16 June 2012

High and mighty

Rest assured, the squirrels are not impressed with Nik Wallenda. The seventh-generation member of his family's world-famous daredevil act, Wallenda enjoyed a different kind of Niagara Falls honeymoon this week. He went head over heels - all the while keeping his balance - as he walked an 1,800-foot-long tightrope suspended 200 feet over the pounding falls.

"So what?" says our nation's collective chorus of eastern grays, reds, fox squirrels and flying squirrels. "Can he leap from branch to branch at the very tops of hundred-year-old trees? Does this Wallenda guy regularly cross busy highways balanced on a power line - one that is surging, we might add, with dangerous electric juice?

"And what," the squirrels continue, "is the deal with that safety harness?" Indeed, Wallenda's high-altitude, waterscaped border crossing between New York and Canada had the wearable insurance policy of the harness, a presumed requirement of ABC, the TV network that broadcast the nighttime stunt. Understandably, ABC was looking to keep Wallenda as live as the telecast.

Arboreal squirrels of all varieties who are lucky enough to retain their tails for the entirety of their lives are, likewise, equipped by nature with such a harness, albeit a lesser one. But there are no network camera crews lighting their passage across dangerous turf, whether it is wooded, watery or paved - and there are no crowds of well-wishing spectators cheering them on, from either sides of their journey. They are not even guaranteed a particularly grand welcome on the other side, assuming they've achieved safe passage. Predators could be waiting - instead of vendors selling souvenir T-shirts embossed with: "I saw a gray squirrel cross Route 17 and all I got was this lousy T-shirt."

For squirrels who traverse the world at high altitudes, such highwire acts are not stunts but survival. So who's the real daredevil here?

1 comment:

Linda said...

Cute post! Love the picture.