Mid-life Croaks: Re-born as a Squirrel

We make fun every year of squirrels who run around like berserk energy fields busily collecting acorns and chestnuts in autumn and burying them in an obscure secret hideaway. Legend says that they do this so that they have food to eat through winter, which is a great theory – if only they could remember where they buried their treasures! Snow covers up all the clues and markings, completely disorienting them. Come Spring we suddenly have oodles of new tree saplings that seem to have magically sprouted from the hands of Persephone herself. Let’s just say that I understand squirrels more and more the older I get.

It must be a middle age thing to want to declutter and clean up the mess in our lives psychologically and physically, a process that certainly does not happen overnight. While cleaning up it is inevitable to want to tuck away some keepsakes and treasured memories, or perhaps even projects for a rainy day. The trouble with ageing however is that while we become experts at multitasking and juggling so many thoughts and emotions at the same time, our memories also begin to slip.

One of the telltale signs of middle age is that you don’t remember the names of high school or university classmates anymore. Sometimes you remember the name but for the life of you can’t put a face to it. On other days its the name of a band or a singer that elude you, although you know the lyrics by heart and sang it day in and day out for at least fifteen years! Or you walk into a room and completely forget what your purpose was. It wasn’t too long ago that we laughed at our parents going through these motions, and in the blink of an eye, presto! we have become our parents. Suddenly incontinence, waking up early, falling asleep in the middle of a movie or TV show or forgetting a certain word are not so funny anymore and have become our reality.

This month has been life-changing in many ways. For the first time in 53 years I am cooking jams and marmalades as if there is no tomorrow, have made milestone changes in my photography path, am about to kickstart a new candle-making project, and revive my painting, among other things (more on these in upcoming blogs). However, like the squirrel, I sometimes forget what I have set in motion or prepared the groundwork for, until the fruits of this forgetfulness sprout up right under my nose!

Last autumn I collected one chestnut every day on the way home from work and brought it home. Some I used for decorations around the house, others as toys for the cats (which was a miserable flop) and the rest I buried in different pots – and completely forgot about them. Last week while preparing the planters for the Spring gardening I dug up a couple of these chestnuts which were already rooting and about to sprout up. Much to my delight I now have three proud and very viable chestnut trees growing in my planter for the first time. I’ve tried so many times to grow them over the years but it never worked out, and all of a sudden this month, here they are. If there is a fourth one, to continue the magic 4 series that has been showering me with blessings and changes this month, it still hasn’t appeared.

This isn’t the only surprise my pots are yielding. I pruned my rubber tree after Christmas and in the meantime I buried a celery base in the pot one fine day a few weeks ago. Again, I was blissfully oblivious to the miracle of grown happening in my own conservatory when I watered the pots and was delighted to find a happy celery growing! Heaven knows what else I’ve buried in my pots and forgotten about, but I suppose I’ll find out in time.

So my gratitude and respect to the squirrels of the world, who are responsible for many of the miracles of rebirth in Spring. This was a valuable lesson in doing good and efficient groundwork for the future, even if you forgot certain details…

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