I arrived early at the park happy to see all of the picnic tables put away, save for one. This is just one more sign of the approaching winter. I watch as several squirrels scurry through the leaves which litter the ground like colorful confetti. Today I have come armed and ready for the onslaught.
I take my position on the bench and as I am unpacking my camera gear, journal, fountain pen and ink, I have a feeling like I am being watched. Minutes later there is a tug at my pant leg. I look down not surprised to see my friend. He is an obese, very black squirrel. He is the size of a small cat and something tells me he does not miss a meal.
My friend jumps onto the table and with little hesitation approaches me. He climbs onto my arm, his eyes rapidly scanning the area. He spots the bag and through the clear plastic he eyes the object of his desire. His paws play with the bag and when frustration wins him over, he simply grabs the bag and runs off. The bag, upside down, firmly clenched between his teeth and nuts dropping from the open end of the bag like hail during a hailstorm. As he runs away believing himself to be the victor, he quickly understands he has not bested me. I gather up the nuts which have fallen from the bag before he makes his return.
I leave the nuts in their protective shell and I watch as he buries his winnings, saving them as he has been taught for the cold, hard winter months which are approaching. He returns and I release several nuts from their shell and leave them on the table. Invitations have been sent and accepted. He sits mere inches from me, comfortable with my presence at least until the supply of nuts has been exhausted. Once exhausted, his belly presumably full, he runs off for the safety and solitude of the woods.
I ponder this curious friendship and watch as the sun makes its silent retreat toward the horizon. The temperatures continue their descent and a light breeze, making me rethink my wardrobe begins to lightly blow through the naked branches above me. Gone are the temperatures which beg for barefoot walking and the warmth of the outdoors. This breeze whispers through the leaves which stubbornly maintain their perch on the otherwise naked branches. Perhaps they had not received their eviction notice or simply like so many of their human counterparts refuse to leave. Their whisper competes with the sound of the squirrels as they run through the carpet of leaves which have already fallen.