Hey squirrels who have been working along the Sligo Creek Trail on out to the Northwest Branch Trail and beyond: I'm on to you.
You think that you're so fuzzy and cute with your bushy tails and happy-go-lucky leaps from tree to tree that no one would ever question you, that no one would ever think you might be up to no good. You're up to something and I know it, even if I can't yet fully prove it.
I have to say this possibility hurts me personally because of everything I've done for your kind for almost 20 years. Perhaps your parents have told you about "The Legend of The Young Man With Siberian Huskies." That's right, I'm the guy who stopped Orion and Alexis from turning your forefathers into hors d'oeuvres from Stone Mountain, Georgia to Washington D.C. and Silver Spring, Maryland. Your family tree would have far fewer branches if it weren't for me.
I'm so fond of you that I have photos of you on display in a room in my house dedicated to wildlife decor. I've got a lamp with a carving or mold of a squirrel on it.
On my last few bike rides along the Sligo Creek Trail all the way out to Lake Artemesia in College Park, though, I've seen mischief in your eyes. You're up to something on many bridges, especially one that crosses one of the Anacostia River tributaries. I see all of you toiling away on that bridge, so bold that you not only refuse to leap out of the way when I roll across but run alongside me at eye level while others of you remain posted at the entrance and exit of that bridge. You're timing me to see how long it takes me cross.
You try to create the illusion that you're just harmless hooligan rodents. I'm just not buying it. I' now suspect that you are planning some sort of surprise attack against humans by blowing up the bridge. I wonder if one of you lists "The Bridge on the River Kwai" as your favorite movie on your Facebook profile. It can't be a coincidence that you've done the same thing to me on the same bridge for two weeks now. I'm going to go ahead and say it ... to put you on notice: I suspect you are an al-Qaeda squirrel unit.
The bridge work, though, isn't the only thing that gives you away. It's also the countless suicide bomber training missions you've been practicing against me on the trail. You've never let my bike come within a few feet of you during the seven years I've been riding there. Now all of a sudden you're constantly standing on the side of the trail and then darting across it. You're forcing me to jam on the brakes to avoid flattening you and to prevent me from a wipeout. You now know to the tenth of a second when you need to launch your attacks. And don't think that I believe you're just carrying empty walnuts, either. You're packing miniature IEDs.
I see all the physical fitness drills you're conducting on the trees, too. Doing pushups while clinging vertically to tree trunks is impressive. You're just one YouTube video release away from announcing your intentions.
I found it even more suspicious today that you ran from the camera every time I tried to catch you in action. You used to pose like beauty pageant contestants whenever I asked you to say "cheese". I was lucky to get one shot.
Why did you feel the need to hide today when four fireman practiced shooting a water hose just across the very bridge in question? You didn't want to see your photos on Post Office walls, that's why. Your laughter was sinister, too. I didn't see the firemen until it was too late. The cold shower hit like a hail storm. I hope they get you next time.
Despite all your manual labor and test runs, though, you need to know something, Sligo Creek squirrels: You can make all the Machiavellian plans you want. You may ultimately be able to knock me off my bike or even bring down a bridge -- but I'm not going to live my life in fear. Americans don't do that, especially when we're bound and determined to enjoy beautiful bike rides on our favorite local trails!