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Every once in a while, when the stars align and the moon is full and I have just the right outfit, I get the urge to clean. Usually I can distract myself with chocolate or knitting; in extreme cases, I go and take a nap until the urge passes. For some reason, I decided to give in to the cleaning bug a few weeks ago, just to see what would happen.

Mostly I moved stuff from one room to another.

Larry and I have vastly different cleaning styles. His philosophy is, “It hasn’t moved in the past ten minutes, so I’m gonna pitch it.” I harbor a belief that his other cleaning philosophy is, “This belongs to Audrey, so I’ll throw it out and watch her go bonkers.”

My take on cleaning is, “Hey, this might come in handy; I’d better save it.” Larry is convinced that what I really mean is, “We can still see out of the windows! Pile up more stuff! And don’t touch that!”

We spend a lot of time hiding our stuff from each other.

Anyway, at some point in my short-lived cleaning spree, I came across a bag of squirrel corn. Five or six dried ears; not exactly the Holy Grail of Things Found While Cleaning. I tossed the ears out into the yard and pitched the bag in the trash.

About half an hour later, I decided to go on a grocery run. The square foot of extra space that my cleaning had opened up needed to be filled, right? Off to the store I went, returning some time later with various Tasty Things. I hopped out of the car and started up the back walk, only to stop short at the sight of …

A herd of squirrels.

Still as statues, the squirrels stared at me. Each of them was clutching, you guessed it, an ear of dried corn. They hugged the corn to their furry little chests like long-lost friends and eyed me warily. I could almost hear their conversation.

Squirrel 1: “Um, guys? We, uh, we should probably go.”

Other Squirrels (not moving): “Yeah.”

Squirrel 1: “We should probably run.”

Other Squirrels (still not moving): “Yeah.”

Squirrel 1: “We should probably run right now.”

Still clutching the corn, and still staring at the human interloper who might or might not be a threat, the squirrels began backing up. Very slowly. Gripping the corn with one paw and occasionally feeling behind themselves with the other, each of the squirrels inched backward toward the fence. Tails first, they wiggled through, dragging their prizes with them. Only when the fence was between them and She Who Might Take Back the Corn did the squirrels turn and flee, each still keeping a tiny death-grip on the food.

I can only imagine what they would have done if I’d taken a step toward them. Hung on to the corn and pitched the biggest squirrel at me, I suppose. Faced with half a dozen determined rodents, I didn’t want to find out. I went inside and had a cup of coffee.

Next time, I’m only putting out one ear.