Why has this impossible neighbour fixated on me?
|I try to abide by the Golden Rule, love thy neighbour. Neighbours are people too, usually friendly folk. This also applies to the temporary ones who reside nearby at ‘our” campground, each of us staked out on a seasonal site. We wave. We nod. We smile. We exchange hellos and pleasantries. We’ve been known to engage in conversations in which we discuss the two big vagaries, weather and politics. We share mutual moans. From time to time, when the whim strikes us, we gather ‘round a roaring campfire. Sometimes we huddle for warmth. Most of the get-togethers lure us like a moth to the flame. We cannot ignore the camaraderie, the laughs, the mutual feeling that we are connected. We experience more than one type of glow. We create and foster a camp community. Well, most of us do. One of my neighbours is different, odd, loud, impulsive. Basically, he’s un-neighbourly. He seems to be oblivious to boundaries both physical and social. I believe he delights in startling me. Every gasp, sudden jump and increase in my heart rate spurs him on. He insists upon streaking across my site, day or night. Leaves rustle in his wake. The thump-thump alerts me to his run up the ramp and onto the deck. For the occasions I rise to confront him, I catch a glimpse of his derriere ducking under my trailer and I refuse to chase him. His behaviour is baffling. What does he roll and rattle along my aluminum roof? Why does he sit on my deck’s railings? It’s not as if I’ve refused him a comfy chair. What did he hope to find in the shed? He seemed to be examining every inch of the door frame. I notice him peeking into my windows with both hands cupped around his eyes , miming the use of binoculars, and his quivering nose pressed to the screen. How long does he stare before I sense his presence? I’ve asked him, “What?” I’ve shouted at him, “Stop it!” He returns to peer in when I tire of guarding the window. And, oh, the noisy squabbles he and his spouse engage in during the evenings. They scream at each other in ever increasing volume. I witness fisticuffs, skirmishes. One will pursue the other to prolong their disagreement. They clearly do not practise discretion. All their dirty laundry is aired for all to hear. Here’s the thing. I do not comprehend their screeching, their babbling, their chittering, their chirring. I understand the tone, the intensity, the anger, the disapproval, but not the language. I know, I know. I see him raise his fists and shake them at me. His glare is undeniable. His tail twitches in sharp, jerky movements. I swear his whiskers vibrate. He has attempted to communicate with me. His body language can best be described as intense, bristly. Yes, yes, you are perturbed with me, but I do not parlez vous squirrel. I’m sorry, but is that constant rapid fire chatter ‘squirrelese’, or ‘squirrelish?’ What have I done to offend you, to irk you, to incite such fervent wrath? Why am I the puzzled recipient of a furious tongue-lashing? Am I the victim of mistaken identity? Did someone who somewhat resembles me cause you a grievous, unforgivable harm? I’m certain I’ve never maimed, or killed a squirrel. Have I crossed a line? Did I misunderstand a boundary? Is there a squirrel etiquette I failed to follow? I’m certain I’ve not unearthed a buried treasure of any sort. Your stash, if you have a stash, is still safe and secret. Am I the perplexed purveyor to a one-squirrel protest of some kind? Do you feel the passionate need to rant and rave? Have I been targeted as a front row witness? Wait, are you upset? Do you feel ignored, slighted, excluded? Do you wish to receive an invitation to join me at a campfire? If this is the root cause of your sudden, fixated interest in me, I apologize. I did not intend to discriminate. I never considered that a squirrel, a furry neighbour, would like to join in and be recognized. Quite right, squirrel lives do matter. Even if they natter, chatter and scatter, every squirrel life matters. I must say I prefer this solution to your, er, our misunderstanding. I’ve heard it said that fences make good neighbours, but I cannot quite conceive that in this instance. I mean, where would I place them? How tall would these fences have to be? Could we have shared the expense? (764 words )|