The Death of a Squirrel

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My mother in her old age  had a way with squirrels.  She loved to feed them,  scattering generous  pieces of bread  around the tree outside her kitchen window.  If memory serves me right—and it is some  years ago—I think a few of them even came up to her as she  offered them those  irresistible tidbits.

Squirrels don’t usually do that, as most people would think.  They are generally high-strung and  suspicious, even around their greatest benefactors.

Take it from me.   I now have been doing what my sainted mom did in those days ago.    On the tool shed in my  driveway, I regularly fling left-over  bread and once and awhile special  treats like the  peanuts I  stuff  in my pockets whenever we dine at the Texas Corral.  It doesn’t take long before the squirrels arrive and take their picks.

I’ve watched them from my kitchen window.  Sometimes one squirrel chases another away and chomps on the bread alone on the shed.  The other waiting at a distance for his own chance.

Just outside the window I’ve  peered at a  squirrel sitting on the driveway  rapidly biting a slice of rye while turning it round in its paws.

I feel a kinship for these squirrels, the grey squirrels of the city.  I understand their timidity. Their life is tenuous. And they must be circumspect. Speed and agility are their defense mechanisms.

But like everything under the sun, they are vulnerable, though we seldom think of  the fragility of their existence.

A few weeks ago  I got a reality check.  I was raking leaves in the backyard and I thought I saw what I’ve seen a few times before, the lifeless body of a baby sparrow.  I took a wide trowel to scoop it up.  It was the head of a squirrel. Its eyes seemed still alive and engaged mine reproachfully.

It was a case of survival of the fittest.  Nothing out of the ordinary.  Yet I took it personally.

It must have been one of my squirrels.  And I resented and regretted its fate.

Something had broken the bond we had made.  And I felt I had lost a friend.

Filed under: city life, nature

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  • I'm sorry for how you feel Aquinas, but death doesn't break your bond.

    Now throw some dirt on it and get back out there kid.

  • Thanks, 4zen. Fortunately there are several survivors, perhaps the next of kin. I was out this morning breaking some breadsticks for them. Life goes on.

  • My condolences, AW. I, too, enjoy the company of squirrels (although they used to feast on my tomatoes). They are quite fond of mulberries, old blueberries and unripe pears. They love avocado pits!

    Thank you for this lovely post.

  • My condolences, too, my friend. You've gone from touching my funny bone to touching my heart. Many thanks.

  • Merci beaucoup, mon ami et mes amies.

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