17 October 2011
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.