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My Life as a Squirrel

Posted Dec 13 2009 12:00am

After several weeks of rain and overcast skies, the sun finally shone. And for a winter’s day, the temperature of the air was surprisingly balmy.

I suddenly noticed dozens upon dozens of tiny, moth-like insects, their wings silvery in the sunlight, dancing in the airspace just beyond my window—an unusual sight at this time of year, with all the swallows long since gone. At the risk of being anthropomorphic, I want to tell you that their dance seemed ecstatic.

I wondered where they came from. Did the warmth trigger an unseasonal hatching, luring these incautious creatures to the dance, only to consign them later to a frosty death? Or, like the squirrels, is their hibernation but a shallow one, a sometime sleep, allowing for opportunistic forays out of bed on any morning that happens to be fine and mild enough?

In my imagination, I am more bear than squirrel, myself. Burrowing deeply into my warm bed, I often fancy I could easily sleep right through till Spring and be the better for it.

Yet my truer squirrel-self responds, willy-nilly, when the sword of sunlight pierces the shallow crust of my winter sleep. Not only sunlight, either, but a new idea can do it: something noticed on a page: someone’s blog post: an item on the news: a message… Anything can awaken my resting mind and make my fingers itch to write.

However, come the darkening of the sky, the chill of evening, the winter somnolence returning early to my limbs and I am back in my nest, the nuts left strewn and only half unshelled, the paragraphs unfinished, the fickle flame of inspiration guttering and faltering yet again in the cold air.

There is much to be said for bear mode. And being a squirrel-type is frustrating, especially when one has not yet fully shaken off a lifetime’s conditioning by that darned old work ethic.

But problematic though it sometimes feels, on balance I am a happy squirrel. And I am glad I was awake to see the sunshine and observe those tiny creatures dancing joyfully in the ‘now’ moment with no dread of frost.
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