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To catch a squirrel

| Tuesday, November 12, 2019

The plethora of trees and grassy campuses of Saint Mary’s, Notre Dame and Holy Cross provide a home for many different types of wildlife. Early in the morning while walking down the avenue, one often sees a family of deer. Late at night while passing by, a student may hear the gentle flop of a fish coming from Saint Mary’s Lake. These three campuses are always full of new sights and experiences; however, I am most intrigued by the underrated squirrel. Growing up with no pets and in an area with no close interaction with squirrels, one of my biggest culture shocks upon coming to college was how friendly the squirrels were. On my many morning walks to class, I found myself observing them from only a mere couple of feet away. However, my appreciation soon turned to curiosity, which morphed into taunting, as I would try to get closer and the squirrels would run away.

As a result, I made a promise to myself that I would NOT walk across the stage in a cap and gown with a Saint Mary’s diploma without first barehand catching and then befriending a squirrel. A mission chooses an individual, the individual does not choose their mission. I guess this was mine.

Soon after this self-realization I started to implement several strategies I hoped would help me achieve my goals.

This included: Wearing lighter shoes, ones that would not make too loud of noises when approaching the targeted squirrel. Noting that there are certain seasons in which it is best to attempt the grab. Fall was not one, as the leaves were too crunchy and the sound spooked the squirrels. Throughout the fall (non-ideal squirrel-catching time) I began to feed the squirrels nuts or anything spare I might have on me to let them know I meant no harm. This way, when the winter and spring came around (prime squirrel-catching time) I had gained their trust.

Those of you reading this and many others may call it crazy, and many tell me it’s impossible. Some even say, “You could get rabies!” However, there is no sacrifice too big in order to achieve one’s dreams.

I have come especially close one or two times, feeling the squirrel’s fur on my fingertips only thwarted by a misstep or fear of what my next plan of action would be if I actually caught it. On one occasion, I was able to jump out from around a tree and sneak attack one, however it quickly climbed upwards out of my reach.

While I want to make this dream a reality, I fear that once this is achieved, I will have peaked and my life will become meaningless. I suppose I could move onto another target rodent, but not many compare to the perfect combination of speedy, agility and goofiness that occurs in squirrels. However, I do hear there’s a ground hog on campus now…?

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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