• Virginia Tolles

Remembering Mr. Squirrel

Kulli Kittus / Unsplash

I came upon this photograph today that took me back several years to a time when my neighbor was Mr. Squirrel. He and Mr. Blue Jay pretty much ruled the courtyard, keeping other creatures from being too quick to set up housekeeping. Mr. Blue Jay could be very vocal when the need arose. Mr. Squirrel only needed to give a shake or two of his bristled tail to make his point.

Mr. Squirrel knew I liked him. Neither he nor I liked the new chairs and tables with red umbrellas. They interrupted his progression from tree to tree. They blocked my view of the golf course. Such is the disadvantage of being a mere tenant. If that had been my patio, there would have been no umbrellas, not of any color.

On the day that the umbrellas went in, Mr. Squirrel and I had a serious conversation. He sat on a branch in the ornamental tree just outside my window. We made eye contact. I told him I had no control over the new patio furniture. He told me, his tail bristling emphatically, that life just wasn’t fair. We agreed on that point.

One morning, I caught a picture of him eating his breakfast on the garden wall. He did not pose for me. I can only imagine that he considered my picture taking to be a serious violation of proper breakfast etiquette. He was right, too, but it wasn’t often that he remained in place long enough for me to take his picture.

And, then, one afternoon, I went out to my car to see Mr. Squirrel lying dead beside it. No, I had not hit him, nor did his position indicate that anyone else had. He simply had gone there to die. Did he know that was my car? Did he want me to know that his time had come? I like to think he did.

Mr. Squirrel remains in my heart. I’m glad I knew him if only for a few, all-too-brief years.

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