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In the ancient times, long before even humans roamed this wild planet, it was cold. Not just in the far north or the Deep South, but all around. From pole to pole, the world was frozen solid, right down to the core. And for the creatures that roamed this planet, it was a terrible problem they all wished would just go away.
“Brrrrrrr! It sure is cold outside!”
“I know. It always is cold outside.”
“Yeah, but I think today might be the coldest thus far.”
“No. It can’t be. That was last Thursday. The temperature made my nose drippings freeze in the matter of seconds. It can’t be colder than that”
“Your right, but it sure is close.” And with that Mrs. Hopkins continued on with the work that she had just been doing. She knew her husband hated to go out into the cold, but things had to be done, and she didn’t have thick enough fur like the other rabbits. She could only last minutes out there, while the others could last hours.
It wasn’t always like this though. It used to be warm out; at least for half of the year. The other half was reserved for winter to come and freeze the plants and land. But every year the summer would come back as if on cue and release all the animals and plants from this frozen prison. That was the agreement of the gods. Until one god got a little more greedy than the rest of them.
The next morning, Roger Hopkins rose to the sweet smell of maple syrup. He shot out of bed hopped through all the tunnels ‘til he found the kitchen. As he bounded in, his eyes caught sight of the table.
“Look what the badgers brought us today honey,” cried Mrs. Hopkins.
“Can it be? Is that a bottle of maple syrup?” he asked.
“Where did they find such a thing in times like these?”
“They said that they found a maple tree that Marqee looked over,” replied his wife.
“Really?! Marqee never misses anything though.”
“He did this time. It is absolutely perfect too. I had just made a fresh stack of flapjacks for us to have.”
“Thank the gods. I hope he keeps missing that tree. I absolutely love maple syrup.”
“We all do.”
That was how it was like for these creatures here on Earth. Marqee is the god of winter. A fair god he wasn’t, but the other gods always kept him in check on how long his season could last. He would rule the land for six months, and when that time expired it was Shinek who would command. But one day when winter should have been over, it continued on. The animals figured it was just a lapse by Shinek, but winter kept going on and on and on. The land froze even deeper than usual. The piles of snow got higher and higher. And yet summer was never in sight. After 90 days of this, the animals knew something was wrong.
“We must call a meeting to discuss this weather,” said Mr. Hopkins. So he sent out all his sons to get the heads of the other families and bring them back to the rabbit hole. When they all arrive, Mr. Hopkins started the meeting.
“As we all notice, there is a problem with the seasons. And we have to figure out what is the matter,” said Mr. Hopkins.
“We agree, but what shall we do?” spoke the others.
“I think we need to send out a messenger to find out what has happened to Shinek,” spoke Mr. Hopkins.
“Sounds good to me, but which one of us shall go?” asked the badger, Mr. Thom.
“I don’t want to go searching for Shinek,” said the mouse, “it is far too cold for me.”
“It is just fine for me, but we have a small problem,” mentioned the squirrel.
“And what would that be?” asked Mr. Hopkins.
“How are we going to get up to the level of the gods, if none of us have wings?” asked the squirrel.
“That is a good question. None of us have wings,” remarked the fox.
“We need to go to the wise falcon,” said the chipmunk, “but I’m not the one going. He will eat me!”
“I’ll go,” spoke up the animal in the corner. It was the coyote. “I have dealt with the falcon many times before. I know how he deals. It won’t even be a problem.” And so the coyote left the burrow and headed out into the cold.
As the coyote approached the falcon’s cave, the wind picked up. It was almost as though Marqee knew what was going on between the creatures of the Earth.
When the coyote got to the cave, he slowly crept inside. He could see a light coming from the back. Falcon was home. Coyote made his way to the light, and as he turned a final bend, confronted falcon face-to-face.
“Good day Mr. Lingren,” spoke falcon.
“Ah, yes it is,” responded coyote, “I have a question to ask you on behalf of the animals of the forest.”
“We have come to notice that something is wrong, as I’m sure you have too. The creatures would like you to fly to the level of the gods, and see what the problem with Shinek is.”
“I can do that,” said falcon, “but if I do, what will be in it for me?”
“If you find the problem and we can bring Shinek out of whatever trouble he is in, then you shall get your mighty home among the treetops back, and be able to quit this horrible dwelling.”
“And if I refuse?” questioned falcon.
