The Squirrel . . .
On Friday morning, as I was going south on Highway C across State Highway 16, I noticed a gray squirrel running frantically across the road, as if he was trying to decide on which side he preferred to stop. He ran across to the east side, went back across, and then back to the east, and there met his end under the right front tire of a white SUV. He flipped a couple of times, and went straight stiff. If the driver knew what had happened, she didn’t let on.
What struck me is that it was first light, the birds were flying, and they continued to fly. Cars were driving, and they continued their courses. Leaves blew across the road, people waited at the curb for the coffee shop to open, and things generally went on as usual. In the moment, the death of a single squirrel mattered to seemingly no one.
It struck me that if the driver had been aware, she could have slowed down, or sped up, or altered her course just a little to avoid what for her was a minor incident, but for the squirrel and his squirrel family was, well, a major tragedy. Years from now, squirrel newspapers will announce that his squirrel offspring were left without a father at an early age, and were, therefore, left to wander down an indistinct path to delinquency and wasted lives. Somewhere, a squirrel mother will have to leave the den just a little earlier to clean the dens of wealthier squirrels just to put her kids through squirrel school.
From now on, I will keep the radio on in the truck on the way to work. It keeps my mind from wandering down indistinct paths.