In his retirement my Pop started throwing peanuts to the squirrels. He’d stand at the back door and throw them way, way out there, back by the tree line.
Every week or so he’d put them a little less far out, maybe a foot. Before too long he was putting peanuts directly on the back stoop. He would sit there in his favorite chair and watch them eat, with nothing between them but the screen door. It didn’t matter how hot or how cold it was outside — he would prop open the old wood door, put the peanuts down, and watch them eat through the patched wire screen.
Eventually the day came when he could open the screen door just a crack, hold out a big fat peanut, and a squirrel would come and take it right out of his hand. I never tried the trick myself, but I remember the lesson.
Everywhere he went he talked to people. He talked to the cashier and the bag boy at the market, to the waitress at the restaurant, to the neighborhood kids, anybody with whom he crossed paths. When he died there was standing room only at the service. Even his dialysis nurse showed up. The two of them used to play lotto numbers together.
In the end, it was the same skill. He drew people in, throwing out the nuts a little closer each time until they ate out of his hand.
Seems to me we could all stand to toss out a few more nuts. The nuts aren’t the only things that end up coming out of their shells.