Monday, November 21, 2016

Squirrels and Tails

Today I found a squirrel tail on the walking path at my school during my first graders' recess. It was just lying there in the middle of the path. The wind blowing through the fur made it look as though it was breathing. For a moment, I thought maybe I'd mistaken it for a muskrat or other small animal. So I kicked it with the toe of my shoe. Yep. A tail. A squirrel tail.

I used the walkie talkie teachers use when on the playground in case of an emergency to call the office. "Office?" I said. "This is Mrs. Stone on the playground. We need a clean-up on the playground. There's a squirrel tail on the walking path."

"A WHAT?" our office clerk inquired.

"A squirrel tail. On the path."

"Is it dead?!

"I'm assuming. It's just a tail," I answered. "I don't think a tail is living."

Several giggles ensued before the custodian was dispatched. I wouldn't want her job.

After it was disposed of, I circled the big toy and the monkey bars to make sure the rest of the poor creature's carcass wasn't lying within reach of my students. (Envisioning brave souls terrorizing fearful souls with it...) I assume the squirrel probably scampered away into a tree where it safely watched us scoop up its tail and throw it away.

The questions ensuing this unusual find included whether a squirrel could even live without it's tail (Yes, it can) or could it regrow another one (No, it can't). A simple Google search.

You see, there's a certain amount of resilience that living things possess in order to survive. Apparently, a squirrel may lose its tail as it escapes from a predator or gets caught in a trap and still survive. Though it has to adapt to life without a tail, like a chipmunk, per se, it can continue to function fairly normally as a tail-less squirrel, even if not by choice.

Resilience. The ability to adapt to life's tasks and continue in the face of adversity. Like losing your hearing. Or your tail.

We can learn a lot from a squirrel.

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