January 2nd, 2007

squirrel jedis

squirrel funeral

My normal morning routine: Turn on the computer, turn on the radio news, make breakfast, open the curtain over my front window to watch the squirrels, and sit down to check email and LJ while eating and catching up on the news. My favorite thing to do during this time, the reason I sit here near my front window, is to watch my local squirrels play in the front yard, hop from tree to tree, branches bouncing; to see they chase each other and dig and dance.

The sun is out this morning, beautiful and crisp outside, all the fallen leaves crystal with a rime of ice. The streets are mostly empty, only two cars parked on my block, and almost no traffic. Irony is bitter sometimes.

One squirrel was standing by the side of the road. This always makes me nervous, so I looked to see what she was doing. Another squirrel was on the road beside her, lying down.

I hurried outside to see if he was injured but able to be saved. I didn't want to see him run over if that was possible. Clad in slippers and PJs, I reached the fallen squirrel and saw the blood and injury and realized my yard has one fewer squirrels. I lifted him, still warm, blood still bright against the pavement, and set him down beside the tree near where he had fallen.

I returned inside to hear a preacher giving a funeral ceremony for Gerald Ford and looked outside to see a tiny little squirrel moving toward the dead one. It moved hesitantly, tail twitching, and after a few seconds hopped away. Do squirrel families remember their moms and dads? How do they feel when they lose a parent?

What a sad way to start the day.


squirrel funeral part 2

A little update: A few minutes after I lay the dead squirrel down at the roots of his favorite tree, a young squirrel came hopping across the yard to see what was up. It stopped about three feet away, stood up for a few seconds, then hopped away. Youth's response to death.

Later in the afternoon, a pair of adult squirrels approached the now-cold body. The first one used her hands to sort of fluff his fur, like someone searching a drunk for change or perhaps grooming a dead sibling. When she left, the other approached and lay a stick across the deceased's chest.

If this is not a squirrel funeral, I can't imagine what else it meant.

EDIT: Good news - the one who died wasn't one of my favorites, the crazy-acrobatic one. That silly boy still leaps from tree to tree, wheee!