Among family, friends, and neighbors, I’ve developed a reputation as the go-to guy for nature questions. Not that I’m an expert, mind you, it’s just that ever since I was a kid, I was known as the one who spent his spare time chasing butterflies, catching snakes and turtles, etc. Before long, I was being called in to get rid of unwanted visitors or just to be consulted on birds nests or whatever. There was the time I stopped by the local service station (one of the last that still did the pumping for you) and the owner was wondering what kind of bird feeder he should get his wife.

One of my acquaintances, who shall remain nameless, emailed me and wanted to know what she should do about the chipmunk in her cellar. Now this is the kindest, sweetest person you can imagine, but she is not exactly one with nature. She had gone down cellar in full battle regalia – heavy boots, long pants, work gloves, bicycle helmet, safety goggles – ready to evict the little intruder, but couldn’t find it. I pointed out that Alvin (I couldn’t resist giving him a name) was probably looking for a warm place to spend the winter, and while he’s not going to hibernate, he’ll spend most of his time snoozing. I suggested a selection of nuts and dried fruit to make him feel welcome. But if she really wanted to harass the little thing, I suggested she put on one of her Barry Manilow albums. That would drive me out. She countered that the next time she and her husband come for a visit, she just might bring along a little chipmunk chow mein. I may have the last laugh yet. I’m thinking of getting her an Alvin and the Chpimunks album for Christmas.