The squirrel and the hawk (not a parable)

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There are moments when you just can't get your camera up in time.

Tuesday morning Ella and I went to one of her favorite haunts, Warren Park, for an extended walk. Tennis ball in mouth, Ella bounded up the south side of the park's huge sledding hill in pursuit of a couple of squirrels. I followed along at the bottom of the hill, trailling a little behind her, expecting that at some point she would drop the tennis ball and keep going. As it turned out, she did, and the ball rolled almost exactly to my feet. I didn't even have to break stride to scoop it up.

As I was stashing the ball in my shoulder bag, Ella turned west and headed down the hill, having spied another squirrel in the middle of the grass. The squirrel ran west and vanished around the corner of the high chain-link fence that encloses the park's ice rink. Ella followed closely behind.

I could tell from the rattling sounds I heard that the squirrel had climbed to the top of the fence. Ella loves chasing squirrels along fences, and when I saw the squirrel come scurrying back around the corner on top of the fence, I started fumbling my iPhone out of my pocket. A good squirrel-chasing picture was sure to follow.

I was standing probably thirty feet from the fence, and suddenly I noticed something the squirrel didn't. Forget the dog that still hadn't followed it back around the corner. Perched atop the fence, facing me, was a red-tailed hawk. The squirrel was running straight toward it.

Six feet from the hawk, the squirrel skidded to a stop. It stared at the hawk. The hawk turned its head and stared at the squirrel.

The hawk and the squirrel stood there frozen for a good five seconds. Then at the same instant, as I tried to get my camera app going without taking my eyes off the scene, the squirrel turned tail and ran back the way it had come, and the hawk flapped away in the opposite direction and landed in a tree.

Ella came panting around the corner of the fence, having missed all the drama.

I did capture the terrible video below of the hawk in the tree a few seconds later, but boy would that picture of it and the squirrel have been cool.

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William Shunn

About This Entry

This page contains a single entry by William Shunn published on October 18, 2012 8:31 AM.

Hear the WGN Radio interview with Gary K. Wolfe and me was the previous entry in this blog.

"My first husband chose me out of the binders full of women" is the next entry in this blog.

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