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The Good Old Tree
It was only October, but it snowed so rapidly that it had buried the entire neighborhood in an eight foot blanket of whiteness. (When the average height in this neighborhood is 2’ 4”, eight feet is like standing next to a human house) fortunately, half the animals living there were a large family of snowshoe hares from Greenland.
It wasn’t even winter yet, but that’s not what their instincts knew. Their coarse, brown coats had changed to a soft, pure white. And all that snow covering ground was making the hares eager to dig up the tastiest roots and flowers they could find.
With paws strong enough to penetrate the stiff, dry grounds of Africa, those foreign rabbits mined a temporary tunneling system which the animals all happily traveled through.
Jane Bunson, Laura’s mother, was so full of gratitude, and wanted to personally thank the snowshoe hares, but with, their pelts automatically changed, she couldn’t have spied them had they been right behind her.
But not every little animal was completely happy. Down on the far end of the neighborhood; lay Bushytail Lane, well known for the population consisting mostly of foxes, chipmunks, squirrels, and the occasional interested bunny. But all that could be seen of Bushytail Lane during this unusual snowstorm was a flat white zone, just like the rest of the area, with nothing more than chimneys and twigs sticking through the top.
Under all that snow, were the houses of trapped, miserable residents waiting for the snowshoe hare patrol to tunnel them out. They could have done it themselves, but it would’ve resulted in frostbitten paws.
And where number 53 dwelled, an old oak tree’s branches poked through the thick, frosty surface. Five feet below, Phillip, Phyllis, and Puff Squirrelson, stared miserably into a white window, waiting hopefully for their freedom.
“Say Phyllis,” Phillip asked sullenly “since we’ve got no TV signal, no cell phone signal, or for this matter, no Nintendodo signal, what do you think we should do?”
Phyllis nevertheless, was in the same gloomy mood as her brother. “I don’t know, maybe if we beat ourselves senseless with a baseball bat, we’ll be free from all this torture!” she replied sourly.
“I’m hungry” said Puff.
Nick Squirrelson, the depressed twins’ father paraded into the den, a huge grin spread about on his furry face. Phillip noticed his unusual glee. “What are you so happy about, dad? We’re stuck underneath Mount friggin’ Everest, and the snow removal service won’t be here for another three and a half hours!”
Nick answered calmly, “You know what day it is?”
“I don’t know dad, the snow’s got us in sooo deep that you can’t even tell what day it is.” Phyllis griped, contrary of her dad’s high spirited tone.
Nick sat on the couch.
“It’s the anniversary of how I got squirrels to live in trees!” he said proudly.
Phillip and Phyllis both gave their father a blank stare, and then burst out laughing.
“Oh come on! It’s really important!” Nick was upset his kids weren’t caring about this special moment.
“Sorry dad but you’re the reason why we live in trees? That seems a little too good for you to be true!” said Phillip.
“Yeah, and did you invent the trees too?” Phyllis teased.
Nick held back a tear. “I am hurt! You realize if I didn’t create the tradition of squirrels living in trees, you two wouldn’t be here?”
The twins snorted in disbelief. Puff, on the other hand, seemed a bit interested.
“Nick, you were really the first squirrel to live in a tree?”
“Yes” Nick replied, just as the twins retorted with a denying “no”
“Oh I wouldn’t be too unsure about that, kids.” said their mother, Sally, who walked in, holding a tray of hot acorn chocolate. (Which was considered an absolute delicacy around the neighborhood, but that’s a story for another time.) Baby Precious toddled in behind her.
“If your father hadn’t made history, I wouldn’t have ever met him, and—”
“We know, Phillip, Precious and me wouldn’t exist!” said Phyllis “But seriously? Dad’s better known for sewing, stinking at sports—”
“Hey I’m good at some sports!” Nick interrupted.
“Dad, Air Hockey doesn’t count as a sport.”
“And also, Mom,” Phillip carried on with the rest of his sister’s statement “Dad cries every time someone says something mean to him.”
“True dat” replied Puff.
Sally refused to take in Phillip and Puff’s last remarks.
“He does NOT cry that much!” she spat.
They all turned to Nick. His eyes were red and puffy.
“Shut up! I-I had something in my eyes!” he sniffed.
“Yes. Eyes.” Honey scorned, being the newest member of the Squirrelson’s little club.
“You’re just in time Honey, Dad claims he’s some big history maker who’s responsible for all squirrels having trees as homes!” Phyllis explained to her pet fuzzle.
Nick was getting fed up with all the doubt. “You know what? I think it’s time I told you kids the story of why you guys live up in this beautiful tree!” he grabbed a tissue “…and then once and for all, you’ll see you father as a superstar rather than some weak pansy!”
Phillip and Phyllis were squirrels born in the age of technology, and they were to stay in that age. Sitting around telling stories to them, was an ancient family routine.
“Screw this! I’m gonna go see if my Nintendodo’s got any signal”
“Ditto” replied Phyllis.
Puff turned to Honey.
“Will you make me a cheese and mayo sandwich?” Honey wrinkled her nose at the sound of that request, but nevertheless agreed and led Puff into the kitchen.
The twins headed upstairs to their bedrooms, but quickly returned looking as if they had seen one of their own run over by a human car.
“Oh my gosh, where’s my RasBlueBlackberry?” Phyllis asked frantically
“And my Nintendodo!” Phillip squeaked, with an equal pitch.
With the family of squirrels literally snowed in, the fireplace was burning away, warming up the tree. Sally stood right next to it, but she wasn’t warming herself up. She had an evil smirk upon her face and dangling from her paw, just inches from the smoldering flames, were a red Nintendodo and a pink RasBlueBlackberry. Phyllis almost fell to her knees.
“Well, with all that snow blocking our house, it’ll be a while until the snowshoe hares can reach our house, so shall we gather round to listen to the wonderful tale about why we squirrels live in these lovely trees?” she sweetly asked. Phillip and Phyllis nodded, not risking an argument with their mother.
Nick began his story.