Spring is the time when all the girls and boys in the squirrel community ready themselves for the chase. As the weather warms and the days become brighter, the girls get gussied up and swish those tails in invitation. The boys get revved. The pursuit is on. Round and round the trees they spin, boys running after the girls, until one boy catches one girl and the deed is done. Soon the nests are filled with little ones watched over by all the new mamas. This is the way courtship and procreation are handled in the world. This is how things are. Or so Mad Squirrel was taught when he was young. But as we know, Mad Squirrel is an odd duck. Mad Squirrel believed in love.
Every spring he would watch the boys and girls at play and shake his head sadly. Not for him the fleeting attachment. Not for him the race to catch just any girl. Not at all! Mad Squirrel yearned to give his heart, to find a soul mate, to sing the songs of love and longing. And so he stayed aloof and watched the frantic chase and told himself that one day his girl would come along.
So it was that this spring, Mad Squirrel found himself scampering from tree to tree in an effort to avoid the others as they dashed about in courting glee. So it was that he stopped to catch his breath and glanced around to see what he could see. And there, reclining on a branch, she lay resplendent. His heart went zing! Coherent thought left his head as quickly as the hawk can fly. His tongue hung out. He gaped. The world became a very colorful place indeed. “My girl,” he thought, “she’s the one!” There and then, he determined to win her heart. Down the trunk he ran to where some lovely yellow flowers grew amid the grass. He gathered blossoms in his mouth and ran back up the trunk to where she lay. Oh dear! She sniffed and turned her head away. Down, down the trunk he ran again and scurried to his hidden stash of food. There he gathered up the most tender, the most beautiful of acorns and returned to proffer this fine gift to the girl of his heart’s desire. She twitched her tail and yawned. Down he went again, desperately racking his brain to come up with the perfect gift, the one thing that would speak his love for her loudly and true. As he thought, and thought again, she stirred herself upon the branch and beckoned to the boys in all the trees around. On they came. The chase was on!
“Oh, no,” Mad Squirrel wailed, “Oh NO!” He ran. He ran some more. Faster and faster. From tree to tree. From branch to branch. Around and around a large oak trunk. But still he lagged behind the pack. In the end, she was caught by another. Exhausted, Mad Squirrel fell to the ground – a dejected, furry little heap.
So it was that Mad Squirrel later woke to the soft caress of a mild, night breeze. Oddly, he felt refreshed and only a little sad. “Clearly,” he mused, “she was not the one for me.” But oh how the feel of that momentary love still filled his heart, how the memory of the effort to win her heart still gave him joy. For, undefeated and undaunted, Mad Squirrel believed in love. “To win a heart,” he reckoned, “one must give a heart.” One day, his girl would come along. When she did, his heart would be open and ready for all that love can bring. What more can one squirrel do but keep on giving from the heart? So it was that Mad Squirrel sighed, a happy sigh, and soon went back to sleep.
© Karen Kleis – All Rights Reserved
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