An open letter to the squirrels I am about to release this season:
Most of all, be safe.
Millions of years of evolution have prepared you for what you face now: the hawk or owl above, the fox below. The hurricanes that lie in wait. The droughts.
The exquisite balance in your bones will keep you poised, as it did your ancestors, with each leap you take to the tiniest wisp of a branch, and you will do it at unthinkable heights.
You are ready. This moment has been in the making since time and squirrels began.
As for me, I have had only weeks, maybe months with you. When it comes to such partings, then, I am not quite so evolved. Forgive me.
Oh, it's not that you break my heart as you soar free today. My heart would have been shattered had you not made it to this point. But I will miss you.
So, be safe. And if you encounter others from seasons past out there in the trees, you may not know it. But the footprints you see before you are theirs. Yes, this has happened before. It's just that names and stories no longer matter out here. Under this canopy, the orphaned infant, the brother and sister hammered by the storm, and the adult savaged by the cat are all the same.
Be as grateful for this moment as I myself had been, barely months earlier, for that moment you were carried through our door and into our care.
Be glad too you are going now.
But most of all, be safe.