I nosed my car into a parking spot facing a chain link fence. Massive trees with trunks so thick I couldn’t wrap my arms around them stood on the other side of the fence. As I turned off the ignition, I spotted movement on the side of one of the tree trunks. Soon a squirrel came into view, clinging effortlessly to the bark.
Now this rodent knew how to prepare for winter! His body was as round as a little barrel, but he was still making provisions for the long winter months ahead. Clamped firmly in his mouth was a slice of toasted bread, cut on the diagonal. Who knew squirrels liked toast? I laughed as I pictured a good gust of wind turning the bread into a sail and sending him airborne.
But this was no laughing matter for the squirrel. This was the serious business of stocking food. I leaned closer to the windshield and watched him scamper up the sturdy trunk until he reached an outstretched branch. My lunch-time errand forgotten, I settled back into the driver’s seat for a first-row seat at the show.
Like a skilled high-wire acrobat, he stepped daintily onto the branch. It quivered beneath him and he stopped to steady himself. But his trophy put him off balance and after a few steps, he dropped the bread. Not to be deterred, he turned and began to make his way back down to the ground. That’s when I noticed two other squirrels already on the frozen ground. I held my breath as I waited to see if they would mount a charge to steal the coveted treasure. That just wouldn’t be fair!
I found myself rooting for my little friend, silently urging him to hurry. I don’t know how things work in the squirrel world, but the other two squirrels didn’t try to snatch the prize. Is there an unwritten code that finders are keepers in the squirrel universe? Or was “my” squirrel’s dominance established and therefore he was not to be challenged?
Whatever the reason, with the slice of toast once again firmly in his mouth, he began the climb anew. I cheered as he made it back to the branch. He seemed to gain confidence and, with the agility of a circus performer, he leapt onto the branch of a neighboring tree. His treasure still intact, he soon disappeared from sight to hide his well-earned treat.
Well, that was entertaining, I thought. But as I left the car and started walking to my destination, I realized it was more than that. It was a lesson in persistence. Seeing a tiny creature act on the words “Don’t give up” or “When the going gets tough, the tough get going” was humbling. I guess it’s time I get back to those writing goals.
Written for the December 16th “Word of the Day Challenge”: Charge