As I sit in my study newly created for my new role as doctoral researcher in my new-old cottage with the fire crackling, I watch a single solitary squirrel that lives here leaping from spot to spot and chittering to itself in amongst the overgrown trees and dense bramble of the long neglected garden, this story comes to mind...
Once there was Squirrel who carefully hid away all the nuts and berries he had collected over the summer and autumn ready for the winter. The trouble was he was a very excitable Squirrel and didn’t always pay as much attention as he perhaps should.
Very easily distracted by the latest thing was Squirrel.
So, when it came time to make use of his little stash of treasures, to tide him through the winter months of snow and cold and not much about, Squirrel could not quite remember where it was.
He thought maybe it was a squirrel thing.
He thought maybe all squirrels were like this but when he looked about him, he noticed that all the others seemed to know exactly where their personal stash was quite quite easily.
Perhaps it was by the Oak Tree Squirrel thought.
He liked to spend time talking with that.
The stash wasn’t there.
Squirrel twitched his bushy grey tail.
He sniffed the air.
He looked to Blackbird for support.
But Blackbird was too busy with her own things.
Squirrel looked for Woman who visited regularly but she was not seen so much now that it was cold and her winter coat was threadbare and patched.
He even asked his own reflection in the pond but it just shook it’s head with an “oh, you silly squirrel” as it did.
When would he learn to pay attention?
And he was getting hungry now.
What had been funny to begin with wasn’t funny anymore.
There seemed there was only one thing he could do. He would have to carefully, slowly, search every single inch of the park. He was sure it wouldn’t be outside the park, would it?
This was when he saw her.
Small Girl slowly picking up a pile of nuts and berries and carrying them off to somewhere else entirely.
Squirrel watched as she did this three times more.
On her last trip is when Squirrel saw something glint when the morning sun chanced upon it. A Gold Ring. In fact the Gold Ring Squirrel himself had found, knew wasn’t edible but had liked all the same anyway and kept it to admire.
In that moment he realised, he hadn’t misplaced his stash at all but something or rather someone had been taking it.
He scampered after the Small Girl wondering what exactly she was doing with all he had collected and stored and cared for over the year. And why was she talking to herself Squirrel thought.
That’s okay, she was talking to Teddy Bear tucked under her left arm. Seeming to be reassuring Teddy Bear that what they were doing was just fine and it was a really good idea really really.
When Squirrel got closer, he saw she had a Doll House. Quite a large Doll House. A Large Doll House that had a bed in it, a bed with blankets.
The Large Doll House had a kitchen full of HIS nuts and berries.
As Squirrel got closer and closer still, Small Girl turned around to face him
“There you are” she said
Squirrel was startled, was she really talking to him? He backed away slowly with front paws raised and glanced over his shoulder as he did. There was nothing else at all around as is often the case in these things.
The Small Girl stood with her hands on her hips talking to Teddy Bear who dangled from the crook at her wrist continuing a convoluted discussion before turning back to Squirrel once more.
“We’ve been waiting for you for weeks.” she said with her best very stern looking face.
“Teddy Bear was getting quite worried about where you were.”
“Why me?” Squirrel stuttered.
“Because we’ve got your house ready for the winter of course.”
It seemed perfectly obvious to Small Girl, she was quite surprised that Squirrel was surprised for surely he should have been expecting just this exactly as it was now presented to him.
Squirrel just stared at her confused.
But then he remembered.
He remembered back to the Spring, the first days when he was yawning and waking up and this Small Girl had trodden on his tail!
That was it!
He remembered now.
She had of course made use of her manners and apologised immediately to him, asked Squirrel what he had been doing that might make Small Girl such as she happen upon his tail by accident and he had replied with only a small amount of irritation that he was going about his business as normal, waking up of course, there wasn’t so much excitement for Squirrel in the winter so he liked to hunker down and doze for a while.
Well, the Small Girl and Teddy Bear had looked at each other, muttered and whispered to each other and stated matter of factly
“Well, this won’t do at all, at all, you simply cannot sleep here.”
And with that she had kicked the pile of leaves he nested in.
Squirrel was quite put out and not entirely sure how to respond to such a thing, so had pouted and wandered off not in the least wanting to be any where near this Small Girl.
Now here she was presenting to him as she put it -
“a much finer place to rest for the winter. Why, there are even blankets I have knitted myself.”
She declared this most proudly.
She had rearranged everything inside the Large Doll House in such a way that Squirrel could just about squeeze in, if he so happened to want to. It was a little snug though he had to admit it was warm and dry and when the rains came it would give him plenty of shelter and he would have his very own little store kitchen without worrying anymore of anything getting lost unless Small Girl took it again that is.
All in all, Squirrel had to admit, it was rather quite nice.
Squirrel made a decision.
He went to the stash tucked neatly in the kitchen and found amongst the nuts and berries the gold ring that had caught his eye and he offered it to Small Girl with a flourishing and solemn bow.
They said to each other
“Thank you for being my friend.”