I was riding my bicycle along a very pleasant path, winding between shade trees, when I heard rustling in a bush next to the path. Suddenly, even as I was passing by, an orange-brown ball of fur shot from the underbrush, headed right for me.
“Whoa! Hey buddy!” I shouted even as the rodent went into my spokes. The impact knocked him up and away from the wheel, to glance off my shoe. By the time I was stabilized enough to turn around, the squirrel was gone.
I was not far from here when I first wrote in this blog about the Suicide Squirrel Death Cult, back in 2004. (It is an episode worth revisiting, if only for the comments.) Now they are throwing themselves at passing bicycles as well.
I see a pattern among squirrels, a rule that goes something like, “whatever side of the path you are on, it is safer on the other side, and there is no limit to the risk required to justify getting over there.”
One stretch when I saw no squirrels today was when I was 20 miles into the ride and the shadow of a large bird of prey fell in next to me as I pedaled, and followed me for a while. I suspect it was one of the larger hawk varieties, but I had seen a buzzard on the ground earlier in my ride. Hopefully I wasn’t looking like the bird’s next meal, but rather something that might cause a rodent to do something stupid. Because they will.
Also on my ride today I saw a large number of water fowl, doing water fowl stuff, and chickens, raised by a homeless family between the creek and a golf course. Then there was the Caballero riding his dancing horse. He was an older gentleman, with ramrod-straight posture, plaid shirt over blue jeans, a white straw caballero hat protecting him from the sun. The horse was a big bay with a light step and plenty of moves.
At the southernmost point of my ride, I was debating whether to turn back or push on a little farther. That was decided by a friendly park ranger who told me that the path was closed, due to fire risk and some “hazard trees”. I’m assuming those are trees at risk of lighting up due to sparks. He told me that I could take the road and rejoin the trail a few miles south in Morgan Hill; I just laughed and turned around for home.
It’s not unusual to have a story after a ride, but today had Extra Story Density.
The house where I sat to write that first Suicide Squirrel Death Cult episode is currently in the evacuation zone for the CZU fire complex. Fingers crossed that the line at Highway 9 holds.
And now… I know there were black holes in that discussion, but I can’t find them now. Were they part of a subsequent SSDC episode?
Your very own comment, on May 12, 2004 at 5:19 am included:
“I’m thinking black hole.”
But much more chilling, as it relates to current events, was something else you wrote:
“I love the use of ridiculous rhetorical questions to say things without actually endorsing them.”
Were the squirrels surveilling this blog back in the day, and are they now advising the Great Cheeto-in-chief?
And what’s the current Suicide Squirrel Threat Level?
Second question: magenta.
First question: unfortunately I did not patent that rhetorical device, and now hacks and amateurs use it as if it were their own idea.
Few squirrels down here on the bike paths of San Diego (at least in my neighborhood), but plenty of rabbits. None have actually run into (or under) my wheels yet, but with every encounter I do think of the SSDC post.