Later, four or five squirrels chased each other up that same tree. My teenage son and I stood watching as they cavorted along a branch, hopping to another tree. They put on an intricate high wire, trapeze, and acrobatic act - a squirrel circus without the popcorn or cotton candy. Though it was clearly for their own enjoyment, we agreed it was a great show. They landed on the fence, skip-hopping along it as my son went down the stairs on his way to school.
Last summer, after buying patio chairs for my back deck, I took up squirrel-watching. Since I live on the second floor of a duplex, my deck is at the level of the lower branches of the tall trees in the back yard. My balcony seats afford an excellent view of their arboreal antics. One day, one ran up to perch on the high stump of a once-branch. It sat there scolding something down below. I couldn't see the object of its rant, but it went on for some time before descending again.
Last fall I watched a youngster chased its tale in the vertical plane rather than the horizontal, round and round like a wheel. It landed on its back sometimes but had soft landing in the deep leaves. Its parents were busy burying nuts and paid it little attention. That little fellow was probably one of the ones performing this morning.
In the past I have thought if reincarnation is true, I would like to come back as a bookstore cat - lazing in the sunny window, reading on top of the shelves, sitting by the cash register, collecting pats from my favorite customers. Today I'm thinking coming back as a squirrel would be a good thing. I imagine feeling pure joy knocking snow off the trees and racing it to the ground, pure joy chasing my friends through the branches, pure joy leaping through the air certain I'll land safely in the next tree, pure joy hopping along the spine of a fence. Later, outdoors I heard them chuckling as they played together.
It has been so cold here lately, a very snowy winter for southern New England. It can be difficult to find joy in this sort of season. I am thankful the squirrels today reminded me it is possible to find joy even in extreme conditions. This week I am going to do something that brings me joy. How about you?