I'm a current-day, around the clock, terminal, psychotronic mind control victim. This short essay grew from my hobby of feeding squirrels. Feeding squirrels, and writing fantasy essays like this one, are one more type of attempt to lessen the impact of the heavy, advanced technology bodily attacks, the street theater skits, and the break-ins and sabotage at home and at work. I think it helps a little.
Penny began to take interest in squirrels at age 9. She had always admired the way they could race among the trees around her home, almost as if they could fly. But it was the end of August, a week before she was to start grade 4, that in a quiet moment, a young squirrel walked up to her, as she sat under a large maple tree, and just looked at her with obvious interest.
"I wonder what he is thinking", she thought. In the beautiful warm, sunny afternoon, this curious little fellow just stared and stared. Penny thought later that he must have sat there for at least two minutes.
She slowly reached out to pet him, but, like all squirrels, he darted away quickly, and up a nearby tree.
Penny enjoyed the rest of the beautiful afternoon outdoors, walking around the pond, and up the hill on her family's property. She didn't think much about the squirrel for the rest of the day. The little hill was a great place for watching clouds, and dreaming about the future.
Penny enjoyed school, playing with her friends, did her share of the family chores, did her homework, liked to pick her clothes, and all of the other things any nine-year-old girl likes. But she was a little different in that she especially treasured quiet time in the natural beauty surrounding her southern New England home.
The maples in autumn, the cherry trees in spring. Watching the new day gradually light the sky behind a beautiful row of scotch pine trees just east of her family's property.
She loved the small pond too. The sound of peepers almost as soon as winter's ice had retreated to the center of the pond, then was gone. Standing near the pond on rainy nights, listening to the soft tinkle of the rain on the pond, pondering the silhouettes of the trees on the far side against the overcast clouds, lit by the large coastal city to the south.
Or in winter, walking along the path into the woods behind her house, around the pond, then up and down the small sledding hill, and finally being guided back to her warm cozy house by the friendly beacon of the driveway floodlight, when the sky had only a red glow on the southwestern horizon.
Yes, Penny enjoyed life but had a private, contemplative side to her personality not entirely shared by her friends.
That autumn of grade four, Penny noticed that her little squirrel friend, she wasn't really sure, was almost always there perched on the large stone wall as she walked in from the school bus stop. He was only there for a moment, and like all squirrels spent most of his afternoon scurrying around gathering and burying food, especially acorns.
One day, Penny had some peanuts left over from a bag she had bought at the school cafeteria. She tossed one to her furry friend. He jumped at it, scurried up the nearest tree, and gratefully munched his treat as Penny studied him from below. Seeing how thankful the squirrel was, she began to ask her mom for enough so she could feed him every day.
The next afternoon, there were three squirrels, then six, then enough that she couldn't really tell how many.
She found that she could tell them apart after a while. They had slightly different markings, sizes, and each one had either a way it walked or a way it handled the peanuts that was different from the others.
As the New England weather grew colder, she found that her squirrel friends were not always there when she came home, especially if it were especially cold or rainy.
One squirrel came every day. She (at least Penny thought it was a she) seemed to be a little older and not quite as sprightly as her friends. When they hopped, jumped, and ran at top speed, this squirrel would simply walk to get her peanuts. When this squirrel had her peanut in her mouth, she would look at Penny for what seemed like a long time, before walking off to eat or bury her treat. Penny named this squirrel Mitzi.
Mitzi would be there to greet Penny every day, even in rain, snow, cold or high wind.
Then Penny found on the Internet that some people have squirrels as pets.
She asked her mom if she could take Mitzi in as a pet, but her mom said no. Her mom explained that once an animal has grown up from a baby as a wild animal, she would not be content to live in a house. Mom also explained that squirrels spend a lot of their time building nests, and that Mitzi would chew and tear at all the family's clothing and furniture, doing what God had made her to do.
Penny was sad, but understood.
Well, in the spring of her grade four year, Penny learned that Mitzi was indeed a lady squirrel. She was bulging with babies; there was no doubt about it. Before the end of the school year, Mitzi had her babies, and wasn't seen every day until early summer. Penny was sad that she had to say good bye to Mitzi, as she had to go to summer camp in upper New York State.
While at camp, Penny had a magical experience. One Sunday evening, she felt especially calm and relaxed, and was asleep before the light in the cabin was turned out.
She had the most vivid, colorful, realistic dream she had ever had in her whole life. She was back at home, outdoors, and only 10 inches tall!
And, somehow (the dream wasn't clear on how this worked) she was able to actually greet and chat with her squirrel friends. This was a magic moment, and was just as real as anything that had ever happened in Penny's life. They ran and played and chased each other. The trees looked so big that it was as if they reached way up to the clouds.
Her dream seemed to last a very long time. In the dream she finally got very tired, and found herself standing in front of her friend Mitzi, both of them a little out of breath from all the playing. She was suddenly sad, as she somehow knew that soon she would be back in her world, and Mitzi in hers, unable to chat and have fun in this enchanted way ever again.
Then God gave her a gift to last a lifetime: Mitzi stood up on her hind legs, her soft white front fur making her look ravishingly beautiful, and ever so gently placed her soft grey arms around Penny's neck, and placed her warm cheek gently against Penny's, and just said ever so softly, "I love you Penny, and I will love you for the rest of my life. Thank you so much for being my friend!"
Penny cried, and said "I love you too, Mitzi, I hope we can play together again!"
Mitzi said nothing, but gave Penny a long, gentle squeeze. In the background, Penny heard a squirrel somewhere nearby start to cry a little, as Eastern Grey squirrels do, kind of a meow-like sound. Gradually, Penny realized that she was back in her cabin at summer camp, and there was indeed a squirrel quietly crying in the nearby woods.
As Penny grew, dated, went to college, and matured, she never forgot that beautiful moment in her dream. She continued feeding and spending time with Mitzi until she was a junior in high school. One October day, Mitzi wasn't there. She was never seen again. Penny felt as if she had lost a family member.
But as Penny's mourning for the loss of her friend lessened, an immense sense of gratitude to God took its place. God had not only given her seven years of Mitzi's loyal friendship, but an irreplaceable experience that human beings don't ever have, the thrill of actually being part of the family of squirrels for a day, and being able to communicate directly with them. Though it was a dream, it was so vivid and realistic that for Penny, there was nothing imaginary about it.
After college, Penny found a very unusual way to thank God for arranging this private miracle, she became a sister of the Episcopal Order of St. Helena, on the beautiful banks of the Hudson River at Vail's Gate, New York. And you can be sure she kept in touch with the squirrels on the beautiful grounds there!