I am in a war. Not a war for territory. Not a war over religion. Not a war over personal freedoms. The war I wage is over tomatoes, and the enemy, my adversary, Sciurus carolinensis the Eastern gray squirrel. Sure he looks cute and cuddly, but don’t let that innocent demeanor fool you, behind those soft black eyes is the heart of a killer….a tomato killer!
I live in an older sub-division built-in the early 1960’s. My yard and my neighborhood is blessed with mature oaks, poplars and sweet gum trees that tower overhead providing sweet canopies of shade in the summer and piles of leaves in the fall. With these old oaks come acorns and with acorns come these bushy-tailed devils who make more bushy tailed devils. Basically I am living in the middle of a squirrel orgy, no predators to speak of, plenty of food, shelter and sex. A lethal combination for my tomatoes.
I wage this war every year and have never won. My tomato plants are loaded with green plump fruit waiting for the sun to warm their skin and turn them red. I want them vine ripe, then I will pick them, slice them up thinly and place them neatly between two pieces of white bread with a coating of mayonnaise and a sprinkle of black pepper. This my friends, is the taste of heaven to a southern boy.
But I have had no juicy red tomatoes this year, I haven’t been able to beat the squirrels to the punch. I am just one man with two arms and two legs, they are an army of thousands, okay maybe not thousands, seemingly at the ready 24 hours a day to steal my juicy fruit off the vine, take two small squirrel bites and toss it away to rot in the sun. My heart breaks every afternoon when I walk through my garden gate and see the litter of green and pink tomatoes scattered on my gravel walk, honestly I cry like a baby.
You can share all the remedies you want, I have tried them all short of blowing these gray tree rats out of the branches above with a 20 gauge shotgun which one; I can’t do and two; I won’t do. I am a man of peace, but I am also a man who loves tomato sandwiches. I am engaged in a war that I can never win and sadly it is because the enemy, my enemy is smarter and cuter than I am.