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The Picnic (Ears Mouse)

Ears Mouse, Book 1

On the edge of a very small country village in England there is an old road called Hollies Lane. This lane leads to a small but beautiful forest called Oak View, which is not visited very often by people. All along this lane, if you were to look very carefully, you would find lots of holes – some big, some small and some very small. All of these holes are homes to various creatures – some big, some small and some very small. If you were to look even more closely you might see that just inside these holes there are doors – just like those on your house. And if you were very lucky to see into the holes, when the doors were opened of course, you might be very surprised to see that inside they are very like houses, just like the ones that you and I live in.

One of the smallest houses in Hollies Lane belonged to a field mouse who’s name was Ears Mouse. Ears Mouse was a very ordinary mouse except for one thing. . . . he had rather large ears for a mouse. All mice have very good hearing, but Ears Mouse’s hearing was so good that he could hear a pin drop a mile away even with the door shut.

Ears Mouse lived in a hole at the bottom of a very large, beautifully shaped, old oak tree. He built his house with the help of his many friends, most of whom lived in the lane or the nearby forest. It had taken about a week to build the house and then about another week to make all of the furniture. The front door was made from a few hazel twigs which were tied together with string. The windows were made from some broken glass that Ears Mouse found in the laneway near an old broken down cottage.

Over the years Ears Mouse had made this house a very cozy place and it even had a fireplace and chimney to heat the house in the winter and to boil a little pot of water to make his favorite drink – nettle leaf tea.

The old Oak tree that Ears Mouse lived under was also the home to one of Ears Mouse’s friend, Sid Squirrel. Sid’s house was a hole about halfway up the tree where a large branch had dropped off a few years ago during a terrific gale. When it broke off it had left a hole into part of the tree, which had died about fifty years ago when it had been hit by lightning. This had left a hollow in the dead part of the tree and had made an excellent place for a house. There was lots of room for Sid to be able to store his hazel nuts each year before the winter set in. There were lots of other trees in Pine View forest and there was nothing that Sid enjoyed more than jumping from tree to tree in search of more nuts. He was vary daring and if you saw him jump you would sometimes think he had wings as he would appear to fly from one branch to another.

Next door to Ears Mouse’s house was a very big house which belonged to his friend Harry Hedgehog. Harry’s house was not quite as tidy as Ears Mouse’s house as he was always picking up bits of grass and leaves on his spikes and then bringing them into his house where they would fall onto the ground. However it was a very cozy house with a lovely carpet of soft straw which made you feel like you were floating on air. Harry Hedgehog was very proud of his garden where he grew some very tasty vegetables. He never had any problems with slugs or grubs, which would normally make holes in the vegetables, as they were his favorite type of food.

The next house along the lane was not quite a house but more of a pond. Here lived Freddie Frog who was the best swimmer of all of the creatures who lived in the lane. He was also the highest and longest jumper, which came in handy if you wanted to get somewhere fast. Freddie liked to sleep at the bottom of the pond under a large lily plant, which were like his curtains to keep the light out. During the day he would hop out of the water and jump through the long grass in farmer Gill’s grazing field looking for flies which were resting on the blades of grass. He would eat any type of fly he could find but he especially liked green flies as they were very very tasty.

Just a bit further on was Ears Mouse’s friend Hammy Hamster. Hammy was probably Ears Mouse’s best friend as they had grown up together and they liked many of the same things such as cheese and corn. Hammy had a very nice house but it was hard to get into as it was filled with straw which was exactly as Hammy liked it to be. This made it a very warm house all year round, even in the coldest winters. He would open his front door and would then crawl into the straw and disappear and you had to really shout loudly if you wanted to attract his attention. During the day Hammy Hamster was a fitness fanatic, he would run for hours up and down the lane to make sure he did not put on too much weight – because if he did he might not fit into his house.

Next along was Molly Mole whose house was a bit unusual in that fact that the door was flat on the ground. Molly lived under the ground and actually moved her house along the lane now and again, each time making a new entrance. She did not have very good eyesight or a very good sense of direction, which meant that she sometimes bumped into things and got a sore nose. She never traveled very far as she was only small and it was quite hard digging under the ground. Molly usually only came out at night, but if she ever came out during the day time she would keep her eyelids almost closed to protect her sensitive eyes from the bring sunlight.

