Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Of Squirrels and Men

Saturday morning I went downtown with P-Doug and G to the St. Lawrence Market. Just as we arrived at the North Market I noticed a squirrel in the little pedestrian mall beside the market. I called to him (her?) with that squeaky kiss-kiss noise people use to summon animals, and to my surprise he came up to me. Obviously he was used to being fed by humans. I felt kind of bad; I hadn't expected success and now I felt like I owed him something. So I went in the North Market and bought $1.75 worth of walnuts and came back out. I didn't know if I'd find him again, but he was right at hand, so I took out the CX7330 and actually videoed the squirrel eating right from my hand. For me, this was a first.

I think it's really ironic... all my life, I've lived in one suburb or another, with forests always near at hand. When I was a kid, we used to go camping and we had a cottage right out in the countryside. But I had to wait till I was in the very heart of the biggest city in the country to have the closest encounter with wildlife in my whole life so far.

I handed the camera to P-Doug and he videoed me feeding the squirrel a couple of times. This attracted the attention of a man in his mid-20s who came up to me and expressed his surprise and amazement. Spontaneously, he began to tell us that he was downtown to distribute the papers the homeless sell down there, and that a year before, he himself had been homeless, living in the Don Valley — in spite of which, he'd never fed any of the animals by hand. He was no longer homeless, having gone through rehab to kick heroin and living in East York (in the riding of NDP leader Jack Layton, whose book I noticed the man was reading). Since there was no way I could possibly have fed the squirrel the quarter pound of walnuts a buck-seventy-five buys (who knew?), I handed them over to the guy. I think he thought I was trying to pass them to him for his own consumption, but I only meant for him to have the same little adventure I'd just had... though it was no skin off my nose if he'd had some; I would have myself except I hate walnuts. And so this fellow took the bag of walnuts and, there in midst of downtown Toronto, communed with nature, in a more positive way than he used to, certainly.

Just a pleasant, hopeful little page in the story of Toronto, of Canada, and of humankind in general.


Update: Nov. 24, 2007 (about two years later)... Now that I know how to embed a YouTube video in a post, here's what I saw that day.


katherine said...

Very nice post Lone. : ) Great, in fact!

Masnick96 said...

I love that last picture...sums it all up :-)

Ferdzy said...

Nice to see squirrels eating something other than my crocus bulbs. Actually, it made me think of this amusing link: http://www.eecs.harvard.edu/~yaz/en/squirrel_fishing.html

Lone Primate said...

Actually, it made me think of this amusing link: http://www.eecs.harvard.edu/~yaz/en/squirrel_fishing

That was hilarious and sweet... thank you. :)

Squirrel Hugger said...

This warms the heart and brightens the day ... for squirrels and men (and ladies, too)! That little fellow makes me want to get on a plane and head up to Toronto just to find him, feed him, and give him a hug!

I'm always awed and inspired when I see how an act of kindness towards another creature can have such a great impact on others! Thank you so much for sharing this delightful encounter! Here's another link that you might enjoy about another friendly little black squirrel named Buddy: http://vaalea.com/squirrel/shoot.htm

Well done, Lone Primate!