I have some blueberry bushes. Not that we can’t buy the things – but there’s something very satisfying about picking berries off your own bush. Or it would be satisfying if I ever managed to do it. The birds have always swiped the berries as soon as they’re ripe and the deer, of course, eat anything that comes their way. One of my efforts to improve the odds involved buying more blueberry bushes. This method could be called the triumph of hope over experience. A second was to copy a neighbour and drape the bushes with a sort of veil to hide them from the birds. I tried this one summer, but,as you may have read ,that was the Summer of the Turkeys.
This year started off promisingly. In spring, the bushes were covered in pinky-white flowers, which augured well for the harvest. The deer hadn’t been around much and the turkey family had moved on. Every day, I went to check on the little green berries. But start to get complacent and you’ve had it. Slowly it dawned on me that the berries were getting fewer. Then one evening, hubby, ever vigilant, called out in alarm, “What’s that at the blueberries?” Then he relaxed, “It’s OK, it’s only a chipmunk.”
When I first came here, I started a love affair with chipmunks. I thought them the sweetest things in all creation, like exquisite, miniature squirrels in striped pyjamas. One, Chippy, had a network of tunnels outside the dining room. We’d laugh to see him pop down one hole and up from another. I’d put out peanuts and sometimes he’d eat them, sometimes stuff them into his cheeks and scamper off with them to his winter larder. Many is the time I saved his bacon when the neighbours’ cat had him in her sights. I thought he was my friend.
So hubby’s observation didn’t worry me unduly. Until I inspected the bushes. All but one had been stripped bare.
At first I put a brave face on my betrayal. Perhaps it wasn’t Chippy but some interloper from across the creek. Then blind rage took over and with an insane desire not to let this little furry fiend get the better of me, I spent hours wrestling with netting, stakes and heavy rocks to build a Fort Knox around the one remaining bush. Grimly, I threw down the gauntlet, “Get past that if you can!”
The next day, the blueberries were down to four. Perplexed, I took to the internet. I should have gone there first. Just do a search for “chipmunks and blueberries”. The tales of woe from hapless, outwitted gardeners will keep you going for weeks.
As I write, there’s one blueberry left and I’m watching it like a hawk. Let’s see who’s going to win this final battle. I have an uneasy feeling that I already know.