maze, but only enough for it to be fun, and have some cider before Charlie picked out his dream pumpkin. Let me take you through the phases of today’s Autumn Magic.

  1. Commit to a trip to the pumpkin patch.
  2. Remember that we live in a city, and, with help from the Internet, learn that the closest proper “patch” is at a farm in Bowie, Maryland.
  3. Decide instead to go to Eastern Market (the big DC farmers’ market on Capitol Hill), where there will be plenty of locally grown pumpkins, fresh from the patch, for Charlie to choose from while I drink cider. They might even have some hay strewn about. Urban equivalent of the pumpkin patch, and there for more authentic and appropriate.
  4. Fail to get everyone fed, napped, and showered in time to get to Eastern Market via Metro before I go to work for a brief event.
  5. Promise my mother-in-law that we can stop at Home Depot to pick out a pumpkin as soon as I’m home at work around 6:00. They actually have a really good variety of pumpkins, and there’s location really close to our house. I think they also have some decorative hay in the pumpkin section.
  6. Get home from work around 6:00. Think better of ever leaving the house again.
  7. Skip Home Depot; order Dominos.

This is exactly the Autumn Magic I knew myself to be missing out on when I started crying in the pie aisle at Trader Joe’s a few years ago.

Live, from us not going on a hay ride through a corn maze while sipping cider in an authentic pumpkin patch.

Live, from us not going on a hay ride through a corn maze while sipping cider in an authentic pumpkin patch.