Thursday, February 03, 2011

Virgil (not the poet)

I hesitate to tell this story because it’s pretty well documented that naming squirrels in your yard is an early sign of insanity.

But Virgil was special. He was probably the first black squirrel I’d ever seen.

Virgil, being coy (look closely)
I don’t recall ever seeing one in Charlotte, although we had more than our share of grey ones who camped out in our yard at 2333 East 5th Street and were in constant competition (war?) with my Mom over the pecans that fell from the two large deciduous trees in our yard. (I love using words like that. It just “reeks” of intelligence!)

No doubt, I would have grown up as “anti-squirrel” as she was, had I realized that she was making those delicious pecan pies from our own home grown drupe fruit seeds (there I go again) and there would have been more of those pies if it hadn’t been for those furry grey thieves.

But frankly, there were too many distractions (great looking girls) at CHS for me to concern myself with the art of making pecan pies.

Anyway, it was my youngest son David who came up with the name Virgil.

My other two kids and I agreed that it was the perfect name for him. You could just look at him........and tell; he’s a Virgil.

Virgil at suppertime
He didn’t seem to be as aggressive as the other squirrels. We noticed that the others took most of the peanuts we threw out each day, so we began saving a few especially for Virgil....AFTER the grey hoards had gone off to stash their loot.

Not long afterward, Virgil started showing up at odd times of the day...when no other squirrels were around, and more often than not one of my kids would see him....and throw him a few nuts.

Later, my kids discovered that Virgil would come running from out of the woods behind our house if they “called him.” Or, I could just whistle and he would come. It was truly amazing.

Once I asked my Mom, who was a real country girl if she knew what the life expectancy of a squirrel was. How long did squirrels live?

She said, “I reckon til somebody shoots ‘em.”

She had a way with words.

Virgil stayed around our house, living like a king, for a little over two years. Then one day he just didn’t come when we called and we never saw him again.

That was many years ago, but my neighbors still talk about it. I often overhear bits and pieces of their conversations..... talking about.....".the Shephards.......squirrels.......Virgil.......nuts......."