But amid all this chatter, I've noticed that no one has asked the squirrels themselves what they think of Sula's piece. And for shame! After all, it's their lives at stake.
It took a considerable effort, but through a friend of a friend of a friend, I was able to track down Carol Sciurus, an eastern gray squirrel who mostly resides in Washington Square Park, better known as Bughouse Square, directly in front of the entrance to the Newberry Library. I figured that, living outside such a storied institution of information as the Newberry, Carol would surely be articulate enough to voice some of her concerns about Sula's piece. The following is our exchange, exactly as it took place:
Tal Rosenberg: Hi Carol, thanks for taking the time out to speak with me. I guess my first question is the most obvious one: What is your reaction to a newfound interest in eating city squirrels such as yourself?
Carol Sciurus: HUMAN! OH MY GOD IT'S A HUMAN! OH MY GOD! DON'T HURT ME!
At this point, Carol began to dig a hole in front of me. Why? I'm not quite sure.
Um, Carol, I think you misunderstand me. I'm not here to harm you, I'd just like to find out your point of view . . .
HUMAN! PLEASE DON'T HURT ME! HUMAN! DOG! DOG! DOG!
It was at this point in the interview that Carol turned around and ran toward a tree, as a dog on the other side of the park was also running toward us. As a reporter, I had to get Carol's response to my question, no matter what—so I chased after her. My pleas here are interrupted by trying to catch my breath, since Carol was much, much faster than I am.
[Running] Carol, wait, please! I'm simply trying to get a proper response to my question. Your [pause] life is at stake [pause] as well as the lives of all other squirrels. Don't you have any sort of reaction to the [pause] thought [breathing heavily] of being eaten by humans in [pause] droves?!
GET TO TREE! GET TO TREE! TREE! TREE! TREE!
Carol then ran up a tree located at the northeast corner of the park. The dog and myself were unable to climb the tree, because I am too lazy and out of shape to climb a tree, and as I discovered later in my reporting, dogs cannot climb trees. The final question of my interview is meant to reflect that I was shouting up at Carol from below the branch that she was hopping across.
SO DO YOU MEAN TO SAY THAT YOU DON'T ACTUALLY CARE ABOUT THE DEBATE OVER BEING EATEN? THAT IN FACT ALL YOU CARE ABOUT IS TREES AND DOGS AND HUMANS? AREN'T YOU WORRIED ABOUT THE ETHICAL DEBATE OVER EATING SQUIRRELS SUCH AS YOURSELF?
[Indiscriminate squeaking, chittering, and a raspy "mehr mehr," or murmur.]
(end of interview)
So there you have it: the only concern that Carol seemed to express was over dogs, trees, and humans. Judging from her fear of the latter, one can infer that her response to Sula's piece was largely negative. But after some surveillance at the park, she didn't seem overly concerned. Mostly, she ran to another branch with a bird feeder on it to eat, or dove after a stray acorn, which she proceeded to take into a nook in between two lower branches of another tree. Not once did I see Carol venture into the library.