Today, as I was walking my nearly blind, and definitely deaf, dog, she literally ran into a fence while she was trying to pee. Normally (and sadly this is a rather normal occurrence) this wouldn’t have led to a blog post. But this time, right above her head, my eyes met those of a mother, terrified and undecided about what to do.
She, the squirrel that is, was carrying her wayward baby squirrel in her teeth, trying to climb back up the fence with it. While she debated what to do, it pulled away and clung to the fence on its own, and she scampered up a few inches, eyeing me warily.
Meanwhile… that poor little baby squirrel, hung on as best it could. I like to think it felt chagrined for putting its mother through so much anguish. I imagine it thought it was ready to scamper down the tree on its own. And it was only on the way back up that it realized its courage was stronger than its muscles.
Slowly I pulled my dog back, away from the fence. “Go on,” I said to the mother. “Go get your baby. It’s okay.”
I stepped further away and the mother frantically climbed back down to the baby and, I will admit, none too gently, took the wayward squirrel into her mouth so she could use all four paws to climb up the fence and onto the tree.
If you have followed any of my posts you will know that squirrels aren’t my favorite animals. In the past they have been horrible pests to my dog and have dug holes in my backyard. Once they decided to live in my attic and let me tell you, that earned a series of posts worth re-reading!
But now, as I contemplate the anguish of letting children take that leap, attempt that climb, and the horror that we might not be able to save them when they falter, now with compassion I saw in that squirrel’s eyes my own storyline, my own motherhood.