I make snap judgments when I run into things not supported by what I think I know.

I make snap judgments when I run into things not supported by what I think I know. To wit, last week my wife Ann and I were sitting on the patio as is our evening custom when she suddenly uttered an expletive and pointed to a chair cushion.

Such vocal outbursts arenít unusual for my wife. Ann has a vast vocabulary of expletives that she can machine-gun as situations demand. Iíve always thought sheíd be great giving a college course teaching sailors how to cuss.

She said a squirrel had chewed a hole in the cushion. It wasnít a big deal to me. I told her to go ahead and get a replacement when she found one she liked, but added that I doubted a squirrel was the culprit.

I figure I know a lot about squirrels, having hunted them unmercifully in my younger years. Unless this one was a distant relative of my past victims out for revenge, I doubted a normal squirrel would have interest in a cushion.

We returned to our pretzels and wine and I gave no further thought to Annís assertion of a rodent attack upon our patio furniture. But lo and behold, the very next day she emailed me an iPad movie recorded through our glass door of Squirrelzilla tearing stuffing out of the cushion.

The little rascal had a mouthful of cotton so big he could barely see over it. He jumped down and headed into the neighborís yard presumably to deposit the pirated booty into his nest.

Ann said he repeated the process during the day. Since the cushion was already irreparably damaged, she let the little fellow pick cotton to his heartís content. The only thing missing from her movie production was "That Lucky Old Sun" as theme music.

After that dayís hard work, he didnít return so I guess he finished his harvest.

Interestingly, heís probably carted away much more than needed for a single nest. His tree pad canít be that big, so I wondered what he was using the leftovers for.

My mind launched into the imaginary and blasted off as it often does, leaving reality far behind. I considered he might have other, more ambitious plans. I smiled at the thought this guy could be building a squirrel motel!

If true, maybe heíll try to pilfer one of our solar powered patio decorations. After all, any animal incarnation of Tom Bodett would definitely want to "leave the light on."

I made a mental note to check for neighborhood trees glowing after dark. I also started inventorying our dťcor lighting. Uh oh, what if he decided he needed a ceiling fan?

As a serious note, we all know Mother Nature has her act together. I bet sheís told local squirrels a hard winter is coming, so this one decided to gut the Gardnerís cushion for an extra cozy nest.

Animals are smart in amazing ways. Before this winterís forecasts, Skip Waters might consider checking with a New Bern squirrel Ö or Iíll lend him this one. 

Otis Gardnerís column appears here weekly. He can be reached at ogardner@embarqmail.com.