Red Squirrel in the Snow

I stepped outside onto fresh snow. There you were! Perched on the wooden fence! Looking dazed and confused, a bit lost. Hello red friend, the native squirrel from around here, but displaced by the gray brutes from the East decades ago. How you came to travel through my back yard and rest here, well, it was a mystery and a welcome, joyous mystery at that, a respite from desperate human mysteries all around me.

I hurled peanuts. I cheered. The squirrel didn’t move. I named him Red. Red didn’t know what to do.

He wasn’t the usual freeloading socialist squirrel of Sellwood. He was used to working hard to survive. I walked across the snow to the fence. Red turned toward me and didn’t flinch. He looked confused. Maybe he was on the lam, a pariah. I knew something about that. I greeted him. I placed peanuts on the fence post. I waited. I cajoled Red. I called him my new friend. Red sniffed at a peanut. He took it with his paws and raised it like a crooked politician might a Cuban cigar, from those halcyon days of the smoke-filled rooms when politicians got shit done and ignored other worse shit going on.

Red nibbled and shelled the shell. I heard crunching. He began munching. I backed away and marveled. I went upstairs, donned the binoculars, and watched him eat peanuts for 20 minutes. It was a Christmas card but not on paper.

There is no larger metaphor in this encounter, but that doesn’t make it any less a poem. It’s merely a poem expressing joy, squirrel joy. That goes a long way these days.