By Ada Serson
There are brown squirrels, black squirrels, and grey squirrels in this area. I call all of them Alfred. Physically, they live one level higher than we humans. The telephone wires are their highways, the trees their resting places, the acorns are harvested for eating, and the Park is there, to hide their treasures. Occasionally they need to go across the road to where they have hidden their food.
Often they get run over by cars. They are fast, but not always fast enough. “Oh well,” people say, “there are lots of them”.
Early one day I was driving on Cook Street, coming from Dallas. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Alfred running, intent on racing across, an acorn in his mouth. He took long jumps and I could see that I would have to brake hard to avoid him. He ran fast, a little black streak heading towards the sidewalk. Would he stop? Should I stop?
Alfred only saw my car as he reached the edge of the sidewalk. He braked in midair, his two wiry little front paws frantically holding on. His tail and rear end flew up, but those two little front paws, stretched, thin but strong, were keeping him safe. They held back that lithe little being from certain death. Meanwhile I had stopped. T i m e s t r e t c h e d, he and I lived a timeless moment as I beheld that fiercely alive tiny creature, beautifully created for the sole purpose of being just that, a little black squirrel, striving to survive. His acorn still clamped between his jaws, front paws still stretched and anchored. Between us there was a stillness. A sudden heartbeat pause before moving again.
Making sure he was still on the curb, I slowly accelerated and drove on. In my rear view mirror I saw him, acorn clamped between jaws, leaping across the street.
Alfred lives to tell this tale to his children and grandchildren, warning them of the dangers on the road. I can hear him saying: “First look right, then look left, and then look right again before crossing.”