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I consider myself a very peace-loving woman. But this woman’s gloves are off. I am officially, herewith declaring All-Out WAR against the bloody little black squirrels who sneak onto my porch at night and dig up my sweet, tender little plants.

I really don’t like conflict, arguments, confrontations, shoot-em-up movies, nothing with even a hint of violence. Do I hear some snickers from folks out there questioning the truthfulness of that last statement? Sure, I know in my past I could (and did) get a tad angry sometimes and was not shy about taking it out on whomever was unfortunately around me at the time. One of my brothers called those outbursts Annie’s-Chip-On-Her-Shoulder Rants. I didn’t appreciate that assessment at all. The one thing I will say in my defence for those outbursts of yore was that I always felt bad afterwards and a little embarrassed so would go grovelling after whomever I had offended, or perceived to have offended, begging forgiveness — well except for those lawyers I had to work with for 15 years. I offered them no apologies. But even with these occasional ears-smoking kind of tantrums, deep down, I was always a peaceful woman. I mean, in my youth, I walked in anti-war marches, wore my peace-symbol button with pride and carried around my un-read copy of Watts’, The Way of Zen, for years. That must all mean something. And now in the Twilight of My Life (or is it The Late Evening of My Life?), I believe I am downright mellow when it comes to interactions with my fellow beings — well except for bicyclists on sidewalks.

And, hey, I really like animals. I would even say I LOVE them. Am I not the Excellent Cat Sitter with testimonials from satisfied cat clients? Are not my two at-home beasts prime examples in their plump-isity of the good care and loving I can give animals? Of course, I have been called a Hypocritical Animal Lover by some vegan friends who declare that one cannot say they are an animal lover and eat meat. I just ignore them and that contradiction in my life.

But those blasted black squirrels have crossed a line that my peaceful, mellowed, animal-loving self cannot abide. They dug up all the sweet, little, grown-from-seed-by-

My mangled sweet zennias after the Squirrel Attack

My mangled sweet zinnias after the Squirrel Attack

me zinnias. I swear those suckers saw me admiring them yesterday evening when I was having my nightly aperitif and making the rounds of my tiny porch garden. Zinnias — or Zeenyas as we pronounced them in Ohio — hold a special, sentimental place in my heart. They are full of memories of home and summer and my mother picking big bouquets and putting all their colors in a Mexican bowl on the dining room table. So, this year, I wanted to have them in my own garden to pick — with or without the Mexican bowl.

I was so proud of the fact that they had grown inches. Margaret-across-the-street’s advised me to thin them out. She is a much more seasoned gardener than I, so I take heed of what she tells me. I thinned the zinnias out but I couldn’t bear to throw even one out. I just couldn’t do that. I ask you, how can you just pluck a live plant out and throw it in the garbage after it took all that effort to pop out of a seed? I just couldn’t. This is why I now have two pots of zinnias. (I did the same with my radishes which are now spread throughout the pots on the porch being strange bedfellows with tomatoes and hostas and ferns and morning glories.)

This latest was just one of many squirrel attacks on my garden this year. After the first three, I heeded people’s and Google’s advice and put down red pepper flakes. It looked pretty and even seemed to work until the first of many, many downpours. (I wonder if I’ll get hot pepper plants with my zinnias?) I should have reapplied the peppers but I thought maybe once was enough. That just maybe the squirrel doing this would just remember his little hot paws and not bother my garden again. Of course, that’s assuming a lot and that there’s only one culprit.

The cats are useless in my War Against The Squirrels. When one comes on the ledge of the porch, they just laze around particular pots probably giving the squirrels clues on which plants would be the tastiest to dig up. Then they have what seems to be little friendly inter-species conversations about the weather, availability of food and the poor

Nick and Rose ignorning me during an anti-squirrel lecture.

Nick and Rose ignorning me during an anti-squirrel lecture.

treatment of domesticated animals in this household. “It’s a rodent!” I yell at them. “Cats hate rodents. Scare that bloody thing away.” The cats do not like to be yelled at so  turn their backs on me and go back to talking with the squirrel.

I’ll put the pepper flakes out tonight and maybe tomorrow, when Gardener-And-all-Around Handy-Person, Steven, comes over he can figure out some way to protect my little zinnias for a little while longer. I would like to get at least one bouquet.