So here I am staying at my mom's house for a little while. By now I've been used to going outside for a cigarette and being surrounded by squirrels begging for peanuts. They've become so tame that my mom and son have some of them named. These tree-rats, as my grandfather calls them, will even let you pet them as they take the peanuts out of your hand but you need to give them two or they'll stand there waiting because they've still got room for another in their mouth.

   Spring comes this year and the babies are now out in full force. The parents are bringing the young with them to show them where easy food can be found. Not a moment goes by you don't see a squirrel outside but I'm so used to the little beggars I've grown to like them. I'm starting to wonder if my oldest plans on naming some of the babies. There's already Questions, one-eyed Blindie and the house favourite Sunshine that will look in the basement windows until you come out and has even tried to walk in the open door a few times.

   So a couple weeks ago I was wondering why I wasn't seeing any squirrels while outside. It had been at least 3 days and I noticed there wasn't even a pile of peanuts outside the door. Another week goes by and I still haven't seen a squirrel.

   My grandfather has noticed too. He grew up in a tiny mining town in Alberta, Canada. He says they used to get rabbits really bad out there. The rabbits would multiply to the point where they would become a real problem for the community. Then a disease would come by and wipe out the entire population. The area would be rabbit-free for a couple years thereafter. He believes the same thing has happened. It sounds perfectly logical to myself as well.

   So these annoying little tree-rats whom I had started to grow fond of and even let my 2-year old have fun throwing peanuts to had disappeared. A couple days later I went to my currently vacant house about 10 minutes away to mow the lawn and get some things done. As I opened the garage door to pull out the lawnmower sure enough there was a squirrel lying dead in front of me. You could tell it had only happened within a day or two. Was it coincidence or had the mysterious plague already spread half-way across the city? I made sure my oldest son kept my youngest back while I double bagged the little creature into the garbage.

   At this point it had been 2 weeks and the only squirrel I had seen was now in the garbage. As we went to leave my empty home I looked across the street and a squirrel went running by. A slight sense of either hope or sadness crossed my mind. Was this a survivor or another poor critter in his last hours?

   This was 4 days ago and still I haven't seen another squirrel in 2 1/2 weeks. It made me feel even worse as I drove home from work last night and hit my 2nd possum in a month. Nasty, vicious, dirty little creatures and they're multiplying like crazy across the city. I still felt terrible when it happened but then I realized the same plague could hit them as well and the possums may all but disappear for a while. I surely won't miss those things but it sure seems a little less homely without the tree-rats running around at your feet.

   Good-bye my little friends.



Update: This lasted about a month and a half. The squirrels started appearing 1 by 1 and i usually see a couple a week at this point.

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