“Then all the animals of the forest will surely die, and you will lose your major source of food,” stated coyote.
“Then we have a deal. I will fly to the level of the gods tonight, and tomorrow morning come to the burrow and deliver my news to the entire animal council. Now go and tell the animals.”
“Thank you. We will be forever in your debt.” And coyote left.
The coyote returned and told the news to the animals. In agreement to the falcon’s terms, the creatures then left the burrow with plans to return the next day at the crack of dawn.
The next day, falcon returned with his news.
“Shinek is locked up in a wintery prison set up by Marqee,” stated falcon.
“How could Marqee do something like this?” asked squirrel.
“I don’t know, but we must rescue Shinek if we are ever to get summer back. I don’t know how much longer we can withstand this cold,” spoke Mr. Hopkins.
“And how do you suppose we achieve that? As we said before, falcon is the only one who can reach the gods. He is the only one who can do anything to help Shinek,” said mouse.
“Then if we can’t get up to the level of the gods, we need to make them come down to our level. Come on, let’ devise a plan. We can trick Marqee and get Shinek freed if we all work together,” said Mr. Hopkins. So they put their heads together and came up with a plan. And while doubt lingered amongst them all, they knew this was their only chance at freeing themselves from the cold of winter forever.
The next day, the animals all met at Mr. Hopkins’s again to try their plan. The only one not there was falcon and mouse, but they had a far different task to do.
“Marqee! Marqee! Please come down to Earth. We have something to give you!” shouted the coyote.
“What is it?” boomed the voice of the god from the clouds above.
“We have a tribute to give you! For being such a wonderful god!” yelled coyote back.
“For me?” asked Marqee.
“Yes! Now please hurry down before it melts!” The god then descended from the clouds to Earth. What he didn’t see though was as he dropped down, falcon and mouse soared up to the clouds.
“I’m here. Where is my gift?” asked Marqee.
“Right behind this tree over here,” said Mr. Hopkins as he led the god deeper into the woods.
In the meantime, Falcon had reached the clouds with mouse on his back. It was just enough of a challenge not to eat the little mammal, let alone get up this high. When the crested the highest cloud, they saw the summer lord.
“We have come to rescue you,” said falcon.
“Thank you. I had no clue if I would ever escape my prison,” said Shinek gratifyingly.
“How was it that you ended up in this kind of a situation?” asked mouse. Mouse started to stare at the bars trying to figure out how to free Shinek.
“Well, I was just sitting there, minding my own business when suddenly Marqee grabbed me from behind. He then threw me in this enchanted prison and has held me here ever since. I have no way to escape. I hope you can figure it out better than I can.”
“I have no clue” said the mouse, “this is magic only Marqee can destroy.”
Just then, as if on cue, Marqee appeared.
“I knew your little animal friends were setting a trap. But they can’t fool Marqee.” And with that he let out an icy blast straight at the small rodent and his pal. As soon as the ice left Marqee's hand, he knew he had made a mistake. As soon as it hit the cage of Shinek, it disintegrated the bars, freeing the summer god.
Shinek burst out with the speed of lightning and ran towards the edge of the clouds.
“Move!” he shouted towards the clouds. “It is time for the sun to shine on Earth!” The sun then shone on the Earth, and everything started to thaw. Marqee was devastated. He had lost his reign over this meager planet.
As Shinek turned back towards the mouse and the falcon, he saw a horrifying sight. There they stood, completely frozen. Shinek picked them up. And with just the touch of his finger, thawed them out and brought them back to life.
“Thank you,” said Shinek. “I owe you everything. Without you and your animal friends, winter never would have ended. Tell them now that they shall have warmth for 9 months of the year. I will still let Marqee rein for three months a year, but no more.” With that, Shinek set down the falcon and the mouse. As they scurried off to the edge of the cloud, they turned back for one more look at the gods of the seasons. Then the mouse mounted the back of the falcon and set flight for Earth.
When they reached Earth, they called all the animals around. They told them all about their heroic rescue and asked how the plan went down on the land. When they had all finished, the creatures all parted to their separate homes.
The next day the animals all awoke to the bright sun. The best part was that there was no SNOW! The falcon hurried on with building his nest in the trees. The beavers worked on building a dam now that the creek wasn’t frozen solid. And all the other animals returned to activities that were common for them at the start of spring.
Ever since this event, there has been nine months of sun, and three of snow. That is how we got the season that we have now.