We have a squirrel who hangs upside down from our bird feeder and gorges himself on seeds meant for birds. His wee little hands feed seeds into his mouth while his tail twitches in absolute content.
He has a rust-colored stripe running down his big fat back and his bushy tail and glittering eyes provide endless enjoyment for my daughter who watches him from the kitchen window most mornings before school.
His name is Curtis and he's cheap entertainment most days. If Barkley, our spaniel, were still around, Curtis wouldn't be. Sometimes he brings a friend with him, but most times he's alone.
It's the time of year when things are dying and Curtis is eating his heart out in preparation for a long winter of nothingness.
I wondered out loud the other day, where do squirrels go when they die? You never see their dead bodies - unless they're run over by a car. I ran one over not too long ago on Wisconsin Avenue and the sight of its twisting body on the pavement in my rearview mirror was not at all pleasant. I almost turned around. Nor do you see chipmunks, rabbits, raccoons, birds or other small animals. Do they dig a hole somewhere, or crawl under a bush or into a sewer hole? Who knows, I just wonder.
I read in a book that one of the best spiritual practices one can have is to meditate on the impermanence of all life forms. That way, when it comes our time to go, we will be more accepting of our own death.
I'm not sure I'm at that point yet, but it's certainly something to ponder.