I am the kind of person who gets annoyingly bored by the mundane and so I have developed an eye for those little obscure details in our surroundings. For example, after many months of observation throughout various seasons, I have noticed that there is a small conserved population of black squirrels that live specifically in that courtyard on the Atwater/Sherbrooke intersection, right at the 144 bus stop. That was the first time I had ever seen a black squirrel and probably the only place I have ever seen them in. I know black squirrels exist elsewhere, but please don’t burst my bubble and tell me otherwise. You see, it’s very simple: squirrels make me happy. The way they hop; search for food; naively miss the piece of walnut you just threw right in front of their scrawny paws; the way they stand up on their two hind legs while they’re checking you out (I mean, look at that guy in the picture, really!); the way their bushy tail is, well, bushy; the way they chase each other and interact with each other and the occasional human.
I’m about to pull a Miss Potter here and tell you a tale about black and gray squirrels. The only difference between me and Miss Potter is that I will actually be in the story – just very briefly. But let me do this properly like the good ole scientist that I am.
Friday, the 19th of December, 2014. I am at the 144East bus stop Atwater/Sherbrooke, in the sunny spot that isn’t being blocked by the bus stop shelter. What it looks like from an outsider’s point of view is something like this: a pretty young woman with an unusually fluorescent pink backpack is standing near the bus stop with her back to the main street (i.e. away from the direction from which the bus will come) and her neck is craned in an uncomfortable angle as she mindlessly stares at an expanse of white snow inside a privately fenced courtyard. Her demeanor, positioning and facial expressions change in a very bizarre way due to unexplained stimuli.
From my perspective, it looks like this: I am bathing in the sun, trying to forget the latest frustrating installment to my exciting love-life. A small grey squirrel stops in his tracks to stare at me – I am unsure why. But for the sake of argument, can we just say that he took a liking to me and imagined that we would be pals, or that he sensed I was upset so he came to comfort me? He begins to venture closer and closer, after which he realizes that poking his head through the wired fence was not going to help him move outwards but in fact, he will be stuck there. So he climbs the tree, hops on top of the fence and resumes staring at me. His ear twitches as I assume he hears a sound and he hops off to check it out. I follow him with my gaze. I notice that he’s going straight to the black squirrels’ nest. I’ve only ever seen one adult squirrel go in there. Remember those little things in life that make us happy? This was probably the tiniest one of them – literally: a tiny baby black squirrel emerges from his nest and seeks refuge on the tree adjacent. But wait, there’s more… there’s another one there! I spot the mother somewhere close to the ground, watching the happenings. Grey squirrel gets into the nest and decides he wants to chase after one of the babies. So I watch the chase with complete excitement, while cheering for the baby black squirrel. To an outsider, I looked absolutely insane without any doubt. Those poor babies. They can’t even jump from one tree to the other, given their microscopic bushy tail. The other baby goes to his momma, who is still watching (I’m not sure why she’s not doing anything about all this but I will seek scientific explanation from certified biologists about this). Anyway, Grey squirrel gets bored with the chase after a while and goes back to the nest. Then, he decides that’s not what he wants to do and comes rushing down the tree back to where the fence is. He stands up on his hind legs and stares at me again. Nope. Not impressed. But thanks for trying.
Mother Black Squirrel ups her game, climbs to the furthest point on one of the trees and fetches her offspring who was helplessly stuck there. She leads her offspring back to their nest. However, Baby Black Squirrel can’t take the big leap from adjacent tree to the nest tree, so s/he has to take a detour. I wonder if s/he made it because that’s when my bus came and the Grey squirrel hopped off to chase the remaining offspring.
What I’m trying to tell you from this story is this: simple things make us happy. Every one of us will always see something unique that nobody else can see, so let’s not dismiss that. Everyone is crazy in their own way and everyone has their own passion and path to walk upon in life. Happy holidays and wishing you all a great year in which you fulfill all your crazy yet equally wonderful dreams.