Intercept Mode

No this is not a post about the NFL which is dead to me again, and so soon after the Rams return to LA, except perhaps for the New York Jets whose owner seems to get it...

But that is a story for another time.

So, there I was making some time along that stretch of trail paralleling Puddingstone Drive; the shrubs separating trail from roadway were on my right, and a dead grass open area on my left, just as the photo shows. All of a sudden my left eye catches a flicker of movement off to that side. Turning my head slightly, just enough to get a good view of a fit-looking squirrel in full sprint. A pretty standard sight for Bonelli Park; if you don't notice similar mad dashes tens of times during a typical ride you probably are not doing enough sightseeing. 

I quickly realized, though, that this sprint was different. This was not a beeline for the nearest tree, direction opposite from my own, or even one of those last minute squirrelly bolts directly across the path inches from the front wheel. I could see that somewhere up ahead our two paths of travel were going to come together, and for one of us it would be ugly. "Er, Victor Juliet one five be aware, we have a bogie approaching on intercept course." Yes, that little Rocky was in Intercept Mode.

I seemed to occupy space in two dimensions at once; squirrel was still in full flight, but I sensed our movements from a slower perspective. W h a t   t h e   h e l l   i s   g o i n g   o n   h e r e ?

Well, I wasn't slowing down, and it didn't appear as though Rocky was going to either. He was so close now I could see his little heart attempting to beat free from his furry little chest. Well maybe not, but that close. I braced for impact. At that moment his tail, which had been straight up for the duration of the sprint, dropped flat across his back, his four little legs stiffened straight out, paws forward in a skidding stop raising four simultaneous little puffs of dust - puff, puff, puff, puff.

Now I have been chased by dogs in the Valley, pursued by a juvenile coyote in Griffith Park, dive bombed by a mockingbird in Carpinteria, but never have I seen a squirrel run alongside me, at speed, for such a distance. Once the danger was over I am sure I said it again, only this time out loud, "what the hell was that all about?" I didn't do so at the time, but thinking about it now, I half expect that if I had looked back I would have seen that squirrel sitting beside the trail shaking his fist at me, imagining him thinking "next time, next time."