Finally, just inside Pine View forest, lived Ears Mouse’s oldest friend Olivia Owl. Olivia lived in a very tall ash tree which was one of the highest trees around. She usually slept all day and then went out for food when it got dark. Olivia was a very unusual Owl as she was a vegetarian and had actually save Ears Mouse from being eaten by another Owl where he was just a baby mouse. He had been playing near his mother just as it was getting dark and had not see the shape of a huge owl approaching from behind. Just before the owl had reached Ears Mouse Olivia Owl swooped and picked him up and then dropped him beside his mother. Ears Mouse’s mother had never seen anything like this before and thought that she would never see Ears Mouse again. They were both very grateful to Olivia Owl and became great friends.

Ears Mouse had a few other friend who passed through the lane now and again, one of whom was Donald Donkey. Donald lived in the field on the other side of Farmer Gill’s sheds and he usually helped to pull the hay cart when it was harvest time. Donald would sometimes come down the lane to see all of his friend if someone had left the gate to his field open.

The Picnic

Ahhhhhhhh – Ears Mouse let out a very big yawn and stretched his arms as he woke up this morning. He got out of bed, put his dressing gown on and went over to the window to open the curtains. He could see that the sun was shining even before he opened his curtains, but to his surprise the sky was completely blue with not a cloud in sight. He gave a big grin as this was exactly what he had been waiting for. This was the ideal day for a picnic by the lake he thought to himself.

As fast as he could, Ears Mouse ate his breakfast, while having a wash and getting dressed all at the same time. Within no time he was out the door and making his way down the grassy track to his friends houses. First he called at Harry Hedgehog’s house. ‘Harry’, shouted Ears Mouse, as he knocked on his door, ‘have you seen how beauuuuu. . . tiful a day it is today and perfect for a picnic by the lake’? Harry Hedgehog opened the door slowly, still in his pajamas, with his eyes only half opened. He had to close his eyes when he saw how bright it was and went back inside to get his sunglasses.

‘Wow’ said Harry Hedgehog, when he saw the beautiful clear sky, ‘yes, perfect weather for a picnic Ears Mouse, I will get ready straight away’. Ears Mouse then went to see his other friends – Freddie Frog, Hammy Hamster, Molly Mole and Sid Squirrel. They all agreed that it was a perfect day for a picnic and agreed to meet at Ears Mouse’s house in half an hour.

Ears Mouse quickly ran back to his house and made some lovely cheese sandwiches and a quarter of an apple that he had collected under an apple tree the day before. The sandwiches smelt so lovely that he was almost tempted to eat them all straight away . He carefully placed all of his food in his rucksack and he grabbed his straw hat and sunglasses and went outside, just in time to see all of his friends arriving at his gate.

‘Ready?’ asked Ears Mouse, ‘Ready’ they all replied and so they set off across the fields to Woodside lake, which was one of their most favorite spots for a picnic. Woodside lake was, as it sounds, very close to the woods called Woodside and was where Ears Mouse’s other friend, Olivia Owl, lived. Ears Mouse knew that Olivia would be fast asleep at this time of day, as she would have been up all night and needed her sleep, and for this reason he did not ask her if she wanted to go to the picnic.

It was not too far to Woodside lake but Molly Mole was a bit slow and her eyesight was not very good in the sunshine. So Sammy Squirrel let her sit on his back most of the way. Along the way they all chatted about some of the great times they had at Woodside lake last year. After about half an hour they arrived at the lake and Harry Hedgehog spread out a big tartan blanket on the ground. They all placed their picnic baskets onto the blanket and then took out their drinks and put them into a nearby stream, which ran into the lake, to keep them cool. It was too early to start eating so they all went down to the lakeside and put their legs over the bank and into the lake – all that is except Freddie Frog who leapt straight in with a big splash.

