A breeze swept through the air that brought the scent of pine trees, flowers, and summer. A little squirrel caught the wind current with his nose and smelled deeply. The wind was blowing the leaves around him and he looked up to the neverending blue that was the sky. The canopy of the tall trees partly obscured his view but that didn’t stop him from enjoying it.
He kept looking at the sky for many more minutes. I wish I could relax here every day, he thought. He may have had a small stature, but that didn’t stop him from having big ideas and his dreams. The little squirrel worked the important job of collecting acorns for the village. His work is what brought food to numerous families and he couldn’t let them down. He finally got up and looked away from the sky to the trail of the village.
“Okay! Time to deliver this food!” he said out loud. He picked up his packed bag of acorns, put it on his back, and tightly held onto each of the two straps. The bag was nearly bigger than he was and it was a tough job. Nonetheless, he hauled his day’s work towards the village and up to the front gate.
As he approached the front gate, the details of the village became more prominent. The village was comprised of a large fenced-in area with guards posted at the North and South gates. The other squirrels lived within the trees with spiral stairs that led to the tops. At the top, there were large treehouses with suspension bridges that connected everything.
“Oh? Who is that?” a guard asked as he was pointing towards the squirrel with the oversized pack.
“It’s me,” said the little squirrel with a nervous smile. He pulled the pack down to show more of his face.
“Oh! It’s just the runt,” the guard said out loud. He made a gesture to the other guard and they disappeared down some steps. A few moments later, the little squirrel heard a creaking noise as the large two-door gate began to open.
He was greeted to the view of the village. The ground level was flat because it was mostly used to grow things. He could see some workers tending to a strawberry plant and watched as they plucked a strawberry with a smile. Ahhhh! I can’t get sidetracked! I need to turn these in as soon as possible! He panicked internally. Luckily, two squirrels were waiting for the acorns at the base of a tree. They were standing next to a basket with it between them. Like he had done before, he took the pack off his back and carefully loaded up the basket with acorns one at a time.
Once he was done with this, the two squirrels began tugging on two long ropes that seemed like they came from the heavens. In reality, they were just tied from somewhere at the top of the tree. Little by little, the basket began to move up. The two squirrels worked hard and operated in unison.
The little squirrel left the two workers to their own devices. It was now time for him to begin his ascent towards the top of the tree. Luckily, the tree had spiral stairs that twisted around the trunk. The journey was long and hard as always for him. There were guardrails for the stairs but he could have sworn the wind nearly pushed him off on more than one occasion. He held onto his empty pack and used his other hand to hold onto the rail. Slowly but surely, he made progress. By the time he made it to the top, the wind had died down and the glow of the sun bathed the houses in a comfortable orange. Just like how the little squirrel liked it.
But that wasn’t the thing he was most excited about. No, that award would have to go towards the cherry pie his mother was baking him for working hard. I can’t wait for it! He thought with excitement. As soon as this thought came into his mind, he sped up, nearly crashing into other squirrels.
“Sorry!” he said as he rushed by them. Normally, things never got him this crazy but this village had trouble growing cherries. It was a special treat when they got the rare shipment of them from other villages. The little squirrel knew what he wanted and he was going to get it! At last, his goal was in sight. He had seen the same tan-colored house since the moment he was born. That house was the place he called home. He came up to the front entrance and turned the knob.
He entered the house and was immediately greeted by the thick aroma of the oh so sweet cherry pie. Just the smell alone was killing him but he knew he had to wait until after dinner to enjoy it. That didn’t bother him because he enjoyed eating all of the food his mother made for him. Soon after, he took his shoes off and hung his empty pack on the wall.
“Mother! I’m home!” he yelled out.
“Great timing Chippy! Come help me make dinner!” she replied.
He rounded the corner and saw a middle-aged female squirrel slicing vegetables and adding things to a giant pot as if she was going crazy. Her fur was dark brown with numerous streaks of white and grey.
“What can I help with!?” Chippy said with enthusiasm.
“Slice these vegetables,” she said as she pushed various ones towards him.
Just as he was about to grab one, he heard a sudden shout from his mother.
“WAIT JUST A MINUTE! You need to wash your hands first!” she said while looking at Chippy.
