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  • Writer's pictureadrianne

Kevin's Release, Part 2

On March 4th, 2022, while walking our pups, we came across a baby squirrel lying on the sidewalk. The yellow mark on the sidewalk of the photo shows where he was lying, and the circle shows the remains of the only drey in sight. It was a miracle that Roscoe walked right by him, and it was another miracle that I spied him before Jack did. I placed him by the tree hoping Momma Squirrel would find him but got no farther than the street you can see just beyond the yellow mark before I turned around & scooped him up. I knew next to nothing about caring for a baby squirrel, but I couldn't leave him lying there.

Tiny, eyes closed, nearly naked, quiet as a mouse, and completely helpless he was. I named him Kevin and did what little I knew to do--warmth, hydration, nourishment, and Googled like crazy to learn more. Research led me to fairly confidently guesstimate his age at between 3 and 4 weeks. Jamie said later that he never expected that Kevin would live--not because of my care but because a baby that young is fragile. But live he did! And grow and change and learn and thrive! In the space of nearly 12 weeks, Little Monster went from helpless & completely dependent on me to a healthy juvenile squirrel ready for life on his own. I loved him from the start, and I absolutely adored him by the end.

The goal right from the start was to release Kevin back to nature to live the wild life he was meant to live. For many weeks though, it was so far in the future that it didn't seem like a real thing. We got in a routine with his care, he became part of the family, and it seemed as though I'd be caring for him always. Funny thing about the future keeps steadily moving toward you til it's right in front of you staring you in the face.

I'll admit here that while I knew the goal was to release him, once in a while thoughts of keeping him would creep in. We created a mini-forest in his room & gave him free reign in there, and he seemed so happy & content that I wondered if we couldn't make it work on a permanent basis. I always pushed those thoughts away, but I'd be lying if I said I never thought about it.

Kevin knew though.....he always day it would be time to go.

That day was Tuesday, May 17th, and this is how it happened.

I awoke that morning worried Kevin would be hesitant to go outside again because of the traumatic ending of his first outing the day before. I needn't have. Jamie, who gets up before me, told me when he checked on him first thing, Kevin was already in the squirrelio looking for the portal. So at about 9:00am, after the wild squirrels were finished foraging in the yard, we opened the portal and let him out.

He was pretty low-key and spent a bit of quiet time on the squirrelio, just watching things around him.

He ventured down the limb but slowly & cautiously.

He did finally make it to the ground but only stayed there just a minute or two.

He seemed to be content hanging out on the squirrelio and didn't venture out again.

I had my big camera out and took the opportunity to get some nice shots of my boy.

Sweet face I love.

Check out the arm muscles.

After this shot and a few more minutes, Kevin went back through the squirrelio to his room, and we closed the portal. I tried to coax him out an hour later because I was gonna be outside planting some flowers, but he just looked at me through the window & refused to budge. I think it was too close to nap time.

In case you didn't know, squirrels sleep a lot. A lot! As in, most of the day. When Kevin finally got up late afternoon, we set up outside, opened the portal, and invited him out. He came down to the grass almost immediately.

We sat in our swing and watched him exploring, and we were pleasantly surprised that he ventured close to us. There's dirt out there, and I expected he would enjoy digging in it.

He absolutely did enjoy digging, and he also enjoyed tasting things he dug up.

Sweet boy.

I was very surprised that he went all the way to the edge of the yard and looked out at the road. I wasn't worried about cars because we're the last house on a dead end street. I did hold my breath though, til he turned away from the road and hopped back toward us.

Closer and closer to us....

He stopped for a moment and then seemed to realize where he was and what he was seeing....the base of an oak tree that stretches up 60 or 70 feet. I hadn't expected him to make it out to the tree on Day 2 of Outdoor Time.

I turned to Jamie and said, "This could be where we lose him." "Yep," was all Jamie said.

A split second later....

There are no words to describe the elation I felt as he started climbing that tree. We gave him tree limbs and a cat tree in his room, but 8 feet is the highest he could ever go in there. I only thought my heart was gonna pop out of my chest the day before when he touched grass the first time; him go higher than he'd ever heart was about to explode from pride & joy.

No stopping, no looking back, no looking down....up, up, and up!

After climbing, jumping, exploring, running, he took a moment to survey us stuck down below.

Then he was off again.

After 20 or 30 minutes, I was relieved to see him making his way back down.

Still lots to explore at lower levels, and he took the time to check it all out.

And's the lowest he got. I was just about to exhale, thankful he was safe & sound. He stayed stretched out like this for a moment, and I'm convinced it was the moment he was deciding his future.

He turned and scampered back up, and I knew--I KNEW--my boy was free! He's not coming back. How can a heart be overflowing with joy and break at the same time?

They call it The Pain Of Success, and I feel it.

He was ready. He covered every branch in that tree all the way to the top, jumping with confidence and without hesitation, and showing no fear. He never even looked for his safe spot. He didn't need it.

I'm so happy for this sweet little feller, and I'm so thankful for the time I got to spend with him. There's something magical about a relationship with a squirrel, something I can't explain. I loved being The Momma to him, and this ending really is what it's all about. Not setting up a room for him, not having wrestling matches with him, not even snuggling with him & stroking his cheek. Setting him free to live his real life and seeing the joy in him as he leaps from limb to limb....that's what it's all about.

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May 28, 2022

You should write a children's book about Kevin...yes...really. 😍

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