I don’t know if these things are in all places around the world. I sorta hope not because they are usually sad. It’s not legal for them to be placed along our roadsides when people die at that spot but people seem to need the closure of marking the place where a loved one assumed room temperature. Some of the shrines have candles and some of those stay lit as if someone comes and relights them when the wind blows them out. Some shrines have so many flowers and cards that it becomes a distraction along the highways and the Highway Patrol comes out to remove them. I think there are a lot of cop wives who get flowers unexpectedly and feel a special joy their husbands use to get extra nookie on weeknights.
But this was the strangest thing I’ve seen at a shrine. I don’t know if it was a joke or a final but true showing of love. I’m almost afraid to know, honestly. But here it is for you to see too, left in full colour unlike my gravesite photography or that of the homeless. You might need to look at it in the largest size Red Bubble has here to be sure you’re seeing what I saw…
A squirrel. Possibly the image of a very dead squirrel because the shrine was along a busy street where the squirrels aren’t prone to using either crosswalks or signal lights. The fruit on the shrine was fake but the flowers were all fresh. The easel was wooden. And that wasn’t some cheapo plastic covering the picture; that was real glass, mind you.
But the frame. Soccer, baseball, hockey and something else I was too startled to uncover in the top right corner. Maybe a football. Or a tennis racket. Heck, if we’re gonna go that far, it may as well have been a hunting rifle and sportsman’s knife.
The deceased isn’t one of the loving and friendly squirrels I refer to as “Bear”. (Yes, they are ALL called “Bear” because they sorta look like bears when you’re laying down with a camera and they are taller than your head). These guys are skittish and rather aggressive. They wouldn’t be playing golf or checkers. These guys would ‘slide into home’ taking out the catcher, umpire, and most of the infield dirt. These would be the guys with no front teeth and proud to show that off while checking you into the wall at 30MPH. A squirrel like this would gladly take a kick at a loose ball and smack you shin-to-shin hard enough to break both yours and his.
But squirrels don’t typically do any of that. To date, I’ve never seen even an aggressive squirrel field a fly ball or block a puck with his face mask. What in the world WAS this squirrel’s story???
If this was a joke, it lasted a LONG time, by shrine standards. It was in the same spot for at least three days, untouched as far as I could tell. Maybe nobody got close enough to see the “dearly departed”. Maybe someone came out and freshened up the flowers. Maybe someone went to a LOT of trouble to make me go thru this much trouble trying to figure out something of absolutely no importance at all. I shot this and waited for someone to pop out and say, “You’re on Candid Camera!” I looked around for grinning squirrels but they either giggled quietly or weren’t amused I was shooting their dead. (sigh)
There are times when I really, really wonder about the motivations of living beings. Then there are times I’d rather get drunk, shake my head, and contemplate my navel. Right about now my navel is lookin’ mighty interesting. A bit like a hockey puck went into a big wad of brown dough and didn’t bounce back out. If I can pull the lint out (that mom used to say was the stitches and I’d come open if I messed with it except when in the bathtub), maybe I’d find a shrine for a skittish squirrel wearing a jockey’s cap.
It’s been a long, long, long day.