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Locked down but not out in Italy

Singing from the balconies! One nice thing about this crisis ... solidarity! “Guess you’re not living like a tourist anymore,” was the funny, truthful and somewhat gut-wrenching message of a friend the day the lockdown in Italy began. Today is day 6. My beloved Italia has been hit hard with the COVID19 epidemic. With the second largest elderly population in the world, the epidemic has meant a disproportionate amount of deaths in the country. So though I haven’t been worried about contracting it myself, this isn’t about me or someone like me who, if contracted it would probably have a sucky couple of weeks and then recover. It is about if someone like me contracted it and then spread it to a person with a complicated health history or an elderly person with a weakened immune system. Eerily orderly: Lines for the grocery store, each person one meter apart In a country with no concept (and no physical room really) for personal space, and in a city with reproachable hygie

January 21: Today is Squirrel Appreciation Day!

Photo Credit: LondonLunatic flickr squirrel -  Gobbling Nuts
When I was little, my first "pet" was a squirrel named noiseau, who subsequently found a girlfriend named noisette. They would skitter around our backyard, race up trees, and then come to our glass back door and patiently wait for us to appear with peanuts, which we always happily did.

Of course, these weren't real pets. And of course, that wasn't his real girlfriend. I can't even verify that those were their real genders... or that they were the same squirrels. But to a 8 and 6 year old, they were the same, they were a couple and they were ours.

Photo Credit: I don't know. But awesome job whoever it was!
Since that time, I (like many of my out-of-town guests) have had a fascination with squirrels, except that unlike them, I did grow up in areas were they are plentiful and run rampant.

Despite their abundance, I commend Christy Hargrove, wildlife rehabilitator and creator of Squirrel Appreciation Day. For all the amusement they have afforded us, these little ones deserve a day of praise. I also thank the National Wildlife Federation for these fun squirrel facts:

  • There are more than 300 species of squirrel.
  • Different types of squirrels range in size from five inches (the African pygmy squirrel) to three feet (Indian giant squirrel).
  • The word "squirrel" comes from the Greek word skiouros, which means shadow-tailed.
  • Squirrels have brought down the NASDAQ stock market twice, once in 1987 and once in 1994. (That alone is worthy of praise).

Those not so fond of the squirrel-variety of critters often refer to them as rats with bigger tails or as faster pigeons... However, to those of you who think that they are "unclean" one more fact from squirrels.orgThey are the cleanest animal in the rodent family. After having seen Metro B in Rome, I would dare say that they perhaps hold a candle to human cleanliness as well.

And one last fact to hopefully help your endearment of these little creatures, squirrels could potentially be credited with starting the of "metrosexual": The male tree squirrel takes twice as long, as the female, to groom itself. 

So let's give credit where it is due, and today let us celebrate the squirrel.