It was not a typical May morning when I set out today … nope, it was 73 sticky degrees when I left the house. It’s way too soon for this hot weather and I am grateful we are returning to more normal temps tomorrow.
I headed to the Park, and, these days, due to construction on a nearby street, I am forced to take the long way to Council Point Park since two entire city blocks are out of commission. So, I visit more residential neighborhoods than usual just to get to my destination and then home again. Those neighborhoods have lots of trees. That wind was whipping around at 20-25 mph when I left and the many Maple seedlings were just raining down, lightly tapping me on the noggin as they drifted from the trees. Seeds were scattered everywhere and I even had to pluck them out of my hair once I got home. Between the seeds in my hair, my wind-ravaged ‘do and the specks all over my face from the dirt blowing around, I looked a little scary.
Once at the Park, I stepped onto the trail and hadn’t gone too far when I noticed a young woman pushing a stroller on the opposite side. There was an inquisitive squirrel perched on a log nearby and the woman, whom I presume was the mother, was pointing it out to her very cute little daughter. The little girl climbed out of the stroller while her mom had her smartphone ready to capture a cute pose of the two interacting.
On an impulse, I crossed over the grass and joined the pair. The squirrel saw me and jumped down from his perch and the little girl squealed in delight as the furry critter inched ever closer to us. Hoping to kick that Kodak moment up a notch or two, I opened the Ziploc bag, asked the little girl to cup her hands and I poured a pile of peanuts into them. I then showed her how to scatter the peanuts to entice the squirrel to come over closer for a treat. But she misunderstood and dropped the motherlode all at once, which sent that squirrel into overdrive and he bounded right over and glommed onto them.
Of course, he would not have that stash of nut goodies to himself for long, because more squirrels would soon be hovering about. So, I said “we’ll try it again” and her mom thanked me then spoke softly to the little girl, whose name was Fatima, in her native tongue. Beaming, the child extended her hands, then cupped them. I dumped another batch of peanuts into her cupped hands, then grabbed a few for “show-and-tell” since our squirrel waited (like he was starving), almost as patiently as Fatima’s mom who still had the phone handy to capture that perfect shot. This time, together we spread the peanuts on the perimeter path, and once again that squirrel ran over lickety-split for a treat. I don’t know who was more delighted … Mom, Fatima or the squirrel. I enjoyed making their day because that little interaction with the squirrels always gives me a smile as well. I know I helped make a few Kodak moments for them for sure.
I stayed a few minutes, then headed off on my walk. I saved a few peanuts in the bag for “my squirrels” so I didn’t disappoint them. As I walked along I mused about that little girl, thinking that the interaction with the squirrel was not just fodder for today’s blog, but might just foster Fatima’s love for nature today, as well as for many years to come, just like when my folks took me to High Park in my stroller many decades ago.
Just another Kodak moment about a girl and a squirrel.
In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks. – John Muir