11 August 2011

The mystery of the woods

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.


tcgequine said...

Very touching... I couldn't help but try and think of an appropriate instrumental accompaniment to their dance of freedom.

squirrelmama said...

Something symphonic, I suspect. I sure hope they are cozy and happy tonight.

Richard said...

How beautiful. Instead of just immediately running up a tree, as I've seen in previous releases, this young curious one wanted to discover every nook and cranny of the woods. Of course, the squirrel's future is uncertain, as it is for all of us. But he seems happy discovering his new home.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful moment. Thanks for sharing it with us. I sense that the squirrel worries little about the future but is definitely enjoying the present. Maybe we should be as wise.

Anonymous said...

Imagine the joy of one's first tree climb! Wow.

tcgequine said...

I was thinking Brandenburg Gate by Dave Brubeck Quartet with symphony orchestra.

Phoebe said...

Beautifully said.

Andrée said...

Such a poignant post. It is so beautifully written, too. I pray the little ones are thriving.

We rescued a stranded Eastern Painted Turtle infant this spring and it took us three weeks to decide whether to keep him (he would outlive us) or release him when he was big enough. If released, he could be eaten by so many creatures in the bog.

The day we released him, he never looked back. He chugged out of here (we put him in one of our brooks) as fast as he could. I still wonder how he made out.

squirrelmama said...

Andree, I think they always take a bit of our hearts with them when they leave. I also know that if we kept everything we saved, we'd run out of space in our own homes and probably have a whole lot of unhappy animals. And still, whether we care for a squirrel, a turtle, a bird or some other animal, we do get to know that species as an individual, and we are privileged, even for a short time, to glimpse their world - a world that I suppose we are obligated to give back to them. I hope and pray your turtle will be one of the fortunate ones. I have to believe so; otherwise he (or she) would not have been saved!

Anonymous said...

But...but...but...it's been two and a half months since you've posted! Craving squirrel updates. Craving squirrel entries. Dallas

squirrelmama said...

Ahhhhhh Dallas. Apologies. So much going on I didn't know where to begin. However, I will indeed post - perhaps even about today's release, which was (as they all are) bittersweet, because it was an autumn release. Stay tuned (and thanks for asking!)