LATELY, THERE SEEMED TO BE MEN EVERYWHERE MEASURING AND PUTTING STAKES IN THE GROUND. SOMETHING WAS UP AND THE ANIMALS WERE AFRAID.
Chatter figured the problem with being a gray squirrel on the island was the fact that the darned humans kept chasing him, and he had run out of patience. It was time to call an emergency meeting of the Island Council.
Last night’s downpour had quieted the floor of the big woods, and the air was heavy with the sweet smell of a hardwood forest after a rain. Dead branches swollen with water don’t snap like dry ones, and the layer of wet leaves made the earth as quiet as a pillow, deadening the footsteps of the two boys carrying their slingshot weapons.
The gray squirrel was unusually quiet, his mouth stuffed with ash seeds he found scattered on the ground, a result of the deluge from the prior evening. His name was Chatter, as was his father’s and his father’s father before him. In fact, the name went back countless generations, being passed to the firstborn male of the family, as was the custom in the animal world.
The name was apt, for Chatter was known to continue a tirade long after its cause was removed. He learned early on that he had the ability to influence others with his incessant babble, mainly because he could not be ignored. Much to his pleasure, he also learned that he could outrun and outjump his brothers and sisters when moving from branch to branch. This was a skill that earned the respect of his entire clan and, along with his demand to be heard, led to his election as the clan’s spokesman during meetings of the council.
Problem was . . . deep inside he was a coward, and he knew it.
Running like the wind, he raced along the outstretched branch toward the tip. Without breaking stride, he launched his body, straining to reach the safety of the adjacent tree. Instinctively, he knew his vulnerability while in the air, and he felt the marble fly over the hair on his back before it slapped through the leaf and glanced into the woods.
His claws dug into the lifesaving branch of the maple that was his refuge, and without a thought, he raced to the main trunk and scrambled as high as he could go. Those dang boys! Wait till I tell the council about this one. Anxious to make the hunters’ presence known to the others, he started his warning cry as he jumped from branch to branch during his mad race to Cottonwood, where the others would be waiting.
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At seventy-six, I’m at the beginning of a new chapter in a life filled with blessings from above, adventure, love of family, and kinships reaching into the heavens and to God himself. —AND— I love to tell a story.