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There is no way to sugar coat this: I have killed dozens of chipmunks this summer. Maybe hundreds.

None of this has been done willfully. I love animals, and would never purposely harm one, but I am, technically speaking, a serial killer of chipmunks.

I regularly drive to Windsor, Vermont, down a long, winding road that connects Quechee and Hartland. These are the killing fields.

Philosophers have struggled for millennia to answer the existential question: Why did the chicken cross the road? It appears that chipmunks cross the road because they have a death wish.

Scores of chipmunks have hurled themselves under the wheels of my Crosstrek.


Sometimes it seems they’re playing chicken, stopping and starting, turning back or sometimes pressing on, sometimes evading the tires, often not.

Last week, one of these careless rodents stopped in the middle of the road and stared straight at me with his adorable big brown eyes as I drove over him. To add insult to fatal injury, the guy behind me pancaked him with his pickup.

There were signs this was going to be a bumper year for chipmunks. A friend hit one while skiing at Okemo in late winter, which suggested some chipmunks arose from hibernation early.

Bill Kilpatrick, a biologist and professor emeritus at the University of Vermont, told me the dramatic rise in the chipmunk population is happening all over New England. He said climate change is driving milder winters and shorter hibernation periods, producing earlier litters and a greater survival rate for those litters.

All that leads to scores of chipmunks carving out their patches and chasing other chipmunks onto roads as they protect those patches, Kilpatrick said.

It also leads to traumatized drivers, unsure of whether to speed up, slow down, or just shut their eyes as they brace for a small bump then survey the damage in the rearview mirror.


All this killing and death and, yes, remorse has had a deleterious impact on my sleep. I have a recurring dream, which is actually a nightmare.

I am awakened by a revving engine outside my house. I stumble to the door, open it, and standing there, in the amber glow of the porch lights, wearing a trench coat and fedora, is a 6-foot-tall Alvin the Chipmunk. There is a noticeable bulge on Alvin’s hip, under the trench coat, and it is obvious that Alvin is packing heat.

“You killed my cousin,” Alvin says, in a whispery hiss.

There are many disturbing aspects to this recurring nightmare, including the fact that Alvin speaks with an accent similar to those of the Albanian gangsters in “Taken.” So it sounds like an Albanian gangster on helium, which is, like Paris Hilton’s new cooking show, both preposterous and terrifying.

I glance over Alvin’s shoulder, and can see that Simon, the smart one, the one with glasses, is behind the wheel of an idling Oldsmobile 98. Theodore, the clueless one, is in the back seat, drinking from a brown paper bag.

“Where’s Dave?” I ask, noticing the absence of their manager and guardian, Dave Seville.

“Don’t you worry about Dave,” Alvin replies, chuckling sinisterly, patting the bulge on his hip. “We took care of Dave.”

I suppose you could argue that Dave Seville really exploited those singing chipmunks, but taking him out seems a bit excessive, if you ask me.


“You killed my cousin,” Alvin repeats, this time more menacingly. “You ran over him and killed him. What are you going to do about it?”

“I’m sorry,” I tell Alvin. “Remind me: was your cousin Chip or Dale? I can never keep those two straight.”

This infuriates Alvin, perhaps because I’m flippantly mixing animated chipmunks from competing franchises, and he unbuttons the trench coat, but, luckily, just as he reaches for his piece, the nightmare ends.

This recurring dream is so disturbing that I told a therapist friend about it and asked her what I should do. She told me to find another therapist.

Kevin Cullen is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at kevin.cullen@globe.com.