Friday, July 6, 2012

Flying Squirrels

Squirrels. No introduction needed. We all have a story about them, right?

Here is Eddie Izzard's take on squirrels.

They really are smart animals, though. They can learn from human interactions and adjust their behavior accordingly. A friend just told me about a university she attended that had a "No Squirrel Harassing" policy. If you were caught shoeing, throwing stones at or otherwise tantalizing a squirrel, you could be hit with a $250 fine. "And those squirrels had a 'tude about it!"

Growing up, I didn't have a problem with squirrels. My dad said they were a nuisance, but I found them fascinating. I would sit at the dining room table pretending to do my homework and watch red squirrels race each other through the majestic pines that stood at the edge of the lawn. They reminded me of acrobats who didn't need a net. They were sure-footed artists that defied the laws gravity. They flew through the branches at break-neck speeds and screeched to a stop at the end of a tree branch with nowhere to go. Every once in a while a squirrel would lose her foot and slip off the branch. She never fell, though. She would hang on with one tiny foot and scramble back onto the branch. Did she learn her lesson? Did she slow down on sharp corners?

Never. "I'm an effin' squirrel!" she'd scream in delight.

I think have felt that speed and freedom before. Of course, it wasn't on my own power I flew threw the air, but it doesn't really matter in the end. I was in my uncle's Cessna plane. He took us for a ride. In a craft that small, it feels like there's nothing between you and the sky. There is, thankfully, but not much. Chris gave me control and said "Let 'er rip!"

Imagine with me: A little boy who has always been intrigued with flying crafts, creatures and objects. A boy who would watch movies about planes and birds and high peaks just so he could get a sense of what it would be like to glide through the air like Superman. A boy who would draw pictures and make up stories about being miles above the Earths surface, plummeting to his death to be saved at the last possible moment by his parachute. Imagine that little boy controlling the plane that you are sitting in the back seat of.

That's right. My (now) wife and little sister were in the back seat as Chris said those fateful words. I'm sure something sparked in my eyes because the next thing they knew, we were shooting straight towards the ground. Think of the first crest of a roller coaster, but no rollers. And a lot higher. The cameras in their laps were now floating in front of their faces. We were no longer sitting in our chairs, but were being clenched down to them by our seat belts. The girls were screaming, but not from terror. I was laughing my fool head off. Oh, the childhood fantasies being fulfilled in these few moments.

I finally pulled up, and the engine died. For about two seconds. We flew around a bit more and Chris took us in for the landing.

And that's what squirrels make me think about.


  1. Good God, he let you stall the thing? That's awesome. And great.

    1. To say it coughed may be a little more accurate...

  2. "I'm an effin' squirrel!" And Ben ... so are you. LOL!