Rural hospitality

There are a lot of reasons I don’t play as much golf as I’d like, and most of them are dull, dull, dull.

We’re too busy. I didn’t get around to making a tee time, and now it’s too late. My game is so rusty that I’m embarrassed to play with strangers. From years of disuse, my golf shoes have deteriorated beyond recovery.

But now I have a much more interesting reason, a reason Kevin and I discovered when we went in the garden shed to retrieve a cooler.

The coolers live in the garden shed, as do many other non-garden-related items like lawn chairs, bicycles, and golf bags. But it used to have a lot of gardening stuff in it (until Kevin converted the hoophouse into a bigger, better gardening shed), and we can’t just call it the shed because we have what may be a record-setting number of sheds scattered around the property, and we need to be more specific. Garden shed it is.

There we were, in the garden shed, choosing the appropriately sized cooler and lamenting the fact that, despite our best varmint-proofing efforts, there was clear scatological evidence, everywhere, that varmints had won this round.

The small cooler, we decided, and were brushing off said scatological evidence when we heard a rustle. And then a rustle rustle.

And then something small, gray, and furry ran out of my golf bag, which was hanging on the wall. As it darted up the wall, Spiderman-style, another one came out. And then a third. They all ran up the wall, and across the ceiling to the other side, where they took shelter on a ledge over the window.

Kevin and I looked at each other “What ARE those things?”

You live in a place for nearly a decade, and you think you know your wildlife. We’ve seen foxes, coyotes, raccoons, and opossums, with the occasional wild turkey. We’ve got varied bird life, and an near-annual sighting of a giant snapping turtle named Osha. And, in the small-mammal category, we have voles, squirrels, chipmunks, and rats.

These guys were definitely in the small-mammal category, but equally definitely not voles, squirrels, chipmunks, or rats. We were very surprised to see a small mammal we didn’t recognize. The specimens that came out of my golf bag are bigger than chipmunks, but smaller than squirrels, with gray fur and a white underbelly. They have a flat tail, big eyes, and they’re very very cute.

Fortunately, the nice lady at Mahoney’s garden store, where we bought the three Asian pear trees we planted for Arbor Day, did recognize it. “That’s a flying squirrel,” she told Kevin, who showed her a slightly fuzzy picture he took with his phone.

This presents a problem. If there are adult flying squirrels in my golf bag in May, what are the odds that there are also baby flying squirrels? It is mating season, which argues for it, but there are at least three adults, which may – or may not – argue against it. I’m not sufficiently up on flying squirrel domestic arrangements to know.

If there are baby flying squirrels in my golf bag, I don’t want to kill them. Not that I don’t have a bone to pick with the whole clan, what with all that scatological evidence. But if we have a provided a home for a small mammal we’d never seen before, I don’t want to evict a whole family of them until after any babies are ready to support themselves.

Well, my clubs needed new grips anyway. And the bag has got to be over ten years old. The faint odor of urine in the shed is a good sign that all will need to be replaced.

On the plus side, though, when you ask me whether I want to play a round of golf, I get to say, “I’m afraid I can’t. There are flying squirrels nesting in my golf bag.”

7 people are having a conversation about “Rural hospitality

  1. Oh my – they are really cute. Must be the big, dark eyes; they seem to look good on everybody.

  2. Tassilass says:

    Gosh – at first I thought they looked like Australian squirrel gliders, a type of possum Had to go to Wikipedia to check and found this: “Squirrel gliders are often mistaken for flying squirrels of North America. These two species are not related at all. The flying squirrel is a placental mammal and the squirrel glider is a marsupial like koalas and kangaroos. Both have an adaptation for tree living – Patagia. This is the skin that extends from their front to hind legs allowing them to glide between the trees avoiding predators they might come into contact with on the ground. Because these animals are distantly related we call these characteristics analogous.”
    A case of convergent evolution, which may or may not involve golf bags.

  3. Flying squirrels? I know them well. Too well. It took me much too long to figure out there was a small opening in my chimney. They are so cute that they’re still cute even when they’re on your bedroom ceiling at 3AM.
    Since I have also had such run-ins, I am going to borrow your excuse as to why I’ll continue to hold down the table with a g&t at the 19th hole. I keep meaning to get better at golf. The will to give a shit has eluded me for too long. Just as soon as I get these squirrels out of my knockoff Burberry golf bag…

    • If only I could stop caring …

      Enjoy the G&T — I’ll meet you at the 19th in a couple months.

  4. Neat! This year I saw flying squirrels here on our farm in Vermont for the first time. Or rather I should perhaps say it was the first time that I realized what I was looking at was a flying squirrel, or rather a courting pair of them. They leaped from one tree to another, spreading their limbs and gliding. Without that clue, “Oh, my, godt! That squirrel just flew!”, I would not have realized they were flying squirrels. Now I’ve learned to differentiate them from the two other squirrel species we see – they have smaller hind quarters, the flatter tails you mentioned and more skin along the sides. And they’re in general smaller. Once I learned the difference I have noticed them a lot more. Loads of fun to watch!

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