"What a funny squirrel!" I showed Marianne the picture on a magazine.
"Oh, don´t talk about squirrels…" she sighed.
"Our neighbor isn´t talking to us."
"What? Again? What this time? Something to do with squirrels?"
"Let´s hear it!"
"All right. The other day we were a bit tired and had a nap after I had done the laundry, and before it was time to start preparing dinner. Well - I was just about to fall asleep when I heard some noise from the veranda. An odd clatter. John of course did not wake up, but I had to go see what it was."
"Well? What was it?"
"I had put some of the more delicate laundry to dry in a clothes airer, on the porch. The kind that stands on the floor. Wouldn´t want my underwear be visible to everyone, I´m sure you understand."
Which I did.
-"So - I saw the clothes airer moving on its own behind the window. Sort of hopping clumsily."
"What? Again? Weren´t the walking flowers enough?"
"Obviously not… I opened the door to see better and the culprit was staring right at me from under the airer."
"A squirrel? I counted one and one together."
"A squirrel. But avery funny squirrel. I mean - why would any squirrel want to steal my bra?"
Now that was a question I could not answer. I pleaded to my lack of experience in squirrel psychology and waited to hear how the story of the funny squirrel continued.
"This particular squirrel was doing its best to take my best bra from the airer. Yanking it with both front paws and teeth also. I of course let out a yell to scare it off, but to no avail. I did notice, though, how our neighbor woke up in his hammock. Warm evening, you see. He was also taking a nap. I think his wife had made him take his nap in the hammock - I do believe he snores."
I nodded. Very annoying thing, snoring.
"Right at the same moment when I yelled and our neighbor woke up, the squirrel succeeded. And before I could do a thing it had taken the bra strap in its mouth and started running away. My best white bra! Now I of course ran after it yelling "Come back you bastard!" "
"I did. Perhaps it was a bit strong choice of words, but I wasn´t going to let my most expensive lingerie disappear into any squirrel´s nest. I managed to grab a broom that was leaning to the wall of the playhouse. I tried to reach the running bra with it."
I could imagine the sight. Marianne running like a sprinter, holding the broom like a knight in a jousting tournament and a squirrel dashing through their garden in front of her.
"But why doesn´t your neighbor talk to you anymore? I don´t get it."
"I had no time to look, but I heard the door slam and that must have been him going indoors. At that moment I got a hold of the bra with the broomstick and that stopped the squirrel. I grabbed the other strap with my hand and pulled - and can you imagine: the squirrel would not let go!"
"Oh yes - the funny squirrel just kept yanking at the other strap! Eventually it let go and I got my bra back. I walked back to the porch and noticed the neighbor´s wife by the fence."
"Do you know what happened to Ed?" she asked.
"No - I didn´t notice anything! I said and hid the bra behind my back, - What´s the matter?"
"I ´m worried about him… He just ran into the house and yelled that your bra was running away from you and you were flying after it on a broom… He ran to see through the window and said you and the bra were fighting, because the bra did not want to come back."
I exploded in laughter. Marianne looked at me disapprovingly.
"Well the grass was a bit long, I admit, so I suppose he did not see the squirrel," Marianne sighed, "Especially when the sun was already going down and there wasn´t much light. The white bra must have been quite visible, though, hopping along the lawn. And if you think of it, I was holding the broom to my side. But to say I was flying with it… Now that's a bit thick!"
I looked at her flaming red hair and said nothing.
"But ever since then he won´t even come out if he sees me in the garden!"
"Perhaps you might discuss the matter with his wife? Tell it like a joke to her. I´m sure the story goes to his ears too."
"Yes, I do. Just to keep your neighborly relations good. I mean it might damage your good reputation if he goes about telling how you fly in your garden with a broom, chasing runaway bras."
"Well maybe I should do that then," Marianne said.
"Yes, maybe you should."
Well - not exactly. Marianne is a real person and she does live in a small village. Plenty of wild animals around, including squirrels. And she has had a funny squirrel of her own that keeps on trying to steal her laundry from the airer - probably to make the nest more comfortable. So at least half of the story is true.
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© Leena Pekkalainen
Eurasian red squirrel (the squirrel looking directly at you)/ © iStockphoto.com / GlobalP
Below are the books I've written so far.
An illustrated children's book about the life and death of Tutankhamun. This book was chosen for the "King Tut - Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh" tour that travels the world (10 cities) starting in March 2018 (Los Angeles > Paris > London > Sydney)