One of the great joys of living in Vermont is the proximity to the wide variety of wildlife that proceeds unhindered by major urban sprawl. Yesterday, on my way to a client hospital, I was driving Interstate 91 when I saw a shape in the middle of the southbound lane I was traveling in. As I got closer, I saw that it was a gray squirrel, one of those ubiquitous little rodents that seem to always be sleeping on the sides of the roads this time of year.
This little guy was sitting on the broken white line, doing the which-way dance, usually a prelude to squirrelicide, as they seem to always find a wheel well. At 65 mph (at least), it was only a second or so between seeing something and identifying what it was. But this little fella had another fate neither of us could foresee. In the next heartbeat, from my right flashed an enormous red-tailed hawk, which had been perched in the roadside trees. That hawk swooped down and plucked that squirrel clean, and was up and headed for the trees on the other side of the interstate in an instant. That bird had a wingspan of at least five feet, and even riding in my car I heard the whoosh of the wings as it pulled back up, squirrel in the talons. Amazing. Magnificent.
Nature is beautiful, awe-inspiring, and uncompromising. I know two things for sure. It wasn’t that little fella’s day. And if I am reincarnated, I don’t wanna come back as a rodent. Everything wants to eat you.