Nature drops in from time to time, even here in the city.  Squirrel perched on the corner of the balcony railing the other morning, an impressive feat as the tubular steel rail was slick with rain.  Chubby and grey, tail fluffed in a perfect “S”, I wondered how he managed to find his way to my second floor balcony and even more importantly, why?   My balcony holds no food and provides no safety from the weather.   In the cold autumn rain, the summer magic of the balcony is long gone.  The impatiens died and the perennials are now inside leaving it bleak, black and ready for the coming snow.  It is cold and unappealing now and I couldn’t understand why he would choose this spot unless he had something to tell me. 

His back was to me.  Ever so slowly, I raised the window blinds.  I did not want to scare him off but rather wished to get a better look at him, sitting less than 12 feet away.  He heard me.  Delicately, like a Chinese acrobat, he spun on his toes to face me head on, flinging silvery rain from his tail.

Can squirrels see straight ahead?  My eyes face forward but Squirrel‘s eyes are on the side of his head, positioned more like ears.  His nose pointed straight at me but I wondered about his eyesight.  Was he seeing me with some kind of frontal peripheral vision?  Maybe, but he did see me.  In fact, he stared at me as if I was the interloper, invading his territory rather than the other way around.

Like dueling cowboys, we sized each other up for a good five minutes, barely breathing lest either one of us scare the other off.  A slow-down of a show-down!  Finally, the weaker of us, I took a soft step to the right to see what he would do.  He tracked my move but did not budge from his perch.  I held my breath and raised my hand, he stood immobile.  I wondered if the glass were to disappear would he still be so brave?  If the glass disappeared would I be so brave?  If I slowly opened the door would he stand his ground?  Why did he stay when I was so dangerously close?  Did he make it a practice to visit my balcony when I was not at home?  Had he laid claim to it, homesteading on the sly? I cast my eyes around the balcony looking for hints of occupancy but there was no nest of leaves, no cache of acorns.  Squirrel was thinking.  I could see it in the twitch of his nose, the back slant of his ears.   Was he thinking the same kind of thoughts about me as I was about him?  

I never got a chance to ask.  Kitty came bounding by and Squirrel took off – disappearing so fast I almost didn’t see it!  I walked out on the balcony in the rain and looked up and down the courtyard, scanning the tops of the trees, but he was gone.   I miss him.   I hope he comes back soon so we can finish our conversation.


  1. Comment by Marilyn

    Posted on November 22, 2009 at 11:48 am

    Beautiful piece, as always. I especially love the very last line.

  2. Comment by Marilyn

    Posted on November 22, 2009 at 11:48 am

    Beautiful piece, as always. I especially love the very last line.

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