Thursday, June 27, 2013

Kingdom of the Squirrel: Chapter 6

Chapter 6
Squirrels know where baby squirrels come from.  They are a product of what squirrels call the Chase.  Every mating season, boy squirrels and girl squirrels chase each other.  When one or the other manages to get caught, a batch of baby squirrels is the result.  This is the purpose of the Chase. (When a boy squirrel or a girl squirrel is never caught, they are said to be “chased.” This is a pun in English, but not in squirrel.)
It is the way of squirrels to have this chase every season but not with the same pair of squirrels chasing each other every year.  Squirrels don’t pay much heed to lineages, other than to know one’s father and mother as everyone is related to everyone else by many, many connections.  This is simply their way.  They know that there are  creatures, like doves, who mate for life.  They know of cats and dogs who were as promiscuous as themselves.
But, as we mentioned earlier, they have trouble understanding humans.  One big reason for this problem, as has been said, is the fact that the human lifespan is so long relative to that of the squirrel.  A squirrel born at the same time as a human could live three or more lifetimes, were he granted such, before a human starts a family.
Time flows differently for squirrels and trees and little girls.
But squirrels do know where oak trees came from.  This is because they are part of the very process that Nature has for oak trees to reproduce themselves.  Squirrels failing to retrieve an acorn they’ve planted is all a part of the plan.  
Nature is subtle. It is all about life, so all sorts of ways have been devised to make sure life continues.  With squirrels it is the Chase; with oak trees it includes squirrels; and with humans too there is also a way.
Squirrels are not part of the human process as they are with oak trees. While there are certain human activities they could have extrapolated from had they seen them and thereby received insight, they’ve never seen them.  They go on behind closed doors in houses, hotels, cars, and the occasional linen closet.
So it took the combined genius of the followers of Postumus to discern even that children were of the same kind as Man.  This could happen because the followers of Postumus as a group continued to exist through time after individual members had died. The knowledge of one generation was not lost to the next.  Indeed, the knowledge of one generation was a foundation the next could build upon.
But squirrels are prisoners of geography.  Crossing a street for them is a life-risking act of heroism. Streets to them are somewhat like oceans in the time of Columbus were to human beings. Few are so bold as to be able to move more than a few blocks in their lifetime, but there are exceptions.  Bold, heroic exceptions. Like Ninja Squirrel and his disciples.
Because of his rare ability, Ninja Squirrel had been made He-who-guards-the-Emissary and had taken that as a name segment.  He and his disciples travelled several miles every day as they followed the Emissary on her mysterious pilgrimage. They had saved her from the creep who had attacked her, receiving only minor wounds themselves and had continued to guard her afterwards, as clearly they were needed.
They continued following her as she went alone to the university day after day until one day she didn’t.  That is to say, she didn’t stop going to the university, rather she stopped walking alone.  One day she emerged from one of the buildings and someone was walking beside her.  Her companion was taller than she was, broader in the shoulders, and had shorter hair.  He had biceps that rippled visibly.
Ninja had seen this kind of creature many times before and knew it to be the male of Man.  Ninja and his disciples watched as they walked out of the quad, off the campus, and toward the Emissary’s home.  About two-thirds of the way there, they came to a corner, stopped and talked to each other for what Ninja considered an overly long period of time, and then they parted.  Squirrels didn’t like extended conversation on the ground for extended periods because of the constant threat of brain-eating cats.
Ninja allowed his disciples to follow the Emissary home as he himself followed the male. He noted the male paused after he’d walked about a quarter of a block to look back at the Emissary for a long moment and then walked on with a spring in his step.
This happened every day. The ritual where the talked before parting lasted longer and longer, though cats never did take advantage.  One day, as it became spring, they stopped in the park and the Male pulled a flat round object out of his back pack.  They tossed it back and forth to each other until Ninja heard the Emissary say she was thirsty.  The male then left her and came back with something the Emissary began to drink from.  
Then something strange happened.  While the Male’s back was turned, the Emissary reached into the cup and brought out something and put it down his back.  Then he started chasing her.
This aroused Ninja’s interest to a large degree and he watched intently because he thought he knew where this was headed.  The Male did catch the Emissary, but it didn’t end the way Ninja thought it would.  Instead, they kissed.
Summers and winters came and went and then it was spring once again.  Ninja saw people on campus walking around in flat hats and wearing robes as he had every year, but this time the Emissary and the Male were among them.
Soon after there was a large gathering in the Emissary’s yard.  The Mother--who had not been called She-Devil in years--was there; she was smiling and crying at the same time.  They were standing beside the Daddy tree in the sunshine and a man in a robe like the ones on campus said some things.  And they kissed again.
Then the Emissary rode off with the Male in a car, but before they did,Ninja heard her say something to the Mother: “I will be back.”
Ninja, though, never saw her again.

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