Squirrel.

Yuck. A squirrel. Photo credit: http://www.flickriver.com/places/Canada/Nova+Scotia/Waverley/recent/

I’m not afraid of spiders, big or small (I’ve lived in Africa and seen both). I’m not afraid of mice or rats. I’m not afraid of snakes.

I’m afraid of squirrels.

Hate those fuzzy bastards. Why? I read a news clipping about 20 years ago that told the story of junkie squirrels in New York City’s Central Park. They were getting high off of syringes left behind by drug users. The squirrels would then run amok and attack people at random. Doesn’t that scare you?

It scared me. The vision of high squirrels stuck with me and I could never remove it from my brain.

The spring just after graduating from Acadia University in the 90s, three friends and I stepped into nature for a break before hitting the real world. Kat, Dan, Doog and I hiked to an old but sturdy log cabin in the middle of the forest near Liverpool, N.S. The spot was called Meadowbrook and used to be the site of a commune (or at least that’s the legend).

Meadowbrook was idyllic – far away from humans and traffic and computers calling us into the work force. In a clearing stood two buildings, a log barn and the tiny log home. They were both standing strong after many years of disuse. The cabin had two floors – the ground floor with enough room for a bench and a wood stove, and the top floor – a loft where we would sleep.

It was early June and the weather was treating us right The sun shone on the land and warmed it up, bringing out the scents of mud and growing grass. We lounged around for what was a perfect afternoon and in the early evening, prepared a great outdoor feast.

Sated after our big meal and a midnight bonfire, we hit the hay. We climbed into our sleeping bags in the loft and drifted off to sleep after all the fresh air.

That’s when I heard it.

Scritching and scratching above the four of us. Shining a flashlight around the room I caught the form of a…squirrel.

I reacted in a way I’m not proud of. I screamed.

Headlamps went on and put the creature in the spotlight. It was hanging above us, holding on to the bark-covered ceiling with its claws. I was still screaming.

Doog rushed to my rescue. He tried to shoo the squirrel away by waving a book at it. But since the rodent wasn’t interested in reading it scuttled away across the rafters, like one of those aliens on Alien, right over to me. I screamed louder. Doog was bouncing around the loft shouting at the squirrel, Kat laughed her head off and Dan silently took it all in.

After bounding about over our heads for several seconds, the confused squirrel halted for a moment. And then peed. The rodent urine rained down from the ceiling and onto Kat’s sleeping bag. It made her laugh harder and Doog worked harder to get the squirrel out of the loft. I ran downstairs and outside. Where there are a thousand more squirrels.

Finally, Doog managed to take care of the squirrel in the cabin, Kat stopped laughing and mopped up the squirrel pee and I returned to my bed. But I’ve never returned to Meadowbrook.