His bright, brown puff of a tail flicked the window, beckoning me to feeding time. He always came in the afternoon, a little bit twitchy, a little bit daring, always hungry for almonds. Or pumpkin seeds. Or whatever I had on hand. His comrade came in the mornings, silent and slow and never as eager to beg but always willing to sit and share in my company. The afternoon squirrel came only for food.
Once full, he’d bury any excess nuts in my various potted plants, tearing up my precious soil. In his defense, I always let him. Rarely would he linger. He’d never stand and stare, resting on his hind legs with his front paws crossed over his belly like a gentleman. His little whiskers never curled into an imaginary smile, nose turned up as in laughter.
No, not the afternoon squirrel. He flits about, anxious, never still, always hungry. Certainly always fed. He was the heavier of the two.
The morning squirrel comes and sits as if invited for breakfast. He waits politely for the food to be placed before him, served to him, rather than over-eagerly sniffing fingertips. Sometimes he’ll sniff the plants in greeting. Often he’ll stare into the house imagining the unending pile of nuts that must reside inside, but never is he bold enough to knock.
No, not the morning squirrel. He simply visits for a time like a neighbor passing leisurely by, making his way home before the sun gets too high.
I loved the morning squirrel. When I left that happy home I missed him most of all. I think of him often, his paws crossed over his belly, his imaginary smile. I left my potted plants behind in the hope that both might enjoy the nuts inside.