Now, some of you might look at this photo and think, “wow, that is a really brazen squirrel!” and yet, without knowing the whole story, you wouldn’t know about the milestone of trust that she and I have formed.
I first ‘met’ Sarah in the late summer / early fall of 2017. She was a cute squirrel and being silver with two white rings on her tail definitely set her apart from the brown squirrels I was accustomed to seeing. She would always waltz into the fenced side yard and then dig through the various planter boxes, looking to unearth the acorns or peanuts that the Blue Jays had buried for their winter stash.
When Sarah disappeared later that fall, I really thought nothing of it. I simply assumed that squirrels, much like other animals without a winter food source, went into some form of hibernation. (And yes, I’ve since learned that squirrels don’t actually hibernate, although they do sleep a lot.)
Several months later, I was again in the side yard when I thought I noticed another silver squirrel. Initially, I was exuberant because, truth be told, I had been missing Sarah and her mischievous antics. Upon closer inspection though, I realized with horror that this squirrel was actually Sarah.
However, she did not have the same carefree attitude as before. Now, she crept slowly and stealthily across the ground, keeping as low a profile as possible, while she searched for food. It hurt my heart to see her slink through the garden area, rarely daring to lift her head higher than a couple inches. Gone were her cutely perfect, rounded squirrel ears. What was left instead were two ears that resembled a backward capital “L.”
As my eyes continued to travel the length of her body, I was shocked to see that her fur looked as if it had been ripped off; all the way from the nape of her neck to just past the shoulder blade area of her upper legs. While the skin was now whole (minus fur), I’m certain that directly after whatever it was that had happened to her had happened; her back had probably been, at best, an angry, oozing mess. I felt in my bones that she was lucky to be alive and I was grateful that she felt safe enough to still traverse my garden.
Her sad appearance prompted the purchase of shelled (but unsalted) peanuts and as the months went by, Sarah healed and her fur grew back. (Although her ears never will.)
Over time, she has seemingly come to know and trust me. When I return home from a trip, she is immediately aware and I will generally find her in my side yard the following morning. She has even developed ‘manners,’ if one could call them that, but those manners fly out the window if I don’t happen to hear her initial few knocks upon the bottom of the sliding glass door.
She watches me closely, and when she realizes that I haven’t heard her knocking, she will then run up the exterior screen door until she can see me over the chair. At that point, she will bang dramatically (and quite loudly) until she has successfully attracted my attention; only descending from her seemingly precarious perch once she sees me coming toward her with nuts in hand – because then, for her, everything is once again right with the world.
I smile every time this happens; grateful for Sarah’s friendship and trust. Yet, even more than that, I find myself humbled by her ability to release the trauma of such a horrific past experience…
CHARLINE'S NEW BOOK "LIFE IN THE AGE OF POMPEII" IS FREE TODAY AND TOMORROW, FEBRUARY 21 AND 22. DOWNLOAD YOUR COPY HERE. *BOOK REVIEWS ARE APPRECIATED.
ABOUT CHARLINE RATCLIFF:
Mine is not your typical life's story. Growing up, my family life, schooling, and lifestyle were anything but conventional, average or predictable. Being tenacious, an avid reader and hard-working allowed me to prevail against the pitfalls of my unusual upbringing.
It wasn't until my late twenties that the writing muse found me and thus has begun an extraordinary voyage of self-discovery. I began writing novels, blog posts, book reviews, provided author interviews, and even started mentoring other writers.
Having finished the writing of my most recent Historical Fiction, "A Life in the Age of Pompeii," I am about to embark on the writing of my next historical novel, "The Queen's Lost Daughter."
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