Life on the bench: a squirrel's perspective

A Monitor photographer stumbles upon a squirrel who is bolding lounging on a bench, ready for his closeup.

Melanie Stetson Freeman/Staff
A people-friendly squirrel grabs a spot on a bench near some nervous tourists.

For a recent assignment to photograph "summer in D.C.," I rode around the National Mall on a bicycle searching for images. I slung one camera around my neck, put the other with the longer zoom lens in a backpack, and started pedaling.

Park the bike, unload the second camera, and walk around. Repeat.

Some days, wonderful things happen right in front of you. You are charmed. Other days, nothing comes together in the viewfinder.

This turned out to be a good day: A group of Amish men and boys with their distinctive straw hats visited the Lincoln Memorial; a little boy sat on a friend's shoulders to make a rubbing at the Vietnam Memorial; and through it all, the cloud-covered sky created beautiful, soft light.

Toward the end of my day, feeling pleased but hoping for a few more "keepers," I rounded a corner and there was this squirrel.

He was boldly lounging on a bench and not afraid of the camera. The nervous tourists sharing the bench made my image work.

I wonder if I'm in their photo.

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