30 June 2011

A window on their Independence

Free video streaming by Ustream

I could watch these juvenile squirrels forever. And how I wish I really could.
But juvenile squirrels, like infant squirrels, don’t respect the march of time. And why should they?
They deserve to grow up, be something more than cute critters in a cage that we watch for our delight and amusement.

Of course, if you click on this link and survive the one-minute commercial that leads to this fabulously candid webcam, you’re treated to a window on reality that Alan Funt’s old televised 1960s “Candid Camera” could never have envisioned: Young squirrels climbing, running on an exercise wheel, stealing food from one another’s mouths. Young squirrels grooming other young squirrels, completely oblivious to the fact that by the grace of human benefactors’ intervention, they are orphaned but nonetheless alive today.

(If you are unable to see the image and the link, clicking here will get you there instead.)

They obviously love being squirrels. And in their own way, they are celebrating. Caged or not, for now, they are happy with their lives. And that is enough for now, until the real world explodes into the kind of open space that makes every day Independence Day for the rest of their lives.

21 June 2011

Justice for all

The squirrels could use a couple of good lawyers.

They are regularly indicted in the headlines. "Squirrels Turn off the Lights in Centralia," "Power outage closes Richmond's Manchester courthouse," and "Bethesda Power Outage blamed on Squirrel," all real-life news stories about the unfortunate consequences of powerful incisors having met their match with the local utility company.

If that were not enough, the squirrels are regularly defamed and blamed by gardeners, who deploy everything from squirrel-proof bird-feeders to squirrel-resistant barriers for protection and preservation of their flowers and veggies. Otherwise mild-mannered, gentle nature-loving folks resort to viciously spiking their millet, sunflower or thistle seed with hot pepper as a deterrent.

And even when a kindly motorist veers to avoid hitting a squirrel crossing the road and lands in a ditch - it is the squirrel who is blamed.

"Innocent until proven guilty" apparently doesn't apply when the citizenry flicks its tail and chatters its teeth.

And still, squirrels are seen as more culpable than members of congress who, without benefit or modest cloak of fur, have lately seen fit to post their various body parts on the Internet, or to chat up underage constituents online.

Where is justice? Where is the squirrels' Bill of Rights?

Well, for one thing, squirrels don't vote.
They don't even pay taxes.
And sure, once accused of thievery or worse, they often bury the evidence too deeply to ever be unearthed by any subpoena. Then they stamp their feet in the face of constitutionality.

As July 4 approaches, however, we should consider celebrating just that spirit of unfettered independence, the kind that gave birth to our own nation in the 18th century. Surely we don't want the squirrels to secede, to draw a line in the sand, or to move elsewhere.

Imagine having no squirrels around. There'd be no one left to blame for thievery, for power outages and for crop failures.

In the end, we'd have no one else to blame - no one but ourselves.

08 June 2011

Into the woods

They had names, but it serves no purpose to utter them now.

Their arrivals were trailed by stories from their rescuers but this morning, those stories of rescue ended when the adventure of freedom began.

Three young squirrels, saved last fall in three separate incidents and wintered over in care through the difficult season, were released back into their lives, and as they explored the world beyond their carrying cage, they took their names and their stories with them.

Neither will be of use to them now: Everything about them has blended into history just as their coats now meld seamlessly with the high bark of the woodland trees. This trio is indistinguishable from the parts of the forest they were born to inhabit.

In videos and photos, I can always hold them forever.

In truth, though, they were never mine.

Godspeed, little ones.