Thursday, March 17, 2016

Avocado vs Squirrel

Mr. Squirrel shows us how to chow down an avocado

Avocado vs Squirrel. Our neighbor's avocados are far too enticing a treat for the street squirrels. All that fat. They know there's a huge nut embedded inside the unripe fruit. No matter that they can't eat that giant mother of nuts, as it contains a potent toxin, persin—when mixed with cornmeal and lard, is used as rat poison in Latin America. Don't know how effective it is.

Squirrel never got the memo that unripe avocados too are toxic, or so the internet says. Horror stories abound—people feeding pet squirrels avocado, rodents croaking within days. No such luck in our urban neck of the woods. Squirrel (who is a non-native redhead) and equally stubborn, tries an avocado each day to see if it's edible. Every day he peels a new avocado. Maybe this time. Sometimes it's a three-avocado day. 

We’ve taken to putting some of his discarded meals in the elongated swan-shaped dish nailed to the fence. He nibbles most delicately on the ripening fruit, peeling the avocados as he goes. He drapes his tail across his back like a feather cloak, shimmies and flicks it to show his pleasure. When he’s done noshing, he strokes his cheek along the enormous avocado nuts, scent-marking them for later. Funny, because avocado means testicle in Nahual, and Mr. Squirrel has some big nuts. He speaks fluent chatter.

Avocados are a bit of an evolutionary anachronism, as the original seed transporting avocado tree’s sole desire, was an extinct megafaunal species, a gomphothere, a snouty elephant-like monster with a shovel mouth and a friendly GI tract. A farmer of the first degree, he gombed down the tasty fruits, and pooped all over the place. Until he became extinct. The avocado didn’t get the message. The Cenozoic nut should’ve gone the way of the dodo, according to a Smithsonian article.

Lately I've been rescuing Squirrel's discarded avocados. They usually split upon impact, but I douse them liberally with lime to prevent oxidation, the squirrel chew marks too, and the avocados usually ripen. Unless they don't. Into the compost they go. Sometimes Squirrel scoots down the tree to balefully stare at me eye-to-eye when I steal his ill-gotten treasure. It's a bit of a standoff. Then he races back up the trunk to pluck another, scolding all the while.
Needless to say, we have gleaned his previously taste-tasted avocados. We are swimming in mangled avocados, avocados on the counters, in the fridge door, me, tending them like babies, searching for signs of softness. I'm inventing weird new recipes daily—from the usual guacomole, to fetttuccini primavera with avocado sauce, and avocado key lime pie. 

The neighbors are too lofty to take Squirrel's discards. They toss perfectly good avocados into the trash. And the myth of the poisonous unripe avocado has them flummoxed. Good neighbor deterrent, but Squirrel, himself, is another story.

another squirrel joins us


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