One Winter Away from Broadway | Teen Ink

One Winter Away from Broadway

February 2, 2012
By BRONZE, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma BRONZE, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
4 articles 4 photos 0 comments

In a field, surrounded by forest, lived an ant colony, and a grasshopper. One summer's day the grasshopper was hopping about, chirping and singing, dancing and performing for the nearby creatures. As he was doing so, a trail of ants marched by, in one long, winding line. He listened as they grunted and struggled to carry plump kernels of corn. "Where are you going with those heavy things?" asked the grasshopper. Without missing a step, the first ant replied, "To our Antopolis of course. This is the third kernel I've delivered today. Gotta work to make a living you know." "Why not come and sing with me," teased the grasshopper, "instead of working so hard? It’s a lovely day, the corn will be there tomorrow!"

"We are helping to store food for the winter," said the ant, "and think you should do the same." "Winter is far away and it is a glorious day to play!" sang the grasshopper. The ants went on their way and continued their hard work knowing that the wisdom of the grasshopper is often misleading. The weather soon turned cold as looming clouds covered the sun. All the food lying in the field was covered with a thick white blanket of snow and finding an edible kernel beneath it was impossible. Soon the grasshopper found himself dying of hunger. He soon realized his mistake and admitted to himself that even ant humiliation wasn’t as awful starvation. So he shelved his pride and staggered to the ants' hill. There they were, those resourceful and ever busy ants. They were handing out corn from the stores they had collected in the summer. He begged them for something to eat, and as he did so they assumed a mocking posture. "What!" cried the ants in surprise, "Haven't you stored anything away for the winter? What in the world were you doing all summer silly creature?" "I didn't have time to store any food," complained the grasshopper; "I was so busy playing music and following my dreams that before I knew it, the summer was gone."
The ants shook their heads in disgust, turned their backs on the grasshopper and went on with their work, satisfied that they had one upped him. The grasshopper was distraught with the thought of starving all winter. “To die of my own foggy foresight is a pitiful way to go.” He sighed heartlessly and continued on his way through the drifts, hoping for a little soft bark or tree root. The pattering snow blurred his way as he travelled the forest, searching for any sign of life. The muted whispers of night surrounded the grasshopper and he burrowed beneath a stump to make a temporary shelter for the night.

The next morning the sun streamed through tightly tangled treetops, creating a patchwork of sunlight on the unsullied snow. The grasshopper hadn’t a slept that night as his only companions were Cold and Hungry. If I make it through this winter, I will have learned my lesson for good. He thought to himself as he was reminded of piece of wisdom he learned in grade school. Work is no disgrace; it is idleness which is a disgrace. He shook the frost off his shell and hopped about the forest, praying for a little food, and melting snow for water.
The grasshopper repeated this pattern, for days he nibbled on bark and sipped melted snow. Each day reminded him of his languid summer, and the sweating ants who were relaxing by their fireplaces somewhere beneath the earth. While he was pondering these things, he noticed a shadow moving across the snow. Grasshoppers aren’t the kind to look up, they rarely notice the sky because the intense sun burns their sensitive eyes, so he hadn’t realized the figure overhead listening to him complaining to himself. “Good afternoon sir.” boomed a wise old voice from above. The grasshopper jumped extra high and then kneeled in the snow. “Father who thou art in heaven, hallowed be th-“ An owl landed in the snow beside him and the grasshopper jumped again. “Please don’t eat me! I’m malnourished! No meat on these bones!” he quickly sputtered. “Don’t worry young one, I’m a vegetarian.” The owl interjected. “You do look rather flimsy, and your shell has lost its luminosity. May I ask why you are out and about on this unpleasantly cold winter’s day? I’ll take a guess. You frittered away the summer singing showtunes and pretending you’re a performer, yes? ” he asked with a knowing look. The grasshopper looked at his feet and his shell shoulders dropped as he replied, “Yes sir, it’s true. The warm sun on my wings filled me with a passion, I just had to sing! Before I knew it, the sun had turned cold and snow covered the grass. Now I’m left with bark, no home, and a hunger so strong I could eat a whole carrot.” “That settles it, come along young one.” The owl craned his neck and the grasshopper jumped on. “Hold on tight, my tree is just ahead.”
The owl took off into the sky, and the grasshopper’s stomach dropped as they ascended. He noticed how soft the owl’s feathers were beneath his feet, they were glossy and smooth, and smelled like wood. The lower tree branches flashed before his compound eyes, frosted with ice. The few seconds it took to fly up the tree seemed like many minutes to the enthralled grasshopper, who had never been more than a few feet off the ground. They landed in a crevice in the tree trunk, and climbed inside. From within the tree, the owl’s home seemed much larger than the grasshopper expected. “This is the living space, oh, please don’t put your feet on the coffee table, thank you. This is the kitchen area, and then my room is to the left, and the guest room to the right. Make yourself at home and start up the fireplace would you, while I fix us a little evening meal.” The owl rushed into the kitchen and began preparation on their feast.
Late into the night they talked, as they finished off carrots, barley, and beets. The owl told adventurous stories of his past, and the grasshopper eagerly listened to his wisdom. By the time the owl’s beak had grown tired from chatting, he knew their friendship would be a lifelong one. “I trust that you’ve learned your lesson? You know if I wasn’t here, your story would be a dire one.” The owl gently reminded him. “Yes sir, and as I’ve thought about how I acted this summer, I realized that I can sing and work at the same time! Next summer I’ll gather enough food for me and a whole army, just in case another grasshopper makes my mistake. You know us hoppers, performing runs through our veins.” The wise owl smiled as he tucked the grasshopper into his bed, “And until summer returns, you are welcome to eat at my table. Goodnight young one, sweet dreams.”

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