Monday, April 16, 2012

Story - "Vanishing Strawberries"

This mini-story is based upon the characters in my new children's eBook, Tales From The Glades Of Ballymore.

Spring in Ballymore was now evident everywhere. The trees were greening.  Wildflowers popped up daily in the woods.  It smelt like spring.  Petunia Porcupine's large gardens were no exception.  She provided most of the fruits and vegetables for the Ballymore residents. Little green shoots were emerging from the soil from her many neatly planted rows.

On the other side of the pond, the chipmunk kids, Colin, Craig, and Conner, loved spring also.  It meant they would be having their favorite dessert soon - strawberry shortcake.  Actually, they loved strawberries no matter how they were served.  One morning their mother suggested that they create their own small strawberry garden.  Everyone agreed that was a great idea.

So they went to Petunia's to get some young plants that they could grow.  Petunia gave them five.  There was one for each member of the family.  Petunia also told them how to take care of the plants so that they would have the biggest and juiciest strawberries.

They brought the plants back to their cottage and carefully planted them according to Petunia's directions.  By noon there were five little strawberry plants enjoying the sun in a small garden to the left of their cottage.  Each plant was given a name: Colin, Craig, Conner, Cheryl, and Charles.  These would be the most cared for and watched strawberry plants ever.

In the middle of the first night, Craig crawled out of bed and went to visit the strawberries.  It was a cool, clear night with a full moon.  The plants were bathed in a bluish light.  He sat and watched them quietly. Before long Conner and Colin had joined him.

Conner whispered, "What are you doing?"

"I'm waiting for the first strawberry to be born.  I don't want to miss it."

Conner laughed.  "You'll have a long wait.  It won't happen tonight."

"Are you sure?" asked Craig.

"Oh, yes.  It might take a long time."

The three brothers continued to stare at the plants in the moonlight.

As they watched, two pairs of eyes were watching them from the edge of the woods.  Wilde and Wilder Weasel, the unofficial Ballymore security guards, were on their nightly rounds.  Coincidentally, they also loved strawberries.  More than once each year, they visited Petunia's gardens to sample the sweet treats.  Of course, Petunia knew what they were up to and planted extra strawberries.  Even with the weasels' sampling, there were plenty of strawberries for everyone.

Over the next few weeks, the strawberry plants grew fast.  Eventually, tiny buds appeared followed by tiny strawberries.  The chipmunks were thrilled as they watched this "miracle" develop.  The weasels were also watching each night.

One night, near dawn, again under a full moon, the weasels believed that the time had come for them to "help".  They brought a wheel barrel and trowels with them.  Carefully, they dug up the five strawberry plants and placed them in the wheel barrel.  Then they smoothed the soil.  You could hardly tell it had been a garden a few minutes previous.

Quietly, they moved to the other side of the cottage and replanted the strawberries there.  Then they went into the woods and waited.  Shortly after sunrise, Craig came out to see how big the strawberries had grown overnight.  His scream could be heard around Ballymore pond. The rest of the family rushed from the cottage to see the empty ground.  The weasels snickered from behind some trees not far away.

"Where did they all go?" yelled Craig.  "How could they just leave?  We were taking such good care of them."

"I don't think they left on their own.  I think they had some help," said their father.  "Let's look around."

It didn't take them long to find the new garden.  Everything looked fine. Just then the weasels appeared.

Wilde said, "Good morning everyone.  We have been getting some strange reports of missing plants.  Have you had any trouble?"

Cheryl answered, "Yes.  Somehow, our strawberry plants moved from the east to the west side of the cottage overnight."

"Have they ever moved before?"

"No, this is the first time."

"Perhaps, they are a special variety and they wanted more sun.  Some plants will do anything to get more sun," said Wilder.  "I would suggest you put a fence around them so they can't escape again."

The chipmunks stared at him.  They didn't know what to say.

"Well, we must be going.  Please let us know if there is any more trouble," said Wilde.

As they left, Wilder looked back over his shoulder and said, "You've been weaseled.  Have a nice day."

© 2012 Robert N. Brooks

The weekly Story about the animal residents of Ballymore is available for free syndication to family-oriented blogs and websites.  For information, please contact me at: ballymoretales(at)gmail(dot)com.

Tales From The Glades Of Ballymore

I am pleased to announce that I have completed my children's novel.  It is a heartwarming, humorous, and adventurous family book about a community of lovable animals.  It has an underlying theme of the "Golden Rule".  The early reviews are excellent. I hope everyone enjoys reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.  The book and a free sample are now available on Amazon.  NOTE: Kindle or iPad not required.

                         Thank you,        Bob Brooks