Rough Edges - I'm a Big Picture Guy and It's Gonna Be Hard Times for Them Squirrels

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By Dave Coulter

Rough Edges

I’m a busy guy.   And like so many of my neighbors in Oak Park I try to keep up with current events, locally and beyond.  These are important, complicated times and I find that being both informed and open-minded is the only way forward in our increasingly interconnected society. Just the other night President Obama asked that we all find innovative ways to contribute to the betterment of America and her citizens.  Well, I may be a big picture kind of guy, but I still want to think globally and act locally.

I was pondering all of this as I looked out my back door.  Sometimes the solution to our problems are right in front of us - or in this case, staring back at us from the top of the dumpster with shiny black eyes.  Pull up a chair with me and grasp the potential synergy from the following five points:

One. Lately in Oak Park there has been a lot of talk about guns

Two. Lately on the campaign trail certain candidates have proposed that children be put to work to make money and develop a work ethic…

Three.  Lately there is a dearth of jobs, forcing many families to have less good food to eat… 

Four. Society in general bemoans the trend of kids being disconnected from nature

Five. There is one hell of a lot of squirrels in my back alley

So here’s my idea:  Give all the kids pellet guns (or .22’s) and let them start popping squirrels around town.  (Why there were six or seven out there just a minute ago hanging around the dumpsters)   The kids can learn how to gut and clean squirrels, and thereby learn a valuable life-skill as well as the provision of food for consumption by humans - or pets.   

Along the way they will learn responsibility.  How to hunt safely - especially important in densely populated neighborhoods.  And think of the other potential positive spin-offs: kids with guns may be drawn to learn more about local trees and develop an affection for the urban forest that we all cherish.  And the culinary arts beckon!  How many of these youngsters will develop the desire to prepare free-range squirrel meat in new and delicious ways?  Why couldn’t a David Hammond someday give a fancy Oak Park bistro the thumbs up for their squirrelly fare?  Bon apetit!

We just need to think outside the box and remember the innovation that made this country great.     

Oh sure, there may be some growing pains.  An armed youngster will invariably wing a visitor or two mistaking them - or their BMW- for overly big quarry.  And there may be some resistance to the cross-cultural learning that the poaching of urban rodents necessitates.  Will street-wise kids take to learnin’ from seasoned rural instructors from south of I-80?  Oh, and we Oak Parkers may want to ditch our tan and grey overcoats for the time being.

But I think if we consider the potential upsides here, it’s too good of an idea to resist. I think it's a win-win, maybe even a win-win-win.  Yes, it may be a bad day for squirrels, but it’s a great day for Americans.    

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