Saturday, June 10, 2017

Hibiscus Hiatus

Human language is lit with animal life:
We play 'cats in the cradle'...or have hare-brained ideas...
we speak of badgering...or outfoxing someone...
to squirreling something away...and to ferrit it out.
(Jay Griffiths)

In October a few years ago, I moved to a Seniors' residence in Burlington. Many items I parted with, but not my Hibiscus with delicate pink blooms, the other with double red petals and golden stamens. Experience from their previous homes, I knew to winter them inside when exterior and interior temperatures were approximately the same. They loved sunshine with a mixture of shade...however, winter was their 'dormant' period. When mid-May, arrived, I moved them outside on my third-floor balcony.

By mid-July, they seemed to suffer setbacks with loss of leaves and minimal buds. Checking for insects? None. In early fall, I transitioned them indoors over the winter; they somewhat recovered and the following spring, new growth brought them to life...and buds developed into full blooms. AMEN!

Enjoying the summer on my balcony with morning coffee and bagels, and reading the daily Spectator...often sharing lunch with a friend or hibiscus plants and hanging baskets of flowers thrived in the summer breeze and and afternoon sun.
Then one day a couple 'visitors' arrived:
two cute little characters sat nervously together looking at me
with startled eyes and big bushy tails.
Two gray and one black. How did they get to the third floor? With tiny claws and balancing fluffy tails, they clambered up the brick wall...and sneaked under the balcony's plexi-glass panels. Their quest, I'm sure was for food...or a place 'to nest' (possibly in a couple empty flower pots containing some soil in their depths.) I was amused whenever Gray and Blackie came to 'visit'.
By the end of the summer, my hibiscus plants
were nearly stripped of leaves and ceased blooming!
Nervous, they'd become, whenever I entered my balcony...they were a study 'in contemplation' sitting like little statues, (as though they had guilty consciences) ~ until I shooed them away and they'd scramble down the wall and dash to the nearby trees. My hibiscus, both of them, died a slow death!
I agree with Sarah Jessica Parker who stated,
A squirrel is just a rat with a cuter outfit.”

The following summer, to outwit Gray and Blackie, I resorted to hanging baskets, only, with colourful artificial flowers! However, this did nothing to deter my mischievious squirrels! They simply climbed the wall to reach the leaves and flowers for a good chew. Persistent they were and pesty...hoping they'd not be caught. Over the winter, I heavily bagged these flowers, placing the package against the wall below my table. They were not undaunted! You guessed it! They chewed through the heavy plastic..and bit holes in the long heavy planter box to reach for their tasty bites.
The next summer, I totally abandoned any consideration of flowers!

Never Give Up!
Blackie and Gray, unable to find 'food' on my balcony
had another solution from their little brains!
Sitting at my computer in the corner of the Living Room..and glancing behind me...“Guess Who” was boldly sitting on my large Indian carpet? Blackie, extremely nervous about his 'Break and Enter'.
Opening the balcony door, I tried to shoo him out; instead he retreated to my bedroom to hide; batting him with a towel, he ran into my closet. Then I opened my front door to the hallway...hoping he'd quickly dash either route. He high-tailed it to the Living Room and I towel-chased him to the balcony. In desperation, Blackie escaped under the plexi-glass panel...soaring through the air to the parking tarmac below ~ then dashed to the nearby trees along the bike path.
The mystery did he get into my apartment?
Discussing with the 'Super' and a few neighbours, someone suggested he may have come through a window. Sure enough! The bedroom window was open, so Blackie chewed a hole about 3 to 4 inches wide in the screen! And Voila...his 'Break and Enter crime!

A Trick That Worked
Later that summer, again at my computer, playing Bridge Online, I heard something on the window ledge beside me...between the sheer drape and the open screened window...then noticed an irregular shaped hole in the screen Yep! There was Gray! With both my hands, flat against the drape where she was sitting, I pushed her towards the hole...and through it. Scrambling to my balcony, I tried to shoo her away. Scared to death, she made the great leap from the third floor to the ground below. The nearby trees were her escape route!

The following year, only once did I have a visiting squirrel on my balcony...(was it Gray?) Noticing Mourning Doves had chosen to nest on one of my black wrought-iron chairs, I believe my gray squirrel decided to explore elsewhere!
My screens were replaced
and my balcony, for a few years, was devoid of plants and flowers.
Kindly note, Readers: I never offered 'food' to these pesty little creatures.

A “Bear for Punishment”???
End of last August, 2016, I purchased from Holland Park Garden Gallery a Hibiscus Patio Bush...the price was right as it had no buds ready to open ~ colour of blooms was unknown. This big leafy plant produced 75 magnificent coral-red blooms from its sunny balcony home.
For its following 'dormant sleep' I brought it inside in early November.

I've noticed squirrels are beginning to gather nuts for the winter.
A couple of my friends are missing!
Are you in a 'safe place'?
(Anonymously written, the photo shows a squirrel
searching for nuts through fallen leaves on the ground)

Composed by Merle Baird-Kerr...May 25, 2017

Addendum: Today, June 6/17, Blackie returned! Sitting on a wrought-iron chair adjacent to my hibiscus bush, he's chewing leaves from my precious bush! I notice, also there is considerable amount of dark soil on the balcony floor ~ he's obviously been in the hanging basket of pink geraniums!
He's either hungry...or 'nest-hunting'.

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