A little levity as the world goes squirrelly

Scott DeSmit/The Daily News Two young squirrels, Coco and Peanut, that are being rehabilitated after being injured. They are expected to soon return to the wild.

Some of you may recall that I rescued two young squirrels from almost certain death.

That was April 22 and 23, when my cartoon dog Rosie twice discovered injured and frightened squirrels in the yard.

The time has come to set them free. Last weekend, I built an extension onto their cage, complete with a nice little covered house, attached it to the bought cage and hauled the buggers into the woods behind my house.

There, they will stay for another week or so and then I will open the cage door each morning and let them roam free.

The theory is that they will eventually not return to the cage to sleep.

In the meantime, here is what has been happening with Peanut and Coco:

I was sitting on my porch one night when I heard the awful sound coming from the woods across the road. An animal in great distress.

I had heard this sound before and did not know, exactly, from whence it came.

Now that I know what a squirrel sounds like when it’s in distress, the sound haunts me.

Here is a text conversation I had with my co-worker, Jessica Dillon:

ME: You know what really sucks? Since I now know what a squirrel in distress sounds like, I now know what those awful, dying sounds are at night in the woods.

JESS: Are you kidding?! That’s awful. Poor squirrels.

ME: It is. It just happened again. Like the third time in a week. It’s those (evil raccoon emoji).

JESS: RACCOONS? You’re literally ruining all my childhood, Disney-esque woodland fantasies.

ME: Yes, they climb the trees and attack them in their nest. While they sleep. You know what’s funny? I love raccoons. Use to feed them camping. They would jump on my lap for a marshmallow. Last night? I had a few beers at my club. Hit a raccoon on the way home. It felt ...oddly satisfying.

JESS: (OOOOOO! Hands-over-eyes, mouth open emoji).

ME: So, Amazon dropped off two pounds of nuts. The squirrels attacked me for them, then couldn’t gnaw through the shells so I had to start them, like starting an orange for a child.

JESS: Such a good parental figure.

ME: I IS! And every morning, I let them climb on me for 30 minutes. I’m their favorite tree. They chase each other all over my body. Most action I’ve had in awhile.

JESS: OMG!

That pretty much ended our squirrel conversation.

In the days since, I had been scratched, clawed and bitten. The boys are getting out-of-hand and refuse to let me catch them when I release them from the cage.

One day, while standing in my daughter’s room, letting them jump on me, I turned and all I saw was a gray flash coming directly at my face. It was Peanut, taking a flying leap from the dresser.

Jenna screamed when she saw the blood poring down my head and eye. I ran to the bathroom, hand over eye with the sinking feeling that my eyeball was dangling on my cheek.

It wasn’t. I had a small tear in my eye that cleared up in a few hours.

I knew it was time for them to go and since frying them up for dinner was out-of-the question, it was time for a soft release.

They have done well outside this past week, even weathering a thunderstorm. They are a bit more timid when I walk out each morning to feed them and warily eye Rosie when she follows me.

That’s good. They need to be scared because the woods can be a terrifying place for a squirrel.

Now, if I can only get rid of all the raccoons in the woods, Peanut and Coco will be all set.

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ONLINE EXTRA: To read Scott’s column introducing us to Coco and Peanut, go to https://tinyurl.com/y7pxyef2.

Scott DeSmit is a general assignment reporter for The Daily News. He can be reached at desmitmail@yahoo.com

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