Friday, October 21, 2005

Autumn has definitely arrived. The clear dry nights carry a crisp breeze that stray tomcats turn their muzzles up to sniff at its scents. The first brown leaves try to muster a fierce tempest but only manage a clumsy waltz that scratched against the street. This afternoon the haar rushed into the city to cling greedily onto the tops of hills and the buildings. The thick grey screen flattens the castle and church steeples into black silhouettes.

Against the cold and dull day I headed to the park with a jar of Route 66 peanut butter and six or seven half smoked cigarettes. When the first dark days bring with it the inevitable low spirits, I like to cheer myself up. I am not a big fan of peanut butter despite my American heritage, but squirrels, even the Scottish ones, love the stuff.

I sit upon the bench and scoop a big dollop of peanut butter upon the butts of the cigarettes. There is no sadness in the world that cannot be melted away by the sight of three of four squirrels appearing to smoke as they excitedly nibble at the peanut butter some fool dabbed at the end of a cigarette butt. They sit on their haunches and hold the cigarette between their two front paws and happily lick away the peanut butter.

The best is when the old couples walk by in wonderment. Pointing at one of the squirrel I’ll say something like, “Look at that! It’s a crying shame. I think they learn it from teenagers.” Then I shake my head with a tsk-tsk as punctuation. The whole time I am bursting to laugh at their confusion at the smoking rodents and the weird American bemoaning their lost innocence.

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