The Crazy Squirrel Lady
Russ brought home a big bag of peanuts from the store a couple of weeks ago.
Still tucked in their brittle shells, I wondered what he was cooking up (no pun intended) with this purchase.
“They’re for the squirrels,” he said.
“You know…all of the squirrels. Any squirrels.”
Pondering this, I asked, “So we’re just feeding random squirrels now?”
It was a silly question. I already knew the answer. When Russ used to visit me in the country, he loved to leave leftovers outside in the evenings for whoever wanted them—squirrels, foxes, rabbits. He also made sure to feed the geese and ducks too. He’s a little bit like the “Robin Hood of Fauna” that way.
This morning, there was a little Ziploc baggie of peanuts ready to go.
“For feeding the squirrels on the way to work,” he said.
One of the parks I pass always has a ton of squirrel activity. It’s like the Watership Down of squirrels. They are constantly in motion, busy foraging or chasing each other around the trees, up and down.
I walked into the park. As soon as my feet stopped they froze in place, no matter what they were doing. They were watching me. I rifled through my bag looking for the peanuts and they quickly scampered over.
Ahhh, I thought to myself, this is not their first time…
Those city squirrels knew exactly what was up. They watched my arm fling forward like I was an All-American pitcher. Before the peanut hit the ground, they were off and running. I started by throwing one peanut at a time, but quickly learned to line them up and be ready. It looked like rodent rugby until I could throw them fast enough so everyone had one.
I noticed, as they were wrestling each other, rolling around in tight little balls of fur, how “healthy” the squirrels looked. They were all plump with shiny coats and bushy tails. They reminded me of naughty, fat show ponies, escaped from their dry lot, galloping loose on their stubby, little legs as fast as they could in a big green field, grabbing big mouthfuls of lush grass, all while craftily circumventing the (proverbial) angry owners chasing them.
Peanuts are squirrel-appropriate food, but they will eat anything. More than once I’ve seen a squirrel lugging a takeaway container up a tree to a tall branch in order to investigate its contents. They have learned to adapt to their environment and make it work for them. They have big competition with the city rats, of course, who will also eat anything.
I always tell Russ the only difference between a squirrel and a rat is the better wardrobe.
Everyone loves a bushy tail after all.
Besides loving on everyone else’s dogs in my building, I look forward to feeding the squirrels. Like them, I’ve learned to adapt to what’s available and make the most of it.
Now, when I walk into the park, I look like the crazy squirrel lady.
On the news this morning: The median age of a midlife crisis is 47.2 years old.
I’m ahead of a curve!
I turned around and looked at Russ. “Well that explains it, Sweetie. There’s light at the end of the tunnel, just so you know.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah.”
When I turned 39, my mom mailed a special gift to me. I opened the box and found the woodworking project I made for her in school when I was eight. It was a piece of two-by-four carved into a heart, with a school photo of me applied to it, and etched into the wood, in my own handwriting I had written “39 is real fine.” A three-dimensional birthday card, I gave it to her on her thirty-ninth birthday.
“Tee hee hee,” she snickered on the other end of the phone when I called her. “I thought you might like to have it back. Since you’re 39 now.”
Well played, Supra Madre.
She was a little too pleased with herself, bringing things full circle with her youngest daughter.
Thirty-nine didn’t bother me, but forty definitely did. It was the first time I not only stopped and looked back at what I accomplished, but it was also the first time I thought about, and really considered, what was ahead.
Living in the present is really great…until it isn’t….
Forty was the age when I had finally accumulated enough experience in order to warrant looking back, but as we all know, every coin has two sides, and it meant looking forward too.
How would the second half compare to the first half?
I honestly didn’t know and that’s what scared me.
So my mid-life crisis started at forty.
I guess not everyone buys a sports car or gets divorced and remarries someone half their age. Sometimes you roll up one career and start over with another, even though you have no idea what it is.
Let’s see. My crisis coincided with a lot of school. I started a Master’s of Counseling at Northwestern and a Masters of Public Health at Capella, but pulled out of both for two different reasons. I attended real Estate School and took the exam, took the MAT (Millers Analogies Test), and attended a Kaplan LSAT course. Needless to say, I love school and I love learning, but nothing screamed “I wanna do this with my whole heart for life!” When you are potentially spending a lot of zeros on school, there needs to be some sliver of a warm fuzzy deep inside…somewhere, anywhere.
Luckily, I ended up with a great job instead. But it’s a hard road to hoe when you don’t know what direction to go in and many different directions look good. Having too many choices can feel like every choice you consider has a greater potential to be the wrong one, more so than any of the others. This is where ignorance is bliss. Sometimes charging forward with your grand plan and no details, but positive you’re going the right direction, comes in handy.
These days, I know too much. (Ironically, this is also a good thing). Gathering data on my quest, I asked questions from people in their respective fields. Most of the time, the answer I got wasn’t super inspiring. It was more like they could “take it or leave it,” but it was where they happened to end up, or they were already too far down the rabbit hole to turn back.
I’ve learned a lot these last seven years. Like the ignorant kid, brimming over with blind faith, I am optimistic this year will turn the tide for the better.
It’s time to write a new story.