Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: RELEASE (08/02/18)
By Darlene Kennedy
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My daughter and I sat in the truck engaged in small talk until we noticed Nate approaching carrying something. When he climbed in and opened his hands, we saw a tiny squirrel, no bigger than a palm, soaking wet and barely alive. He no doubt had fallen out of his nest when the tree was felled.
Tiffany was absolutely thrilled about the discovery. "Daddy, can we keep him?"
"Well, honey, I'm not sure this little fella is gonna make it, but we'll see what we can do."
That went in one ear and out the other! "I'm gonna name him Lucky because he's lucky you found him."
"Okay, sweetie, but don't get your hopes up yet. He's in pretty bad shape."
The next couple of weeks were touch and go. We fed Lucky warm milk with an eye dropper and kept him as comfortable as possible in a small shoe box. He slept most of the time but was getting stronger each day.
He quickly outgrew his box, although keeping him in it was no longer an option. He found out climbing was a fun adventure and took the opportunity to scale every piece of furniture he came to.
We upped his diet to pecans, acorns, nuts, and berries.
Nate found a gourd with a hole in the side in his unce's shed that was the perfect fit for a squirrel to nest in. He searched for a good sized tree limb to set up next to our china cabinet and, after filling the gourd with cotton and rags, set it atop the cabinet, the tree limb securely placed for Lucky to climb.
He took to it right away. Each night he would get in his makeshift nest and sleep like a baby. When we got up in the morning, he would slowly emerge, stretch and give a great big yawn, and the excitement began. He was full of fun and antics. His favorite activity was stealing pencils from Tiffany's school bag and absconding with them.
He was truly a delight, but reality began to set in. We knew Lucky would soon have to be released back into his natural habitat. He was growing up fast and the mating season was upon us.
The conversation with Tiffany I knew in my heart would come one day did not go well.
Nate thankfully took the lead. "Baby, Lucky is gettin' to be a big boy now. He needs to live outside, playing with the other squirrels. It's not right to keep him locked up in our home, as much as we love him. We need to do what's best for him. We're gonna have to start gettin' him used to the outdoors."
Well, the crocodile tears began to flow. "No, daddy! I love him and he loves me. He's happy here. Don't let him go! PLEASE don't let him go!"
"Okay, honey, we don't have to make any decisions right now. Let's take it one day at a time."
We didn't push the issue any further, allowing Tiffany to think it through for herself.
Days later, she came to me with a question. "Mommy, can we take Lucky out in the yard today and sit with him in the grass? I think he would like that."
So we did. He was terrified. He sat in one spot, his little heart beating wildly. He wanted back inside within a few minutes.
The next day we tried again. That time, he scaled a tree and sat in it all day. That evening I went out to check on him and he came running up the walkway and jumped up on my shoulder. I brought him inside.
The third day, he didn't return. I don't know if I was relieved or heartbroken. Tiffany cried herself to sleep.
A few days later, we were walking outside and squirrels scurried up the trees barking and shaking their tails feverishly. One squirrel, however, didn't move. He just sat there and stared at us intently. He wasn't the least bit scared of our presence.
Tiffany, with a big smile on her face, was the first to speak. "Look, mommy! Lucky!"
Ecclesiastes 3:1 (KJV)
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