Waking up with a sense of gratefulness is a gift, one that we create for ourselves. Recognizing the power we have over our mood and life experience is empowering. Things don’t happen to us, they happen and we react. How we react is dictated by many things deep and personal, but make no mistake, we have the ability to turn lemons into lemonade!
This morning a tiny rust-red squirrel scampered along the wood railing of my bedroom balcony. She froze for a few seconds as these delightful creatures do, perfectly framed by the window that instantly transformed her into a quaint picture. Expertly balancing on two legs, she nibbled an acorn held in her delicate front paws. I know this squirrel, or would like to believe I do.
Earlier this year, while playing fetch with Java, I noticed movement through the small circular opening in a bluebird box that hung from a front yard sycamore tree. At first I thought the box must be infested with ants or some kind of wasp because the bluebirds had successfully raised two clutches of chicks this season. On closer examination, I saw fresh nesting material moving around seemingly unassisted and realized that whatever was in there was big. When I spoke, all movement ceased. I decided to move away and inspect later.
Java dashed after the ball, hopping like a rabbit, totally enthralled with the game until spent. Some time had passed and the box appeared quiet. Peering inside the hole I saw no movement. Fully expecting that whatever was inside before had vacated, I spoke quietly and gently tapped on the side of the box. Nothing, not a sound nor a movement; the nesting material was motionless. Slipping the locking mechanism free, I slowly tilted the front wall of the box down, opening it just a few inches. This was enough to get a glimpse of what was inside. Filling the entire inside of the box was fresh brown grasses woven into a nest of sorts, but it was not a bird nest. Even with the door slightly open the nest maintained its shape. Through the small opening in the nest wall, I could see a tiny “thing”. I thought it was dead but looking closer I saw it move slightly. In the center of the nest lay a sleeping mammal; tiny, naked, bigger than a mouse, but unidentifiable without closer investigation. Realizing that the creature in the nest was indeed alive I quickly closed the box and secured the latch.
My imagination raced, flashing images of exotic never-before discovered cave dwelling creatures. My discovery brought me joy. It was sweet and magical, an unexpected pleasure.
I monitored the bird box for days, announcing myself with soft words and gentle tapping on the door. When I could see no activity, I would carefully lower the front door of the box enough to peer inside. Each day brought the glorious knowing that the baby inside was thriving, growing bigger by the minute. Her size seemed to triple each time I saw her. After a short time she had grown temendously and was soon covered with reddish brown fur. Then, finally I caught a glimpse of her elusive mother. I never saw her entering or leaving the box; that she did in complete secrecy. But one day I saw her scampering away from the box, through the tree branches close to her nest. I was tickled to discover that mom is my long-time neighbor, a red squirrel that I have admired since my arrival.
I monitored baby for three weeks. The day before she left her nest, she greeted me when I approached, peering out, big-eyed and curious. For what seemed like an eternity our eyes locked. Fearlessly she looked me straight in the eye, so inquisitive, so calm. I felt the soft fabric of a white cloud-blessing engulf me. Namaste, I said. The next day the box was empty.
Now each morning I am audience to the hurried activities of two beautiful red squirrels, darting to and fro. Leaping gracefully from oak to sycamore; disappearing around the back side of the tree when I am too close. My neighbors are extremely busy this time of year and I am ever grateful for their activities.