Friends of Clare House
By Bob Sampson
If you visit Clare House during the daylight hours, you might encounter some aggressive neighbors. These folks have been known to run right up to people, stand erect and silently—but insistently—demand to be fed. And, oh yes, they have four legs and bushy tails. They are squirrels.
What began several years ago as a way to dispose of excess blueberry pancakes on a Saturday or Sunday morning has evolved into multi-generation relationship with a colony of squirrels who inhabit the trees and, sometimes, attics of buildings around Clare House. It has become a relaxing way to pass a few moments by handing out peanuts and other treats to our “friends.”
And others have joined in. Take Charley. Charley was a friend of Randy, who lived in an apartment in a house on the corner. Charley and Randy would spend hours each day in good weather sitting just off Randy’s stoop, watching the cars go by, discussing the neighborhood and the world, and feeding squirrels. When Randy died a couple of years ago, Charley lost not only a friend but a place to go, a place to be welcomed. Over time, he started stopping by Clare House, leaving ears of corn for the squirrels and if someone was outside, stopping to sit and talk on the tailgate of the pickup truck.
People need to eat but they also need other things—friendship, a place to sit a bit and chat, a welcome. So do squirrels. Both type of God’s creatures find friends at Clare House.