25 March 2008

Why does no one take notice?

Pulling out of the driveway this morning to run an errand, I saw the very thing I dread whenever I am behind the wheel: Some motorist had struck a squirrel on our quiet street, probably within the hour, and left him to die.

How could no one have noticed?

This is a residential area, not a lot of traffic, and rarely is there a need for excessive speed. This squirrel no doubt was among many we had fed just a few hours earlier at our back door. I have no doubt he was a regular feeder in our yard.

How can someone hit an animal like this and not have noticed? How could someone not have stopped?

And so I came upon his body, just as I was about to pull my own car out of the driveway, and ran to get him out of the middle of the road, where he had died. He was still bleeding despite the life that had already left him. It is a quiet street, there is not a lot of activity and yet, no one noticed. Or if they did notice, they didn't seem to care.

A man driving an SUV suddenly rounded the corner and was bearing down on the both of us as I knelt in the street by the body. I wrapped the squirrel gently and stood up, holding his little body high, and in the direction of the SUV, so the driver could see what I had just recovered from the road. The vehicle was marked with the insignia of the local volunteer fire company - many firefighters, I am sorry to say, often come barreling through our streets even when no alarm call has gone out.

The man shot me a very indifferent look. Who knows, it could even have been his own car that, moments earlier, struck this squirrel.

True, this was a small moment in an otherwise large and busy day and most people would not bother to stop for a small dead squirrel in the road, as I did.

And that is OK. I would much prefer, if next time, they stopped - and took notice - to keep more of them alive.


Anonymous said...

Poor baby.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

I once came across a squirrel that was run-over right in front of my apartment. I recovered the body (it was surprisingly heavy) and disposed of it respectfully and then fretted over the next week whether any of my regular squirrels would fail to answer roll-call. I eventually established it wasn't any of my regulars and I was happy and sad at the same time.

squirrelmama said...

LGS, you have perfectly described what happened to me long ago (1995) with my first squirrel friend, Scoiattolo. She was not hit by a car but I did find "a body" lying by the side of the road in an area that I knew to be her turf. Not knowing who it was, but thinking it might be her, or someone I knew, I carried the body home the block and a half distance. The next morning she did not answer roll call, nor did she ever answer it again - her appointed time to appear was always 7 to 7:30 a.m. I was devastated in ways I did not expect to be. She is buried in our yard beneath a river stone that is engraved with her image and her name.

Anonymous said...

It's impossible for me to express properly such a loss, when so many people don't understand the beauty of squirrels and when so many drive without thought.

It's particularly strange in regard with squirrels, since they have such a sense of play and are a joy to watch--alive.

Kat Mortensen said...

I pray every time I get in my car, that I will not come across, or somehow hit any animal or bird. So far, it's working. You poor dear. That would ruin my Spring.

Kat Mortensen said...

We have 3 bodies buried in our backyard - various deaths, nothing vehicle-oriented, but I can't bear to see them left out in the open.

squirrelmama said...

Thank you ALL so much for responding to this post. Kat, you and I are kindred spirits, I cannot leave them out in the elements either. I picked up one yesterday on a nearby street, it appears he had been electrocuted and was left to lie beneath the power line, and his body had been soaked by a downpour, and he was covered in mud. I will be taking him tomorrow to the animal crematory, as an alternative to backyard burial. I want at least to know that in death he has some dignity, and not the repeated indifferent pummeling of his little body by tires.

Kat Mortensen said...

Actually, we have a veritable animal cemetery in the backyard - a few birds below St. Francis, a yellow-shafted Flicker below the big cedar next to the house and the squirrel quadrant behind the shed. I've been doing it since I was a little girl. My dad used to come home with injured birds and sadly, most of them didn't survive. I once had a tailless bird on balancing like a circus high-wire artist on a stretch of clothesline in my bedroom!
It's second nature to me to do what I can and I'm fortunate that my husband has the same heart.
If you're ever up this way...come and stay.

squirrelmama said...

You know, Kat, I don't think I could ever sell this house and move anywhere, I have too many of my friends resting out back, beginning with my original squirrel friend, Scoiattolo, from 1995. I could never leave them behind. Have you read, by the way, the "Heaven of Animals" by James Dickey? With the exception of his remark about them having no souls (I change the words a bit whenever I read it) I find the poem close to perfect.
Thank you for your offer of hospitality. Can you imagine the trouble we'd get into!?? (LOL!!) I have two friends moving to Canada later this year and who knows? I may take a sidetrip if I do get to visit them......

Kat Mortensen said...

You're always welcome.
Bring some peanuts!

mando said...

This makes me so sad. I live in Australia, we don't have any squirrels here, but you see possums, kangaroos, rabbits and foxes killed on the roads all the time. Nobody ever stops.

A few years ago my then boyfriend (now husband) and I were driving through the country at night. We came upon a huge grandpa wombat, dead by the side of the road. No doubt taken out by some idiot with a bullbar on his truck who just swore and kept going. He was beautiful, the biggest wombat I have ever seen. I cried for hours, and still tear up when I think about it.

Please keep doing your good work. As much as moments like this are devastating, at least one person was there to mourn the loss of that little life.

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