Monday, October 02, 2006
My New Friend
Since Sweet Melissa passed, I've taken to feeding the squirrels that happen to stop by our back yard around lunch time. Actually, it started one morning about 11:30. Sitting on the little bench in the middle of the yard, I looked at one of the two by eight posts that support our fence and there, on top of the post staring back at me, was a petite squirrel, surely a little girl. She didn't reflect that wild anxiety with the world (you know, that lions and tigers and bears, oh my!, glare) that most squirrels communicate through their eyes, their body language. No, her tail danced and her head cocked a bit as I asked her, "What's up?" She didn't scoot away. She continued to study me and (yes, I speak and understand squirrel) asked me for a treat. I stood up, walked the twenty or so feet to our back door, went inside and grabbed a piece of bread (low carb wheat) and returned to the little bench in the back yard. She was still atop the post.
Tearing the bread and tossing a few pieces about two feet from my feet, she appeared to consider if this was a case of entrapment or, indeed, was it that I needed a new friend as much as she needed a snack? She opted for the latter. Unafraid, performing that upside down skelter (as agile as Spiderman), she descended the post, crossed our small deck, delicately seized the bit of bread and retook her position atop the post.
As she nibbled--such wee bites-she sat on the post, and turned full frontal toward me. Yes, it was a little girl. The propagative equipment on the little boys is, um, unambiguous.
Through an entire piece of low carb wheat bread, my little friend returned again and again, closer and closer to my fourteeners, my trail shoes (yes, size fourteen feet!) with fearless elan.
She returns daily at about the same time. I have yet to name her. But, that would be silly, wouldn't it?
Garrison Keillor wrote a piece not long ago that mentioned his perception of the doings of most retired folk: taking pictures of fowl and squirrels; trees and other nonsensical subjects like mountains and valleys. Actually, I really don't remember what his point was or if he actually provided a litany of the things retired folk take pictures of. But, you get the point. I believe he was bemoaning the slip-slide into ratcheting down, preparing for the inevitability of all of our lives.
I mention Keillor's observation only to insist that my befriending of a squirrel in my back yard is not evidence of some aging protocol that, sooner or later (it is written somewhere) we must all find as a comfortable corner in which to hunker and wait. No way. No how.
I'll be seeing another birthday soon. God, they never stop (I certainly hope they never stop, at least, for, oh, another thirty years or so). I do believe I've got good genes in the longevity department. My last uncle passed at ninety. My favorite aunt, at eighty-eight, is still organizing world tours and five day excursions to Opryland. Mom and dad? Well, their longevity was cut short (he eighty, she seventy-six) by factors that could have been avoided, mitigated if they would have seen the error of their ways. But, that's another story.
Yes, I'll visit with my new friend again tomorrow. I'll give her bread and she'll give me that little thrill I get whenever I'm able to interact with the critters, any critters. She's no dog; she's no Sweet Melissa. But, she'll do for the time being.