Squirrels in the Engine or Adventures of a Redneck Woman

The car technician called to tell me an “act of God” had been visited upon my vehicle. Apparently the “wrath of the Almighty” would not be covered by warranty.   He inquired as to whether  I had homeowners insurance? I sank against the wall with the phone frozen to my ear.

“What?” I squeaked at the technician.

“Ma’am, you got squirrels in your engine.”


“Ma’am. It’s the biggest darn squirrel’s nest the boys and I have ever seen. Buckets of acorns too. The company don’t cover squirrels Ma’am. Anything a squirrel does is an act of God.”

Later I saw the pictures taken for evidence.  Under the hood, was a nest so large it blanketed most of the engine. The nest was made of densely packed leaves; twigs and grass glistening with carefully lined pastel foil candy wrappers. Seeing the wrappers solved the mystery, as to what happened to the contents of the plastic eggs, the Easter Bunny had left on the lawn the previous Easter. Apparently our talented  interior decorating squirrels carefully lined the inside of their home with the shiny wrappers.

I love squirrels. In the rodent family they are the diabolical geniuses; cute, cunning, and very evil. I was sad to learn, as I was driving down the pike to the service center; sleepy hibernating squirrels tumbled out the back. I imagined what that must have looked like. Definitely a redneck moment.

For us, it turned out all right in the end (except for the loss of our entire squirrel population). Instead of thousand of dollars of damage, we got away with only a couple hundred.  The squirrels only chewed  thru the horn and windshield wiper lines.

What were those squirrels thinking? High in the trees, the squirrel nests were safe from predators. Instead the nests had been dismantled and carefully worked into the engine. I am sure the squirrels thought my engine was a wonderful new, warm, and safe place, to raise up their new babies. Instead their foolish behavior, at best, made them all homeless in the dead of winter, and most likely, cost them their lives.

Jesus said, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:  For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Matthew 6:19-21

So dear reader, I wonder, are we like my poor foolish squirrels? Do we sometimes get caught up in what is new and exciting; and like the squirrels, put our treasures in danger? What treasures do you hold dear? Perhaps like me, your treasures include: family, financial security, and testimony of the gospel.  What dangers do we face and what can we do to make correct choices to guard the treasures in our lives? Please do tell. Inquiring minds want to know.

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About JA Benson

Joanna entered the world as a BYU baby. Continuing family tradition, she graduated BYU with a degree in Elementary Education and taught for several years. Growing up in Salt Lake County, her favorite childhood hobbies were visiting cemeteries and eavesdropping on adult conversations. Her ancestral DNA is multi-ethnic and she is Mormon pioneer stock on every familial line. Joanna resides in the Southeastern USA with her five children ranging in age from 8 to 24. Her husband passed away in 2009. She is an avid reader and a student of history. Her current intellectual obsession is Sephardic Jewish history, influence and genealogy. She served as a board member for her local chapter of Families with Children from China. She is the author of “DNA Mormons?” Summer Sunstone 2007 http://www.bycommonconsent.com/2007/04/dna-mormons/ and “Becoming Hong Mei`s Mother” in the Winter Sunstone 2009 http://theredbrickstore.com/sunstone/becoming-hong-meis-mother/.

9 thoughts on “Squirrels in the Engine or Adventures of a Redneck Woman

  1. Greatest title ever, Joanna. In my experience, one of the biggest mistakes people make is not spending enough time with family members. Either work or pleasure will often get in the way. That’s one lesson I’m trying to learn in my life.

  2. Often we sacrifice most for what we want at the moment. The squirrels desired a warm place for the winter, but gave up their home and lives for momentary comfort.

    When I was in high school, we had a situation with the neighbor’s cat. The cat climbed up and sat on the engine block of my dad’s truck–an otherwise warm, safe place for a cat on a cold morning. Sadly, when my dad started the truck, the cat didn’t stand a chance against the fan. Informing the neighbors of their cat’s demise was not an easy task, nor comfortable one. 😉

  3. We have a really old house and all winter long those damn squirrels are running through the walls and rolling their acorns, especially at night and especiall in the wall behind my bed.

    But as to the point of the post I think people sacrifice family in the name of family. By this I mean like the time our 2nd counselor in the Bishopric stated the priorities set by the church was family, then work, then callings. He then went on to give a 20 minute talk that the best way to “serve” family was by working as much as he could (financial security) and fulfilling callings (spiritural security). It seems he totally missed the boat on what being there for your family was all about.

  4. Joanna, I can’t stop laughing!!! Your last paragraph was too deep for me after the funny story! Glad your car didn’t suffer too much damage and it was the horn and not the brake line that was chewed through! AND of course yes, I do all to often put my treasure’s in danger, that is the way of the procrastinator after all!

  5. Great images and a nice analogy. I think we’re expected to try to improve our circumstances and relationships and whatever, and nobody, so far as I know (I’m not up on squirrel revelation), had ever warned the squirrels against the dangers of taking advantage of this particular attempted betterment. They were hardly in a position to learn from their mistake and try a better path — so much for evolutionary progress — so I’m inclined to cut them some moral slack, especially since they paid so dearly for the ultimately unusable lesson.

    But my mental image of you will forever include the picture of you tooting down the highway, popping dazed squirrels out the exhaust pipe in place of puffs of smoke.

  6. Thanks all for the great comments. Nice to see you Steve and Uncle Nette. Thanks for stopping by.

    Geoff- You are so right, family is one of the greatest treasures we will have in this life. It is the one thing we will take with us to the next world. We should guard our relationships with others and keep them safe.

    Brian- That happened to a cat of mine when I was a child, only it was the home teachers and not the neighbors. Fortunately Oscar only lost 1/2 a tail.

    TStevens- I am sure you know squirrels can do a lot of damage to the electrical system in a house. Have you tried those high pitch noise makers? They are only heard by animals. They are the only way I am able to keep mice out of the house. They work pretty well. You are right. “No success can compensate for failure in the home”- David O McKay. We should not sacrifice time with family. It is a challenge for a lot of men ( and some women) to provide financially for their family, yet keep close relationships with their children and spouse. Church callings call us to go the extra mile, and often there is just not enough time in the day to do ALL we are suppose to do. A good talk on this subject by Elder Ballard is ‘O Be Wise’: http://www.lds.org/conference/talk/display/0,5232,23-1-646-7,00.html

    Ardis- I know I am being very judgemental about my poor squirrels. You are right, they probably had no idea what they were doing. We, on the other hand, have a modern day prophet, the Holy Ghost and hopefully good ol’ human common sense; to warn us before we get ourselves into trouble.

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