End Grain: Squirrel Surprise

A project with a bite.

By Brendan Isaac Jones
Page: 64

From the February 2011 issue #188
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How do three carpenters feed an abandoned baby squirrel? Glass dropper in hand, huddled around a kitchen table in the historic district of downtown Alexandria, Va., we discovered the answer: with great difficulty.

The day previous, atop scaffolding in the driving rain, Jay pried off a return from the termite-damaged cornice of a house on Prince Street. We heard the sound of scampering, and a rust-red squirrel exploded out from the darkness of rotted wood. It balanced briefly on Jay’s arm, seemed to consider the weather, then trotted down the side of the building. So it goes when you’re replacing the entire cornice on a 19th-century townhouse. Back to work.

The following day, as we replaced termite-ridden framing, a splinter of wood fell on the yellow grating of the scaffold. Just before we swept it onto the waiting canvas 40′ below, the splinter moved, and revealed a dun-colored belly, tiny whiskers and two slits where eyes should be. It looked, with its little arms, like a ginger root. We picked him up, and decided we had in our hands a baby squirrel. Naturally, we named him “Cornice.”

Article: Read “Almost a Plane Wreck.”
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From the February 2011 issue #188
Buy this issue now