A walk in the park gone wrong

Published 9:31 pm Monday, March 30, 2009

A park is supposed to be a pleasant place, where one can find some peace and solitude in the midst of a hectic world. But what I expected to find at Goose Pond Park on the afternoon of March 27 and what I found were two very different things.

We received some information that there might be ducks wading at a flooded Snow Hinton Park. What a great idea for a picture that would demonstrate the amount of rain we had received. I went to the wrong park, however, which also was almost completely underwater.

I should have realized something was amiss when, as I entered the park, a squirrel was gnawing on the wooden entrance sign. I just laughed it off, though, and went on in with my camera, intent on finding those ducks.

The path going to the left was submerged, so I walked around to the right, toward Highway 31, snapping pictures of the many squirrels that, for some reason, were allowing me to get close enough to touch. Pretty soon, it became obvious there were no ducks, but there were a lot of squirrels. A lot of squirrels. And they were acting kind of strange.

The more squirrels I saw, the stranger their behavior became. They were moving slow and fighting each other. And they were hopping toward me. One leaped into the air and did a back flip as I stomped at it for coming too close.

These squirrels are hungry, I thought to myself; maybe they think I’m going to feed them. I felt sorry for the squirrels for a moment, before the horror set in.

Wait a minute; there are three squirrels on the path in front of me. Five more on the trunks of each of the trees near me, two behind me and who knows how many in the branches above me. And they’re all looking at me! Are these squirrels so hungry that, instead of wanting some breadcrumbs from my pocket, they would resort to human flesh?

The guerrilla squirrels blocked the way I came, and the other direction would mean traversing the water standing over the walking track. I kept my nerves, kept my head on a swivel, got my shoes a little dirty by venturing off-road and got out of there.

I came out of my personal twilight zone unharmed, but the expression “a walk in the park” will forever have a different meaning for me.