My heart and head are still so full from last weekend. I have
hundreds dozens tens of things to share with you but I just can't seem to get focused. Plus I'm not sure how much of the presentations I can share with you without stealing the thunder of the presenters. I could never say it LIKE thay do though, so even if I end up trying, trust me, you want to attend if you can.
So I sit here thinking about what I should share; editing photos and listening to my new Michael McLean CD (so nice to move on from cassettes!) but instead of being all spiritual and uplifting, I just keep coming back to this:
...and I just want to talk to you about squirrels.
But I can't move on from them, and maybe if I get it out of my system I'll be able to move on, right?
Where I grew up in South-Western Ontario, there were A LOT of squirrels. They were literally everywhere. You never went outside without seeing at least one scurrying about. Where we lived was mainly populated by black ones, but we saw lots of browns and reds, even some greys and whites. In fact, a few short kilometers down the road was Exeter, the "White Squirrel Capital of Canada", complete with giant white squirrel model on your way into town.
(*I just did a google search, cause you never know, and the white squirrels now run a lottery? Wacky! Sounds like I escaped just in time!)
I remember building leaf houses (like giant life-sized floor plans) in the fall and coming back from lunch to discover the squirrels messing things up. I have memories of crying the first time one of the cats brought home a small squirrel that it had caught for supper. I can remember crying the first time I had squirrel for supper (times were tough). I also remember (and have photos, somewhere) my dad gently nursing a baby squirrel with an eye dropper. It had fallen out of the tree and needed nurturing. Once it was old enough and strong enough, we set it free. It happened more than once over the years.
Squirrels getting in the attic? Check. Squirrels messing up the power lines? Check. Squirrel road kill on the way to school? Check. (Ick.) Squirrels digging up bulbs in the garden? Check. Squirrels teasing the dog or cat, then dashing up a tree and laughing at them? Check.
Sometimes the squirrels were fun to watch, and I can remember many a lazy day lying on the lawn laughing at their crazy antics, but mostly they were just THERE, like the grass was there, and the trees, and the brick houses. It was hard to imagine a part of the world without squirrels, and I guess a part of me just assumed they were everywhere.
When I moved to University, there were, seemingly impossibly, MORE squirrels. If I thought I had grown up with them, I had a thing or two to learn. Squirrels had discovered the secret to campus living (all that glorious residence food in the dumpsters). They were fat and lazy and didn't get out of the way for anyone. It was all you could do to bike from one end of campus to the other without running one over. They just didn't care (and neither did the ducks!). Sometimes up in the residences some drunk would decide to share his bounty with the squirrels, and hilarious hijinks ensued. Drunken squirrels! Party on. I mostly felt sorry for them, when I wasn't yelling at them to move off the bike path! I actually managed to get a little tired of the silly things.
Then we moved out east. We fell in love with the beauty, the people, the atmosphere, the history.
I just had one question: Where were all the squirrels?
It's possible to see one now and then in the city, if you're looking for them (and I do!). Out here in the country though, I never EVER see squirrels. I see a lot of cats. I see a lot of deer. I listen to the loons at night, the ducks and geese over on the lake. I regularly see bald eagles out hunting. I've seen red fox, black bear, even bobcat. I've heard coyotes. But I have never once seen a squirrel (maybe the long list of predators explains a lot--but I've seen a couple of rabbits).
I miss the little guys.
So when I sat in a park in New England last weekend and saw one playing, I felt like yelling and pointing. Squirrel! Squirrel! Oh happy day! Then I noticed that there were SEVERAL leaping about, hunting up nuts and defending their territories from each other. My heart sang. I was home, because here are all the squirrels. So I snapped a little photo when no one was looking. And then came home and had to look at it all week. Hello Squirrel! And then had to share it on my blog before I could talk about anything else. 'Cause it's a squirrel, people!
So now I have to ask if there's something--an animal, a sight, a sound, a smell--that always makes you think of home? If you've never really left your area of origin, what's something you would miss?