For our prompt of “nuts” today, I decided to sketch a little squirrel enjoying one as a treat. We have a friendly squirrel who often visits us on our terrace. I’m quite sure it’s likely a different squirrel each time, but it always seems like the same one. It will often come up to the window of the door and peer inside as if looking for something. This, of course, spurred Philippe and I to imagine an entire story for him. We named him Michael and we assume he must be looking for our dog Phineas. Since, we’ve no idea what Phineas does all day while we’re at work, we assume he throws little parties for his friends and that Michael is his best friend. Once, while Michael was peering in the window, Phineas rushed over to him and pawed at the window causing him to run away. We guessed that he was embarrassed by the affection or temporarily displeased with Michael as he still owed him money from yesterday’s poker game. I’ve no idea what the currency for such a game would be, since Michael undoubtedly prefers nuts and Phineas only prefers things made from pork. This could have also caused some of the irritation we witnessed, but we were sure the two would work it out in whatever way their friendship deemed appropriate. That’s just what good friends do.
While I realize most people talk for their dogs, Philippe and I seem to have progressed beyond that a bit. Phineas has quite a rich and complex life that’s quite easy to overlook while simply watching him snoring on the couch. When we have dinner parties, it’s referred to as Phineas Café, not because he actually cooks anything, but because he thinks he owns this restaurant. And he will go up to each guest and won’t leave until they tell him the dinner was wonderful or at least satisfactory. Indeed, his demeanor seems to say that he owns this house and all of its inhabitants as well. When I published by recent book, we imagine Phineas saying, “Oh, no! I’m an author now! How much can one little dog do?” He takes credit for everything that happens in our lives, and assumes he must be in charge of it in some way. Yes, he also has a blog, and if you haven’t guessed by now, it’s the one you’re currently reading. In truth, I’m not sure why Michael the squirrel would put up with such a demanding friend, but he’s back each day to check in on Phineas. The fun thing about imagination is that it becomes true in some way. Life would be terribly dull were it only filled with facts. And painting things in my imagination is almost as fun as penning them to paper or sketching them!
I’m secretly thrilled that Philippe loves to play these imagining games with me. We both adore bits of history and documentaries, but a world of pure imagination is a wonderful place indeed. As I type this, Philippe is actually watching a French documentary from a channel that he loves. Being a livelong geek myself, it was somehow comforting when he was just now bereft that he missed two of these documentaries while we were visiting family in Paris. “I missed TWO!” he exclaimed. “Which two?” I asked to which he replied, “The one on cod AND the one on pomegranates.” I have to admit to asking only because I already knew this show tended to focus on the most mundane and everyday things. “Can’t you just go back and watch them?” I asked to which he said, “No! They’re gone now! But, at least I didn’t miss the latest one so that’s good!” He’s currently watching an entire documentary on coconuts. In these moments, I just fall in love all over again. Our little family brings me lots of joy and though we don’t actually do crazy and newsworthy things, they are still things that enrich our lives. And perhaps this little lesson is all Michael is attempting to tell us as he visits each day. Life is often at its best when experienced with joyful simplicity, like a squirrel in a tree.
About the Doodlewash
Da Vinci Paint Co.: Yellow Ochre, Leaf Green, Terra Cotta and Cobalt Blue. Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with black ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book. Want to purchase a print of this doodlewash? Send me a note with a link to this post, and I’ll add it to my shop!
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Creator of Doodlewash®, founder of World Watercolor Month (July), World Watercolor Group™, and host of the Sketching Stuff Podcast. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!