We can’t see them. But they’re watching. The giant evergreen rustles, limbs shaking. They play tag around the thick trunk, circling faster and faster as they descend. Claws scratching coarse bark.
My husband and I laugh loud at their antics.
“I guess they’re not hibernating after all, ” I say.
He tears open the yellow cellophane, dropping peanuts in his haste.
I smile. “It was sweet of you to think of them.”
“They gotta eat too,” He shrugs.
Curious but wary, soon that primal force propels them nearer. Seagulls wheel about us, crying their grating call for the rest of the flock to join them. Hunger drives their large number closer, too.
I shoo them away. My husband throws a handful of the snack far to his right.
“A diversion,” He says.
After some time and a lot of patience, we delight in the rewards trust brings.
The gunshot from across the river causes the small creatures to scurry back to the safety of their tree. And the flap of a myriad white and gray wings keeps them there.
“Come out, come out!” My husband sing-songs.
Much later, I shiver and my husband crumples the empty bag.
We continue along the footpaths a familiar and soothing trek.
“Did you see that squirrel with the hacked off tail?” my husband says.
I nod, wending his wide fingers through mine.
“I saw one with scars on its shoulder.”
We’ve been talking a lot about scars lately. How they can even be seen on a soul.
The image carved bold into that sycamore reminds me that God’s faithful love can heal. And the nails driven deep through Jesus’ hands and feet left an ageless trail of evidence.
My husband pulls me close and the tears fall unbidden.
“Remember last spring when we were here? That rush of wings–a Cooper’s hawk on the hunt–and the death screech of… A dove? A squirrel?”
“Yeah,” he murmurs onto my black knit-cap.
I stop. Pull the cover off my camera. I’ve never seen more than two maybe three at a time tops. I count at least twelve today.
It’s too late.
“They’re gone,” I sigh.
“Not that one.”
And it’s enough.