May found herself outside again, she saw neighbors that were flapping, diving,
and whirling. Each one of them had winter preparations of their own. The birds
took the material out of their nests, maternal feathers and prickly twigs, for
encouraging their little ones to flap away. The squirrels unearthed rich treats
buried under ground. They liked nuts more than nectar.
bears sheltered their cubs in dark caves; the cubs pawed at each other in the
felt awe. But she also felt guilt. Had she been hasty? At the same time that
she helped Julia, she would interrupt the activities of her neighbors. But she could
make up the difference.
she had talked to each one separately, she found that, like December, they had
conditions of their own. The squirrel was the first one. May smiled as she
watched the squirrel. Julia was a bit like a squirrel; she had loved to scale
the cherry tree outside… When she had been well. The squirrel cracked open the
tender fruit of a shell, turned to May with a bright eye, and said,
“If my nut gathering must be
delayed, could you please find me a new supply?”
had agreed. It had taken well over a day, but she had managed to find a hidden
cache of nuts under the bare trunk of a hazelnut tree. The squirrel had been
delighted. Next, the swallowtail, an elegant looking bird, with an orange patch
over one eye, said kindly,
be perfectly happy to delay my trip to Brazil for your friend’s sake but…”
May had patted the bird gently and
said, “Yes? What is it?”
The swallowtail cocked her head to
one side and said, “Could you please chart a new
pattern for me to follow?” She held up her wing, shook her head, and said,
wind currents will most likely have changed by next month.”
May nodded her head vigorously and
said, “Of course, I’d be more than willing to help.”
knew that Julia would be proud of her. Her friend loved birds; she shared their
passion for music. After straining her eyes over a water-logged almanac, May
presented a flight pattern which the swallowtail found acceptable, as evidenced
with a clap of her wings. May sighed. This process had taken much longer than
she had originally expected. But she wasn’t tempted to turn back. May had seen
Julia’s pale face on the night after she had cried; the tears had dried but
they remained as fresh as though they had poured from May’s own pair of clear,
healthy eyes. The last animal who needed help was a box turtle. The box turtle
carried a miniature brick mansion on his shell, like Julia’s home. But his
shell, which was sensitive to heat, had cartilage instead of mortar. May talked
with the turtle very earnestly about her friend until the turtle said,
“I could delay hibernation if you
found a nice spot for me to sun my shell.”
“How about the creek?” May asked as
she pointed out this landmark to the turtle.
“Magnificent idea!” The turtle said
as his head bobbed back inside his tight shell.
May watched the turtle waddle off, she felt a thrill surge through her mind.
She had been able to assist her neighbors and help Julia at the same
time! It was grand! But she was tired.
lay down to sleep with a clump of pink ferns as a pillow and the thick grass as
woke up feeling refreshed. But when she touched her face, a jolt of horror
reverberated from her pulse. Her face felt completely numb! May touched her
face again to make sure that she hadn’t been hallucinating. She had experienced
a strange series of events recently.
her reflection in the creek verified her worst imaginings. She had frostbite
all over her face!
groaned as she looked at the red bumps on her nose, which had been a source of
it looked like the nose of a wrinkled old bat. May turned from the creek to
recover from this nightmarish shock. The snow flurries! May took her hands away
from her face. They must have passed by her side, during the time in which she
slept; they often left a trail of frost behind.
scolded herself for being foolish enough to sleep out in the open like that.