Because we saw this little fellow:
The feeling probably isn't mutual, but I really love squirrels. Really. There are no squirrels in Australia, so I always become a child when I see one, which can be quite often some days. Sure, in Australia there are koalas and possums - all kinds of furry cuteness - but they lack the obsessive craziness that squirrels possess. Not to mention the spectacular twitchy tails and movement.
You'd think that after living in the UK for quite a few years, the novelty would have worn off by now, but no. Going back to Australia for five years kind of reset the button. Sort of like with Ben & Jerry's.
I guess this is because the first time I saw a squirrel, I was 23. An entire childhood, squirrel-free. There has been lost time to make up for.
I still remember my first (or really, J's) encounter with squirrels like it was yesterday. It was the day after we'd arrived in London. We went for a stroll around Regent's Park and saw our first squirrel on a tree right by the entrance. We took about a dozen blurry photos (and this was back in the days when film was still used), not realising there would be hundreds more, frolicking within the park... and it gets better.
Half-way through the park, a squirrel crossed our path. Awesome, time for some close-up shots of the little critter. The squirrel came closer. And closer. And closer. Suddenly, it was climbing up J's legs. Now, J is an animal lover, and very little freaks him out when it comes to nature. But his response? He froze. I think he was pretty sure he was going to receive a nasty nip in his nether regions. He pleaded for me to help.
And my response? Doubled over in laughter, while trying to capture the moment on film. That is how much I love him.
As for the squirrel, he disappeared as suddenly as he'd come. J's tackle was safe.
This first encounter didn't put us off squirrels - it endeared them to us all the more, cheeky buggers that they are. From then on, whenever we paid a visit to one of the many Royal Parks of London, we made sure we always had a bag of nuts to share with our squirrel friends. We loved sitting quietly on a park bench as a group of squirrels approached slowly - at first, eating the nuts we'd scattered on the ground, then eventually sitting on our laps and eating out of our hands.
Most parks have a resident-loon, who dumps bags of bread crumbs for their pigeon friends. Us? We preferred the squirrels. And now that we're living again in a country where squirrels are aplenty, we can't help feeling a little thrill to see the Faery get excited when she spies a squirrel. Bring it on!