17 October 2011

Leap of faith


Just a day ago, they seemed so big: Two healthy juvenile male squirrels, long since weaned, cracking nuts, flexing their muscles with every leap in the pre-release cage. They looked like they could conquer anything in their path.

And then, this morning, they seemed so small: Released into the woods, they were dwarfed by the trees. As they climbed higher toward the sun, they grew smaller still. So many weeks earlier, they’d fit in the palm of my hand or on my lap. I called them “babies.” But now they are free and, in this big world, they seem almost no match for it all.

Not knowing this - or perhaps not even caring - they bounded forth, embraced the massive tree trunks, dug with gusto into the fresh earth, kicking up the fallen leaves. Their brains and limbs were already occupied with visions of acorns and nest-building, functions buried deeper in their genes with a skill even greater than their own legendary ability to cache.

There is always a leap of faith when you open the hatch and say goodbye, and it is never easy to be the one left behind.

And so, for them all, I must allow them the privilege of that leap - and take it with them, even as my feet stay firmly on the ground.

May they always leap with grace. And I pray for soft, happy landings. Always and forever.

4 comments:

Totally Timmy said...

It's awesome that you can raise them and have them survive and thrive. It takes a special person to do what you do.

Cars said...

Thanks for the beautiful article

Siddharth Soni said...

That is a beautiful li'l article!

You raised them? How do you do that?!

squirrelmama said...

Thanks for your kind comments, Siddharth. Raising them takes a lot of time, because they generally don't go free until at least 14 weeks of age. And they are nursing babies (most of them) in the beginning, which means they need to be fed every few hours. Naturally, this kind of constant contact with them tugs at the emotions - they're so helpless in the beginning, and some are also sick. But as they grow strong, they also realize they are squirrels - wild animals - and not meant to live forever with humans. The parting is bittersweet but you know you're sending them to where they belong. And....you're making room for the next batch to come in!!