Three squirrels, ready for release:
No one knows where they will go in the next few hours. We lift the door and set them free. It is as light and easy as exhaling. And at the same time, as heavy as a sigh.
"Well, it's about time," they think (or perhaps not). And then, as if pages from the narrative of their existence had never been torn out, they will move along with grace to the next chapter.
The word "release" is not in their vocabulary but surely some syllables or sounds exist in an elemental lexicon to express what they feel as the earth takes its rightful place beneath their feet, as their bones celebrate the newness of it all.
Not more than a mile or two away from this vast, wooded release site where this trio breathes in new life, a small litter proved to be no match for the objective harshness of the world. A rescue call came in the night before: Newborns, some with their umbilical cords still attached, had been placed on the ground by well-meaning rescuers - for a hoped-for reunion with the mother, which never happened - and a combination of dehydation, lack of warmth, and a small swarm of ants, had overtaken them all.
The rescuer's voice on the phone was frantic as she hurried them to the animal hospital. The animal hospital sent back a message saying their prospects weren't good.
Perhaps these babies are all dead by now.
Perhaps there was no way to save them.
And perhaps the only certainty here is that we will never know what could have happened and if they even had a future.
As for the three babies from Springtime 2011, who have now grown and are living beyond the sheltered realm of human care and captivity, the same can be said: After today, the only certainty is that they are out there. Hurricane season will blow through, and winter will hold us all in lockdown, and then the January breeding that heralds the baby season will begin again.
Will they survive until then? They have come this far and yet these woods hold so much more mystery than we can ever know. The only certainty now is the undeniable uncertainty of their fates.
But as they wait for the hatch to open, they do not look the least bit worried. Already they are looking beyond.
I cannot see what they will do after this day, but I do believe in it, nonetheless.
And so, I will be content and have faith in that.