Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Squirrel

"You see things; and you say, 'Why?' But I dream things that never were and I say, 'Why not?'"
-George Bernard Shaw

On the way back from a super day out in San Francisco with a friend a few years ago, we all three were beginning to grow tired as the night wore on and we were still many miles from home.
Spouse, at the helm, was involuntarily closing his eyes every few moments. He is an excellent driver but I was quite concerned, especially given that I could hardly shake him awake myself when I too kept nodding off.
Our friend in the back seat also was exhausted. We all determined the distance to be too much without respite and so we drove into the parking lot of a large hotel.
Spouse turned off the engine, reclined the seat and prepared to sleep. Our friend stretched out on the back seat. Spouse being the driver, and the friend being our guest, it was naturally left to me to protect us all. It was an unknown area and at least one of us had to sit up, stay awake and keep alert for passers-by, security guards and whatnot.
So I, the guardian of midnight, took my position with open eyes and steady, watchful gaze. In approximately three seconds there was nothing but silence and I was the only one awake.
It was after midnight in mid October. The ground was wet, the world was still. The minutes ground by ever so slowly. I fought sleep and kept danger at bay.
Then I saw it. A sudden movement so slight that I at first thought it to be a tumbling leaf in an unexpected gust. I looked quickly and caught a glimpse: it was a squirrel-like creature by the wheel of a nearby parked car. In another moment it took a glide of a sort and was by another car. The animal was transparent. I could see through it quite easily and it appeared to be moving like a gelatine substance- with a quiver and not one bit like a whole, real animal. I was not frightened but thunderstruck of course; by the time I collected my thoughts it had weaved its way past the cars, all the while moving with the same trembling leap, and had vanished.
Spouse woke up a few seconds later as did our friend. Spouse stretched.
"I saw a transparent squirrel," I said without intonation. I heard my own words and struggled to comprehend how another could believe what I had seen.
They were both rather nice about the matter but no doubt they were glad that I was not the designated driver.
Nevertheless I know what I saw. I am not prone to imaginative flights of fancy and I positively do not conjure up impossible creatures while trying to stave off sleep. I know what I saw even if I could articulate a description. It is often that way with a novel element: much as it befuddles a person to verbalise colour to a blind man, it is next to impossible to find words for something we never comprehended, were told about, or saw a picture of.
One humid evening sometime hence, another soul may see it too and I shall then be redeemed.


Beth said...

The daughter that I often think of when I read your writing swears that she saw a white moose one time when we were out hiking and she was a little tyke in a baby backpack. She can describe the moose completely as well as the hike, who was on it and what her father's hair smelled like from her backpack vantage point. Even now 20 years later, she still insists that she saw a white moose.

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

I believe your daughter. Fervently :)
Perhaps because we don't know everything that's out there, and it's possible to only get a glimpse of something that shows up just once in a blue moon. Thanks for sharing.

mouse (aka kimy) said...

the world is filled with many marvels! and sometimes the veil is lifted and we can enter other worlds as well.....

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

Kimy, I agree- and if it happened more often it wouldn't be so precious and mysterious. I like that idea of other worlds...who knows.

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