Tuesday, January 11, 2005

The Adventures of Hazel and Nutmeg by Saralee Sky

An Introduction

Hazel and Nutmeg lived in a cozy nest in a hollow area high in the big oak tree in the Big Backyard of the Man and the Woman and the Little Girl and the Baby Boy and the Dog and the Cat. Hazel was a black squirrel with a big bushy tail. She was the big sister of Nutmeg. Nutmeg was a gray squirrel (with a big bushy tail) and Hazel’s little brother. Hazel and Nutmeg lived with their mother, Mama Squirrel, and their father, Papa Squirrel.

It was the end of Summer. Autumn was fast approaching. Everything was ripe and ready for picking. For days Hazel and her parents had been leaving their nest in the oak tree, running to the tips of the branches and over to the maple tree then to the beech tree then to the roof of the House, over the roof to the cherry tree in the Front Yard. From there they would travel on the ground to the Street and across the Street to the two big walnut trees to gather the nuts for the coming Winter.

Hazel and her mommy and daddy were making the trip with regularity. But little Nutmeg was nowhere to be found. He would disappear to play among the branches or go and visit the neighbors, the house finches Peachy and Percy.

Hazel could only carry two walnuts in her mouth at one time, because they were still covered in their soft green jackets. She would have to peal off the jackets before placing them in their nest. She selected two walnuts, then raced back across the street, across the Front Yard, up the cherry tree, over the roof, the beech tree, the maple tree and at last the oak tree.

She stopped on a branch to peel off the soft green jackets. Mama squirrel was inside their nest, arranging their nut stash. Nutmeg was there, too. He would take a nut that Mama squirrel had placed on the pile, run out of the hole, around the trunk of the tree and back in the hole, depositing the nut as if he had just picked it himself. Mama squirrel pretended not to notice.

“Thank you, Nutmeg!” she said, placing the nut on the pile. “What a good boy you are!”

Hazel observed Nutmeg’s antics from her branch outside the nest. “What are you doing, Nutmeg?” she asked.

“Helping Mama gather nuts for Winter!” he replied.

“Oh, silly Nutmeg,” said Hazel. “We already have those nuts!”

“I know,” said Nutmeg. “But Mama says they need some air now that their jackets are off.”

“She means they need to dry out without their green covering,” said Hazel. “They don’t need to be taken for a walk!”

“Oh,” said Nutmeg.

Saralee Sky is the owner and manager of the web site Babynut.