Friday, November 26, 2010

Sad day for squirrel

I'm a little crazy for squirrels, something which may run in my family, considering that my father has a pet squirrel, Natasha, who's trained to take walnuts from his hand.  She taps insistently at the window of the French doors in their kitchen.  She is absolutely gorgeous.  I adore her and am a bit insanely jealous, since it's always been my Doolittle ambition to talk to the animals, walk around with a pet squirrel on my shoulder.  Dreamy!

photo credit: M. Trelaun

Before I go any longer with this story, I'm offering you a bail-out.  This story is about to go a little morbid, which if you know me and my skull collection, won't surprise you.  So you may want to leave right now.  Rest assured, nothing bad happened to Natasha.  As far as I know, she is fat and happy and tapping at the doors of my parents' kitchen in San Francisco right now.

We are extremely lucky to live in an area that is filled with animals.  We spend hours watching birds and squirrels in our yard.  We co-exist with coyote and deer and rabbits and raccoons and possums and wood rats and lots of other creatures.  It is one of my delights in living here in this funny part of the county.

That same abundance of life has its sad complement in an abundance of road-kill.  But ever since I put dead moles in my suitcase at summer camp when I was 10 -- ever since that first experience of being able to closely examine a still creature, marvel at its features, the miraculous softness of its fur -- I have been able to find a (selfish) silver lining in all the carnage.

And today was no different.

While doing some neighborhood-hero work (clearing blackberry bramble from the sidewalk down by the corner), Joe found me a poor dead squirrel, freshie, probably fatally injured last night.  Reverently I carried its heavy little body home, where I was able to look it over carefully, then offer it a simple burial in the yard.  Look at this delightful Sciurus griseus. How lucky are we to co-exist with such creatures!

Look at that face!  So damn cute!!

I'm crazy for these paws, those pads, the little ridges on the "fingers."  

Beautiful belly fur, such a gorgeous mix of gray and red.
Hind paw: the fur!  the claws!

Another view of the hind paw and the beautiful tail. 
Naturally I cried after I put it in the ground and that sad moment came to tip the first scoops of dirt back in.  But I know that that little squirrel's precious little body will nourish the soil, will feed the flowers I'll plant over it in the springtime, so much gorgeousness returning to earth.  Sleep deep, little beauty!

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