Junah Tales by M.R. Neer
Squirrel and Cat in the Big Tree
Junah Cat and Mo Mouse walked over towards the Big Tree. As they got closer, they saw a patch of something white flashing around the trunk of the tree.
“There she is,” said Mo. “That white flash is her tail. She likes to hide a lot and moves very fast. You just have to keep up with her.” Soon they heard some fast chirps, and Sandy peeked out from behind the trunk of the Big Tree.
“Hey Sandy,” said Mo, “This is Junah. He’s new here. The sisters just brought him here, and told him to find the secret of the garden, whatever that is. I thought maybe you could give him a squirrel’s eye view by taking him up in the tree.”
“Can you climb?” chirped Sandy quickly. “If you can, then follow me. Mo, you wait here, and we’ll be back in the crack of a nut.” Then Sandy started circling up the trunk of the tree, looking back to see if Junah was following.
Junah pawed the tree trunk to see if his claws would hold. They stuck, and then he had to pull out the front claws while the back claws held him in place. But he was too heavy to climb straight up the trunk. So he jumped over to the white picket fence that surrounded the garden, and then jumped up to a low-hanging tree branch. Soon, he caught up to Sandy.
“C’mon, Junah,” whistled Sandy while flicking her tail, “you can see the garden best from up here.” They climbed higher until they could see all around. The House itself faced east so it could catch the rays of the rising sun every day. Sandy said the sisters liked it that way. And the garden stretched out behind the House on the west side.
When Junah looked down from the branches of the tree, he saw spread out below him a marvelous sight, full of colorful flowers, green growing things, and walkways. The garden was laid out in a long rectangle behind the House. A white picket fence surrounded it with entrances on each side. There were four raised beds or patches for growing things with stone walkways in between and a circular bench in the middle.
“Okay, Sandy, I see the garden, and it’s got four patches. What’s growing in each one?” asked Junah.
“I call ‘em the four corners, Junah,” said Sandy. “The one up-front nearest the House on the north is the Vine Corner. It’s full of creeping vines like melons, squashes, beans, and tomatoes. The Tall Corner closest to us here in the tree is full of rows of corn surrounded by sunflowers. That’s my favorite.”
“What are the other two called?” asked Junah.
“Well, you see that raised pond in the far northwest corner near the other Big Tree like this one?”
“Yes, I see it,” said Junah.
“Well, the garden patch nearest the pond is the Herb Corner. That’s where the sisters grow special plants that smell real good. They use them to spice up their cooking. It has things like thyme, lavender, coriander, mint, and more.”
“What’s the last corner called?” asked Junah.
“That’s the Root corner,” said Sandy. “It has veggies that grow in the ground, like sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, and so on. All you can see are the big leaves that grow above the ground.”
Junah also noticed there were hedges along the white fence in many places, and just outside the fence were lots of medium-sized trees that looked like they had fruits or nuts on them. “Are those fruit or nut trees?” asked Junah.
“Both,” said Sandy. “The sisters liked to have lots of different kinds. There are orange, apple, apricot, plum, and other fruit trees along with some almond trees and pistachio trees.”
Junah looked up from the garden, turning in all directions. Looking to the south across a wide meadow, Junah saw a large forest full of green trees. Then in the other direction on the north side at the far end beyond the pond, he saw a sloping hillside that went down to a slowly moving, winding river.
“You ever been to the forest over there, Sandy?” asked Junah. “Or down to the river on the other side?”
“Nope,” said Sandy, “I’m happy in the garden. Those places seem far away and kind of a mystery to me.”
“Okay,” said Junah, “My job is just to find the secret of the garden. So I guess I better get down there and start looking for it. Thanks for the tour, Sandy. This is a great view.”
“You’re welcome, Junah,” said Sandy, “It’s nice to have you here, and I hope you find the secret so you can tell us all about it.”
“Sure,” said Junah, smiling as he waved goodbye.
“And if you need any help,” chirped Sandy, “just ask. I can get things done pretty fast because I can go high or go low. So I get around.”
“I’ll remember that,” said Junah, as he climbed down branch-by-branch till he got to the overhanging branch. He gracefully jumped down to the white fence, and then lightly to the ground.
Junah realized this world around the sisters’ house was bigger than he thought. But finding his way around the garden would be easy now because he could remember the big picture.
Junah’s purr: Finding your way is easier when you have the big picture.
Stay tuned! Episode 9 will come your way in two weeks.