Slippery Slopes and Squirrel Wars –

By: Judith Hargett

It is embarrassing to realize you’ve been outsmarted by a squirrel. Wait. Let’s change that to outfoxed by a squirrel…sounds less insulting. This has happened to me more than once which I am willing to admit because I know that I’m not alone in the man vs squirrel wars. The most egregious incident took place quite a few years back when husband and I were living in Houston. We had an attractive new birdfeeder which I placed in our front yard for all passersby to enjoy. I didn’t mean to include the squirrel populace in that enjoyment. Of course, they weren’t passersby. They came and stayed. The feeder hung from a tall shepherd’s hook. I didn’t think the squirrels could climb a skinny, metal pole. Quickly proving me wrong, they zipped up and down that pole like nobody’s business, hanging from the wildly swinging birdfeeder as if on a joy ride until every bird seed was gone. That’s when our war began.

I first used the trustworthy method of yelling and flailing of arms but the squirrels would return to the feeder before I could even get back in the house. After several rounds of this annoying drill, I was further humiliated to receive a phone call from the local police. They had been observing the battle from their post at a nearby school crosswalk and assured me I had brought a great amount of levity into their otherwise boring assignment. I thanked them for their attention to such an important safety issue in the neighborhood and was very relieved they could not read my mind and know my true thoughts. I now knew I had to be more clever…and stealthy. I devised a plan that I felt sure would end the problem. I greased the pole and for extra insurance sprinkled hot pepper on it. Resuming my post inside the house, I watched with great delight as a squirrel attempted to climb the pole only to slide right back to the ground. Victory was mine!

Both animals and humans have found themselves on slippery slopes in our area this year. Between the snows and long spells of freezing temperatures, there have been plenty opportunities for frozen patches to form and linger. We have witnessed a blue jay skidding across the frozen birdbath and a snowbird sliding off a frozen plant hook when he tried landing there. And our neighbor had the misfortune of stepping on a patch of black ice between our two yards resulting in a hard fall leaving him with a bleeding hand and wet clothes. His greater concern, however, was that someone might have observed his fall rather than the possibility he might have broken his neck.

There are other types of slippery slopes humans can get on, even more dangerous than icy patches and with far worse consequences when we fall. When signs of danger are obvious, we should avoid the area! Remember what Moses told the Israelites in Deuteronomy 6:16: “Do not test the Lord your God as you did at Massah.” Well, that applies to Believers today as well. When a Believer gets on that slippery slope of testing God, the fall can be hard and painful.

But let me return to the squirrel story for a moment. My victory was short lived. After several attempts (squirrels never give up) at climbing the pole, the grease was wiped off by the squirrel’s fur. He was right back in business. As far as I could tell, the hot pepper was no deterrent at all. This brings me to another point about human behavior. When we stay in a bad behavior long enough, we grieve the Holy Spirit and sear our conscience, making the activity less offensive to us each time we participate in it. We take the corruption of the world onto our bodies and into our hearts. Unlike nonbelievers, however, Christ followers have a way to get back in fellowship with The Lord. The Apostle John tells us in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

In conclusion may I make two suggestions? Wear YakTrax when walking on slippery ground and clothe yourself with The Word for navigating through the many treacherous areas of this world. As for fighting with squirrels, try not to be observed in your efforts; or better yet, don’t waste your time.

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