I've lived in Gowanus for well over a year, and I've never seen a squirrel in the neighborhood. Ever. Until this past Sunday.
On 9th Street at 2nd Ave there are few places for a squirrel to live, or eat acorns, or do anything that squirrels do in general. The trees tend to be short and scraggly. There's virtually no grass. People dump junk under an elevated subway line. Men weld iron and cuss. Women sell hot dogs. Mack trucks hurtle by at absurd speeds. Jerks honk horns in jalopies. There are rats. There are no squirrels. Squirrels don't belong here.
But last Sunday I saw one. Right across the street from my house. A little brownish gray one. It was pawing through gravelly soil along the chain-link fence of a car park, presumably looking for food. It was alone. It seemed relaxed.
"Look. A squirrel," I remarked, half-amazed, to my roommate as we idled on our stoop. He paused. We sat together in silence looking at it.
"Have you ever seen a squirrel around here?" I asked him.
He kept looking.
"I can't say that I have," he said.