Here they are, again. Mr. Tilty. The pretty notch-eared momma squirrel who sits on the doorknob. The fat little youngsters who shoot up and down the trunk of the nearest maple to the house.
As they come to our back door, one by one, they aren't really reporting for duty - just for handouts, mainly - but I am taking attendance nonetheless.
The passing of 2009 left behind so many. We have long since ceased calling their names: Miss Tillie, an indoor rehab squirrel, died. Miss Daisy, who was caged right near her, survived to be joyously released. And then there were the anonymous squirrels relegated to the euphemistic status of "roadkill." The young males. The aging mama squirrels. They had no less dignity, no less worth, than the ones whose faces we knew, the ones we'd graced with names.
With 2010 upon us, we are taking attendance again. When they come, they bring a sigh of relief. Another long year awaits us all.
I will continue to call their names and hope for the best.