A Tale of Two Species

With Essay #5, monster of all essays, finally out of the way (or as out of the way as it needs to be at this point in time), I have a spare half hour to relax with some Christmas music and tell y'all a little story from today's London adventures...

Haha, that's some generous wording. The "adventures" I speak of scarcely extended past the rehearsal room, where I was for 9 hours today. Buuuuuuut...

On the way to rehearsal I popped into Pret to grab breakfast. Since it wasn't too biting freezing this morning, I took my stuff to a nearby garden (park) and settled down on one of the benches. It was a quiet Sunday morning, and there was maybe one other person in the square, so I was on guard for any suspicious subjects and kept my purse locked in my lap.

What I didn't prepare for was the visitor that ultimately came to interrupt my early morning tranquility.

I hadn't been there even long enough to open my oatmeal container when suddenly... from right behind me....................... comes this squirrel.

And he was a pretty cute little guy. As I've likely said before, the animals here are way friendly -- even moreso than those squirrels at UW who wait in the garbage cans until you pass them by and then make the biggest stir in the world causing you to jump into a nearby bush. I've heard it said that they'll gladly take nuts out of your hands. Even the London pigeons don't bother to get out of your way on the street till the last possible second.

This is likely all Mary Poppin's fault for making us sympathize with the poor, starved creatures who, for just tuppence and an open heart, might be spared a life of destitution and haunting little old bird women's hats.

Anyway, he sort crept up to where my feet were and popped up on his hind legs, just to let me know he was open for anything I might send his way. I laughed at the little devil and told him and told him oatmeal and honey probably wasn't part of his diet, as if he could understand one word I was saying.

As I progressed to open my oatmeal he sort of danced over my feet and, from what I assumed, scampered off in the opposite direction. This assumption was quickly dislodged when he hopped up on the bench beside me and PROCEEDED TO CRAWL RIGHT BEHIND MY BACK. So now I'm sitting here with my oatmeal cup in one hand, lid in the other, frozen solid because I know if I move one inch that squirrel will go absolutely crazy. And as I try and inch my rear off the bench as imperceptibly as possible, he starts squirming around back there, likely seeking the Pret goodies he knew I was lying about not having enough of to share with him, and then I feel him PAWING AT MY BACK with his little claws!!

And that sort of tickled. And for a two seconds I giggled, then went back to complete and utter terror. Having rodents actually stalk you quickly turns a sweet Disney-instilled fantasy into a terrifying what-has-gone-wrong-with-nature-and-how-do-I-deal-with-it sort of paranoid panic. Regardless of what was actually going on behind my back all I imagined was this:

When I couldn't feel him anymore, I shut my eyes and leapt about a mile away from the seat as quickly as I deemed safe. When I turned around the furball was still there, crouched stubbornly where my butt had been only moments before. My Pret bag lay just a tail's length away. I decided I'd try to reason with the bugger.

"Hi. I don't have any food for you. You need to get off my seat now."

When I talked to him he perked up again and for a moment I thought he might jump at me. I sort of half-heartedly waved my napkin at him, not wanting to actually frighten him, but desperately hungry for my overpriced oatmeal.

"Please? I know Christmas is coming up, and you likely have a lot of naked babies to feed, but I'm sure there's some other squirrel's nuts you can steal around here. I'd really like my seat back."

I looked around the park to make sure I was still the only one here. I was talking to a squirrel, after all.

When I looked back he'd scampered to the other side again.

I took my seat on the bench.

He leaped down.

I eyed him suspiciously.

He flicked his tail at me and, with an air of perceptible indignance hopped over to kick it with a nearby statue.

I breathed again.

Only as I left the park did I remember a bag of nuts I hadn't finished from yesterday's rehearsal. Sure enough there were three almonds left in there. I started to feel pretty guilty.

I found a squirrel that looked like him, but definitely wasn't, cause he wasn't fat enough. I fed him an almond and set the rest on the bench seat.

Hopefully the crazy little thing finds them in time for Thanksgiving.

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