The campsite had been empty, quiet, and undisturbed; the perfect haven for a squirrel. Until a group of humans arrived, right at the end of the day.
The squirrel had assumed that the campsite wasn’t booked when no one showed up in the mid-afternoon, and had already fully planned his evening in the site, munching on pinecone seeds and watching dusk darken into twilight. But alas, as the sun began to set, a car pulled into the clearing. Out exploded three young women, followed closely by a secondary explosion of mattresses, sleeping bags and… the tent.
It was a stupid tent that they hastily set up without much discretion to any particular spot. “We need to get this up before dark,” they stated, dragging the tent bag only a couple meters away from the car. They burst into a flurry of action pulling out all of the components, and then sliding tent poles through the canvas.
At no point while pulling out the canvas and spreading it out on the ground did they look closely at what the canvas was covering, or which trees they were setting it up beside.
The squirrel watched from up in one of the three pine trees as the beautiful, delicious, delectable pinecones were smooshed, covered, and completely hidden from view by the hideous, ugly, stupid tent. Oh, the squirrel was not pleased.
He watched in further distress as the women glanced around the site once the tent was erected, as if seemingly looking for a better spot for the tent, then revealed that they had actually just been searching for the tent pegs. The tent was not moved an inch. The tent pegs made sure that the pinecones were completely locked away and out of his grasp. One in every. Single. Corner.
Then they stood back, admiring their work. Wiggling a corner here – secure. Glancing down at a tent peg there – firmly flat in the ground.
Next, they brought their air mattresses into the tent. There was a brief discussion of who wanted to sleep where, interrupted by, “Hey, what’s this? Shoot, did we set the tent on top of a big tree root?”
“No… No, just a bunch of pinecones.”
The squirrel’s eyes brightened with hope. Would they move the tent?
“Oh well, that’s not that bad. That shouldn’t bother us much.”
A head popped out of the tent. “Ha ha, we did just set it up under three pine trees.”
Did the humans considerately uproot the tent pegs and move the entire tent into the boring, empty, pinecone-free middle of the clearing? No, no they did not. They instead praised themselves for getting their tent set up before dark had fully descended. Soon, rucksacks were fetched from the car, and the loud, stupid, annoying neighbours were fully moved in.
The three women stood around the picnic table discussed dinner plans, not the least bit concerned that they had ruined the dinner plans of the squirrel. The squirrel chittered at the women loudly, startling the brunette. “What was that?” she asked, looking around.
“A squirrel,” the blonde and red-head stated simultaneously. A brief moment later, the three were once again discussing food.
Later that night, the squirrel perched up in his tree, plotting revenge. He glanced at a green pinecone – unripe and inedible. Yuck. Completely fed up, with a burst of frustrated energy, he grabbed it and chucked it at the tent. It made a satisfying thud when it hit the canvas, before sliding down the side of it to the ground. Then he thought for a moment, and wondered if he pelted the tent with as many pinecones as he could, if it would frighten the humans and force them to leave earlier than they had planned.
He grabbed more pinecones, whatever was within reach, and hurled them down at the tent.
There was no response at all from the humans inside the tent. How could they be sleeping so deeply after what they had put him through? Had they no shame? He chucked down a few more pinecones. Still nothing.
The squirrel sighed deeply, then decided to get some rest himself. He would try a new strategy in the morning.
When the three women were preparing breakfast, kettles for tea and coffee set on the camping stove, and bacon and eggs pulled out of the food cooler, joking and laughing with each other, the squirrel perched up in his tree looked down with shrewd eyes, watching for any weaknesses that he could exploit.
The red-head made witty sarcastic comments towards her friends. The squirrel chittered some much harsher sarcastic comments. None of them were fazed by his insults. The brunette casually commented that she wasn’t used to hearing such chatty squirrels. The blonde lightly replied that she saw plenty of chatty squirrels during her frequent walks around town for exercise. The squirrel chittered that she clearly needed to get some more exercise. The blonde ignored him and pulled her infuser out of her now steeped tea, and shook out the used loose leaves into the forest. The squirrel chittered that the head-red probably didn’t have a soul. The red-head calmly poured milk into her coffee.
A crow perched in a different tree had been watching the whole scene. “What are you trying to accomplish?” it cawed at the squirrel.
“I need these humans to leave,” the squirrel chittered through gritted teeth, slightly embarrassed that his failed attempts had been observed by another.
The crow laughed, her caws echoing through the forest. “Didn’t you see their registration slip? They’re going to be here for another three days.”
“Not if I have any influence.” The squirrel glared at the humans, loudly chittered another insult, and chucked a pinecone at the ground.
The women actually looked his direction. Ha! He had them properly startled now! A few more insults were hissed at them, and pinecones cascaded down on their tent. “That squirrel needs to chill,” the brunette said, then turned her attention back to flipping frying bacon on the camping stove.
“Maybe he’s mad that we pitched the tent on top of his pinecones,” the blonde commented, then began grinning.
The red-head raised an eyebrow and asked, “Are you about to write another short story?”
“Maybe,” the blonde laughed, drawing out the word.
The brunette chuckled, “The Story of the Hungry and Angry Squirrel.”
“Uh huh,” the squirrel chittered. “Now that you’re clearly aware of the situation, you should considerately choose your next course of action.”
That next course of action involved discussing where the salt and pepper were for the eggs, and would anyone like an orange juice box while they were already opening the trunk of the car? The squirrel was fully forgotten, and the tent was most certainly not moved.
The crow suggested that the squirrel find some different pinecones from a different tree in a different site. “There are several empty ones just down the path,” she added, pointing with her beak.
The squirrel huffed, and stubbornly glared at the humans. “But I want these ones, and I could maybe change my mind if these humans weren’t so blatantly rude!”
The humans were all looking at a map of various hiking trails, and none flinched even once at his insistent chittering. In defeat, he hung his head and admitted to the crow that he had lost the battle.
Three days later, after eating his fill of pinecones from a different site that had been unoccupied the whole weekend, the squirrel still watched in satisfaction as pillows and sleeping bags appeared outside of the tent. Slowly, bit by bit, the camp was being disassembled.
Tent pegs were finally uprooted, and the tent poles were slid out and folded up. The tent deflated and collapsed on the ground. Soon enough, it was rolled up and stored away, and the pine cones were visible once again! Definitely smooshed, but that wouldn’t affect the flavour of the seeds.
Eventually, after one final hike on a nearby trail, the three women gathered up their final objects, and climbed into the car for the last time that the squirrel would observe.
Once the car was finally gone, the squirrel sat lazily on his tree perch for a few more minutes before eventually climbing down and having a light snack, deciding to save the majority of the pinecones for later, when he was actually hungry again.