Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: Chipdrunks

I'm rerunning an old favorite today.

When we bought our first “big” house (one with more than two bedrooms), it came with an in-ground pool. We couldn’t believe our luck. We could actually afford this? Really? It was true. So we jumped on it, and spent four years with an amazing luxury in our yard.

Yes, it cost us some money—about $300 a year to get someone to open and close it, and each year we had to shell out on average $300 to repair or replace some piece of equipment or other. Ultimately we had to have the pool deck replaced, and the pool resurfaced, but honestly I don’t think if you added up those expenses, plus the cost of the chemicals (which was minimal), it would add up to more than we would have spent on a pool membership, with the club house minimums and dues that involves. Plus it was ours all to ourselves, was open from whenever we wanted to whenever we wanted (not Memorial Day to Labor Day), and available 24x7. The pleasure far outweighed the pain.

There was, however, one experience we had with this pool that a pool membership would have spared us. Drowned chipmunks.

Overhanging the pool deck was a mulberry tree. All spring, summer, and fall, as the mulberries ripened, they fell on the pool deck. They’d sit in the hot sun, and ferment. They’d become boozy, high octane berries. Chipmunks like mulberries and they weigh about 3 ounces each, so they have the alcohol tolerance of a 19 year old sorority girl. They’d eat some berries, and be half in the bag, staggering around the pool deck.

The stages of drunk must be slightly different for chipmunks than for humans. It’s my experience that thirst doesn’t really hit until the alcohol wears off, and it’s part of the hangover stage. Evidently chipmunks get thirsty right away. These stupid chipmunks would lurch over to the pool and try to get a drink of water. The only problem was the level of the water they were trying to drink was about 6 millimeters further down from the lip of the pool edge than the length of the average chipmunk. You probably don’t need me to spell out the result of almost every single one of these attempts.

Another fact about chipmunks is they can’t swim. Squirrels can—one jumped in and went for a dip while I was sitting out there one day, and I chased that little asshole right out. But chipmunks are hopeless and pretty much drop like sinkers as soon as they hit the water. Chipmunks have a lung capacity of about ¼ of a teaspoon, so they also drown almost instantly. We were constantly hauling drowned drunken chipmunks out of our pool.

I hope you’re curious about what we did with the corpses, because you’re going to find out. The house behind us was empty—the people who lived in it moved out about two weeks after we moved in (a coincidence? I don’t know) so the yard was overgrown with ivy and other vines. We would scoop the chipmunks out of the pool with the long handled skimmer, and using it as a sort of catapult, fling them over the fence into all that brush.

Just about the time we were moving out, someone started renovating that house behind us. They started with the house itself, and hadn’t gotten to the yard before we moved to the other side of the country, so I have no idea when they may have discovered the chipmunk mass grave at the far edge of their property, nor what they concluded when they did. I myself would probably have assumed it was some kind of Jonestown/Heaven’s Gate scenario, but with chipmunks. I’m also not sure what the people who bought our house are doing with the drowned chipmunks now since our disposal option is not available to them. Because I’m quite sure those stupid chipmunks are still getting shitfaced on fermented mulberries and drowning in that pool.


Sarah @Sarah on Purpose said...

My parents have a similar problem with magpies and mountain ash berries. Poor drunk birds fly all wobbly and end up slamming into various things and killing themselves.

Tracy said...

It's a sad state of affairs, but drunk animals killing themselves is a thing. Is this what they meant by Darwinism?

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