Frustrated that squirrels were systematically chewing all the bark off her Japanese maples, a lady wrote to an expert for help. "What's going on?" she asked. "The pests don't even eat the bark; they spit it on the ground. They're killing my trees!!"
The expert, in a calm voice that came through the newsprint, soothed the tree owner, assuring her the damage is most likely superficial even though the maples may look seriously wounded. Then she surmised - only a theory, mind you - that expectant female squirrels are the culprits, and, they are gnawing the bark off to relieve their labor pains. Well!
The more I considered this sad situation, the more I pitied those poor lady squirrels. They don't have the benefit of Lamaze instruction. They don't enjoy the option of screaming for an epidural - "AND I MEAN RIGHT NOW!!!!" They can't even grovel for any of that fake pain-reliever, Demerol. And those cowardly daddy squirrels who could be coaching have probably holed up somewhere, smoking cigars until it's all over. These ladies have to go natural-baby-squirrel-birth all the way. So they attack trees.
Now before you laugh out loud, just think for a moment. If you've delivered a baby, don't you remember certain stages of that experience when you might well have chewed some bark had it been handy? Actually ripped it right off a tree?! Then spat it on the ground and dared anyone to say anything? It might be immensely satisfying to add this component to the baby-delivery saga. Maybe we ought to request a few potted trees in the labor and delivery unit.