Squirrels are natural born storytellers. On nights when the moon is bright and the air is warm, the squirrels in the community will gather in the limbs of a large oak and listen to the tales of days gone by. Some nights there are stories of the Pygmy Tribe who are rumored to live in a tropical paradise where the cold of winter never intrudes. Some nights they tell of the Giant Grizzled Squirrel who is mighty enough to challenge a bear. The history of the squirrel community is long and the legends are many. So it was that Mad Squirrel would find himself stretched out on a branch in the moonlight, entranced by the storytellers and their tales. And always he would hope that this night would bring tales of the mysterious Flying Squirrels.
Mad Squirrel had been fascinated by the Flying Squirrels since the time that he was small. Nestled next to his mother, he would dream of what it would be like to fly. Most of us outgrow these childhood notions, of course. But Mad Squirrel never did. Whenever he leaped from branch to branch he would imagine what it might be like to take flight, to soar out and up into the air without fear of falling to the ground below. He watched the birds obsessively. He envied the way they could flit from one tree to another, never having to climb up or down the trunks. He marveled when they took off from the ground and gained altitude in seconds. He watched them all – the jays and the ducks and the egrets and herons. Sometimes he threw caution to the wind and spied on the owls and the hawks, admiring their swift and deadly dives after prey. Oh, how he wanted to fly!
So there came a time when Mad Squirrel, being somewhat mad, decided he would try to fly. “After all,” he reasoned, “if the Flying Squirrels can do it, why can’t I?” He first attempted to launch himself from the ground. Gathering all of his strength and determination, he sprang up and shot forward like a rocket. Alas! He landed on his belly with a thud, staring up into the eyes of a bemused Wood Duck. His second attempt was to fly from one tree to another. Up, up he climbed, high into the crown of a large oak. He leaped into the air and headed for the tree next door. Feeling himself starting to sink, he frantically grabbed at a passing branch and found himself hanging on by his little squirrel claws. He thought about swimming out into the pond and attempting take-off from the water’s surface. He thought about climbing high up again and trying a dive to the ground below. But Mad Squirrel was only somewhat mad. Perhaps it was better to dream of the impossible. Perhaps. “At least for today,” he thought.
Now Mad Squirrel believed that no one had noticed his antics. He went back to his routines. But among the branches and leaves of the squirrel community, they began to talk of Mad Squirrel. They whispered about his madness and his courage. They envied him his dreams. They talked and gossiped and spread the stories from tree to tree, limb to limb. So it may come to pass that one day, when the squirrels gather by the light of the moon on a warm summer’s eve, they will tell the Tales of Mad Squirrel. Of such stuff are legends born.
© Karen Kleis – All Rights Reserved
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