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 cracks me up.

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 gift. My next door neighbors are the kindest people I interact with in a typical day. He is pushing 75, let’s call him Jack, and spends most of his time reading the paper, animal watching, and people watching. In addition to caring for their own lawn, Jack volunteers to cut everyone’s grass on our block every week and knocks on my door when I accidentally leave my car lights on. She is also in her 70’s, let’s call her Diane, and works “part-time” at Walmart every single day. Diane also maintains a BEAUTIFUL garden and keeps offering to help me start one. I really should 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 by with a simple wave to my neighbors, but Jack 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 their front porch where a couple other neighbors were sitting and talking and enjoying each other’s company. Jack commented on my flush face (I just ran 2 miles in 80 degree heat) and then gave me a peanut to toss at a squirrel, wait! – when he gets close enough. I waited. Toss at the squirrel, he instructed. I asked if I had to crack it open first 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 absorbing all the nature sounds and waiting for this little squirrel to approach me. Meanwhile, Jack’s talking to me about this particular squirrel, whose yard he lives in, how he walks across the power line, and how if I wait long enough the squirrel may hop up the porch steps to join us.

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,  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 food inside, just before another squirrel chased the first back to the neighbor’s lawn where they came from.

Then I went home and stretched and showered as planned, but I’m grateful for the interruption in my routine. That short moment quieted my mind and soothed my soul and I owe it all to them.

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