It was March, still very cold.

One lonely squirrel appeared on my fire escape, freezing and hungry, folded her hands into her chest and looked into my eyes.

I gave her some bread, then went to the store and bought nuts and sushki (traditional Russian bread rings, small, crunchy, mildly sweet) so that she could easily hold them in her hands when she ate.

Then I built her a house: a plastic basket with warm pieces of cloth inside, wrapped in several old blankets, inside a cat carrier, protected from rain and wind. Ugly, but warm and comfortable. I offered her this house and she accepted it, though without much appreciation, but that was OK with me.

She was quite aggressive, this strange squirrel, attacked me all the time when I gave her food (though she never bit me, only hit me with her little hands), ate all the food, always demanded more and still was skinny. I could not understand what was going on, until about a month later when a cute little face peeped out from her doorway.

A few days later, I counted four precious little squirrel babies; so now I have a big, happy family on my fire escape and much more work to feed them, making sure that they have enough nutrition, maintaining their house, sweeping their porch, constantly apologizing to my cats, asking them to be hospitable.

Several months later, they are still here, though their mother has taken off – it was difficult for her to feed four babies who are bigger than her now. They can barely even be considered babies anymore – though they always will be to me. They’re gone now more often than not, living their adult squirrel lives somewhere, coming back every now and then to say hello.