Dr. Jamie Jenkins: Try, Try Again

I thought I had discovered a solution to this long term problem. I have tried many different suggestions over the years. Finally one of them seemed to work.

The bird feeders in our back yard attract many wonderful feathered creatures. We have enjoyed watching their playfulness, enjoying their songs and admired their beauty. But there has been one persistent problem--squirrels.

Squirrels chase the birds away and eat all their food. Those little furry critters are incredibly ingenious. They have managed to overcome every obstacle we have put up to prevent them from raiding the bird feeders. It has been fascinating to observe their diligence and creativity as they have conquered every feeder designed to keep them away. Their acrobatics and persistence is amazing.

Changing location of the feeders in an attempt to make them inaccessible to squirrels has not been helpful. Applying grease to prevent them from climbing up the pole to the feeders was unsuccessful. Mixing chili pepper with the bird seed seemed only to improve the flavor. Different bird seed that "squirrels do not like" has not worked. Then someone suggested safflower seed for larger birds and nyger seed for the small song birds.

Aha! It worked! For a while. The squirrels have not eaten the nyger seed but the birds have stopped eating it also. And just last week I saw a squirrel suspended upside down feasting on the safflower seed. He (or she) ate her (or his) fill while a friend enjoyed all that was falling on the ground.

I could not believe it because when we first switched to the safflower seed the squirrels would sample it and then scurry away. But these little fellows seemed to really enjoy it.

One answer to the problem is to simply give up. Acknowledge that the squirrels won. Quit feeding the birds. Another conclusion is to admit that the squirrels are smarter than I but keep providing for them and maybe there will be a little left for the birds. Or I can continue seeking solutions. Another type of feeder or food. Another method of prevention.

The way I approach the problem of squirrels eating the bird seed might be an indication of how I deal with other persistent and nagging issues in my life. Financial struggles. Conflict in personal relationships. Pressures on the job. Temptations. Health concerns. I can decide to throw in the towel or I can seek other solutions.

"If at first you don't succeed, try, try again" is still good advice. And not only when you don't reach your goal on the first try but the second, third, and however many times is necessary. Problems do not have to prevail. Sometimes it just takes a while to see the results. Sometimes we have to try something new.

I don't make New Year's Resolutions but the beginning of another year reminds me that you can always start over. Begin again. But you don't have to go it alone. Family, friends, co-workers, and others are present to assist us. And John Wesley reminds us that in this and all things, "Best of all, God is with us."

Jamie Jenkins

Visit the website of the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church.