10 June 2009
Shelter Island Shelly
This is not a blog post so much as it is a prayer. It is being written for a small squirrel found lying in the road bed on an otherwise peaceful, quiet street on a place called Shelter Island, a countrified refuge that fits neatly between the North and South Forks of Long Island.
There were four of us today, on a visit together to Shelter Island, who found this squirrel. It was during a midweek break that was a gift for ourselves, a day of cycling and sight-seeing, an oasis of time we had carved out from our various trying work schedules.
We saw birds, we saw houses, we saw shrubs, flowers and even cacti. It wasn't even clear to me that there would even be squirrels to see at all on Shelter Island. It is, after all, an island. And squirrels can only swim so far from the suburban mainland.
But as we rode, each hopping, scampering, climbing squirrel in sequence caught our eye. We even remarked on the blessed absence of roadkill. And then we saw the small body lying still in the road. But no, not completely still. The squirrel was breathing. And there was a little blood around the nose, which suggested a fall or recent impact of some kind with a passing vehicle.
From that point forward there was no debate among ourselves: We wrapped the squirrel in one of the pullovers we had been carrying on this chilly day, and using cell-phones and GPS (thank you, Age of the Internet), rode off with the little patient as passenger in a basket of one of the two rented bicycles. When we lost our way - racing against the clock now, and against a roadmap we didn't really know - a kind man driving a pickup truck from a local masonry company responded to our distress when we flagged him down: He drove the four of us, our bicycles, and the wounded squirrel back to the right side of down, delivering us right to the door of the bike shop, and then we caught the ferry just in time to bring the squirrel to the one area vet that was still open.
We decided on the name Shelter Island Shelly. That is probably the only say we may have in his fate, however. The vet is holding him overnight on the mainland, after confirming there might be neurologic damage. I am to check with her tomorrow.
There is something about being in the right place at the right time. We were originally planning to make this trip on another day. On our way back, we were thinking of turning left, and back tracking along a familiar return route to town, rather than opting for the road that led us to the squirrel. And then the sympathetic soul in the truck came along. And the animal hospital didn't close until 6:30 - we arrived about 10 minutes before closing time.
I don't know if Shelter Island Shelly will recover but at least for tonight, I know this small animal won't be left for dead on a beautiful country road as the night turns cold.