… on color from the dinnerplate dahlias that take my breath away every summer,

and on the first ripened figs for which I did not have to fight off our rapacious neighborhood squirrels.

Squirrel loathing reminds me of a story told to me not long ago by a friend whose mother had recently died. In her eighties, this friend’s mother evidently got so fed up with the greed of her own neighborhood’s rats with puffy tails squirrels – whose habit it was to take ruinous bites out of fruit that was just a day or so short of pickably ripe – that she booby-trapped their fence.

An enterprising grandchild helped her install electrical wire along the top of the fence running the entire perimeter of her garden (which contained many fruit trees). This wire was connected to a switch inside the house. Grandma could thus sit inside before the picture window admiring her lush little orchard, and whenever a squirrel had the audacity to creep along that fence too close to the fruit trees, she’d spring into action; pressing a button to send a small electrical current all along the wire at the top of the fence until it met with the mangy brown fur of the would-be thief.

I smile even now imagining the surprise (or should I say shock?) of those beady-eyed vermin, drooling with anticipation at the almost-ripe fruit that lay ju-u-ust a little further… and then – zap! – they find themselves catapulted into the air by the tiniest jolt of electricity. Unkind, yes, but unreasonable? I don’t think so.

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