Earlier this spring as I stood at my sink washing dishes, I saw something that made me stop in the middle of a sudsy scrub of a potato pot: a creature in my back yard that looked suspiciously like a rat. Yikes.
After I watched it for a while wondering how much rat traps cost, I realized it looked like a rat but didn’t behave like a rat. It behaved exactly like the other squirrels frolicking around my yard.
It was a squirrel with no fur on its tail.
The next day a second squirrel with no fur on its tail appeared in my yard; this one was grey. What was going on? How could there be two squirrels of different colours with furless tails?
I still haven’t learned the answer to that question. What makes my heart glad, though, is that all the squirrels in my backyard, furred or furless, romp and play together happily. Even though two squirrels are visibly different from the others—I could even say physically handicapped—the other squirrels treat them no differently.
It reminded our family of “The Sneetches” by Dr. Seuss.
In this fabulous story, some Sneetches have stars on their bellies, but Plain-Belly Sneetches had “no stars upon thars.” In the beginning, the Star-Belly Sneetches won’t associate with their plainer counterparts. By the end of the story, after Sylvester McMonkey McBean sends them all on several trips through his Star-on or Star-off machine (only ten dollars each) the Sneetches no longer know “Whether this one was that one . . . or that one was this one / Or which one was what one . . . or what one was who.”
In other words, the Sneetches discovered that it’s what’s inside that counts, something my backyard squirrels seem to know instinctively. The play together whether or not there is “fur upon thurs.”
Would that it could be so with humanity.