Tuesday, October 9, 2012


I went to the cemetery today with a loaf of bread and a pebble from our trip to Iceland last June, to wish Ivaan a happy birthday. The squirrels were dancing around his plot, still full of carbs and olive oil from the herb fougasse I brought there yesterday. Rule number one when visiting Ivaan's grave is: bring only fresh bread.  Ivaan insisted on only the freshest bread for his birds and squirrels.  A few years before we were married, I remember dropping by Ivaan's house and he'd be out on the verandah feeding the sparrows.  They'd be so stuffed with bread, their little legs could hardly touch the ground, but they kept right on eating.

It was a bit like that with the squirrels today.  They had the decency to back off and let me sweep up a bit  and have a peaceful visit, but when I started tearing off bits of bread and making a circle of bread around the plot, I suddenly looked up and realized I was surrounded by black squirrels waiting for me to leave.

You have probably never contemplated the intelligence of squirrels before, but Ivaan had.  He claimed that grey squirrels were much more intelligent than black ones.  I think by this he meant that they were easier to train.  At our house on Portland Street, we had a second floor deck at the rear of our house. I'd lie out there in the summer, reading and sunbathing.  One afternoon, dozing on the deck, I felt an extraordinary feeling on my back and found that Ivaan had positioned a row of peanuts in their shells along my spine, and a grey squirrel was sitting on my back eating peanuts.

Next time I go to the cemetery, I think I'll bring some peanuts in their shells, place a row of them along the plot, and return the favour.

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