Friday, June 3, 2011
For 10 years, I have been telling squirrel stories. They started as a way to put Trent and Michela to bed and were inspired by the squirrels that once scampered about in our attic at night. The stories always began the same way: "Once upon a time, there were two baby squirrels -- Trent and Michela. They lived in an attic. . . . "
Well, recently, a new baby squirrel name Maya appeared on the scene. This was the first story in which Maya appeared:
Once upon a time, there were three baby squirrels -- Trent, Michela, and Maya. They lived in an attic of a house on Main Street where an old lady lived. During the day, while the squirrels’ mother gathered acorns for the winter, the baby squirrels slept. At night, after their mother and the old lady went to sleep, they got up and played in the attic.
They were naughty squirrels. They got into everything. They knocked over boxes of Christmas ornaments and chased the glass balls around on the floor. They chewed into a box of the old lady’s love letters and made a mess of the envelopes that the old lady had neatly tied with ribbon.
The squirrels’ mother had scolded the naughty squirrels many times. She told them not to make so much noise. She was worried that if the old lady found out they lived in the attic, the lady might patch up the soft wood that their mother had gnawed through to make the door to their home. Their mother also told them that if they ever heard footsteps on the squeaky wooden stairs, they should immediately run and hide in their secret place in the corner under the eaves.
Still, night after night, the baby squirrels played and made noise.
One morning, after a long night of playing, the squirrels heard the old lady climbing the stairs to the attic. They were alone. Their mother had gone out to get acorns. They were frightened. But they remembered what their mother had told them and quickly scampered to the corner of the attic. They held their breath and waited.
The old lady opened the attic door, entered and looked around. She poked around in the cardboard boxes which held her letters and stacked them neatly against the wall. She picked up the Christmas balls and boxes from the floor, placed each ornament in its own compartment, and set the boxes on a wooden chair near the top of the stairs. Then she left.
The squirrels let out a breath of air filled with relief.
They had begun to play some more when the smallest squirrel, Maya, noticed that the old lady had left the attic door ajar. She was curious about what the rest of the house looked like and, swiftly, she scampered down to take a peek. Michela whispered loudly, telling Maya to come back up. Trent warned that the old lady might see her. Maya didn’t listen. She slipped out the opened door.
In an instant, Maya’s brother and sister knew what they had to do. They chased after Maya.
It took them a while to find her. They found her in the old lady’s bedroom curled up next to a soft velvet pillow on the big bed. Just as they shoved her to get moving, the three of them heard the attic door being closed. Michela whimpered. Now they might never get back to their home. Or their mother.
Trent told them not to worry. He had a plan. They would hide until they heard the front door open and then they would run out the front door to escape.
On the first floor, the old lady stirred oatmeal over the stove and listened to the news on the radio. The three squirrels tip-toed down the carpeted stairs and hid behind the long winter coats hanging on the coat rack. Hours passed until the old lady walked right to where they hid. She took down a coat to wear outside to check the mail. The three baby squirrels were so relieved that she didn’t see them that they almost forgot their plan.
And then they saw it! The old lady had left the door opened a crack. The squirrels escaped and hid under the holly bush outside the front door.
After the old lady went back inside, the three baby squirrels ran to the gutter at the corner of the house and scampered up to the hole that was the entrance to their home. They squeezed through the hole and found their mother waiting for them. Their mother was angry. The baby squirrels didn’t know whether to tell their mother what they did or not. They only knew that they were happy to be home. They snuggled up next to her and felt her sigh with relief.
That night, as the squirrels played in the attic, the old lady lay in her bed and listened. She heard sounds above her and wondered what those three naughty baby squirrels would get into next.