I have a very strange relationship with American supermarket baked goods. They are too big or too sweet, or just too unfamiliar. My last visit to Tennessee feels like a lifetime ago. On that last visit I was attacked by severe cake cravings. For just a simple fruit cake, not a creamy, iced kind of cake. My second grandchild had arrived, and neither the mother nor the grandmother of the newborn baby were in any mood to bake.
I walked to the local supermarket, a beautifully located chain store. I would ramble around the suburban streets, admiring the beautiful gardens on my way to it, but would take the shortest route home, inevitably lugging more than I had planned to. After much searching in the shelves and display cases, I found a box of blueberry muffins, tiny ones, perhaps an inch and a half across. They were triumphantly borne home, along with the regular fresh produce. Once home, I took a bite, and was most upset with the cloying sweetness. I asked my son to take a bite, and he was equally horrified. (Also that his diabetic mother had been foolish enough to buy cake). The older grandchild was rarely given sweet stuff. Could we give them to her nursery school teachers? No, because the box was now open. My son told me to just throw them in the trashcan, but my desi heart rebelled.
I wandered into the back yard. There was a tree with forked branches, where I would often spy large American squirrels. Hmm. The squirrels might make good guinea pigs for the muffins. No harm in trying. And so, out of the remaining eleven muffins/cupcakes (can’t really tell the difference) I kept two in the fork of the tree, whose name I never knew. (My son didn’t know it then, either). I kept a watch from the kitchen door, and to my great delight, the muffins were devoured in no time. For the next few days it was party time for the backyard squirrels. They came, they saw, they gobbled. Every day until the wretched muffins got over. They must have wondered where the muffin dispensing person had disappeared to.
I am sorry to say that I do not really love American squirrels. They lack the petite charm of our little desi ones. Their white stripes are supposedly the result of Lord Rama stroking a squirrel’s back, when it tried to help build the bridge to Lanka by carrying pebbles in its tiny mouth. I love squirrels in the great outdoors, but am never glad to see one on our seventh floor balcony, which I do occasionally. My cousin’s air-conditioner’s outdoor wires were chewed up by squirrels. His wife’s blouse was stolen off the clothes line and stuffed inside the airconditoner to line their nest. Not good neighbours at all.
Nonetheless, they are beautiful creatures, with their bright, shiny eyes and bushy tails. Whenever the Covid gods permit me to meet my grandchildren, I might celebrate by buying a box of blueberry muffins just for the backyard squirrels.