Grammy used to say when I’d visit her at the shore, “I just want a companion. It’s good to share life with someone.”
While Diesel was the perfect companion this summer, I admit that part of me was ready for him to hibernate. When a chipmunk no longer fears the sound of the miter saw and galavants all over plugged-in tools, causing me to have minor panic attacks, something’s gotta change. I’d have to shoo him out of the way before cutting anything. You’d think he’d have enough peanuts after hanging out with me for so long to feel secure calling it quits for the winter. If he collected any more, he would have to move dens due to a space issue. I am pretty certain his nut hoarding is the reason why I haven’t seen him with a companion.
I freaked out when he started doing this:
Keeping a pile next to the saw helped for the time being:
(This FACE. Aw, buddy. Give it a rest. You have gathered enough food for the next ten years.)
Grammy wasn’t talking about furry friends. She loved mice but probably would have given me a rabies lecture if she knew about my most recent feral pet. Yet her words echoed in my head when I met 85-year old Eric late summer. I was having a particularly tough day and was walking in the woods by the river, and he and his small dog, Rusty, meandered down the path in my direction. This lanky older gentleman in his khakis and sweater vest began talking to me in a thick accent about how I look Scandinavian. He proceeded to tell me that he is from a small village north of Oslo, Norway and gave me the Cliff’s Notes version of his life story. He recently moved to town to be near his daughter because of his declining health. He then tells me I look lonely. I smile, thinking the same about him.
Over the next few months, we develop a unique bond that I can only attribute to the small town lifestyle and our mutual distain for phones. I drop in to visit him while he’s working at the book store in town and bring him an apple. He brings me hot coffee while I’m selling my designs in the cold at an outdoor festival. We share wine and a block of local cheese at the end of a day as he tells me all about the fjords, the loves of his full life, and the lifestyle he left behind in Norway.
When I returned from being in NY for a few days for work, within seconds of my truck pulling into the driveway, Diesel poked his head out of his den. “Diesel!” I called, and he came running and sat on my boot. (I am convinced he knows the sound of my truck.) Later in the week, Eric and Rusty drove up the mountain while I was burning remnants from a project. Eric got out of the car and teetered toward me with open arms, exclaiming, “How I’ve missed you!”
Friendship comes in many different forms, often when you least expect it, yet when you most need it.
Companionship prompted me to create my own version of something that recently went viral on social media. The couple on ETSY who came up with this concept was brilliant, and now a ton of other companies are making it. Including Nature Calls.
“The Companion” is made from reclaimed pallet wood and is available in multiple styles. Each piece includes two coffee/tea mugs and two wine glasses or beer glasses, depending on how you prefer to tell time. (Perhaps you need two “clocks” for your home. I won’t judge.)
“The (wine) Companion” (style #1):
The (wine) companion (style #2):
“The (beer) companion”:
A wave of panic and loneliness hit me when Diesel finally hibernated. I don’t know if I’ll see him in the spring. Chipmunks naturally have short life cycles, but I’m certain that researchers haven’t factored in the threat of a peanut avalanche in mortality statistics.
While sulking by the fire the other night, I saw a stale piece of bread that I had discarded walk into the woods.
I blink. It keeps walking.
Then a head peeks out.
It’s a little chipmunk. A new one. The only one I have now seen or heard in days. One that apparently missed the memo all summer that she was supposed to gather food for the winter. She was in a frenzy, realizing that she was late to the party and didn’t store up enough goodies, and all of her buddies were MIA.
Either she was desperate or word spread quickly in the woods before her pals hibernated that I was the person to come to for some last minute shopping.
She kept me company in the shop for a few days. Again, when it was least expected…and again, such a small but beautiful gift to my day.
We are so often met where we’re at. With what we need. Whether it be a chipmunk, an elderly Norwegian, or a lifelong friend, companionship is something to treasure. Grammy knew that in her old age.
“The Companion”: $39 (includes two mugs and two wine/beer glasses)