Saving A Critter From A Flood

Dr. John Kaya
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Wednesday - January 19, 2011
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One of my favorite times of the year is the rainy season in Hawaii. On gloomy, cloud-filled days I take my daughter Jada outside and we dance in the rain. My wife is not too thrilled with the idea since it means a soaking wet child who could possibly get the sniffles. I, on the other hand, feel that it helps Jada celebrate nature and appreciate its beauty.

That being said, each time we play in the rain I pray she doesn’t get sick. It was on one of those days that something caught my eye in the stream that borders our home.

As we splashed through puddles and frolicked in the light drizzle that fell from gray skies, I couldn’t help but notice the rising stream. On a dry summer’s day, the rivulet flows clear and spans 20 feet at its widest point, with a modest depth of approximately 2 feet. On stormy days, however, it turns a muddy brown and inches up the embankment, often at an alarming rate. This was one such day.

Glancing at the small boulders that poked through the rushing waters, I thought I noticed a small, furry object. Visibility was poor that day and I didn’t have my glasses with me, but I was sure something was there.

I called to my wife to watch our waterlogged child and tried to ignore the admonishing glare that came as I handed Jada over. Nodding in agreement that 10 minutes in the rain may have been a little too long for our firstborn, I peered out into the misty veil before me. Yup, something was definitely on that rock.

Slipping on my fishing tabis, I climbed over the wall that separates our house from the now-raging river. In retrospect, treading into the rushing waters may not have been a good idea. I kept one eye on my destination but the other watched upstream for any sign of a flash flood. Footing was poor as the strong current repeatedly nudged me off balance. As I teetered on rocks polished smooth over time, the mound of fur started to take shape. The poor creature shifted slightly on its small island, indicating that he was still alive.

Upon reaching the little critter, I quickly scooped him up and turned for the safety of the river bank. Walking over to a large tree, I gently placed the animal next to a fallen branch.

What was the creature saved from the torrential waters?

Closer examination revealed a saturated giant rat. It looked stable, although admittedly I would have hesitated to perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

Returning to my wife and child, I explained what I had found then went inside to get dry. After an hour had passed, I went to check on the rodent only to find that he was no longer there. He must have regained some strength and scurried off into the bushes.

The events that transpired that rainy day reminded me of the Aesop Fable The Lion and the Mouse. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t expect to be caught in a net by hunters only to be gnawed free by that river rat. But maybe that fable is not about a good deed beckoning one in return. Maybe it’s about one living creature helping another. Rats in the wild are often thought of as vermin. But every life is worth saving. Society might be a better place if it took a lesson from The Wild Side.

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