“Oh right, sorry!” he said while smiling.
He should have known from previous times that his mother was uptight about cleanliness.
He headed into the washroom and cleaned his hands under the faucet. He looked into a mirror and saw a squirrel with light brown fur looking back at him. He finished washing his hands and dried them off before heading back to help with dinner. He took the vegetables his mother set out for him and started to cut. A satisfying noise filled the kitchen each time he completed a slice. Before he knew it, all of the vegetables were all cut up and put into a pot. He watched with eagerness.
His mother added the vegetables to the pot and turned the heat on. Vegetable soup has a unique variant for each household and this one was not any different. His mother liked to roast them in seasonings a little bit before adding water. After roasting them for a little while, water was added along with other seasonings and things Chippy didn’t know the name for. He just knew that his mother made the best soup. Finally, the soup had to be brought to a simmer and so they waited.
They sat at the round table in the kitchen and the orange glow from the sun peered in from the window. The silence was broken when his mother started talking.
“Would you like some tea?” she asked.
“Yes please,” Chippy replied.
His mother brought over two mugs with steaming tea from them. He grabbed one cup with his two hands and sipped on it. The smooth and subtly sweet flavor seemed to ease the soreness in his body and he felt a sense of calmness wash over him. He happened to look over and his mother and saw her looking right at him.
“What is it?” he asked.
“Oh, nothing. I just can’t believe my boy is growing up so fast!” she replied.
Chippy almost choked on his tea when she said this. He looked back at his mother and saw her eyes. They looked worn but there was a kind and nurturing sparkle that made him feel at ease.
“S-Sure am!” he said with embarrassment.
He quickly reached for his cup and took a big gulp from it. It went down smoothly as always and soon brought him back to normal.
Chippy and his mother drank another cup of tea to pass the time. The bubbling sound coming from the big pot let them know that dinner was now done.
“Finally!” they said in unison. Soon after, they filled two bowls with the thick soup and brought them to the table. Chippy smelled deeply over his bowl. The rich and soothing smell made it feel like it was wrapping around every one of his whiskers in a comforting blanket. He lowered the spoon into the bowl and brought it back to his mouth with a carrot onboard.
He brought it into his mouth and chewed. The carrot was soft and nearly melted in his mouth. It had a mildly sweet flavor and the other wonders of the soup had soaked into it to create an explosion of taste. Chippy and his mother ate the soup with happy smiles on their faces. Whatever worries he had were washed away with every bite that he took. Before they knew it, all the soup was gone. Chippy was sad as he wanted that feeling to last. It didn’t last long though. That was because the next thing coming was something out of this world!. Chippy and his mother were now visibly anxious about the treat.
“Are you ready!?” they asked each other with excitement. A nod from the two of them was all the confirmation they needed to open up the oven door.
A squeaky creak filled the room as the door of the oven began to open. It felt like ages before it was fully pulled down. However, no matter how long the wait seemed to be, they knew it was worth it when they saw what awaited them. There in all its glory was a perfectly baked cherry pie!
“It’s perfect!” Chippy cried out in amazement.
“Let’s go eat it!” his mother responded.
They quickly cleared the round table and brought the cherry pie. His mother cut him a slice and pushed it towards him on a plate.
“Really!? Shouldn’t I wait for you?” Chippy asked.
“This whole day was for you silly. Don’t wait up for this old lady,” she said.
Chippy took one whiff of the calming sweet smell and took a bite. He was immediately transported to his favorite resting spot outside of the city. He could smell and feel the wind. The leaves were rustling around him and the blue sky occupied his view. Without any trees to block his view, the expanse was clearer than a still pond. Chippy took in all of these smells, views, and feelings. He never wanted them to leave him but knew that it wouldn’t go on forever.
He and his mother took the time to slowly favor each bite of the pie until it was all gone. With the main mission of the day now being completed, the sun started to set. Chippy stepped outside of the house to see the rainbow colors of the sun slowly going to sleep for the day. That pie was so good! He thought. I don’t know when I’ll be able it eat it again but I’m going to work hard every day so I can! With that thought, he went back inside and headed to sleep just like the sun had. He laid on his bed and his eyes soon got heavy. He dreamed of acorns, trees,... and cherry pie