It all happened in a beautifully landscaped grove at the University of British Columbia. If you have been there, you will know it. It is in between the Main Library and the Sedgwick/Koerner Library. This story takes places many years ago, however, and at the time the new library had not yet been built. If you haven’t been to UBC, this miniature forest can be strolled through in under a minute, contains a wonderful variety of plant life and on Friday evenings is usually occupied by intoxicated first year students lost on their way to residence. It also has several benches and a cheerful little stream.
I was arguing with my boyfriend about the superior tree navigation skills of squirrels. I stated, firmly, that squirrels possess incredible agility and balance which enables them to perform the tree hoping feats we had been observing while eating our lunch. He agreed, but said, that even squirrels fall out of trees sometimes. He went on to prove this by saying that he had seen many squirrels fall out of trees when he was younger at a park near his house. He always had a convenient story to illustrate his point. It was an annoying trait and I tended to not believe him. On the point of squirrels, I was relentless. The debate was a fierce one.
“Whatever! You’re making it up!”
“I swear I’m not.”
“You’re going to sit there and tell me that trees were raining squirrels?”
“I didn’t say that. I said I saw a few squirrels fall out of trees.”
“You did not see squirrels falling out of trees!!”
“Yes! I did!”
We eventually finished our intellectual discussion and moved onto other high minded topics. About twenty minutes later, there was a rustling in the tree above us. We both looked up in time to see a black squirrel falling through the branches, bouncing against one or two on the way down. We followed its course, watched its small body race towards the earth, as it’s little legs clawed at the air, trying to prevent the inevitable.
This coincidence was too much to comprehend.
The squirrel was fortunate to land in the stream, just missing the bank. We walked over and looked as it splashed and struggled for air. I made an attempt to fish it out, but it was flailing too wildly. Finally, it lost consciousness and I was able to reach in and grab it by the tail. I placed its wet body on the ground. It wasn’t breathing and I knew what I had to do.
I placed my thumb under its rib cage and gently gave it five quick compressions. I was about to reach down and give it the kiss of life when it sprung up with a start and ran up the nearest tree. From its perch, it looked down at me gratefully.
I had saved its life.
This is a completely true story. On my honor.