I had to go to my employer’s office in lower Manhattan on May 8, 2023. After taking the direct route across the Brooklyn Bridge and then down Broadway to get there (I walked from Brooklyn), I opted to take a more scenic, slightly longer, path back toward the Brooklyn Bridge. This scenic route would take me first to to Battery Park and then down the promenade on the west side of lower Manhattan.

Before the Hudson River cane into clear view on lower Manhattan’s west side, I saw a couple sitting on one end of a park bench as they were looking to their right and laughing. The couple was eating food from McDonald’s. I was walking in the same direction they were looking, so I took a look at the bench. At the opposite end of the benches (let us say 20-25 feet from the couple), there stood a squirrel. The squirrel, standing upright on its two hind legs, was holding a single McDonald’s French fry. It was eating the French fry. I quickly ascertained that the squirrel had retrieved the French fry from the couple. Whether they gave the squirrel the French fry or the squirrel took the French fry (perhaps after it had fallen) I know not.

I figured that a squirrel on a Manhattan bench eating a French fry is the sort of quintessential New York City moment that I am obligated to document as a New York City resident who posts photos from my walks on a website.

(Note, however, that I generally consider Manhattan to be a different city like they did in the days of yore, if not a foreign country.)

I fumbled for my camera, opened my default camera app, and took a photo.

A photograph of a squirrel holding on to a tree on the Battery Park Promenade in Manhattan.
Where is the French fry!? I took this photo with the camera on my Pixel 3a XL.

Now you may note that the above photo does not depict a squirrel on a bench eating a French fry. The squirrel you see is on a tree. It has no French fry. I regret to inform you that it is not even the same squirrel that I saw eating a French fry.

While I was preparing to photograph the French fry squirrel, the squirrel dropped its French fry and left the scene. I was too slow. Perhaps my 2015 photograph of a squirrel kiss in Battery Park (close, in fact, to where I came across the French fry squirrel), which I previously published in The New Leaf Journal, fulfilled my allotment of perfect squirrel photos. The squirrel with the French fry joins the maybe-albino sparrow and the blue jay-black squirrel scene among my cool New York City animal sightings that I just missed photographing.

I spotted the squirrel photographed above not too long after the French fry squirrel while on the same walk. By this point I had already reached the water (you can see in the background of the photo). While a squirrel on a tree is not nearly as exciting or distinctly Manhattan as a squirrel enjoying some McDonald’s French fries, it is not too often that I have the opportunity to capture a close-up photo of a relatively stationary squirrel holding on to the side of a tree. I figured that it was a good consolation prize and would offer me a prompt to share the squirrel French fry story.