“Phlug” – “Zap!”

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Megan and Rudy in October

It amazes me every year how fast fall comes and goes; some years I have missed it. This year I watched the green leaves of early October turn to colors of showy reds, shimmering yellows, and burnt oranges. I’ve watched the leaves cling to their branches against raging winds, as if to cheat death at the height of their brilliant glory — then let go and cascade to the ground. The leaves collect in brittle, colorless heaps that are trampled, scattered, gathered by the wind, raked by humans into piles, and hauled away.

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Trees stand stark naked now. Their branches extend upward like giant broken spiderwebs against the November sky. I am glad Halloween is over. I looked forward to its coming – the season of fall and Halloween – that mysterious time when death whispers through the rustling of the changing leaves and summer blooms blacken with the killing frost. Halloween comes upon us as a time for dress up and innocent fun, but also marks the onset of winter’s gloom. It grew out of a Celtic celebration called Samhain, which originated more than 2000 years ago. The Celts saw it as a fearful time, a time when the boundaries between the living and spirit worlds disappeared, and spirits walked the earth.

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Halloween gets its name from All Hallows’ Eve, as Oct. 31 was called in England centuries ago. On this night people prayed for the dead to prepare for All Saints Day on Nov. 1, to honor Roman Catholic saints and martyrs. All Saints’ Day is followed by All Souls’ Day on November 2, a day to honor and pray for the rest of the departed souls.

We have passed this season now, a time rooted in myths and imaginings, that deepen our experience of the changing weather and our thoughts on the mysteries of life and death.

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On this early November morn I am alive! It is well with my soul. My friends and loved ones are fine. Life is good.

Oh! So why this title, ‘Phlug!” and ‘Zap!” you ask? They are the sounds on the Monday before Halloween, of two squirrels meeting their deaths. I was driving the 25-mph speed limit behind two other cars on a quiet street, when, just ahead on the left, a squirrel began jaunting carelessly across the road. Oh! I thought. Those cars in front of me will surely slow down and make way for that squirrel.

But the first car in our line of three didn’t slow a bit. I hoped the squirrel had remained unharmed. But, nooooo. By the time I got to it, that poor squirrel was writhing in the middle of the road in the throes of death.

Later that same day I was home with our daughter, Megan, when the power went out for about half a second – just long enough to throw off the clocks. “That’s annoying!” I exclaimed.

A few minutes later we took a walk into the park a few blocks away. There we saw a city truck hoisting a guy in a cup to fix the power lines. Walking toward us was another city worker holding a furry creature in his gloved hands. As he came close we realized he was holding a squirrel – upside down, stiff as a statue, with it’s eyes and mouth frozen wide open. “Electrocuted.” he said. “Squirrels are chewing on those power lines.” Yeah, I thought, they are busy scrounging up insulation to winterize their nests.

I told my husband, David, about how I had experienced the death of two squirrels in one day, which was creepy, so close to Halloween.

Last night we were sitting in our den, relaxing in front of the TV, when the power went out for about half a second – just long enough to shut everything off and back on again. I glanced at David and we both said, “Squirrel!”

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How many squirrels from that nest are still alive?


Squirrels are working hard this time of year, just like us, preparing their nesting places for the the onset of winter’s wrath. I just wish humans would slow down, and make way for the earth’s little creatures, in respect for their resourceful, industrious lives, even if they are just … squirrels.

No sense assisting the Grim Reaper.

Me? I’ll take another ’24’.

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