Mom and I run errands in the morning. We make a pit stop at my parents' house; Dad comes in from the yard. "I found a baby squirrel, do you want to see it?"
We think he has fallen from the nest in a tall tree in the yard, rolled off their roof, and landed in the grass. He was found nestled near their neighbor's dogwood tree. We pick him up gently, with gloved hands.
He tries crawling away butt-first, giving up when I keep catching him, and goes to sleep.
We name him Steve, leave him nestled in a corner, and I head to Nashville and Butch Walker. Mom keeps me updated that the night: Steve moves from the corner to the dogwood, and an adult squirrel is climbing around the tree limbs. We hope it is one of his parents.
On my way home, I stop to check on the little boy. We were all worried he'd die Monday night, but he's still hanging in there! He's all curled up, clearly wanting to be left alone to rest, but I sneak a few shots of his cute face.
When we check on him later that afternoon, we can't tell if he's breathing. There is sadness all around, but we are also impressed he lasted so long.
Steve is still alive. Dad spots him crawling around, slowly but surely. He moves a large planter into the yard to both shade the squirrel and ensure no one passing by steps on him.
Dad feeds Steve milk from a spoon. He drinks all that is put in front of him, but can't move towards it on his own.
His eyes are open for the first time, but his fur is matted and his tail isn't fluffy. Flies are buzzing around, and things look dire.
We move him to the backyard, so he can take his last breath at the roots of a tree squirrels have loved since the beginning of time. Ants are crawling all over him, but each time we think he is gone, we see his body shudder with another breath. Our trooper.
Dad goes out to pick up the body so it won't decay in the yard.
Dad searches around the tree roots, in the hedge nearby, and finds nothing but the milk spoon he left out the night before.
I love the mystery surrounding Steve - anything is possible! There are no bones, so I choose to think that, thanks to the milk and care, he grew strong enough to run around with the local squirrels. He's going to have an awesome life eating the pecans my mom tosses out into the yard.