When I was a little girl and lived in the city I was excited by the squirrels that would run along my mother's clothesline from the apartment windows to the small area of trees at the far end of the courtyard that we called the “backyard.” Sometimes the squirrels would come to my grandmother's kitchen window sill where she and I would feed them Ritz crackers. When my grandmother died we moved to the suburbs where there were enough squirrels to be considered a nuisance, along with other kinds of wildlife. Squirrels lost their appeal as I grew up and were just rats with fluffy tails, who mostly went unnoticed, except when I'd hear them scamper across the top of my roof, and say a prayer that they didn't decide to make a nest there. These days I watch the squirrels through my window as they jump from branch to branch and gather food fallen from the trees. Sometimes from my chair I'll see one sitting on my front porch awning, seeking treats collected in the gutters. Today there were two fat, black squirrels on the lawn, nibbling whatever gifts the trees had blessed them with after the storms we've had. They kept their distance from each other, minding their own business. Now and then, they'd pause to look at each other, and when I stepped outside to collect the mail, they looked at me quizzically, as if wondering what I was doing. I had no intention of disturbing them, but when I got within six feet of where they were sitting, they scurried away, side by side and six feet apart, as if Mother Nature had warned them about social distancing in these trying times. And who am I to say she didn't?
~Elise Skidmore ©2020