After an early morning rain, the ground was like a wet sponge.
“Hurry up,” Bushy-Red said, shaking his reddish head.
His fuzzy squirrel coat trembled in the wind. Bushy-Red liked to cling upside down. Sharp claws held tightly to a large maple tree.
As usual, he was impatient. And his black nose wiggled nervously.
His best friend, Perry Partridge was being a slow poke. They were supposed to go on a picnic, at least before the sun set.
Perry was busy exercising his wings. He kept trying to fly higher than the lowest branch.
“Be patient,” he called to his squirrel-friend. “I’m almost finished.”
Perry was still a young Partridge. And he had to keep in practice.
Once more he ran down the path created by years of animal usage. His three-toed feet left deep marks in the soft soil. Feathers flapped faster and faster.
This time he landed almost on top of Bushy-Red.
“Yikes! Watch it!” the squirrel squealed.
“Try running like Fred-Fox the next time. And keep your head up,” HOOTY Owl chuckled. She was another one of Perry’s good friends.
The little Partridge tried seven more times. Thankfully, crash landing on the ground did not hurt. And finally Perry was successful.
Now three friends sat together on the conquered limb. From here they could see most of Greenwoods, their homeland in a little valley.
“Look at the tall woods on both sides,” Perry said.
“I see them every day,” HOOTY added.
“Yah, but I don’t,“ Bushy-Red scolded. “I think this view is really neat. So there.”
“Now, now,” Perry interrupted. He did not like his friends to argue. And they usually did.
Pretty Pasture looked yellow under the noonday sun. The high grass was a safe place for the Dee-Deer to sleep.
“I can see a tiny lake,” Perry said. He had never flown this high before.
“That’s North Pond,” HOOTY quickly answered.
“I was at South Pond once,” Busy-Red said.
Their branch swayed like a swing, back and forth, back and forth.
Just then, two fat floppy crows flew by. “Hello HOOTY!” they yelled.
“HELLOOO,” HOOTY politely answered.
“Cheers to you too, Bushy-Red,” they said.
Bushy-Red was puzzled. “What does Cheers mean?” he asked HOOTY.
“It means, Be Happy,” HOOTY answered.
“Thanks,” Bushy-Red said. “CHEERIES!” he shouted. Somehow his word did not sound the same.
“Bye-Bye, Perry.” By now the fat floppy crows were almost at Three-Trees. It was a meeting place for everyone in Greenwoods.
“Perry quickly put his wings to his beak. “BYEEE-BYEEE!!” became an echo in the valley.
It was time for the three friends to begin their hike.
Perry flew from branch to branch. All those flying practices sure helped.
Bushy-Red scurried up and down trees along their path. And he searched around each one for any of his buried treasures.
HOOTY fluttered along carrying the food sack. It was heavy and she had to rest often.
Finally they stopped beside Creepy Creek. It sang a song of strange noises as it winded like a corkscrew through the valley.
Perry and Bushy-Red prepared the snacks. It was only fair since HOOTY had carried the food all this way.
There was fresh leaf-tips and bush cranberries for Perry. And a branch full of Hazel nuts for Bushy-Red.
HOOTY was given his favourite treat, leftover pieces of mouse.
After full tummies they rested.
‘”Remember what happened yesterday?” Perry asked.
“That Ra-Rabbit was sure lucky we came along,” HOOTY answered.
“Yes,” said Bushy-Red. “Something was wrapped around Ra-Rabbit’s front leg.” He and Perry did not know it was a circle of wire.
“It came from the Village of Walking-Trees. Beyond Greenwoods,” wise HOOTY added.
Perry had never heard that name before.
HOOTY continued with her story. “Sounds of thunder and lightning come from their branches. It happens during the time of autumn. And sometimes Dee-Deer fall to the ground. Then they go to Forever Place.”
Perry wrapped his feathery arms around Bushy-Red. The squirrel was sure shaking.
“Please. No more stories about those unwelcome visitors,” Perry said.
They had a nice cold drink from Creepy Creek. Then there was time to play.
HOOTY hid first. She found a low branch on a thick pine tree. But they could not find her. She had to call out, “Hoot! Hoot!” until they did.
Perry Partridge decided to hide under a log pile. But his friends could not find him either. He finally had to beat one wing loudly against a fallen tree.
Only then did Perry’s friends find him.
When they tired of their game they continued on their journey. And kept a watchful eye for “HUSHY-Hawk.”
If that nasty bird caught HOOTY, he would eat her.
They also had to be watchful of C-C Coyote. And W-Wolf. They lived in the Dark Woods, way past North Pond. Squirrel and partridge would provide a tasty meal, if they were captured.
Three friends now went for a swim.
They jumped and flew together off huge Rough Rock. It was like a diving board. They shouted and splashed noisily.
And shook wet feathers and fur at each other.
After a short rest, they headed home.
This time they walked across Pretty Pasture. And rushed past Lightning Tree. “Long ago, a crooked arrow came from the sky, “ HOOTY said. “It bent that tree and left it all dark on one side.”
They sang songs and laughed and yelled a lot. Three friends hopped, skipped and flew. This time Perry led the way.
Their happy sounds carried across the sky.
High above ‘Eagle Eyes’ slowly flapped her Bald Eagle wings. She wanted to make sure three friends returned home safely.
Greenwoods soon turned dark.
Perry and Bushy-Red went to their homes with sleepy eyes.
And HOOTY flew off until tomorrow’s fun.
* * *