Observations from my dorm window: Feb. 5, 2021

It was mid-afternoon. I looked outside my dorm window, saw the dreary gray sky, the snow, the neon-blue-salted sidewalks. There was no one on the Quad in the opaline snow, no one, but a squirrel.

A brown-gray North American squirrel, tail twitching, a look of trepidation in his glossy eyes, braving the elements to fling himself over snow drifts. In his mouth was a large acorn — I’m surprised it fit in his mouth. I moved closer to my window, outside of which is a medium-sized tree, lacking its warm-weather leaves. Up the squirrel scurried, up higher and higher in the tree, his small body twitching and pulsing as he held onto his dear acorn. 

Up he went, up that scraggly tree to the tip of one of the highest twigs. I held my breath — I wasn’t sure if that slender branch could hold him. 

I wondered if his winter food cache was in this tree — squirrels are known to hide their assorted nuts, mushrooms, and vegetation high up in trees. 

Outside, the squirrel clung tenuously to that skinny branch, jaw clamped on his acorn. Then came the wind. Rochester wind. The gust blew violently, shaking the tree, the branch, the squirrel. I feared for this little squirrel — his fragile body pummeled by a 30 mph gust. He hung on for dear life, both arms wrapped around the branch, his tail flapping like a flag of surrender in the wind. I held my breath. Surely if he fell from a height like this… 

The gust intensified, and in the upper strata of this tree, the squirrel’s precious acorn fell.

It plummeted to Earth. The squirrel followed its downward progress only by sight — if he let go he would tumble as well. 

My gaze, which was fixated on the squirrel, turned to my roommate in disbelief. I struggled to articulate what I had seen. My roommate, like any sane person, responded with a thoughtful, “Huh.” 

When I turned back to the window, the squirrel had scrambled down the tree and was now half-buried in the snow, searching desperately for his acorn. Just like a true Scrat — the squirrel from “Ice Age.” Ah, Scrat, that brave squirrel who fought the cold and wind for his acorn, so like the squirrel outside my window, romping in the snow, defying the wind, and patrolling the quad. Thus, I christened him QuadScrat. 

I could conclude this piece with some philosophical comparisons of a trapped squirrel hanging perilously to a tree, his cherished possession falling away, to us students, but I won’t. Just keep a lookout for that crazy QuadScrat, who braved the wind and triumphantly recovered from a substantial acorn loss.  

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