Well, she moved out, even possibly died; either that or she’s had a personality-changing stroke because whoever’s living next door now is a slob. We had Marie Kondo; now it’s Oscar on steroids.
As is our wont, we didn’t catch on for months. During the late summer when the walnuts were ripe and we walked in the wild back garden wearing hard-hats to stave off concussion, we saw her often, or so we thought. Over the years, the stone garage has gradually turned into an animal-proof fortress, but she was an original tenant so we had left one small entrance for her and witnessed multiple walnut drop-offs. All good.
Only in late September did the pungent reek of rotting vegetation in the garage tip us off. But first we checked for grass clippings inadvertently stored, sniffed the compost container, and looked at each other and shrugged. Then Jon had occasion to climb up to the storage area and … Oy gevalt!!!!!
It is understood that all tenants are to chew and dispose of every single walnut rind outside before entering the rental apartment. Everyone knows this, for heaven’s sake. Had my own mother been a red squirrel, I feel sure that it would have been one of the first rules of civility she taught me. What sort of idiot squirrel doesn’t know that??
Well, Oscar, apparently. It is a hard lesson but if you simply leave your garbage where you live, eat, and sleep, you run the risk that your ticked-off landlord hauls away your precious hoard along with that huge garbage heap of what devolved into rotting black permanent dye; Before you know it, there's an eviction notice on the entrance. And the week before it snows!
Wait! What if (although I sincerely doubt it) Oscar is a female ? Unless we get comfortable about issuing a death-by-starvation notice, we may even have to wait until late spring to dispossess “X” (still looking for a gender-neutral non-binary objective-case pronoun). But no more Mr. and Mrs. Nice-Guy. Your moving day is coming, Red-Tail-Honeybun.
Maybe we should rethink having six walnut trees - five medium-size black walnuts and an ancient white walnut or butternut. That's lot of nuts, even not counting the people who grew them.
As a side-note: Having grown up in Winnipeg where all squirrels sported delicate frames and flaming red tails, it came as a shock to meet Ontario’s inferior version of the same. Just now, one of Oscar’s overweight-hulking-grey-second-cousins-once-removed is swaying back and forth on the old rhodo outside studio window, dimly concluding for the two-hundredth time that the squirrel-proof feeder may in fact be just that. I can’t ever remember seeing a red squirrel fail to grasp that intuitively. So while the odd one like Oscar may be a slob (I blame parenting, don't you?), nobody ever called red squirrels, the REAL CANADIAN SQUIRRELS, stupid.