Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

Grateful for fuzzy blessings

By LORRAINE V. MURRAY, Commentary | Published June 12, 2014

June122014_murrayWhen I’m having breakfast at the little table near our front porch, I sometimes have the feeling that someone is staring at me. Invariably I look outside to see what’s going on, and discover I am exactly right.

There on the porch with his paws clasped—as if in prayer—sits a very familiar-looking squirrel. He looks at me with beady brown eyes that seem to have a pleading expression. Moments later, I obediently get up, go into the kitchen and retrieve a handful of peanuts from the big glass jar.

I open the screen door and ask the squirrel “Is that you?” even though I am sure it is. You see, this particular fellow has a tail with a tuft missing, so he’s easy to spot.

When I crouch down with a peanut in my hand, he creeps slowly toward me, almost trusting me enough to take it from me—but not quite. So I place it on the porch, and he retrieves it and rushes off with his prize.

To me he is one of the small graces of an ordinary day that call to mind God’s presence.

There is also the rather dramatic appearance of a hefty, midnight-black crow carrying a chunk of bagel in his beak. Mr. Crow settles on the edge of the birdbath and dips the bread into the water to soften it. And while he is occupied in this way, along come three mockingbirds to dive bomb him and chase him away.

We first met the squirrel about two years ago when a nest from a nearby tree hit the ground during a storm. We retrieved three baby squirrels that night and placed them in a tall cage on the front porch for safekeeping. We put a large tree limb inside, so they could sleep at the top.

The next day we discovered one little guy had injuries, so I implored a kind neighbor, who is a veterinarian, to take care of him, and she did. We put the other two out on a nearby tree, hoping the mother would return.  One immediately ran away, but the third fuzzy fellow clung steadfastly to the tree for hours.

When momma didn’t return, we put him back in the cage and added nesting material, a bottle of water and a plate of dry hamster food. At first he was wary of us, but as the weeks progressed he would gladly accept unsalted roasted peanuts right from our hands.

I would often notice him sitting at the top of the limb in his cage surveying the yard. I can’t say for sure but he seemed to enjoy the spectacle of Mr. Crow arriving at the bird bath only to be chased away by the mockingbirds.

My husband went on a trip to England, and we looked forward to releasing the squirrel into our heavily wooded backyard upon his return. One evening, however, I neglected to fasten the cage door properly, and the wily squirrel nudged his way out and scampered up a nearby pine tree.

After a few weeks passed, we saw a squirrel sitting on our porch with a rather expectant expression. At first we weren’t sure it was the same guy, but his friendliness and his affinity for peanuts gave him away.

He is just one squirrel among many in the neighborhood, but each time he shows up, I see him as a reminder that God sends us little blessings each day. And since God evidently likes to surprise us, sometimes these blessings come wrapped in fuzzy packages.

Lorraine Murray’s latest book, “Death Dons a Mask,” features the mysterious and comical goings-on unleashed at St. Rita’s parish when a handsome seminarian arrives for the summer. Artwork for this column is by Jef Murray. Readers may contact the Murrays at