By Dan St. Yves

As I watched out my living room window a few weeks ago, I noticed a couple of hares in my yard. For the record, being in Alberta they are indeed hares, not rabbits.

Whatever they were considered was immaterial, as the more pressing matter suddenly became an unexpected boxing match between the two well-matched furballs. Each were up on their hind legs, trading excited blows.

However, those jabs turned out to be but a prelude to something considerably more intimate – nature at work on my lawn, hares as frisky as rabbits – and all of this not even on late-night cable!

Well, it is the circle of life after all, replenishing the stock so to speak. Who knew that just a few weeks later, another fur-bearing procreator would be busy out of sight, but not that far away from also invading the presumed quiet enjoyment of my property.

It started with a rustling sound one night, which I dismissed as what my tummy does all the time, ahead of requiring some sort of input – be that healthy or not, given the time of day and proximity to options.

The thing that was odd about this tummy rumbling was that it was coming from above my head, and was strong enough to drop some ceiling dust down.

I made a mental note to check that dust issue out later, but as soon as I made some noise, the rustling stopped. But not for long. Soon enough, there was ample evidence that something was up in our attic. I needed to investigate.

Putting a ladder up to our second storey and then further past, upwards to the attic access, was considerably higher than I was typically comfortable with considering my acute fear of heights, but I needed to know what was going on up there.

Once I had ascended the ladder that really shouldn’t have been as shaky as it seemed to be (maybe that was just my knees…) I opened the access and pointed my flashlight in – which set off a flurry of activity that took everyone involved by the exact same amount of surprise.

The nesting squirrels scrambled briefly, before the protective male or the oh-no-you-don’t mama bolted towards the roof opening that my face was perched in. Not for much longer as it turned out, as the shakiness I had experienced earlier was exchanged for immediate self­ preservation, which in this case turned out to be pushing the ladder away from the side of the building.

Into thin air.

It’s a damn good thing that I’m the Olympic-level procrastinator that I am, or otherwise the creaky maple tree beside the house would have been cut down a week or two before this unforeseen escapade. I was saved from catapulting into my neighbour’s guest bathroom by that tree and was able to shimmy down to safety.

I obviously needed a plan now that I knew what I was up against. Borrowing my daughter’s catcher baseball mask and adding a winter topcoat and gloves from the basement storage unit, I positioned the ladder one more time, along with a mostly strung old tennis racket at the ready. As I looked in again, Spartacus had anticipated my return and charged once again hell-bent for leather and maybe even the taste of human flesh. Again, even armed and protected as I was, the ladder went backwards with considerable speed, again into my maple tree.

Pondering options, I wondered if could smoke them out like a beehive, or if squirrels might snicker at such a sad attempt at eviction. Clearly I needed some professional help. I mean, how many times can you keel backwards into a tree before your luck runs out?

I opted instead to call an exterminator, and within a few days the squirrels were safely relocated. Given the time of year, be careful when you peek into spaces where you might not be expecting to find a few new friends!

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