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Snapshots of Life in the City

The Return of the White Squirrel

I don't much care for squirrels.
As Carrie Bradshaw, a character from Sex and the City, once opined, "You can't make friends with a squirrel. Squirrels are just rats with cuter outfits."
It was a good summation as far as I was concerned.
But there was an outcry by city residents regarding the white squirrels, once so easily found at Franklin Square, who were now gone. Gone by the hand of gentrification of that park, apparently. I took note but didn't think too much about it.
Then one day I was walking on the national mall and what did I see but a white squirrel! I took out my phone and easily approached the squirrel who seemed unafraid, ready for its photo op. Was this squirrel from the former Franklin Square address – did it move to greener pastures - literally? 
The next day, I wanted to stop back by that area just to see if the squirrel was still there and to my delight I saw several such white squirrels. They were foraging on the ground and running up and down trees while keeping an eye on the human audience gathering to take pictures.
An older woman, toting a serious-looking professional camera, emerged from the crowd.
"You can get closer to her," she said.
"I was here yesterday and noticed how tame the squirrel was – but I didn't know there were so many white squirrels here!"
"I noticed them showing up here about two years ago. This one is called "Snowball" and she lives in that tree," the woman said, pointing to a very old, gnarly, and beautifully lush tree.
Surely I looked at her with skepticism but I remained silent.
"Oh yes, these squirrels are very territorial. That is Snowball's tree. And by the way, she had five babies a few months ago, one was albino and the others gray. And her mate lives in this tree over here."
"So this couple has separate apartments?" I asked.
We smiled to each other. But clearly, the white squirrels were serious business to her.
We had an extended conversation – it wasn't that I had time for that, but I was compelled to stay and listen to her stories. She showed me many pictures of these squirrels that she had taken over time. As I left her, I said I'd look for her next time I was on the mall to see what's new with the squirrels.
"Nice to meet you – my name is Judy," she said. I offered my first name in return. We nodded and parted ways.
And as I walked away, I marveled at her passion for these white squirrels, these rats in cuter outfits.

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