Living in a rural area means that we have a lot of critters of the small and fuzzy variety. Of course, we also have critters of the Big and Scary variety, but luckily I don't encounter those quite as often.
Ever since the ice storm I have noticed that all the fuzzy little things have moved closer to populated areas. I think a lot of hidey holes ended up being destroyed when so many trees and branches came down. I used to rarely see squirrels on our road. Rabbits, sure. Groundhogs were even a fairly common sight, as were chipmunks. But squirrels were like elusive little gray ghosts. You knew they were around somewhere, but you never really knew where.
This year has been different. They're everywhere this year. Every time I look out the window, or pull into my driveway, there are squirrels cavorting in my yard. They're digging in the ditches by the road and leaving piles of chewed up hickory nut husks everywhere. They went from being rarely seen to rarely not seen.
The thing about squirrels is that they're fearless. I don't know if this is because they're too stupid to know any better, or because they're simply brazen and don't care. Either way, I find myself having to drive like a stunt driver to avoid turning them into furry little splats in the road. Our road is very narrow and steep, so all of this swerving and slamming on brakes often takes its toll on my nerves.
I think they're aiming for me, though. I think they wait for me to pass and then radio ahead to other squirrels, so that my drive to and from home is fraught with kamikaze squirrels who launch themselves with great abandon towards the wheels of my car. Of course their frantic dashing is usually aimed towards snatching some acorn or other treasure from my path, lest it be crushed into useless powder before it can be stashed away. I halfway expect to see them clad in tiny helmets as they run crazily around in the road, tails whirling like windmills.
I guess it could be worse, though. Squirrel are just a part of living here, like the rabbits and the birds and the shirtless drunken country boys riding their horses down the road at 2:00 AM.
I just hope the squirrels and my car can survive each other.