10. Squirrels

It was fun to grow up in Ecuador for many reasons, but one of them was the way visitors to the country reacted in awe and amazement to everyday things. A missions team would come to Quito from the US and gape in wonder at llamas or street performers or the Andes Mountains, and I would feel a smug sense of pride at considering these miraculous wonders a normal part of my missionary kid life.

Then I came to Indiana and began doing the same thing as those visitors, except my awe and amazement were reserved for squirrels.

In my fourteen or so years in Ecuador, I only ever saw two squirrels. One was kept in a cage as an exotic animal at a beach resort. The other crossed my path while I was visiting a cloud forest with my high school biology class. Cloud forests are basically high-altitude rainforests, and the location we were visiting was renowned worldwide for its vast variety of bird species. My class was given the option of taking an early-morning bird-watching tour. Most of us agreed to try it.

So at about six o’clock in the morning we found ourselves stumbling along a jungle path, bereft of breakfast or coffee, clutching our binoculars and trying to stay awake as our guide pointed out toucans and parrots that were so far away they all looked alike. I was almost asleep on my feet when someone gave a sharp, sudden cry.

“Squirrel!”

We immediately abandoned whatever tropical bird our guide was pointing out and looked around eagerly for the squirrel. There it was! A squirrel! Running across our path just thirty feet away! We were fascinated. In the end, the most remarkable and memorable thing about that whole bird-watching tour was the squirrel.

Then I came to Indiana to attend college and realized there are squirrels everywhere. I immediately pointed this out to people.

“Squirrels!” I exclaimed. “Right there! Cute fuzzy furry squirrels!

People began giving me odd looks.

Squirrels are adorable. I don’t understand why people aren’t more excited about them.

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