Freddie disappeared under the water for a few seconds and then popped back up with a big grin on his face – ‘beautiful’ he said, ‘come on in, it’s just the right temperature’. But the others all shook their heads, none of the others could swim and didn’t really like getting wet except for their feet, or when they had to wash themselves.

After a while they all got a bit peckish and raced each other back to the picnic blanket. Ears Mouse took out his cheese sandwiches out of his picnic hamper and had a good sniff before he took a bite – Mmmmmm, this smells lovely he said. Sid Squirrel had brought some hazel nuts that he had left over from after the winter. Hammy Hamster had some lovely straw that he had collected the day before in Farmer Gill’s hay field. Harry Hedgehog had brought along some grubs, which he had dug up that morning – ‘nice fresh juicy ones’ he thought to himself. Freddie Frog hadn’t needed to bring any lunch as he caught lots of flies around the edge of the lake and was almost full by the time the others had started to eat.

Ears Mouse looked at Molly Mole and saw that she was looking a bit embarrassed. As well as having poor eyesight Molly also had a very poor memory and had forgotten to bring any food. ‘Would you like any of our food’ offered the others?. ‘No, thank you very much’ said Molly Mole, there is only one thing I like to eat and that is worms. ‘My grubs are like worms’ said Harry Hedgehog. ‘Ugh, how can you eat those horrible looking things’ said Molly Mole, ‘ disgusting – no thanks, I must go and get some fresh worms’. So Molly started to dig a hole, which she was very good at doing, and within no time she had disappeared under the ground. Now, unfortunately Molly was also very poor at something else and that was directions. She was digging very fast but heading straight for the lake.

There was a very loud rumbling noise and all of a sudden a great fountain of water shot up from where Molly Mole had started to dig the hole. Everyone looked up as a fountain of water shot up into the sky and then they noticed that there was something on top of the jet of water – it was Molly Mole. ‘Help, Help – please get me down from here, I can’t stand heights nor water’ said Molly Mole. ‘What can we do’ said Ears Mouse? ‘We could try and block off the water’ said Sid Squirrel. ‘We could do’, said Freddie Frog, ‘but then Molly will land with a big bump and she will be very angry with us’. ‘Help, Help’ shouted Molly Mole again. ‘We are thinking’ shouted the others. ‘Well please think quicker’ said Molly Mole ‘I am getting very wet up here’.

Just then the sky darkened and a shadow, like a cloud, fell across all of them. Swhooooosh, Molly disappeared from the top of the fountain. It was Olivia Owl who had flown from her tree in Pine View forest and had scooped down and gently picked up Molly Mole in her claws.

Olivia gently placed Molly Mole on the picnic blanket and then landed close by. ‘Olivia’ said Ears Mouse, ‘what are you doing here?, I thought you would have been fast asleep at this time of day’. ‘I was having a very nice sleep’, said Olivia ‘until I heard these screams from Molly Mole and I thought that I had better see what was happening’. ‘Thank you Olivia’ said Molly ‘ and sorry for waking you up’. ‘Now that I am awake I may as well have something to eat’ said Olivia. So everyone gave Olivia a bit of their picnic food.

After they had all finished their food they decided to play a game of hide and seek. Freddie agreed not to hide in the lake, Sid agreed not to climb a tree, Olivia agreed not to fly into the sky and Molly agreed not to go under the ground, especially as she was still drying off and did not want to end up on top of a fountain again. They all had a great time looking for each other and it was not very long before they were all worn out and decided to have a nap in the sun. After a while the sun started to set and Ears Mouse decided it was time to make their way home. They packed up the picnic and walked across the fields back to Ears Mouse’s house. Olivia Owl carried Molly Mole in her claws and luckily Molly could not see how high up she was due to her poor eyesight.

When they all arrived back at Ears Mouse’s home he invited them all in for cake and tea. They talked for ages about the wonderful day that they had and the funny things that had happened, even Molly Mole thought that her adventure on top of the fountain must have looked funny. They had enjoyed the lovely picnic by the lake and were already looking forward to the next one.

THE END

©2007 Artie Edmonds

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