Stanley awoke from a long luxurious sleep, stretched and then set out walking. He turned down the alleyway behind Greenwood Avenue and headed to the grey duplex with the blue trim, number 105. The back gate was open, so he strolled in. He was hungry and was looking forward to having lunch with Mrs. Blackwell. He sat on her deck for about five minutes, enjoying the mid-day sun while waiting for her to appear. Then he decided to take a stroll through her backyard since she was obviously running late.
Mrs. Blackwell had recently added new planters which were filled with pink flowers that smelled like delicious candies. He also noticed a new herb garden, each herb had its own little sign: “basil,” “oregano,” “mint.” He took a little taste of the mint, it was lovely and made his mouth tingle. In the back corner of the yard Mrs. Blackwell had moved her porch swing, which had received an update with bright new yellow cushions. Stanley decided to wait there since it was out of the sun and under the shade of a big leafy tree. He settled in for a mini-nap while Mrs. Blackwell finished up with whatever was making her late for their lunch date. He dozed happily, enjoying the swaying of the tree’s leaves above him – it was as if he had his own “garçon” fanning him. The sweet garden smells made his stomach gurgle, he could hardly wait to eat.
“Stanley!” called out Mrs. Blackwell. Her voice was soft, with a hint of a Southern twang. Mrs Blackwell had grown up in Texas and though she had lived in Toronto for twenty-five years she still considered herself a die-hard Texan, she even had a “Don’t Mess with Texas” plaque on her front porch. Stanley headed over to the deck and joined Mrs. Blackwell at the patio table under a huge umbrella which she had opened to shield them from the sun. She had set out two plates of food, iced tea (she was Texan after all) and water. She smiled at Stanley, thankful for his company. Ever since her husband Earl had passed away last year she had been terribly lonely. Having a daily lunch companion who lived right in her neighborhood had lifted her spirits and put a little spark back in her step.
She sprinkled salt on her fresh avocado and tomato sandwich and took a small dainty bite. “A little slice of heaven!” she said. Stanley was focused on opening the shell of his giant peanut and extricating the nut. He tried his best to eat as little of the shell as possible. He chirped away happily as he finished his peanut and moved on to his walnut. Mrs. Blackwell loved to watch Stanley eat. It was like watching an artist at work, he ate so speedily, yet with such grace. She told Stanley about her busy morning. She had baked a cake for a friend’s birthday, cleared out her husband’s bedroom closet – which she had been procrastinating about – and called her doctor about the arthritis in her left knee which seemed to be getting worse. Stanley chirped and swung his tail around in sympathy.
As per usual, Stanley took the last few nuts and stuffed them in his mouth. Mrs. Blackwell knew his habits well. Now he would be off to hide the nuts for later and hopefully, if his memory served him, he would remember where he had hidden them. “Good-bye Stanley! See you tomorrow!” called out Mrs. Blackwell. Stanley chirped and scurried away quickly. It was crucial that he bury his nuts before other squirrels noticed that his mouth was full. Otherwise he ran the risk of having them secretly follow him and then steal his delicious, organic, Trader Joe’s nuts. It was a tough world out there, but at least he had his good friend Mrs. Blackwell, she was a gem.