This afternoon about three, I finally bestirred myself sufficiently to take care of some of the weekend chores. I started a load of wash — sheets and towels and such — and hied myself to the curb to fetch the Sunday paper, typically sixty pages of things that can be passed off as news and a hundred sixty pages of things that can't. I even waved at a passing bicyclist, although this was more "Please notice that I am in this lane" than mere "Hello".

It was then that I saw it: a squirrel, prone, just up over the curb to the west of the driveway. The critter wasn't moving, and at first I thought it was dead; the facial expression, or lack thereof, was consistent with having expired. But I saw no actual damage, and my understanding of geometry and vector motion notwithstanding, I couldn't calculate how a car moving at 25 mph could have hit it and knocked it into that particular position without leaving some indication of its presence. I suppose I could have turned the squirrel over and inspected its underside, but this seemed a bit much to undertake at the time, especially if it's really dead, and if it's not dead, I don't want to be the guy who annoys a sleeping squirrel; the little bastards are capable of small but meaningful vengeance.

When I got back inside the house, I duly called up a page of Squirrel Sleeping Positions, and a lot of them were similarly configured, as though they were about to be skinned and barbecued. Well, um, no. Were I going to skin a squirrel, it would on its back. (Number of squirrel-skinnings in which I have participated: almost 1. I was young then, and I was skittish.)

Which brought me to Option C: the squirrel had gone to sleep in that position, and it was never going to wake up. And I felt terribly bad for some reason. I dragged a D. H. Lawrence verse out of the memory banks:

I never saw a wild thing
sorry for itself.
A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough
without ever having felt sorry for itself.

"Its mother knows," I said, and then wished I hadn't, because it was Mother's Day, and my own mother has been gone for nearly forty years now, and maybe that was a good thing because otherwise by now she'd have had to bury three of her children, and — but I cut it off there, because I was coming perilously close to feeling sorry for myself.

But having discontinued that thought, I was forced to replace it with another, and the next thought in line turned out to be "What do I do next?" If it's a sleepy little squirrel, then the answer is obvious: I do nothing, and matters will take care of themselves. If, however, it's an ex-squirrel, the curtain rung down and a position assumed in the Choir Invisible, things become a trifle more complicated. The city's Animal Control division, if called, might be persuaded to remove the corpse:

To report a dead animal in the roadway, call (405) 297-3100 for removal services.

Then again, the squirrel is not in the roadway: it's up just beyond the curb, on an actual patch of grass, and I am generally disinclined to taking a shovel to the poor creature just for the sake of conforming to a city ordinance. It just doesn't seem, well, respectful.

This is normally the point where the homunculus with the devilish horns appears over my left shoulder and mocks me: "It's a farking squirrel! To anyone else on the block this would be a simple matter of pest control." Yeah, well, I'm not anyone else on the block.

So the options, as I see them, are as follows:

  • If the squirrel is sleeping and uninjured, there is no problem: he'll be gone in a few hours.
  • If the squirrel is deceased, maybe one of the neighborhood cats, of which we have an abundance, will pounce on it.
  • And if it's still there tomorrow evening, I will scoop up the remains with a garden rake and then drop them unceremoniously into the rubbish bin.

Actually, that latter is not precisely true, because I'll be wondering what sort of dreadful fate might await my remains once this mortal coil is shuffled off to Buffalo or wherever.

The Vent

  8 May 2016

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 Copyright © 2016 by Charles G. Hill