There are three small dead squirrels lying on the sidewalk around the corner from my house. Actually one looks really dead and the other two are breathing but we can tell that dead is where they’re heading. My housemate is an obsessive lover of animals; I’m afraid she’ll come out walking the dog and want to save the squirrels or see them and freak out.
I think about the latest environmental bellweather about bees dying; are now squirrels falling out of trees? They are clearly baby squirrels, which I have never seen before, like where do baby squirrels live until they are large enough to shimmy up my bird feeders or eat all the tomatoes from the garden or hurl themselves against the window when I have suet out in the winter?
The woman I’m walking with who is young, pansexual and wearing a nose ring says we need to kill them, which I am sure I am not prepared to do so I go up to the neighbors house and Clyde is home and he comes out to look and the first thing he says is he’ll kill them and take care of it which is interesting to me in that “would every guy say that straightaway”? Definitely not the first place I went. And then he reminds me that they may be babies without a mother and I remember that he has been trapping squirrels and letting them go at the Chart House, an upscale restaurant with a view up the road from our house.
I didn’t want to linger. And I do. The sense one gets driving by an accident. You feel compelled to look, to slow down, yet one knows it’s in bad taste. So now we say we’re sending a little prayer, or a blessing or mantra when we slow down, but really, isn’t there some part that’s just drawn to witness the suffering of others? Could there be any other purpose for reality TV, or people intentionally going on a talk show knowing that what will be revealed is that their partner is sleeping with their mother/daughter/brother/best friend.
On the way home from my walk, the squirrels have been removed. I didn’t stop to ask him how he killed them or what he did with their bodies. I try to see them in my mind. Three little bodies, soft downy fur, little tails, a failing, rapid heartbeat in one, one very still. They looked as if they had dropped, fallen, from the large tree overhead. In that moment, I knew, it came through clearly in my mind. He had trapped their mother. And taken her to the upscale restaurant and let her loose. She may have been going for food for the babies when she was trapped. She may be making her way home from the upscale restaurant up the street, in this moment, eager to show her babies the new food source. And she will find them gone.
*A postscript to this piece. Just received a text from my housemate that she saw a deer munching vegetables in our neighbor’s yard. We live on a busy street in a large city, though across from a wooded park. I had suspected a deer, yet had never seen one. It did seem unlikely that a squirrel was eating whole apples or tomatoes, and eating entire plants off at their stem
What conclusions do you make from all this? That the squirrels died needlessly? That this is what happens when we fuck with nature? Or, from a tantric orientation, my teacher reminds us to do our best to actually experience the equality of all phenomena, that perfection underlies everything. A tall order for we humans who enjoy classifying experience as ‘good’ or ‘bad’.