Here is the scene that greeted me on our patio this morning:
At first my brain couldn't comprehend what had happened - until I saw the empty table that used to house a very cute pumpkin. Actually, three.
I figure it's payback from my column last year where I laid out my ongoing battle with our squirrels. They've bided their time ever since, lulling me into a false sense of Halloween complacency.
Not that I put all of our pumpkins outside - oh no, I am not that gullible. They've stayed in our infamous breezeway for the last two weeks, awaiting carving time. I did use the biggest one outside as part of my (meager) fall decorating display but took the precaution of coating it with hairspray. (So far, just a couple of nibbles.)
Then I got brave and set out three little pumpkins on a side table outside our back door. At first they were fine - until I noticed a big bite taken out of the cute little white one. My daughter was dismayed, so I brought it back inside and added it to our kitchen table display.
On Saturday I looked outside and saw my son jumping at our fence over and over, like he was trying to catch something. Turns out a squirrel had actually CARRIED OFF one of the other pumpkins, before dropping it in a neighbor's yard. My son and his friend didn't stop until they had scaled the fence and retrieved it. (He has inherited my squirrel animosities.)
Unfortunately, the pumpkin had a very large chunk eaten of it, so I tossed it back in the yard later as squirrel food. It disappeared within minutes.
Apparently they really liked the flavor.
We carved our pumpkins over the weekend with friends, and didn't quite clean up all the pumpkin seeds from the patio. I saw several overweight squirrels feasting on them Sunday, whetting their little pumpkin appetites.
I stumbled upon their breakfast this morning.
So our carved pumpkins - a cat and an "STL" Cardinals logo (left) - sit protected inside our breezeway until tonight. Unless the squirrels figure out how to chew through the door.
Then it will be war. Oh yes, chubby squirrels, it will be WAR.
How have your pumpkins fared this year? Share your squirrel tales below!
Julie Wurth writes and blogs about family issues, the University of Illinois and social services for The News-Gazette. Leave a comment below, or contact Julie at 351-5226 or firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at twitter.com/jawurth.