The Act of Noticing and the Bloody Lucky Squirrel
My husband, Peter, and I went to our first concert in the park last night.
We brought our folding chairs and ate food from the food trucks. The weather was perfect, and the music was good. But upstaging the band were a pair of juvenile squirrels in the trees overhead, challenging one another to feats of greater and greater daring. I half expected to have an adolescent squirrel land in my lap.
It had been a long day.
We had just come from the funeral for one of Peter’s cousins, who died of ALS. It was a somber occasion, as he was an otherwise healthy man who, until recently, ran marathons and taught classes and painted brilliant Western landscapes. Now the world—and his family in particular—was poorer for his loss, and I was feeling a little down.
Before going to the concert, I went on my usual walk and called my old friend, Andrew. He was in a bad mood also. Andrew has been working on a fantasy novel for years and just heard about someone who sold a similar novel for an astonishing sum. When he read the description of the book, he thought it sounded terrible.
“I wouldn’t touch that book!” Andrew told me as I walked. “It sounds just awful!”
“Aren’t you glad a fantasy author is doing so well?” I asked. He grumbled. I told him how I had attended two funerals in the space of a week, and it was wearing on me. This is what you do with old friends—he brings me around when I am grumpy, and I do the same for him.
Then Andrew told me about an interview he’d recently heard with the former bass player for the Rolling Stones, Bill Wyman.
Wyman is now 85 years old and, when talking about his most cherished memories, he said, “These moments are there to be caught but you’re bloody lucky to catch them.” Andrew liked the quote so much he wrote it down, so I did the same.
“The moments are meant to be caught,” Andrew said, “but we have to do the catching.”
Just then, I noticed that some of the lilacs in the shade were still blooming, their unmistakable fragrance thick in the humid air. I admired the golden retriever passing on the other side of the street, his tail swishing cheerfully back and forth. I realized how something as simple as catching the scent of the last lilacs of the season or the sight of a happy golden retriever’s tail took the act of noticing.
“We have to reach out and catch the moment,” Andrew continued. I noticed that I was feeling less sad. I could tell Andrew was less grumpy.
Sitting under the trees at the concert, I thought again of how quickly the moments pass—how fast the spring has gone, how the summer will be over before I know it, and how the years fly by. Reaching into the stream of time and catching a moment is not easy. I am, indeed, “bloody lucky” to catch them.
At that moment, one of the daredevil squirrels overhead took an outrageous chance and leaped to a slim branch in a nearby tree—really no more than a twig—that was clearly dead and had broken off from the larger branch.
“He’s going to fall for sure!” I said as the squirrel clung to the branch, which swung once like a pendulum before he leaped a second time to safety. And he was gone.
“Bloody lucky squirrel,” I thought, filled with admiration.
Till next time,
– Carrie Classon is a freelance writer and author and lives in New Mexico. Her columns appear each week.