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The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild

Squirrel IQ Tests

By Marie Craig

A pesky squirrel and I have been giving each other IQ tests for several months now. It is determined to eat the seeds I put out for my birds. I’ve always been fascinated by birds, and I’ve spent time learning their different types and habits. All was going well until a squirrel decided to invade the space. It eats quickly and with great zeal, just the same way I eat ice cream except it eats all day long in a maniacal manner. The birds scatter, and when they finally can return, there’s no food left. I keep hoping it’ll just split wide open from the vast quantity it eats, but unfortunately that hasn’t happened.

My feeder hangs from a hook on the top board of the fence behind my house. The horizontal board is mounted with the edge of the board at the top. There is another board below it. The lower board is the perfect spot for the squirrel to balance and just eat away. Saying “Shoo” in a loud voice is only temporary. Before I can get the door closed, it’s back.

Internet research told me to put cayenne pepper into the sunflower seeds. The birds don’t mind and are actually benefited from it. This article said that squirrels are repelled by hot spices. I watched carefully for the squirrel to imbibe this and wave goodbye forever. However, this seemed to encourage it.  There was no reaction whatsoever.

My next advice was to buy safflower seeds. Supposedly, birds like them and squirrels don’t. One store didn’t have any, and the other store had only 20 pound bags. So I bought a big bag and lugged it home. I was hoping to see the squirrel spit one seed out and never return. It tasted one and hesitated.  Solution? No.  It finally decided this wasn’t bad and continued guzzling them.

I hammered nails into the top edge of the board where the squirrel stands hoping that was the solution. Alas, it just stuck its toes between the nails and was back to gorging.

Last week, I decided to tack a big piece of heavy plastic to the two parallel boards, behind the hanging bird feeder.  The squirrel surveyed this new setting and took its usual place on the bottom board. It stretched and stretched but couldn’t reach the feeder. It sat on the ground looking up and realized that it couldn’t jump up and have anything to grasp. The birds were having no problem with this, however. The squirrel got on the top board looking down and finally gave up. Then it sat on the ground gazing up, and you could almost see the brain waves in the air as it was trying to figure a solution.

So far, I’ve won. My birds have returned, and I haven’t had to refill the feeders as often. My winning is probably only temporary. But it’s been entertaining to watch during this confinement.

I Didn’t Mean to Fall In

By Julie Terry Cartner

It all started innocently enough. I was going to the Brushy Mountains to get a box of peaches. But then I thought, as I often do, I’ll just check and see if there are any waterfalls near where I’m going. Google is my friend. There were two! After about six inches of rainfall, I knew the water levels would be up; a beautiful day for a waterfall viewing. Lots of camera opportunities. What could go wrong? I won’t attempt to get in; I’ll just take some pictures, then go buy my peaches. You’d think I’d know myself by now. I’ve been playing this game since – well – since forever. As far back as I can remember, water has always been a magnet for me.

Mom tells me I learned to swim before I learned to walk. I believe her. As a very small child I swam in the ocean like I belonged there. Lifeguards gave up on me. They couldn’t keep me contained. I’d dive through a foaming sea green wave and skim right above the rippling sand, diving deeper and going farther than anyone without gills should be able to go. According to Mom, the lifeguards would see me dive under, then watch for me to come up, and they were always wrong, and always one second from running into the water for a rescue. Then I’d pop up, yards farther out than they’d expect, grab a quick lungful of air, and dive back under. They told my mom she’d have to watch me because I made them too nervous.

I wasn’t safe to be around any water. I remember going to the World’s Fair in New York when I was just a little girl. One of the landmarks was the Unisphere, a huge model of the earth surrounded by a large reflecting pool and forty-eight fountains. I just wanted to see it up close. My parents should have known better. There we were, on a family holiday, dressed in nice clothes, my sister and I in matching dresses, I’m sure. They let me go. I ran over to the pool, climbed on top of the concrete barrier and leaned in to touch the water. It was a hot summer day in New York City. Need I say more? I just wanted to splash a little bit – put my hand in one of the amazing fountains. I heard the frustrated, resigned shout of “Julie,” just as I slid, headfirst into the fountain. It all started innocently enough. I didn’t mean to. But there I stood, once again, dripping wet with a nervous smile on my face. I tried to be sorry, knew I was in trouble, but oh, it felt so good!

That wasn’t the first, nor the last, fountain, ocean, lake, creek or river I’ve “fallen” into, but it probably was the most famous. There was the incident involving a river in Canada. There was the log flume ride when I fell out of the log. There were the many times I was on the beach, just wading in the surf, then before I knew it, I’d be fully immersed, clothes and all. I just can’t resist water.

Today, I found myself wading across the stream at the base of Upper Carter Falls. I was just going to put my feet in and see how cold the water was. Then I was just going to walk partway across to get a good picture. Who’d have thought the water would be over waist deep? Too late now to stay dry, I dove in. It was delightful!

Life at Marchmont

By Gaye Hoots

I was six years old when I first saw the house on the hill. It looked like a castle in slight disrepair with its watchtower, tall windows, and beautiful front doors. As I describe it now, I am looking at a picture of it by Glenda Hendrix Beard, a childhood friend who later taught art at Shady Grove School for many years. The grounds contained gardens of boxwoods in the shape of hearts and spades laid out in a circle with crosswalks. The walks met in the center of the garden at a small cement pool.

Originally, I believed the farm had been a plantation, but the house was built after the Civil War, and no slave labor was involved.  This farm, like my grandpa’s, was on the Yadkin River. The driveway that led to the house circled it as did with a low stonewall. Near the house entrance was a small log cabin that we used as a playhouse, although it was large enough for a small family.

The grounds contained cherry trees, magnolias, Japanese Cherry trees, and various flowers and shrubs. They were overgrown, needed much work, and infested with copperhead snakes. A distant cousin had purchased the property from the granddaughter of William March and hired my father to manage the dairy and acreage.

Our family lived on one side of the house for a while. Then the Gene O’Mara family moved into the other side of the house. Gene ran the dairy and helped with the farming. His children were playmates, as were the Louie Zimmerman children and the Edd Myers family. Later the Marvin Slater family moved onto the farm and helped with tobacco and, other crops. When we weren’t working, we had plenty of playmates.  The Blakely family moved to the neighborhood and completed the families within walking distance or driving distance for the small Ford Ferguson tractor.

Faye and I had classmates we invited to stay overnight with us, and the Lester Riley family and Seabon, Abe, and Guy Cornatzer families were frequent visitors. Daddy had Mr. Arthur Shutt build twin beds for us out of cedar with a matching desk and wardrobe. I remember the Husser family visiting because they were the first Jewish family I had met. The last time I saw Arnold Husser he was a judge in Greensboro. The other families are still in Davie County or nearby counties. We keep in touch with them in person or on Facebook.

We attended Shady Grove School and Advance Baptist Church, where we made more friends, some who have attended church there all their lives. Both Faye and I played basketball for Mr. Vestal Potts, a basketball legend in our county, who taught and coached at Shady Grove School.

While living at Marchmont, we heard the March family stories and that the granddaughter had kept the grounds open to the public on weekends for picnics and visits. She had maintained this tradition after she was in assisted living and had a family in the house to keep the grounds until she could afford no longer afford it.

Sadly, after we moved, and the house stood empty, it was vandalized and stripped of the mantles, doors, and anything of value before being torn down. A home built by the Bowden family sits atop that hill where some of my best childhood years were spent.