I was happy to note that the counter recording the “number of nuts collected for winter”, had reached 100; that is to say, this blog has had 100 visits since it started last month. My thanks to everyone who visited but I wish more of you would leave a comment or note so that this experience could be more interactive. Nevertheless, 100 nuts is a milestone that should appropriately be marked by the telling of a special story from the Realm of the Lone Grey Squirrel – a Love Story.
That first squirrel autumn, I had many opportunities to observe the comic struggles of our protagonist, Spikey (the everyman squirrel) and the bully, Speedy (the ninja squirrel). Despite, Speedy’s physical advantage, Spikey generally did better than his adversary. Spikey had a good sense of my comings and goings and therefore was more likely to be around when I was inclined to dish out peanuts. Being sympathetic to the under-squirrel, I often sat on my little boardwalk in the garden and while I was there, Spikey was free to eat or hide nuts as he pleased without Ninja interference. However, Spikey was also industrious and innovative. He soon developed a habit of coming by early in the mornings, much earlier than Speedy ever appears, and he will go up to the tiny window which is my eye to the skies for my basement apartment. Then he would rap on the window pane.
“In the morning with eyes still dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,
Whether to wake up bright and cheery or succumb to sleep somemore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.`
‘Tis some visitor,’ I muttered, `tapping at my chamber door –
Only this, and nothing more.’
Back to sleep’s call, my eyes closing, restlessly tossing and turning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
`Surely,’ said I, `surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore
-Behold I saw at the window rapping, a Grey Squirrel that implored;
-‘Peanuts! Are there any more?’
(with apologies and acknowledgement to Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven)
Anyway, my point before I digress too far, is that for much of that autumn, I only saw the shenanigans of those two squirrels. However, it was my better half, who at that time was not working and therefore had more time to observe the neighbourhood going-ons, that first alerted me to a third squirrel. She had much more red in her fur so that she did not have Spikey’s salt and pepper grey but was more of a golden colour. We assumed it was a “she” because “she” was too pretty to be a guy. Her tail was also very bushy and her fur looked immaculately preened. She was also very shy and would often be seen only in the branches of the nearby maple tree from which she could retreat to the roof and disappear. We named her Loonie on account of her golden colour which reminded us of the Canadian one dollar coin called the Loonie. The reason the Canadian one dollar coin is called a Loonie has nothing to do with squirrels but with another quintessential Canadian animal, the Loon, but that’s a different story.
The lonesome Loon depicted on the Loonie
She looked perfect to play the part of Meg Ryan to Spikey’s Tom Hanks. But would we see the fairytale, Disney-ish, romance develop. At first our observations were unrewarded. There were times when Spikey was at the feeding station and Loonie was in the tree but there seemed to be no interaction. Then one day, my better half called me excitedly to the window. We saw that Spikey had climbed the tree to meet Loonie. His approach seemed very unsure and hesitant. For a while they were just inches apart but did not seem to know what to do next. Then, magic. They reached over and planted a kiss on each others cheek. Then they coyly ran off in opposite directions like giddy teenagers. However, there was no looking back. We would later see Spikey feeding Loonie with nuts and generally fussing over her. Our hero had found his leading lady.
One wonders why Loonie did not end up with Speedy. Scientists argue that when looking for a mate, an animal would seek the strongest or fastest or one with the best qualities for survival. I like to think that Loonie chose Spikey because “he made her laugh”.