The latest twist is I’m six time zones west of Berlin. I had been in Edinburgh, couchsurfing in my own flat, selling as much stuff as I could, and waiting for an opportunity to come my way. This was it. Not long after making my decision, I was offered a few weeks rent-free in Barcelona: too late. I’m in the States till early December, just because I figured I might as well muck around here for a while.
My home for October is a house beneath an old oak tree that pelts the porch with acorns. I’m looking after two cats. There are grey squirrels in the garden and homegrown vegetables. This morning I also discovered chipmunks.
I hadn’t visited the USA since 1998, in part because of a petty personal boycott inspired by George W Bush’s presidency and in part due to getting sidetracked by Asia, Europe and Australia. This time round, it took an hour and a half for me to get through passport control and customs. It was kind of nervewracking, though I was also so tired that I wasn’t sure I’d even mind if they deported me, just as long as they made a decision quickly; I sat in the waiting room and tried to come up with a plan B for what I would do instead. A man clutching a bag of duty-free cigarettes and champagne was advised that he’d been in and out of the States so much lately that he needed to pay more than five hundred dollars for a visa. A backpacking English couple, so fresh-faced and twelve-looking they were surely just out of school rather than university, sat nervously before being summoned in turn to the counter. The man next to me called a friend, said Bro thank you for waiting for me but because of that thing in 2005 I have to wait and see an immigration judge, and the officials said Hey do you have luggage? Because if you want we can get it to your friend, and he said Thanks that would be great I really appreciate it.
I slept on the sofa my first night, and one of the cats slept with me. The other one is more aloof but already likes me more than he likes people in general; on the other hand, we had a dispute this morning about him stealing food, so he might hold a grudge now. I haven’t done a whole lot since I got here, so I’m just typing this blog post to say hi. I did however learn how to make an effective humane fruitfly trap. Observe:
1. Put a slice of lemon or lime into a jar.
2. Cover the jar with clingfilm and secure it with a rubber band.
3. Poke some tiny holes in the clingfilm with a fork.
4. Leave it to think.
After a while, you’ll find the flies have followed the smell of the fruit, but can’t find their way out again. Release them into the wild – Their lives are so short they might as well have some fun, advised my tutor.
Sounds like a nice place to be in autumn! I look forward to pictures. We have confirmed that there are grey squirrels living in our street – two sightings last week, to add to a couple of random ones in the past year, and the kids up the road finding a baby one. They might be coming from the nature walk that runs behind the houses on the other side of the street.
I really didn’t believe there were any squirrels in Ireland until my dad saw one in the last year or so. Did you ever see any around when you were younger?
Not that I can recall, but then I wasn’t in the woods that much of the time. However, when I was 14 we were in Redburn Country Park with friends, and one of them saw a red squirrel.
In the last couple of years I’ve made up for the early lack of sightings: in 2006 we saw several squirrels in Cave Hill Country Park, and in 2008 we saw lots of the little guys in Antrim Castle Park. All grey in both cases.
I did a bit of reading around, and this page is very informative – turns out the red squirrels actually are native to Ireland, but are in decline… though slower than in England or Wales: