With subzero wind blowing in, I was wrapped up in a few blankets one evening wondering what this year would bring.
Looking out my bay window toward a brilliant pink, orange and purple sunset, I saw a small animal scurry under the wire cow fence into our yard. I first thought it was a rabbit because I saw a short bobbed-tail. When I saw it scurry 10 mph across the lawn, I realized it was a squirrel — with no tail.
What I didn’t know was that if a squirrel gets into a fight for his life, he has a built-in escape mechanism — his tail will break off so he can escape. I immediately began envisioning the terrifying scenarios that this brave squirrel, whom I named Lil’ Bob, might have endured.
Maybe Lil’ Bob was mindlessly chewing a black walnut in the fork of a tree on a beautiful fall day when a dark shadow dive-bombed him before he could react. A Cooper’s or red-tailed hawk might have thought it had fast-food to-go in its claws — until looking down in-flight and only saw a squirrel remnant — the bushy tail.
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Or maybe Lil’ Bob was just being friendly and waving his lush bushy tail at his running buddy — the one he likes to chase up and around every tree in the area. And while he was flicking his tail, he didn’t notice the fox sneaking up to grab lunch. The story could be told that since squirrels can turn their feet 108 degrees, which allows them the capability to scurry up the closest tree to escape, Lil’ Bob only left his tail as a souvenir.
Or it seems even plausible that Lil’ Bob was burying nuts in my hosta garden late one evening, when a great horned owl knew this was not wise. The astute owl silently flew down with talons spread in great expectation — yet he, too, left only with a squirrel tail.
I’m still not sure what 2015 will bring; but based on experience, it will be a mix of love, joy, trial and error, patience, mundane routine, kindness, disappointment, goodness, grief and lots more joy.
I just gotta be more like Lil’ Bob and during those terrifying or trying times, keep running and don’t worry about losing the tail.