Saturday, February 17, 2018
How we do "naturalist" around here
So there I am on my morning ramble, heading towards the Mississippi, but as yet one block off of it and running parallel. I look up into a big, bare Winter tree. Could be an Oak. I don't know. There is a squirrel there, nothing too odd in that, but the end of his tail is all a pretty and colorful tribal-festive red. But more's the pity, squirrels adorn not, and I soon realize the red is blood. The squirrel's tail is bloody.
Not far away, on a branch in that same allegedly Oak tree, which might be an Ash, or a Maple, sits a enormous hawk, I'm 80 percent sure it's a hawk, and it's one of the largest I've ever seen so up close. The feathers on his left side are badly awry. He's uncomfortably trying to fix them.
If I were a naturalist I would say that the hawk leaped down upon the squirrel but mistimed his plunge just so to catch him on the tail rather than the body. The squirrel, rather justifiably, twisted round and gave the hawk a great clout in the side. Then, altercation over, and with any of the hawk's advantage gone, both went peaceably to their sides of the tree to attend to their wounds.
I suppose this could be true. But I have none of the patience, science, and sobriety for a Natural Historian.
So as far as I'm concerned the squirrel and the hawk were both injured in a storm, traveled to this tree together, and became fast friends on the road. They knew that this tree was the mythical and famous Wild Animal Hospital Tree, and that all hurt animals who are able come there from far and wide to be healed. Nurse The Robin is tending to a pair of beetles with broken legs. Doctor The Raven mixes potions by the river's edge. And while they wait for them the squirrel and the hawk rest from their journey and talk of all they've seen and hope for. Meanwhile the magic tree, possibly an Elm, but no one really knows, works its soothing balm on their wounds.