We have a chipmunk issue.

It’s bigger than the bunnies-who-live-under-our-deck issue and bigger than the squirrels who somehow managed to start oak trees growing in a yard with only pines and maples shading it.

The chipmunks are wrecking our front flower beds, undermining (literally mining) the porch and squashing the baby stonecrop plants in the back flower beds. We live in the suburbs, but the animals are almost more destructive here than where I grew up at my parents’ country home.

Pennsylvania chipmunk

Chipmunks are cute, right?

They make that adorable chittering noise when conversing with each other. Chipmunks scoot quickly back and forth like furtive little burglars avoiding the cops as they eat maple spinner-seeds here and there. Sometimes chippies even act like miniature sumo wrestlers once in a while as we witnessed one day. One ran from one direction on our stone wall and one from the other and, Crash! They smacked right into each other full-tilt. I nearly spat my drink out laughing at the unexpected comedy as they stood up, shook their heads, and dashed off in opposite directions.


Talk to Wojo about cute. When my little brother was about six, he somehow got a hold of a chipmunk and held it up for a closer look—crunch. The little darling bit his finger! Tetanus shot time.

Dad had such a chipmunk problem at his house one summer that I bought him Caddyshack. Before he watched it, though, Dad went on the offensive. After hours of landscaping, as Dad sat back to admire his handiwork, out popped the first hole, the first scattering of mulch, and the first peek of a tiny chipmunk head. Yep, there the bugger was and soon the holes were everywhere.

Who needs protection?

In general, PA Game Law protects the wily little brats. Not, however, when they are causing imminent damage to home and hearth. I wasn’t worried about Dad getting arrested. Watching his efforts, I was convinced the chipmunks were going to win.

Dad tried the usual tricks: blocking the chipmunk holes, stuffing raw garlic in the tunnels—that worked for a whole week—water, human hair, steel wool, even Cayenne pepper.

Normally a calm man, Dad’s patience was gone. He quit hunting years ago so I knew he completely lost his marbles one day while I was mowing. I came around the corner of the house and saw him, poised with his revolver hidden behind his back while he crouched at the edge of the house waiting for the lead chipmunk to scurry up out of his home.

Now you know where I get my desire to do almost anything to entertain my friends.

I laughed so hard that I shut off the mower and flung myself onto the grass. Dad turned to look at me and grinned from ear-to-ear in that “gotcha” kind of way he had. I still have that snapshot of him clearly in my head: worn blue jeans, black work boots, royal blue pocket t-shirt, and ever-present fishing hat, his big freckled hand holding a Winchester loaded with birdshot. How could he hope to actually shoot something as tiny as a chipmunk?

Do you see why it’s impossible for me to discuss chipmunks without referring to Gilbert? How did my mother live with him for just shy of fifty-seven years and ever stop laughing long enough to raise four kids?

Things in my family escalate…

I told cousin Weni about her uncle’s escapade. Somehow she alerted the authorities and soon this letter arrived in Dad’s mail.


July 1, 20__

Gilbert Wayne Griffith

Dear Mr. Griffith:

We’ve seen you.
And we know what you’ve done.
Perhaps you are not aware that your actions violate the laws of sportsmanship between man and chipmunk? This letter is to inform you of our intention to increase surveillance of the above-referenced property in order to determine your future plans. We intend to deploy our most skilled unit, time frame effective immediately.

Remember, we’re watching you.

 Skippy, President CACW
Chipmunks Against Concealed Weapons

Alex and I have tried everything Dad tried. Nothing is keeping the chippys in check. Wielding a six-shooter in the suburbs is frowned upon. Besides, we’re afraid to take more drastic measures to control the chipmunks because we understand that the CACW has us on their watch list.

Like Bill Murray’s groundhog, I think the chipmunks have won.


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