In his retirement, my uncle opened a wild bird store in New Bern, NC. Birding and bird watching had long been hobbies of his, and opening a store to sell bird feeders, bird seed, and other accessories that he enjoyed was a great joy for him. As with many people who enjoy watching birds at their back-yard bird feeders, he viewed squirrels as something between a nuisance and a nemesis. Squirrels are extravagant and wasteful consumers of bird seed. Being big and aggressive, they also drive off the very birds that people want to see. They are nimble and resourceful, and they often managed to slip past the barriers people put up for them. As a bird lover, my uncle strongly disliked squirrels…
… until he had a wild bird store. Squirrels brought his customers back to the store again and again. They had to buy more bird seed. They bought more elaborate (and presumably more expensive) bird feeders to attempt to foil the squirrels. Squirrels, in short, were good for business. In the last years of his life, he began to keep at home an increasing number of plush toy squirrels. They became a mascot, a friend, and – dare I say? – a businessmen partner!
A month ago, Amy and I hung a bird feeder from a tree just outside our front door of our new home. With many more trees than our old neighborhood, we’ve been excited to see the number and diversity of birds. Of course, the squirrels came shortly thereafter. We still seed birds, but we run through bird seed at an alarming rate.
Though the squirrels are frustrating, I can’t help but imagine that my uncle looking down and being amused by the situation – and happy to see the squirrels well fed. And maybe – just a little bit – my uncle’s happiness helps me see a bit of a silver (if someone furry) lining in the situation.
I hope and pray that in your own journeys and endeavors that you may find blessings and humor in the midst of all sorts of situations: joyful, difficult, and squirrelly!