I'm sitting here in my couch, editing some Bible study notes on my laptop, when I hear something go "whump!" I glance left toward the patio and see that a squirrel has jumped up onto the screen door and attached himself like Velcro. "Okay, pal," I think, "now that you've gained that position, what do you intend to do with it?" From what I can see, it doesn't offer any advantage over the patio, which is strewn with scrumptious sunflower seeds. But a squirrel will explore; squirrels are as curious as cats. So after taking a minute to contemplate his next move, this little bugger starts working his way up the screen till he's reached the top. This accomplishes nothing of any value for him, but it does put him in a particularly vulnerable situation which, for me, offers the potential for some brief amusement. I get up and tear open the glass sliding door right in front of him. Did you know that squirrels are equipped with a powerful inner spring? It is triggered by the startle factor; the more sudden the surprise, the mightier the jolt from the spring and the greater the distance it will launch the squirrel. I'd give this one about ten feet. At my old apartment, I had a squirrel catapult. Here I don't think I need one. I have a screen door.
I used to think squirrels were cute. But when a bushy-tailed rodent scares the birds away from my feeder, rips the bottom out of my finch seed sack, and all but flips me the finger when I knock on the window to scare it away, said rodent is no longer cute. It is intolerable. And it is just asking for it. So after seeing some clips of squirrel catapults on YouTube, I thought I'd make one of my own. It's a modest affair, as is necessary given the limited space on my third-floor balcony. But while it hasn't produced the graceful, long-distance trajectory of some of the larger models--getting it to do so will require experimentation--I'm satisfied that it works fine. So far one squirrel that came here for sunflower seed has left in a way calculated to thoroughly astonish, and its ratty little mind is no doubt still trying to comprehend the experience. It was supremely gratifying to pull the cord and watch the little monster go flipping butt-over-beady-eyeballs toward the snow. I have yet to acquaint more of the local squirrels with my contraption. The bushytail supply isn't likely to run short, and what's particularly nice about a squirrel catapult is that, coaxed by a handful of sunflower seeds in the basket, the ordnance loads itself.