I woke up this morning to the sound of a squirrel in my soffit. It wasn’t that long ago that I didn’t know what a soffit was and if I had I wouldn’t’ve dreamt that a squirrel might crawl around in them, but now I do know and I have auditory evidence that it is happening.

I woke up this morning to the sound of a squirrel in my soffit. It wasn’t that long ago that I didn’t know what a soffit was and if I had I wouldn’t’ve dreamt that a squirrel might crawl around in them, but now I do know and I have auditory evidence that it is happening.

I don’t begrudge the squirrel a clean, dry, comfortable place to run, and the noise doesn’t bother me that much, but he has found some way to make it from the backside of the house to the soffit above my front porch and I think I’ve heard him gnawing. There is something that looks like sawdust finding its way down to the porch.

I need help, but there is not a listing for “Squirrels in your Soffits?” in Names and Numbers.

If all goes as planned today, I will go watch the nine-year-old play soccer and then do my first mowing of the year. As those of you who watch this space know, I look forward to the first mowing of the year with great anticipation. I estimate that I will mow my lawn fourteen times between now and October. This works out to between 14 and 21 hours, depending upon moisture content of the soil, the amount of sunshine received, how many toys are left out in the yard, and whether my nine-year-old is paying attention.

By way of preparation, I went out this morning and looked around a bit. As those of you who are experienced in this area know, you have to police the area to be mowed, especially before the first mowing. During the course of the winter, there is an accretion of detritus, or to put this in my native Okie, you get all sorts of crap in your yard.

This year the main obstacles, however, are the marking the phone company put there. They did this at my own request after I called 1-800-DIG-SAFE, as I prepared to do some modifications to the fence which encloses my back yard. This is something you should always do, by the way. It only takes them a couple of days to come out. 

I remember the very moment I made my decision to call them. I had dug down about a foot with my post-hole diggers. With the last thrust, I had gone a little harder in order to break through a pesky root. The thought came through my mind unbidden, “Wasn’t it along here that the telephone company buried the phone line?” I glanced down, and the pesky root I’d just successfully severed WAS the phone line.

The orange markings the phone company painted in my back yard have a break in them at the hole that was dug so that the line could be spliced back in. I will have to be careful with that when I do my mowing because the splice is hanging out of the hole. I am not complaining, because that is the best place to put the fence post and the fellows at the phone company just left me a little wiggle room so I could do it.

We plan to let our new cat Mischief have a little supervised play time out in the backyard today. As you may recall, Mischief has been declawed and our humanitarian instincts prevent us from turning her into an outdoor cat — as much as we might want to. She has proceeded from houseplant-eating to climbing on top of things. She likes the windowsills behind my computer as well as the top of the dining room table.

When she climbs down from the windowsill behind my computer, she sometimes steps on the telephone answering machine and plays our messages. If we don’t return a phone call, I suggest calling again.

We’ve taken to keeping water squirt bottles at each end of the dining room table to spray her in the face.

I’ve written a whole column on her exploits that Jean refuses to let me send in. She fears the many cat-lovers out there would be offended. She is probably right.

It occurs to me, however, that we could put Mischief in our soffit. It’s dry, clean, and comfortable.

She could keep the squirrel company.

Bobby Winters is Assistant Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and Professor of Mathematics at Pittsburg State University. He is pastor of the Opolis United Methodist Church.