If there is such thing as reincarnation, then I hope God allows me some input as to where I will return to roam this earth.
Such a notion is no doubt anathema to those who embrace this religious tenet, but since its April Fool’s Day, indulge me for a moment. Because in the entire animal kingdom there is no life lived like that of the cat in the Keenan home. I would suggest you should ask Sunshine yourself, but that would require you to find her. And I have a deadline to make.
The second most desirable option would be a Keenan dog. Bernie gets her hair done more frequently than most Leawood women and then lounges around all day and gets tossed table scraps.
But if God rightfully figured both those options were reserved for those whose life is worthy of a suitable reward, then maybe I could return as a less obvious choice. But one with a preposterously comfortable life.
A Leawood squirrel. More specifically, a North Leawood squirrel.
I’ve never seen one have a bad day.
Let’s count the ways. The food choices are absurd, with oak trees populating every street, and acorns air dropping constantly right in their lap. They procreate endlessly and their children need no mentoring. And then throw in a billion playmates. They play chase all day, dart around and dodge every possible threat. And they never need to visit Starbucks.
Food? Forget it. They eat everything. Our garden has single handedly fed millions. I read where their teeth never stop growing and are constantly sharpened by use. Twenty years ago they ate through the wiring in my father-in-law’s attic and then inhabited the attic for months at end. Breakfast/lunch/dinner? Shake shingles. And then came the babies. Poor Walter resorted to traps and other humane attempts. Breaking news: all colossal failures.
When they get tired of Mother Nature serving food on a platter, they find it in the lush yards that populate our fine city. They dig holes everywhere. Pock marks that sprinkle the entire yard. My yard looks like someone dropped a thousand black cats and then lit them simultaneously. Another bonus — the bird feeders are everywhere and the squirrels steal food from the blue jays and cardinals. Squirrels are skilled at elaborate designs of contorting themselves like an extra from Cirque de Soleil to snare the food.
Hibernation? Forget it. They are having too much fun.
They have zero natural predators. Not even unnatural ones either. Fake Owls? Forget it. That noise outside your window? Squirrels laughing hysterically at the faded “bird.”
There are other benefits for a squirrel with a Leawood ZIP code. Crossing the road is a breeze. Most of the residents are old, drive slow and there are lots of curves and cul-de-sacs, like Cherokee Lane. A squirrel with a bad lot in life lives along Ward Parkway.
And the trees? Preposterous. They grow so high the FAA monitors them. They offer homes to extended families that know no end. Eighty years of growth to house a thousand squirrels. Check that — now 2,000.
I read where someone estimated there are 1.13 billion squirrels in the U.S. — almost three times the human population of the U.S. Most are in the 66206 ZIP code.
For years I never knew squirrels. We lived south of 435. There were no trees there. None. The trees that did grow came straight from the 75 percent off lot a Suburban. Saplings that one could mistake with a large weed. We had no squirrels. Skunks, coyotes, possums — yes — but not squirrels.
Initially the only family member who had difficulty adjusting to living north of 435 was Bernie. This is temptation heaven for Bernie. She chases them. It’s hopeless, she with a double knee replacement, 13 years old. Forget telling her that. But there is a part of the equation that Bernie can’t understand: The squirrels go up. She thinks they go poof.
She runs around the tree, which by the way, takes 30 seconds. And then looks at me as if to say, “what just happened?”
Squirrels even have their own squirrel appreciation day, Jan. 21.
I could go on longer but I just spotted a furry army heading toward our tulips.
Freelance columnist Matthew Keenan writes on the first and third Wednesday of the month. His book “Call Me Dad, Not Dude, the sequel” is sold at Barnes & Noble and Amazon. Visit his blog at matthewkeenan.com or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.