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The Day I Tried to Exploit Death

“Omigod, there’s a dead squirrel out back!”

It was true. A hapless squirrel had recently expired outside of our back lanai. Like a goldfish, he lay belly-up on the cedar mulch a few feet from our screen, with no signs of violence. The meter just ran out on his four-year span. The black vultures who lived on a nearby telephone pole showed zero interest. They were on the lookout for squashed armadillos.

So I responded in the manner of any self-respecting photographer. I said, “I’ll get the camera.”

My wife Cheryl knit her brow. “Why? You’re not going to …”

“It’s a great opportunity! I can do a time-lapse sequence of his decay.”

“Sure about that? It sounds a little weird.”

“It’s not. It’d be like in the nature documentaries.”

She tilted her head. “So you’re not going to get rid of it?”

“Not. Quite. Yet. I’ll set up the camera and tripod here and initiate a time-lapse sequence. It’ll probably require one frame every eight seconds. The whole process shouldn’t take much longer than a couple of weeks. Here in Florida.”

She smiled, but apprehensively. “You’re not serious, are you?”

Good question. As in any good relationship, I often joke with her, good-naturedly of course. She rarely catches my April fool’s jokes. But regarding camera matters, and learning new photographic techniques, I’m serious like a headmaster. Even when I’m doing something funny.

“‘Course I am. Hey, you know what? I think we still got that other solar garden light. We could set it up right here for the nighttime shots.”

“You’re serious! Oh come on, you can’t just leave it here. You’re the man, please dispose of it. Put it in a box and dump it in the sedge grass. Please.”

I didn’t want to, but I rolled out the heavy artillery. “Cheryl, you must realize. This is for science.” How can she resist? Cheryl likes science.

Turned out, not that much.

Peter Bates

Peter Bates is a writer and photographer living in Florida. He is the administrator of this blog and runs the blog Stylus.

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4 Comments

  1. Cheryl Levin Cheryl Levin

    Love it! This was the one time I was not in favor of gender equality. It was clearly the man’s job!

  2. Philip Coates Philip Coates

    A clear betrayal of science. You could have moved it to a less conspicuous spot so it’s not right outside your window and continued the time lapse photography. I am soooo disappointed:

    My guess is longer than 8 weeks. To prove that you are a true scientist, you’re simply going to have to kill another squirrel and resume the experiment.

    But not in my yard

    • You are so correct. I shouldda consulted with you first. Next time I’ll set up a “photo shack” to set up my camera, slightly offsite but still on property. Then make it waterproof, rainy season you know. Then put my camera in the shack and doublelock it with two combination locks. Expensive camera, you know.

  3. Signe Kaleel Signe Kaleel

    Dead squirrels rot. Much like dead mice. They seem to gather bugs and other vermin and really smell.
    Trust me there will be other dead things. Soldier on.

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