DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — A DeKalb County woman who made her living writing restaurant reviews felt lost when the lockdown closed restaurants earlier this year.
But Channel 2′s Berndt Petersen said she found a unique way to stay busy -- cooking fancy meals herself for an unexpected guest of honor.
Angela Hansperger writes about the best dishes in Atlanta’s best restaurants. Over the last 10 years, she’s turned out hundreds of reviews. But over the last 10 months, she’s written next to none, as the pandemic shut down many restaurants.
Hansperger said not being able to work was really getting to her.
“I was just scared inside. And I don’t know what I was scared of. I just think it was all too much,” Hansperger said. “Everything just felt hopeless. I felt hopeless.”
To keep her sanity, Hansperger kept busy in her kitchen. Morning after morning, she prepared meals from scratch for a very special guest of honor: A chipmunk that lives in a hole off the front porch.
“I guess it evolved from me putting out nuts,” Hansperger said.
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Then came the herbs and spices, then fresh vegetables and fruit, which she carefully arranges on itty-bitty plates. The meal comes with a teeny-tiny cocktail and a dollhouse-sized vase of flowers. It all goes on a little picnic table.
Hansperger serves the meal, and usually within a minute or two, her guest of honor darts into view and takes a seat. The chipmunk nibbles on this and that, packs some of the meal away in its chubby cheeks, and sometimes even asks for more.
“He’ll eat everything and put his paws on the table and look over at me like, ‘Hey! You gonna give me some more?’” Hansperger said. “He picked up the tiny taco and ate it like a person would eat a taco. And it just made me giggle.”
Hansperger said its the kind of entertainment that money just can’t buy. The adorable rodent, who Hansperger has named Thelonious Munk after the famous jazz musician, has become a social media sensation.
“I don’t know, maybe something snapped. Who knows?” Hansperger said with a laugh. “I just thought it was putting something sweet out into the world when there was so much ugliness being put out constantly. I thought maybe it would be a good thing. And it turned out to be really, really great. Good for my soul and for a few other people I think. And for a chipmunk.”
Hansperger said people who are going through very difficult situations have sent along heartfelt messages.
“People told me these stories of going through cancer. Losing loved ones. Or just being shut in and feeling alone. People losing their jobs. And that watching this little rodent eat tiny meals made them laugh and gave them a little bit of joy,” Hansperger said. “That’s all I take from it. That’s all I need. It made one person smile. That was good.”