I had this great idea to create a small play garden for my grandchildren. In a small hidden area of the woods we cleared out an spot for animals and children to congregate. Small rocks were grouped to form a brook and an iron turtle was added. Stone birds, frogs and porcupines were scattered about the garden and an enamel butterfly hung low on a tree. A small table, chairs and box with plastic dishes were added. All that was needed was the grandchildren to play here. This is where I hit a snag; bugs that I had not accounted for swarmed around the space. The few times the grandchildren were there they were chased away by the annoying bugs. I realized that the play area was a failure but not to be thwarted I began to visualize how the make-believe animals would come to life when human kind left it alone. As a result I started to make up stories about the lives of the forest inhabitants. Coupled with an assignment to write about conflict I wrote the following story in hopes it would be a way to share the garden space with my grandchildren. We can snuggle in a comfy chair and in a bug free environment talk about Jasper, Jimmy, Clyde and Marcus. The following is my first story about my ‘Hidden Glen’ and its’ inhabitants.
The sun rises slowly, fingers of light poke through the trees of the ‘Hidden Glen, of the small forest. A burbling brook flows through the landscape. In a cozy nook of the brook Jasper, the frog has made his home. Water pools among the rocks providing him with moisture and places to sit and watch for bugs.
It is a tiny corner of the forest populated by a few animals and birds. A raucous Blue Jay named Jimmy makes his home in a nearby oak tree. From there Jimmy can observe the other residents of the forest.
Marcus, a pompous cardinal has built his nest in a towering pine tree. He is vane about his brilliant red plumage and spends much of the day preening. While Jimmy and Marcus are not close friends they do form a bond of superiority. They look with disdain at Clyde, the starling. Clyde has dark, drab brown and black feathers. His home is a straggly nest in the rotting crotch of a forlorn, dying elm tree. Clyde has the nasty habit of raiding other birds nests and stealing their eggs. This has not endeared Clyde to the other forest residents.
As the summer drags on they all enjoy the warm long days but near the middle of August they realize that it has not rained for several weeks. The brook has slowed to a trickle. Jasper hops down lower into the pool but fears that he will soon have to leave in search of water or die in his little pool.
Most of the rabbits and deer have already moved to new locations. Marcus, Jimmy, Jasper and Clyde are the only residents left in the cozy, but dry, corner of the woods.
Marcus and Jimmy, sitting on a branch ask Jasper if he is going to be alright. Jasper’s skin is drying and he is having difficulty breathing. He has become too weak to leave his home.
Clyde flies down to the ground and asks Jasper if he can help. Marcus and Jimmy swoop low over his head, “go away you ugly creature” they scream.
Clyde flies away fearing for his life.
Another day passes and Jasper grows weaker. The next morning there is a heavy dew but no rain.
Marcus and Jimmy sit nearby and watch helplessly. Abruptly, Clyde flies over Jasper, a small leaf is grasped in his beak and as he passes over Jasper, he tips the leaf and a small droplet of dew falls on Jasper’s dry skin.
Time and time again Clyde returns with more leaves and drops dew on the frog’s skin.
Marcus and Jimmy realize what Clyde is doing and join him in bringing dew to Jasper.
Each morning for the next week the three birds formed a team bringing moisture to the frog. Slowly Jasper began to regain his strength. The team worked for another week and then the skies clouded over and life giving rain fell on the forest. The brook began to rise and water flowed into Jasper’s pond. Soon order was returned to the forest.
Jimmy, Marcus and Jasper accepted Clyde as part of their world and while they would still be on guard watching their nests they now saw that even the drab starling had some good in him.