Before Winter

The first time I saw it was as I walked past the small woods on my way back from the corner Quick Stop. Its entrance slightly covered with leaves, it was hidden in plain sight; a cozy little home of dried grass and the detritus of summer past. I paused, peering from my spot on the street, my hands jammed into my pockets against the increasing cold of late autumn.

The leaves suddenly rustled a little, and from my spot on the cold concrete of the street tree bark en.wikipediaI saw its tiny nose poke out, followed by the rest of its striped, furry self, sniffing and scuffing around in the leaves. It spied me in a second, sat momentarily still, then scurried up the rough trunk of the tree. I turned back to the Quick Stop, though by now my toes were beginning to burn. I should’ve worn thicker socks.

socks by fireplaceThat night as I watched the first snowflakes fall – first tentatively, then in increasing numbers until they infused the dark with their icy sparkle – I distractedly peeled an orange into little bits of peel and fruit. Then I sucked on a sunflower shell, split it, and ate the seed.

The next day I returned to the little spot, knelt down, and placed my gift of fruit and seeds at its door. I stepped back and waited. Nothing happened, so I left.

A few days later, I passed the spot again and felt its eyes follow me as I continued on.

I made my final visit that evening. Squatting on the crunchy leaves, I dropped some peanuts and popcorn on the ground. I glanced up in time to see it staring at me from just outside its cozy hole. Our eyes met; I winked, it blinked, and winter began.

Photo: tree-bark-en.wikipedia.jpg

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