10 September 2012

Down to a science

Pity poor Galileo Galilei. The Italian astronomer-physicist first posited that two objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time.

Oh, it's not that this champion of the Scientific Revolution was wrong. But his timing surely was. The 17th century that marked Galileo's lifetime was at least three centuries before the birth of Squirrelfest. If only the wise professor from Pisa had been able to make his way to Longview, Washington this summer - thus crossing an ocean as well as a vast expanse of forward-moving time - he'd have experienced first-hand that many things can indeed occupy the same space at the same time through the magic of devotion to all things squirrel.

In Longview, residents celebrate the city's mascots by taking to the streets in this daylong event, which just marked its second year on Aug. 25. The day is a concurrent celebration of Thanksgiving, Christmas, Memorial Day and Independence Day.

Only in this Pacific Northwest city can these holidays occupy the same time and space in seeming defiance of scientific theory:

Longview gives thanks for its squirrels and for the safe roadway crossings many have enjoyed since 1963 when one kind resident, Amos Peters, built Longview's first squirrel bridge as a gift that would help ensure their safe street-crossings. The installation of "Nutty Narrows" eventually inspired two other bridges. This year's award-winning span, the city's third, was an aluminum design from a retired attorney who'd died only weeks before the dedication ceremony.

It's a pity Galileo didn't know of Squirrelfest. He would surely have embraced it for its squirrelcentricity. The scientist was among the first, after all, to stand beside Nicolaus Copernicus after the Renaissance astronomer declared his radical theory that - hold onto your acorns, folks! - the Earth and other planets revolved around the sun.

The sun? That's not necessarily as true in Longview, Washington. There, everything revolves around the squirrels - even the sun of Nicolaus Copernicus. Its own perfect squirrelcentric orbit is made even more perfect by the way its rays wash down brightly, illuminating their path as they cross the newest squirrel bridge in town, then leap gracefully to safety in sunlit woods beyond.


Anonymous said...

Squirrels and Galileo? Brilliant. What a humane town to worry about their wildlife with such inventiveness. How lucky are the squirrels to have them.


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