Here I sit, a turban upon my head (I just got out of the shower – a day when you’re lucky to even make it to the shower with kids about), a plate of brownies, and a tall glass of iced milk as my companions. (I know, my husband has already declared me the strangest person he knows because I put ice in my milk.) My turban makes me feel wise, all-knowing, ok, well extremely goofy, but I like the all-knowing part. The brownies help balance out my vigorous walk this morning, and the milk is the healthy part of my diet. heh. Ahh, but I forget myself, this is all to set the mood for the story I am about to write. The failing fluorescent light flickers dimly above me (apparently I’ve forgotten to turn it off) and the warm yellow glow of the desk lamp illuminates the keyboard, as I type this very sentence.
The tale I am about to tell is a tragic comedy, or a comedic tragedy, and takes place some 15 years ago or so, when I was but a young lass on summer vacation during high school. (mmm, you should try these brownies . . . )
The little black nose sniffed delicately at the crackers and glanced suspiciously around. Free food? A hesitant paw reached out and snatched up the first one and then began to follow the trail. A small delicate golden figure weaved drunkenly between the trail of crackers, no doubt suffering from an overdose of cracker preservatives. At one point the little figure stops and eyes the end of the trail warily, the last of the crackers is sitting in a soft squishy cup, the color of pale peach roses. It seems to be attached to something large with big eyes (and rather ferocious teeth behind the attempt at a smile). It can’t understand the strange babble coming out of its mouth. He eyes it warily, stationary, still. The strange thing quits making noises and sits quiet, and motionless. Cautiously the little figure creeps up, slower and slower, until it is eating out the soft squishy cup and doesn’t even realize the box being placed around it.
“We got it!” I was excited as my mom dusted off her hands. We had entertained a number of the small rodent society, namely chipmunks, but here I had a Golden Ground Squirrel (which looks amazingly like a chipmunk). We weren’t being mean, the squirrel had been dashing about the parking lot from one car to another begging and had become so tame it was going to be killed, so we had decided to capture it, enjoy it at home for a while and then let it go in some wild place far from cars. My mother lovingly built a giant tower cage with branches of all shapes and sizes, and a food shute that closed from the outside. The little squirrel seemed very happy among the giants he was so curious about.
“Ahh, we’re home!” I sighed as we pulled up in the driveway, home was a beautiful sight after 14 long hours in the car. We extricated our legs from the pressing confines of our automobile and stretched our weary muscles. I eyed my mom as she and dad walked into the house. I knew where they were headed . . . I believe in honoring your mother and father but when it comes to hitting the bathroom after a long road trip, it’s every man for himself, and I charge in the house, exclaiming, “Gotta go! Gotta go!” The wild race was on. Dad hit the main bath first and Mom and I surged on to the master bath. She beat me by a tenth of an inch. I turned laughing, to dance before either door until they opened, when my mother gave a surprised exclamation, “Oh dear!”
“What’s up?” I asked inquisitively.
She pointed to the toilet. There floating sadly in the toilet was our sweet little ground squirrel. The only thing I could think to say was, “He had to pee? I didn’t realize he was house broken!”
When greeted by a dead squirrel in your toilet, it is a bit hard to be sad and sympathetic. Things like, “his poor little legs couldn’t reach”, “I didn’t think you ate squirrel, let alone whole!” or “mom! I didn’t think you had it in you” etc, kept floating to my brain interchanged with bursts of laughter. I charged through the house sounding the alarm, “The squirrel drowned in the toilet!” Soon the family was gathered in a solemn memorial around our toilet, gazing into the bowl, with somber expressions upon our faces, an intermittent chuckle scattered here and there. It was discovered that the young man watching our animals while we were away didn’t fasten the food hatch securely and the squirrel wanted to explore his new home a little more extensively than he was preciously permitted. The cause of death was drowning. But I have yet to decided if he was trying to pee, or just thirsty.
In the end, all I can say is, (quoting ‘Anne of Green Gables’) “I suppose it was a romantic way to die, for a squirrel.”