A few months ago I went for a picnic with the ever beautiful and serene Leigh to the Botanical Gardens in my home town of Sheffield. For those of you who don't know Sheffield, it is a park in which trees and plants from all around the world have been brought. The myriad of shapes, colours and smells is very inspiring. This was a sunny day and unusually warm for the time of year. I was feeling very calm and almost in a meditative state. We walked around the gardens a little while before deciding on a place to have our lunch.
While Leigh was looking at some unusual trees, reading the labels which told what kind they were, I sat down on a bench and kept very still, drinking in the beauty that was before me. Suddenly a squirrel appeared and approached the bench where I was sitting. To my astonishment, the squirrel climbed up onto my thigh and sat there for few moments, looking me directly in the eye, before scurrying off. If that wasn't surprising enough, then another squirrel appeared and came up right in front of me. My hands were resting between my knees, my fingertips touching together. The squirrel reached up with his little paw and gently tapped my hands. He looked me in the eyes and then did it again. Then when he got no reaction from me, he too scurried off.
This was a remarkable experience. I am currently training hard to get better at running and my diet includes rather a lot of nuts. I wonder if the squirrels could sense that I was a kindred spirit in that respect, or maybe I just smelled of nuts. During the brief moments I was looking into the squirrels eyes, I felt a sudden sense of empathy for them, as if I got an inkling of what it was like to be a squirrel.
Sammy Squirrel: What are we going to do today, Sydney?
Sydney Squirrel: I thought I might charge round looking for nuts. What do you reckon?
Sammy Squirrel: Great idea! I love charging around looking for nuts. I think I will join you. Botanical Gardens?
Sydney Squirrel: Where else? Race you there.
Sammy Squirrel: You're on. Hey, hang on! That's not fair. False start!
Sydney Squirrel: Ha ha! Come on, slow coach!
A little later ...
Sammy Squirrel: So, how are you getting on, Sydney?
Sydney Squirrel: Not bad, not bad! This place is brilliant for nuts. But you can never really have enough can you?
Sammy Squirrel: You're right, Sammy. Here! Look at that!
Sydney Squirrel: Where?
Sammy Squirrel: Over there. Look. What is that?
Sydney Squirrel: Not sure. Doesn't look like any tree I've ever seen. Looks like one of those men if anything. But it isn't moving so it can't be.
Sammy Squirrel: Shall we check it out?
Sydney Squirrel: You go first.
Sammy Squirrel: OK. Cover me.
A few moments later ...
Sydney Squirrel: Well?
Sammy Squirrel: I'm not sure. I'm sure there are nuts there somewhere. I can sense nuts! If I didn't know better, I would swear it looked at me.
Sydney Squirrel: Hold on, I'll check it out.
Shortly afterwards ...
Sydney Squirrel: Weird! You're right, there's definitely something strange about that tree.
Sammy Squirrel: Sydney, Sydney! Look at the bushy tail on that!
Sydney Squirrel: [mesmerised] Ay ay ay!!!
Sammy Squirrel: Watch out, Sydney. Dog!!
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