A few years ago, we planted creeping fig in three places next to some posts holding up the pergola in our backyard.
I had already learned my lesson about planting a trumpet vine in one little corner to climb the fence, but I thought creeping fig was safer. It wasn’t. It was like kudzu. Not only did it cover the entire pergola, it produced seed pods the size of small Bartlett pears. Too bad they were no good for jelly or jam.
So we picked them up by the buckets full, and we had to fish them out of the goldfish pond and the pool. Normally when I stood at the edge of the fishpond, the fish came to me because they knew floating flakes of their food were on the way. They would even nibble the flakes right from my fingers. But when I approached the water’s edge with a dip net, my twenty-five-cent goldfish took a quick nose dive for the bottom and hid behind a clump of rocks. The fish recognized danger.
Speaking of dip nets . . . some time back, a squirrel took about a thirty-foot nose dive from the oak tree above our roof top and wound up in our atrium, hurtling himself around and through the potted plants ever so surprised to find himself in such a place. No way out. Now squirrels are quite industrious little critters, but they haven’t learned to climb glass. He didn’t want to be there, and we didn’t want him to be there. Figuring a way out of this would take some doing.
So I came up with this clever idea of putting the contents of a Benadryl capsule into a plastic spoon of crunchy peanut butter and opening the glass door just enough to put it inside. Squirrels love peanuts, and if a Benadryl knocks me out until next Tuesday, I figured the squirrel would nap long enough for Bill to get him safely out of the atrium. (The roles at our house are more clearly defined, and critters and insects are definitely Daddy jobs.) The only thing was, the squirrel wouldn’t eat the peanut butter. I called a good friend who is a vet to get her advice only to be told that squirrels are smarter than humans. They know what they’re not supposed to eat, and they don’t eat it. Of course, squirrels never heard of Blue Bell ice cream or chocolate or Doritos. The squirrel recognized danger.
To our defense, we humans recognize danger, too—driving too fast, eating too much cheese, avoiding unsafe places at night, opening your front door to someone holding a gun. I think you get the picture. But at the same time, we often flirt with danger, and just like that squirrel, we fall into a place where we don’t want to be and we don’t know how to get out. We open our minds and hearts to other risks—like the threat of being complacent, of being critical, of being ungrateful, of being prideful, or of being self-centered. These negative attitudes walk right in and make themselves at home with us if we allow them, and they rob us of joy and peace. God has His ways of alerting us to these dangers. Would that we could learn to recognize them and head for cover when we sense their arrival.
Just in case you’re wondering about the squirrel, he made it to safety. After a couple of days without food or water, he curled up and went to sleep under the weeping fig, or so we thought. When Bill went in, dressed head to toe for battle just in case, and with his favorite dip net and a bucket, he was met by a “flying squirrel.” Bill was quick and caught him in midair, put him in the bucket and rushed him outside. When that squirrel smelled the outside air, he literally flew out of that bucket. The only thing is—Bill needs a new dip net.