A Tale of Two Squirrels

Conventional wisdom speaks of the two squirrels in the summer; the one who stores food for winter, and the one who doesn’t. It must be nice to have the choice. I’m not sure either had to face student loan collections, or the second round of an austerity budget.

It always feels to me like every step ahead is another step back. Put in an honest effort and they’ll just find a way to get every dime anyway, so what’s the use. I, for one, haven’t given up on the sensible squirrel altogether though. While there’s no great fortune for me to acquire and put aside for later, there is one thing I can get on those summer days, those days when the sun is out and it all feels right: I can get an actual moment of actual silence.

Silence, as we all know, is not measured in decibels. Take for example a birthday in which the decibels are practically nil; absence can be louder than a room full of people. Our winters are full of those loud kinds of silences, the ones where the world is muffled by snow which only seems to amplify those internal survival-instinct anxieties, knowing you’re going to have to shovel, a snow day being just a day’s wages lost. It’s just more work.

But the summer, the summer provides an opportunity, because on a hot summer day, if you’ve got even a scrap of food and a glass of water, your survival instincts aren’t on alert. And it doesn’t really matter if there are ATVs roaring by, jet skis on the water, dogs barking, or kids screaming, you can lie in the grass and close your eyes, and sun spots dance across your eyelids and it’s as quiet as it’s ever going to get.

So even though I know it’s still far away enough yet, I am preparing for winter in my own way. Because while I know that I’ll have taxes taken out of my four-month contract as if it’s a year long contract, I know that I’ll just get it back on my return, except I now know that I actually won’t because student loans will take it all and then there isn’t even a nub of fingernail left to gnaw on til June, because truck batteries just have a knack for giving out right at that worst possible moment, but you never know when that moment is going to be, and no matter how thin I could live now, whatever meagre amount more I could squirrel away in my bank account would be gone by then anyway, so this year I’ve been saving up on my summer silences, because they haven’t figured out how to take them from me yet.