KidsView  | The Adventist Review for kids and those who always will be kids at heart | June 2012

Welcome to the Backyard

By Michelle Elliott Fontaine

Have you ever seen a chipmunk eating raw coleslaw? If you come to my house, you may see this and much more in the backyard. There’s a feast every day, and the wildlife have come to expect it! They wait in anticipation and then bounce, hop, and scamper over when I come to the door.

Although you would have a hard time telling them apart, these backyard critters have their own personalities and preferences. And the little beggars are also “choosers.” One chipmunk won’t eat salted or unshelled peanuts, only raw, unshelled, and unsalted will do. The adventurous baby rabbits will try to eat almost anything, even a string of lights. (Don’t worry, they weren’t plugged in!) Chipmunks will eat carrots, but the older rabbits won’t.

They ask me for things in their own way. For instance, when their water supply is dry or frozen, they’ll just sit and stare at me until action is taken. Sometimes I’ll look out the window and a get a brief shock when I see something staring back. But then I realize it’s just the fuzzy face of a squirrel wanting a peanut, and I’ll laugh. I love to feed God’s creatures and watch their antics. Seeing their happiness makes me happy.

Once their tummies are satisfied, the critters do funny things, like happy dances. Most of the time they chase each other around the trees and through the bushes. One squirrel does acrobatic stunts. A young rabbit repeatedly tries to see how fast it can hop from one end of the yard to the other and back.

I have my favorites. An older, wiser squirrel is not afraid of me and will take peanuts directly from my hand. I save the extra-big ones for it as a reward for trusting me. One chipmunk just grabs from my hand and runs away. But my favorite chipmunk, “Little Sweetie,” waits close by for “Mr. Grabby” to leave, then cautiously makes its way over to the door. It sits and looks up at me with sweet, dewy eyes and touches my hand lightly with its tiny paw as it tucks each peanut into a corner of a cheek. We try to see how many peanuts we can get to fit at once, and sometimes while it is stuffing, it lets me stroke its back with my finger.

There’s also a squirrel with a lame arm that has a hard time holding things. It eats all crouched over. I make little piles of food for it underneath a chair or bush so it can eat in peace. I wish I could bring it inside and take care of it, but all I can do is hope for the best.

You could compare my backyard to God’s kingdom. He created us and loves having a family to enjoy, love, and care for. He gazes down and sees our struggles and vulnerabilities and He longs to step in and fix them. But sometimes He just leaves us to make our own decisions and learn from our experiences. He likes for us to come to Him for help and guidance—whether for small problems or giant ones.

I can’t wait for the day that all of us are seated at the big banquet table in heaven. I hope that gathering includes you, me, and all God’s special creatures.

—Learn more about “Aunt Michelle’s” critters by visiting www.thecritterbook. com.