I work at the National Cathedral, so at lunch I have the pleasure, on moderate and sunny days, of eating my lunch in a grassy clearing directly adjacent to the Bishop's Garden. I have a bench that I like. It sits under an ancient short-needled evergreen with sturdy, low-lying branches that create a shady spot even in mid-day. I eat my sandwich and read my book, while there is a mild hum of bees and mockingbirds flash by in their switchblade flight patterns.
People flock to the Cathedral and find respite in these gardens. Today, there was a dad teaching his kids to hit gently tossed baseballs, a pretty girl in a black sleeveless top and a loose-fitting summer skirt talking on her cell phone, and a group of nuns in full habit eating their lunch. The head nun sat on the bench while five younger nuns sat on the grass around her, as if it were storytelling time.
The garden is also home to a crowd of rowdy squirrels imported directly from the original Garden of Eden. Paradise is so etched into their genetic memory that they have no fear of humans. If you have food, these squirrels will all but climb up your leg looking for a hand-out. They are beggars and thieves; their fur is a freakish black rather than the normal gray. They are shameless.
After my lunch, I noticed one of the nuns crouched on all fours and suddenly scrambling across the grass after one of these squirrels, who had probably pilfered a potato chip or something.
That's my story: A gothic Cathedral, in sunny springtime... a nun, on all fours, chasing a squirrel.