At the risk of sounding slightly weird, you know what I miss about America?
Growing up in the countryside, as I mentioned before, was a peaceful life. I grew up surrounded by wildlife. Deer, foxes, birds, squirrels, coyotes, and more. We even had the occasional pheasant in our backyard.
Until about two years ago, my grandparents had this big, beautiful house and a large piece of land. Gramma had a nice section of it changed into a beautiful garden that we sometimes helped her maintain, but most of it she let grow wild and untamed, keeping the forest alive for the wildlife.
My family makes a huge event of popcorn stringing for Christmas. The whole family (aunts, uncles, cousins, “How are we related again?”s, etc.) gets together at Gramma and Grampa’s house for games, food, and popcorn stringing. The first to finish properly gets a prize, but you’re disqualified if you’re not singing. And trust me, everyone checks. The night is often full of “YOU’RE LIP SYNCING!”
Followed by a popcorn fight with the leftover popcorn, naturally.
Anyway, after the holiday season is over, Gramma used to put the strings of popcorn outside along the edge of the forest for the wildlife. When we would go visit, we would watch from the bay window in the kitchen as deer, birds, squirrels, foxes, and more would come and enjoy the treats.
I miss that.
Not just the popcorn stringing… but the animals in general.
I miss looking out the window and seeing a fox dash through the trees.
I miss having to be careful on the road because deer would jump out.
I miss making bird feeders from pinecones, peanut butter, and bird seed.
But mostly, and you can laugh if you want to… I miss squirrels!
None of these animals are around in Japan! I mean, in Kyoto and Nara, yeah, there are deer. But the only wildlife I see in my area are birds… mostly crows. And they’re huge and kind of scary here.
I miss seeing squirrels on the back deck, miss seeing them try to get the seeds out of the squirrel-proof bird feeders.
We used to have two particularly smart squirrels in my backyard. They’d jump and shake the branches of the trees together until the bird feeder either shook out enough seeds for them or just fell off the tree altogether.
I miss seeing our dog’s reaction as we would whisper, “squirrel!” and he’d race to the sliding glass door, whining and pitching a fit until we opened it for him.
So I know it’s silly… but I miss squirrels.