Would you like to feed a squirrel?

First, this title makes me think of the movie, Rat Race, and the YOU — SHOULD — HAVE — BOUGHT — A — SQUIRREL scene. That movie always makes me laugh.

Moving on.

I don’t know how many people my age are lucky enough to have senior citizens for neighbors, but it is truly a blessing. My next door neighbors are the most kind people I interact with in a typical day. He is pushing 75 and spends most of his time reading the paper, animal watching, people watching, and maintaining a beautiful house. She is 75 and still works long hours every single day. In addition to caring for his own lawn, he cuts my grass every week and knocks on my door if I leave my car lights on. She maintains a BEAUTIFUL beyond BEAUTIFUL garden and keeps offering to help me start one. I have a few plants started in pots but I’m hesitant to plant them. I really should just take her up on it. Both of them offer pleasant conversation and a break from my busy schedule whenever I need it.

Example A:
Today I worked the 7-4 shift which I LOVE and I had time after work to run errands and grab a snack before I went for my evening run. When I got back home I was overheated and planning to head straight into my house for some stretching and a shower. I tried to walk in with a simple wave to my neighbors, but he stopped me on my way in and asked, “Hey Nicole, would you like to feed a squirrel?” I couldn’t say no.

So I walked up to the front porch where a couple other neighbors were sitting and talking and enjoying each other’s company. He commented on my flush face (I just ran 2 miles in 80 degree heat!) and then gave me a peanut to throw at a squirrel when he got close enough. Toss at the squirrel, he instructed. I asked if I had to crack it open and he laughed at me for assuming a squirrel would need help opening a peanut.

Now I realize this is probably sounding completely boring and ridiculous but TRY to place yourself here. I’m standing on the porch enjoying all the nature sounds and waiting for this little squirrel to approach me. Meanwhile, he’s talking to me about this particular squirrel, and whose yard he lives in, and how he walks across the power line, and how if I wait long enough the squirrel may just walk up the porch steps.

So I’m waiting. We talk about the humming birds and cardinals that have been by the bird feeder lately. We talk about how there is corn growing in my front yard (I didn’t even know!) because the squirrels have been burying corn cob pieces that were left out for the deer last winter. We talk about their cats. At this point you can probably tell who is doing most of the talking and who is doing most of the listening but TRUST ME I need to step back and just listen sometimes. So I did.

A few minutes later the squirrel inched close enough for me to toss the peanut to him. I watched him open the shell and devour the peanut right before another squirrel chased the first back to the yard they came from.

Then I went inside and stretched and took a shower as planned but I’m grateful for the interruption in my routine. That short little moment quieted my mind and soothed my soul and I owe it all to them.

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