There is a small odd enclave of genetic mutant squirrels that live in my town. In fact, they have often taken refuge on my property. They are like normal squirrels in every way but for their color. They are a dusky, rich, sooty black. I love the black melanistic squirrels. I always imagine that they get picked on by their grey brethren, and perhaps they are less suited for survival, as their coloration makes them an easier target for local predators.
There was a particular dark and frisky little guy that had taken up residence in our neighbor's old maple tree, and sometimes sought refuge in one of our sheds (Shed # 3 of shanty town, for those of you in the know). I would watch him scamper up and down the trees and across the yard, gathering acorns and nuts and fruits from the local gardens. He was always easy to spot.
Today my husband was putting the hoses away for the season in the third shed. He pulled an old wooden wine box out from the shed that was full of leaves and paper. It was a squirrel nest. This intrepid rodent had constructed his nest from both leaves and vintage Rolling Stone magazines from the 60's and 70's, thus making himself the hippest bushy tail on the block. I took a stick and stirred up the nest a bit, to see if I could discern his preferences, John Lennon or ACDC, and to my horror, saw a puff of black fur. It was a tail...that was attached to a rather stiff and flat and definitively dark squirrel body.
My beloved melanin enriched nut-eater was no more....
So here is to you, my kindred genetic mutant, at least you died in a comfy nest of musical coolness, protected from the cold and wet, and long of tooth.
Here is to you.... I pour out some tea by the fig tree for my tiny melanistic homie.
(PS: I will admit that for a very brief moment after his discovery, as I stood there with the poking stick in my hand, I was trying to figure out if I could somehow work him into an assemblage, but then decided better of it...)