Barely 24 hours ago she had a name, a routine and a safe haven in our yard.
All that changed this morning when Miss Daisy was released into the wild - and into a life of anonymity.
She is, by all counts, just another eastern gray squirrel snuffling around in the soil, nibbling at leaves and fallen acorns, and testing the tree trunks for scalability. She is, by all counts, indistinguishable from any of the other squirrels out there in that vast mass of acreage. She is, by all counts, anonymous now as night falls around her.
She is not just any squirrel, however. She had been a victim of some kind of trauma in October of 2007 when her nearly immobilized form was found at the edge of our driveway. Whether she had fallen, was hit by a car, or had some other act befall her, we will never know. She was not completely conscious and she was terribly spastic. Her prognosis, according to the vet we consulted, was not a hope-filled one.
Indeed, her two year recovery was slow but encouraging. And everything about it led to this day, this morning, when her months of impatient snarls, her long, aggressive leaps and her obviously growing frustration at captivity led us to grant her wish.
Her leaps today took her to freedom. We had to be sure: She had to be steady enough for the treetops, balanced enough to navigate her world and strong enough to fight for her life.
When I walked out of the woods, I looked over my shoulder. I stopped a few times. And yes, an hour later, I went back to that same spot in the forest but she was no longer there. She had moved into the larger universe, invisible, anonymous and just another squirrel.
Don't bet on it.