So yeah, as I was saying, a squirrel’s head suddenly appears over the edge of the porch roof as I’m sitting out drinking my coffee this morning around 7:30. Looks at me for half a minute. Disappears. I hear it skitter off across the roof and around the back of the house.
A little while later, a movement off to my right catches my eye. There’s the squirrel — or maybe another squirrel; I’m not too good at telling them apart — sitting on its haunches on the sidewalk at the edge of the porch, and just as before, it’s staring intently in my direction. Well, they do that sometimes, I say to myself. Except then it trots over, click click click click click, goes right under my plastic stack chair, and stops.
So there I am with my feet propped up on the rail and a squirrel under my chair, and I gotta tell you, I’m starting to get nervous. This isn’t some college campus where squirrels have long ago lost their fear of humans through prolonged exposure to idiots with peanuts. Squirrels are wary creatures on the mountain, and with good reason: sometimes they got shot at. Quite often they get shooed out of birdfeeders by shrieking people brandishing brooms. But this squirrel (a) has exhibited a total lack of fear of me, and (b) is sitting, as I mentioned, directly underneath my butt. I know they say that rodents never get rabies, but I’ve just read a press release from the Pennsylvania Game Commission verifying that an attack beaver in Philadelphia, which bit three people before they blew it away, tested positive for rabies, so all bets are off as far as I’m concerned.
Two minutes go by. I can’t take it anymore. “Hey buddy, watcha doin’ under there?” I say loudly. No response. I stand up, take a long step away from the chair, and look: no squirrel. What the hell?
There are only two other pieces of furniture on the porch, and they flank the chair: my ratty old end-table on the right, and a white wicker settee-type thing on the left. The former provides no cover, and I examine all around the other: nothing. I lift it up and look underneath, even knowing there’s no way the squirrel could’ve gotten under it without making a sound. In fact, the squirrel couldn’t have gone anywhere without making a sound. It’s a wood floor, there’s nothing wrong with my hearing, and besides, I was on high alert. The only possible explanation, my dad agrees when I tell him the story an hour later, is that I have somehow acquired some kind of wormhole or portal to another universe directly under my chair. I mean, I’d be happy to hear alternate explanations, but I’ve been thinking about this all day and I have yet to come up with one.
I don’t expect the world to make sense all the time. I accept that any worldview, no matter how firmly based in science, cannot account for all phenomena, and that deciding what to believe about the way things work comes down to picking the least objectionable mass delusion. But is it too much to ask for a little self-consistency? In my universe, squirrels don’t scamper under one’s plastic stack chair and disappear. It’s simply not done. Maybe in your universe — that’s fine. But mine makes sense… in fact, too much sense sometimes. It has laws of physics in effect. If it didn’t, I probably wouldn’t feel compelled to spend all my time scribbling poetry just to mess with my sense of reality. You know what I mean? Every morning would be an adventure straight out of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels. Hell, I might not even have to blog.