Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A Taste of Retirement

My job usually goes through a slow spell in the summer. It's happening again. I knew there was no work for today so I woke up bright eyed and bushtailed [as is appropriate for this posting]. Up and eager to treat the day like a day in retirement doing the things I want to do, just for me. Breakfast, reading while I eat, a little housekeeping, a few hours of writing. Bagel and coffee late morning sitting in the park. Then back to the house, piano playing for a while. More writing, then some sewing, then a short walk, more writing, dinner, blogging, surfing and there'll be a nice evening reading, and a bit of yoga before more reading in bed. What could be nicer?
When I went to the park with my coffee and bagel my favorite benches were behind barriers while some repaving was being done. So I went to the area that is usually filled with kids but which was empty just then except for a woman photographing pigeons. There is a single picnic table so I sat down to read and to first draft a poem I had been thinking about. I saw a squirel come check me out when I first sat down. Then he went away. Then he came back and jumped up on the table and definitely gave me a 'aren't you going to share?" stare. What kind of selfish boob do you think I am. Of course I'll share. I tore off a piece of bagel and laid it on the table. He grabbed it. I expected him to run off with it but, no. He settled back with it firmly between his front paws and set to nibbling... so very, very intently I took out my camera and he didn't even care as I took his picture a couple of times.
I tried watching him with the kind of attention Mary Oliver speaks of in her poem "A Summer's Day" about the grasshopper. He finished the first piece and clearly wanted another. I held it out, a little warily but he took it neatly from my fingers. And began eating it. His method was this. He nibbled in fast, rather furious, continuous, voracious way, chewing very briefly between nibbles. No slow meditative chewing for this guy. He would do well in any eating contest. He was concentrated and efficient and spilled very few crumbs. He manouvered the piece of bagel around to the best angle with his grasping little paws holding it firmly and neatly. His paws,f front and backhave long final segments which are very adaptable, which is why they are so good a climbling.

He was a chubby fellow. I think he's a pernnial beggar and probably has had lots of pototo chips, Cheeze Doodles and whatever snacks people bring. I don't believe bits of bagel are an ideal squirrel diet either. But he certainly was busy eating them. After the third bite, which it seemed to me was about the equivalent, proportionately, for him as the whole bagel, minus his portion, was for me, he seemed sated and hopped off the table and disappeared. I wrote the poem I meant to write and wondered about writing a poem about him ... nothing came quickly to mind. Maybe it will later. Apparently what I get for sitting in a new spot was a new companion. There may be a moral in this little story.

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