Have you ever watched a squirrel sleep?

I can see a pair of them from my window right now, dozing in the sun. I've never seen that before.

They are tucked under the eaves of Mr. Shaw's attic dormer. At first I saw only one and I thought it must be dead. He lay completely still on the green asphalt roofing, facing south, protected from the whistling north wind that blew into town yesterday.

He's stretching now, like a dog, his front paws wrapped around a little stanchion that pokes through the roof.

I figured out he must be alive when I spied his mate three feet above his spot. She lay completely still, as well. I tapped on the window and watched the lower squirrel shake his tail. He picked up his head and squinted around in the sunlight.

Whoops.I've scared them now. I never should have stopped typing.Wild beasts always seem more afraid when weird noises stop than if they just keep going.

A man came by two weeks ago with a ladder strapped on top of his battered Chevrolet. He was old and thin and emphysemic. He said he was cleaning gutters for people in the neighborhood and would I care to have mine cleaned.

He'd do it for $10, he said.

That seemed pretty mild so I told him to go ahead. He hoisted the aluminium ladder off the car roof and lugged it across the front yard. I asked if I could help but he said no, he was used to it. He'd been a house painter 30 years, he said, but now he was just taking care of the grounds at a cemetery and cleaning gutters on weekends.

He leaned the ladder against the porch roof, since it wasn't long enough to reach the second story. He climbed up, grabbed the top rung and hauled the ladder up behind him. Then he anchored it on the porch roof and climbed up the remaining 10 feet to the house roof.

I started worrying about lawsuits.

I didn't worry for long. He was down in five minutes with the news that he hadn't found more than two handfuls of oak leaves in the gutters. But a deal is a deal. I paid him the $10.

While he was up there he noticed that Mr. Shaw's gutters were really jammed. I saw Donald Shaw coming out of the house and sent the man over. They made a deal and he went up the porch roof there.

Donald said they had a little problem with squirrels in the attic and were thinking of asking the ladder man if he could fix it.

Mr. Shaw came out and watched. He was a little reluctant to plug up the squirrels' hole. "They're used to it up there," he said. "I don't like them rattling around in the attic, but winter's coming on. I don't want to put them out in the cold."

I told him I didn't think any self-respecting squirrel needed to spend his winters in anybody's attic. That's why they have those furry coats.

Mr. Shaw nodded.

Evidently he wasn't convinced. The two squirrels have just strolled off. They ambled five feet up the roof along a little path they've worn in the asphalt. When they got to the corner of the dormer they shook their bushy tails and crawled on in.

Now I really feel bad.

I had a pair of pigeons that made a nest in the eaves on the south side of my house. I chased them out of their first nest by tearing it out and putting wire mesh up.

But they just flapped over to the other side and built another one. I've been leaving them alone. Then the man with the ladder said he'd fix them for an additional $5.

Last week he came back and jammed a bunch of wire screen in where their nest was. They're gone now, who knows where.

I sure hope they don't freeze.