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Looking Up

Nearing the year’s end. I am told that this year is “unprecedented.” For humans, that may well be the case, and enough has been written about the sadness, the suffering, and on the flip side the unexpected break from the rat race of adult life (and increasingly of childhood it seems) flung upon us by that treacherous world-traveling virus. But some living things seem completely oblivious to all of this.

As I walked through Mountainview Cemetery last week I heard a rustle up in a big old bare branched horse chestnut tree. An eastern grey squirrel (they like it out west, too) was building a nest of fallen leaves in the perfect natural platform created by the axis of the tree trunk giving way to its web of main branches. “Hello” I said aloud, and he heard me – I know because he stopped abruptly, looked down at me, and then carried on with his work. That bright black eye, the nimble leaps from branch to branch, the soft grey fur stippled with white, oblivious to my admiration, my, I’ll admit it, jealousy. Life looked so darned straight forward for him. But, was he a happy creature? Was he feeling under pressure to get the job done? Did he worry that his nest might not be as nice as the other squirrels’ nests? I don’t know.  It seems to me that he was just doing his thing, being his squirrel self, and innocently giving me the best moments of my day.

Thank you, squirrel, for making that noise, lifting my head, my eyes, my ears, from whatever forgettable old stick I was gnawing on. I’ve forgotten what it was exactly, but I remember you.

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