Monday, October 03, 2011


You know what makes me laugh? A squirrel falling out of a tree. I mean really falling: thirty feet at least. I have only seen it once. I was at ECU in a park-like common area in the lower campus near Umstead when I noticed two squirrels giving each other hell about something. They were both on the ground about a foot apart, jawing back and forth over an acorn or a Nab someone had dropped. All of sudden, one took off up the closest tree with the other one right on his tail. They went around three times on the way and three more on the way down before hitting the ground and running to the next big tree in line where they proceeded to twirl their way up to the lowest branches. There were a few jumps between limbs and I lost sight of them as the leaves were in, but I could see the movement and hear the scritch-scratching of their little claws as they tunneled through the foliage. Then, one of them burst from the coverage and headed out a big white oak limb. The other took a moment to find his bearings before starting pursuit on the same piece of wood. Before the second could gain any distance, the inexplicable happened. I thought squirrels were the most sure-footed little furry SOB's there were. What, with their scurrying around on telephone wires and thin ledges of buildings and all. This fellow though, must have gotten into the Sunday morning trash behind Umstead and been a little unsteady on his feet. It was a long way away, but I swear I saw his foot slip off the limb right before he fell the distance of a first down to the ground. I fancied I heard a little cry of ,” craaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaap.”

When he hit, he bounced. Just a little. Then he was still for a heartbeat before popping up and heading straight to and up the tree he and his nemesis had climbed seconds before, apparently none the worse for wear.

I lost track of the second one and assumed he skidded to a safe stop before tipping his cap to the daredevil who was willing to go to such lengths. I went back every once in awhile for the rest of the year with a pack of crackers ready to throw down as bait. If there had been YouTube back then, it could have been the rodent version of Bum Wars and you could share in my mirth. For while I get no pleasure of watching two lonely alcoholics duke it out, you trade them in for squirrels with slippery feet and you've got a pocket full of laughs.

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