I was working away in my studio the other day when I detected the unmistakable sound of a squirrel in my living room. I say unmistakable because, unfortunately this is not the first incidence of a squirrel intruder in my apartment. I went to the window just in time to see a grey, fluffy tail disappear through a freshly chewed hole in the screen. I opened the screen to look out and was horrified to see the culprit making off with my prized, handmade tomato pincushion in it's mouth! I shudder to imagine how I must have appeared to my courtyard neighbors, hanging out the window yelling "drop it!" to a fleeing squirrel. I watched helplessly as he leaped from the fire escape onto a tree in the adjoining courtyard and proceeded to shred the once beautiful pin cushion to nothingness. I stood transfixed at the absurdity of the situation but somehow realized that this was a rare photo opportunity and managed to snap this shot before the item was completely destroyed.
I simply could not fathom why a squirrel would be so attracted to a pin cushion, aside from the fact that I feed my courtyard squirrels during the winter months and by so doing erase their natural instincts to avoid human contact. In my experience they never cross the border of the squirrel/human existence unless there is a powerful motivation such as an open jar of peanuts taunting them from within. It wasn't until I related the story to my dear friend who had in fact presented the pin cushion to me as a Christmas gift that the whole thing made sense. He had purchased the pin cushion for me from Jane McMillen after I admired the one he had bought for himself and he informed me that they are stuffed with none other than crushed walnut shells! Suddenly the whole incident made perfect sense and I couldn't really blame the squirrel for simply using it's natural resourcefulness to find food. My only fear was that he would ingest some of the fine, decorative pins adorning it but fortunately I found a neat pile of pins along with my needle threader on my windowsill where he must have painstakingly pulled them out before making away with his bounty. Jane has since very generously offered to replace my beloved pin cushion and I really must admit that the whole thing now ranks as one of the most absurd and amusing stories that I will enjoy telling for years to come.
Here is a photo of the original item, hand stitched with love from wool and yes, crushed walnut shells. Truly beautiful AND delicious. You can purchase similar items at Jane's Etsy shop Little House Home Arts.