A cardinal idea

Besides walking my dogs, another way of meeting neighbors in Westlake is at the school bus stop.

"How many live in your house?" one of my new bus stop buddies asked incredulously with a raised eyebrow. "Nine", I replied. "Wow!" was his response followed by an awkward silence. "Well, I'm sure you shop at Costco for that crowd," he said.

Not wanting to sound like the ignorant Cleveland emigre, I deftly changed the subject but as soon as I returned home I advised my lovely bride that a Costco membership was a must-have out here in the land of the Green Demons.

So my wife and I ventured to the Avon Costco, signed up, and proceeded to shop. We were amazed at some of the savings they offered. Getting a 30 pack of Charmin for a household of nine was one of those seminal moments in my life comparable in history to when the apple fell and hit Sir Isaac Newton in the head.

As we packed our cart to the brim and before we got to the checkout and realized we had "saved" so much money we had to sign up for a home equity loan to pay, we ran across a 40-pound bag of birdseed. On the cover it bragged that this seed attracts cardinals. I'm not a super religious guy but I had heard a legend that if cardinals visit your yard it's deceased relatives saying hi. Even if the legend is not true they are magnificent birds that so stand out from the drab brown or black of most other birds.

The bag was correct! Cardinals came to my bird feeder. With the help of Mr. Google I came to find out cardinals are opposite to humans. The males are the beautiful ones, bright red, compared to the more nondescript females.

After a few months of bird feeder observations I began to examine the ton-o-seed bag for any disclaimers. Nowhere on that bag did it say anything about chipmunks, squirrels, ducks, geese, and even wild turkeys being attracted to this bird seed.

My backyard turned into the Wild Kingdom. Birds can be messy, seed falls to the ground, the other aforementioned visitors showed up to help me keep my yard clean. Ok, but the final straw was when the squirrel, no longer content to eat the spillage, climbed the bird feeder and hung himself upside down and just gorged himself on the bird seed.

"Marti, It's time for you to earn your keep!" I shouted to my Shih-Tzu/Pomeranian 16-pound killer. I let him out to chase the squirrel away. At his next vet visit it was mentioned how muscular Marti was. Well, he was sprinting after these squirrels three, four times a day. They were persistent.

Not that I sought revenge but later that winter I saw a big fat squirrel squished in the road on our street. I couldn't help but wonder if gorging on sunflower seeds instead of busily digging up last fall's buried acorns had caused him to lose a step and turned him into a cardinal visiting the furry rodents he left behind to say hi.

giovanni palmiero

in my retirement I'm a nanny to my niece's two boys, ages 17 months and 4.

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Volume 12, Issue 18, Posted 10:23 AM, 09.15.2020