The park across the street from my house is filled with impossibly tall palm trees. They stand in stark relief to the playground equipment and the low-slung library, soldiers watching over new moms feeding their kids yogurt and homeless people looking for a moment of peace and quiet in the chaos of their day.
I was walking Daisy through the park this morning when I heard the familiar sound of squirrels playing the the treetops, running round and round in round, causing the palm fronds to sway. Daisy used to watch this game with laser-like focus, as if wishing one of the fuzzy creatures would fall from its treetop perch to her awaiting jaws.
Daisy doesn't watch the squirrels anymore, as if she has come to realize in her golden years that chasing squirrels is a young dog's game. Her teeth are worn and her eyesight is failing, and squirrel-games in the lacy treetops are ignored in favor of looking for leftover cake from weekend birthday parties.
But Daisy looked up this morning, as did I. The squirrels danced back and forth and then suddenly one slipped -- whether it had misjudged the jump or lost its grip, I don't know -- and the furry body came plummeting the ground. It was as if all of those years of Daisy's squirrel-staring had paid off, and now the treat was being delivered to her to reward her patience.
The creature landed with a sad THUMP!, causing the homeless man having breakfast at the nearby picnic table to turn.
"That poor little guy," he said.
The squirrel was quiet for a moment, then slowly turned over and walked a step or two, and stopped.
"I'll watch him," the man told me. "I can't do anything, but, well, it's good to have someone to watch over you."
I nodded. "You need anything?"
Daisy walked up to the man, who pet her. She didn't even look at the squirrel, just a foot away.
Maybe she wasn't wishing them out of the trees after all.