Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Missed by that much

I was traveling recently in the Lowcountry for work. This part of the South is quite beautiful. The influence of the earlier European settlers is very evident in the architecture of the older buildings.

One afternoon, I explored town. After touring an antebellum (pre-Civil War) home, I walked through this row park. The park has an inactive fountain in the center and the hundred year old trees that line the path are draped in Spanish moss. About half way down the path, I briefly heard a rustle in the trees, followed by a thud that sounded something like an under-inflated football hitting the pavement. I swear I felt the impact of the object through my feet even though it happened some fifteen feet behind me.

I walked along very slowly in the heat. At first, I thought maybe the two teenage boys that I had passed through something my way as a joke, but I didn't hear any voices or footsteps. I turned to determine what had landed behind me.

In the far distance, walking my same direction, was a young woman. Looking down at the path, I searched for object that had fallen. To my horror, there was a motionless lump of fur where I had just walked. I could make out a grayish brown tail. It was probably a squirrel. That's when my head took three nanoseconds to come to this conclusion: "Holy shit! I almost got hit by a falling squirrel."

The woman in the distance seemed intrigued by whatever she'd seen fall but was still many feet away. The squirrel lay motionless. I was so stunned that I just kept walking. A few steps later, I turned back to check that I hadn't imagined things. The lifeless body still lay on the path. I considered turning around to check on the poor animal, but the idea just creeped me out. It felt wrong to take a picture showing the dead animal. Every couple of minutes, I looked back. When the young woman passed by it, she examined it but continued walking. I must have looked back five or six times.

What happened? It was a decent sized squirrel. Maybe it had lived a long life and suddenly died while in the tree. Strange. Could it have possibly missed on a jump from branch to branch and fallen to his death? Unlikely.

Had I stopped a few moments at the fountain to take a picture... yeeck. What would have happened if I had been hit by the squirrel? Could the impact of a falling squirrel knock someone out (or worse)? The situation stunned me a bit. I don't know if I'll be walking under trees for a little while.


mini said...

ooo, lowcountry. i hope you liked your visit, besides the oddity of the falling squirrel...

Trevor said...

Holy shit is right. I just had one actually fall on me, from the top of a tree, when I was leaving the courthouse in Tulsa, OK. It felt like I had been hit in the back by a soccer ball. I turned to see what had hit me and at my feet was a mangled, twitching, bloody mess of squirrel.