As an English teacher in the United States in 2017, it’s not often that I get to be a beautiful magical princess. Naturally, this happened when I went on a hike today. I’ve found that walking in the wilderness almost makes me forget that walking is exercise. The chaos of nature is a good distraction from my damp, gasping flesh-prison, so I like hiking. It was on this walk through the wilderness that royalty was thrust upon me. I may not have been ready for all the responsibility of princess-hood, but I like to think I rose to the occasion.
Now that I’ve transformed into a magical princess, I can finally say something usually reserved for acorns: a squirrel chose me. It was on the final mile of my jaunt through the woods. The birds were singing, distant children were laughing, a light sprinkle of rain had begun pecking the trail through the trees. And there was a baby squirrel, a creature that looked like it had been designed in a cuteness sweatshop by enslaved adorableness engineers. It had wide, wet eyes like drenched black bowling balls. Its head was comically bulbous and bobbed even when the tiny thing was still. Its feet were fuzzy and fully equipped with bite-sized claws. It looked, on the whole, as if a child had made a squirrel out of pipe cleaner after having only seen one in a picture book read to them by their parents, the kind of book in which the reader is obligated to “do the voices.”
This diminutive Disney sidekick chose me. I saw it darting across a fallen log. Then it was under a bush near me. Then it was on another fallen tree, inching closer. I tried to resist its allure. I said cruel things to this archetype of forest innocence. Things like “stop it” and “go away, you’re awful at being a squirrel,” and it was. Despite my warnings, this tiny furry friend persevered. I can only assume it has been through great adversity in its brief squirrel-life. Only a squirrel tempered by tragedy could have seen through my cold shell to the, admittedly, even colder inner shell, and then to the theoretically warm goop at my center. The squirrel, who I guess is my comically adorable sidekick, looked me in the eyes, and the world became a more innocent place.
No more will I be a cantankerous curmudgeon. This squirrel chose me for a reason because it saw potential. It looked beyond the permanent scowl, the early-onset frown lines, the low smoldering anger in my eyes, and it saw royalty. I will not disappoint my new princess peers, all of whom have communed with nature as a sign of their natural princess-ocity. The Snow Whites, the Mulans, the Moanas, and girl from Brave, I won’t let you down. And you, little squirrel, most of all, I will not disappoint you.
Alternatively, maybe the squirrel was just used to being fed by people on the trail, and it was begging for a peanut like a filthy, plague-addled, moron tree rat.