10 November 2010
Some squirrels are never meant to go back into the wild. They arrive into the care of rehabilitators, broken and damaged, and can never be fully restored to physical wholeness.
So it was with CurleyQue, who in the summer of 2000 was a fallen baby providing a soft landing for the two brothers in his litter, but only by virtue of having landed before they did on the hard, unforgiving earth. His brothers were none the worse for their journey; CurleyQue, however, remained unconscious for a few days.
He emerged from his twilight state into a world of challenges: his nose had been irreparably broken, he had issues with balance, his ever-growing incisors were maloccluded, requiring frequent trimming, and he did not have the best immune system.
What he had, however, was heart. What he had was courage. What he had was an incredible spirit to go forth into life for the next 10 years seeing himself quite clearly as the center of a big universe, kicking up his heels, burying nuts in the wilds of his indoor world, wherever he could - in his bedding, in a pair of shoes, behind a piece of furniture.
When his right eye clouded over with a cataract, partly from age, more likely from his original trauma, he never lost that clear vision of who he was and what he wanted. No vision could ever be clearer than that of a wild animal, even a damaged one.
In the arithmetic of the wild world, we rehabilitators often deal more with multiplication, and the numbers grow exponentially each spring and autumn as the heart of squirrel breeding season delivers its litters to our doorsteps.
Now, as the sun sets earlier and an autumn freeze sinks its claws into the earth, we are surrounded by subtraction. Loss of leaves from the trees. Loss of life-affirming sunlight. And loss of life itself.
On Monday, Nov. 8, 2010, at 2:15 a.m., CurleyQue closed his eyes for the last time and went free. He taught us much during this precious, privileged decade. Now we are the ones in free-fall toward a hard, unforgiving reality.
But for us, there is no one - and nothing - to cushion the sudden, damaging impact.