The world is going nuts

By Jeff Petersen, The Observer May 17, 2012 01:02 pm

It’s getting squirrelly out there, people. First it was the wrestling squirrels of Palouse Falls. Then it was the squirrel playing chicken with my bicycle at Birnie Park, and the squirrel playing chicken with my car on the Island City strip.

It started with a Mother’s Day visit to Palouse Falls, located in the badlands of Southeast Washington. Miles and miles of driving through uninhabited wheat country gave us no warning that the falls would be as popular as Yellowstone Park on the Fourth of July.

After a picnic lunch on a blanket of cottonwood seed, Wonder Woman and I grabbed our cameras and hiked to the overlook. The falls roared over a 198-foot basalt cliff and stirred up a Mother’s Day rainbow. Sweet!

High volumes of water in spring and early summer draw tourists, in droves, to one of Washington’s most beautiful waterfalls.

The story of the falls goes back 15,000 years. Ice Age Lake Missoula floods created the canyon. According to state park literature, it’s the only major waterfall left along the glacial flood path.

The area is full of chukars, badgers, coyotes, marmots, poison ivy and, especially, tons of squirrels.

Just when we were getting caught up in the reverie of the view, a bonus sight caught the eyes. Beyond the protective fence, on the edge of a 200-foot cliff, were two juvenile delinquent squirrels engaged in a wrestling match. They would push each other to the brink. Just when it looked as if they were going to plunge to their deaths, they would call a truce.

And then they would do it all over again.

It was hair raising. Spine tingling. Death defying.

Visions of a $10,000 check and an appearance on “America’s Funniest Home Videos” danced in my head.

Later, back home again, I was engaged in my lunch hour bike ride to Foothill Road. Going downhill by Birnie Park, I encountered a squirrel playing chicken.

This is going to hurt me a lot more than it is going to hurt you, I thought, unless the bike somehow strikes your pea-sized brain.

Then this morning, driving to work through Island City, what should I encounter but another squirrel playing chicken.

The bigger point is, be safe. Watch out for the squirrels of life apparently intent on winning Darwin Awards. That means watching out for not just furry critters. It means watching out for people made delusional by the recent heat wave.

The world is going nuts.


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