Tuesday afternoon at work I grabbed the nectarine I’d brought for my snack and retired to the office kitchen. It was an especially ripe nectarine, and I knew that the first bite would result in rivulets of sweet juice running down my chin and arm, so I was prepared with paper towel under my chin as I ate. I wasn’t wrong; it was a 2-napkin snack.
Despite the brilliant decoration of my cubicle, the office kitchen is my favorite spot in the building because it is possessed of huge windows that look out onto what is a pretty active spot for wildlife. I myself have seen javelinas and a coyote, and some folks have seen a bobcat as well, but mostly it’s the occasional hummingbird, and lots of lizards and ground squirrels. I once spent 10 minutes watching a pair of ground squirrel pups body slam each other in a performance worthy of the WWE.
As I ate my nectarine, I spied in the underbrush a ground squirrel sitting on his haunches, merrily chomping away on a mesquite bean, which are thick on the ground this time of year, shaken down by the monsoons that sweep through most nights. Our dogs eat them, too, and we are constantly finding them in odd places in the house under chairs and in between couch cushions. It’s their favorite chew toy, other than each other.
I was struck by the symmetry, me eating my treat with two hands and the squirrel eating his likewise. Despite the fact that I am much bigger, wear clothes and shoes, and am eating my fruit in air-conditioned comfort, as I looked at that little squirrel, there was no question that I was as much a critter as he was.
* * *
Scott and I stopped into the Texas Roadhouse for dinner the other night. I ordered my usual: 6 oz. filet, loaded sweet potato, and house salad.
“What kind of dressing?”
“French and blue cheese, please.”
I get this a lot in restaurants; people think it’s a very odd combo. My folks started eating their salads this way years ago, and I picked it up as a kid after my multi-year Thousand Island phase was over. A lot of restaurants these days don’t have French dressing, though, so I usually do Italian as a back-up, but when I can get it, that’s what I order.
“Yes, really,” I said, ever-so-slightly annoyed that I was being questioned about my salad dressing choices again. Only it was different this time.
“That’s what I always order!” said our waiter.
“Yes. And no one has ever ordered it that way before from me. Are you from the Midwest?”
“I am,” I said, not sure what that had to do with it, but perhaps he had some inside knowledge of regional condiment usage that I was unaware of. “Are you?”
“Yeah, I’m from Wisconsin.”
“Oh yeah? Where? My family’s from Superior, and we used to live in Manitowoc for awhile.”
“St. Croix Falls.”
“That’s right over the border from Minnesota, isn’t it?” Oddly, I had never heard of the city before that morning, and then I was hearing about it twice in the same day.
Outside of my own parents and myself, I had never met anyone else who liked French and blue cheese salad dressing before, either. I was quite tickled with the exchange.
Doesn’t take much to delight me.