Li'l Megan and the Squirrel

By Frank Yacenda

The squirrels started attacking Li'l Megan again.

Li'l Megan, I should explain, is my beautiful year-old avocado plant.

The squirrels, perhaps it is only one squirrel, attacked her in the beginning, when she was just a seedling. But then the attacks stopped and Li'l Megan grew into a striking little tree, beyond the ravages of squirrels.

Or so I thought, until two days ago when I came out and found dirt scattered outside her pot and a hole dug near her trunk. Damn.

Outraged, I put as much of the dirt back into her pot as I could and filled the hole the furry beast had made.

Then it happened again yesterday. Another hole, more dirt scattered around Li'l Megan's pot. This time I caught the little grey criminal making for an oak tree. I let fly a rock at it, but the perp cleverly scurried up the far side of the tree and disappeared.

"Run, you little bastard," I muttered, loud enough for a squirrel to hear but not enough to give my neighbors further evidence of my insanity. "I'll make squirrel stew out of you!"

Again I cleaned up as much of the scattered soil as I could with my hand and patted it back into Li'l Megan's pot. I was concerned. Was this like a shark, preying on the weakest fish? Nature's way of culling the herd? It's been a hard winter for us, Li'l Megan and me.

Maybe it was just the squirrel's way of playing a trick on me, pay back for recently raking up leaves and needles and the pine cones and acorns that made squirrel life fat and happy.

Whatever. It irked me.

Named for a love lost, Li'l Megan got her start as a seed at Thanksgiving year before last. Her flesh went into a guacamole and my sister and brother-in-law gave me the seed.

For months I tried to get that big seed to sprout, first in water, as one does, though there was debate whether the pointy end should be up, or down. And when that did not work, in soil, in a pot. Inside the house, then outside in the growing Gulf Coast February sun.

Here, there, I moved the pot with the seed, following the sunlight. And ultimately next to the bench I had bought for Megan, the real Megan, to sit on when she smoked her damned cigarettes, sometimes wearing only one of my shirts she would casually forget to button, providing entertainment and evidence to the neighbors.

Still, no luck. With Li'l Megan. With the real Megan, who I wanted back.

I was about to give up and throw out Li'l Megan when late in the afternoon of Friday the 13th the real Megan came over in a huff from Mobile to finally return some things of mine.

Not a happy encounter, and the real Megan, beautiful as ever in her anger, would not even get out of her car nor go meet her namesake nor sit on her bench.

Then something happened.

The very next day, the day after the real Megan drove off for the last time into the sun-speckled leafy shadowed March afternoon, I came outside, fully prepared to dispose of the recalcitrant avocado seed named after her.

But Li'l Megan had sprouted.

A thin green shoot, already grown overnight to a couple inches high, had burst forth from the pointy top of the seed.

Now an avocado tree named Li'l Megan grows in Mississippi. Maybe some things just don't die, and even squirrels can't kill them.

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