Junah Tales by M.R. Neer
The Ladybug and the Grasshopper
Junah Cat and Mo Mouse were sitting on the bench watching the garden.
“Over there,” whispered Mo, pointing toward the tomatoes growing in the Vine Corner. A bunch of small red somethings floated in the air. They seemed to be moving up and down randomly. A few fell on the leaves, and Mo motioned to Junah to come over closer but quietly.
They crept near the tomato patch and saw that the red somethings were little red ladybugs, each with handsome black dots on their backs. They were eating tiny bugs who were eating holes in the tomato leaves. Mo said the tiny bugs were aphids. “Duma told me Sara had planted some dill plants and fennel along the edge of the vine plants to attract ladybugs,” said Mo. “Duma said ladybugs were the gardener’s best friend.”
“I wonder,” said Junah, “are the aphids bad and the ladybugs good? They are both just eating what they eat.”
“We all have to eat,” said Mo, shrugging his shoulders.
Just then Grasshopper flew into the tomato patch. The ladybugs scattered, but the quick Grasshopper caught an unlucky one.
“Oh, Grasshopper,” said Ladybug, “let me go and I’ll repay you for your kindness.”
“How could a little bug like you help me, a big grasshopper?” questioned the hopper, looking hungrily at the red bug.
“See these little aphids,” said Ladybug. “They are eating up the green leaves. If I eat the aphids, then you get to eat the leaves.”
“Well, I don’t know,” hesitated Grasshopper. “You seem like a tasty meal.”
“But the leaves are better for you,” argued Ladybug. “In fact, my red shell will make you sick. And there are lots more leaves than one ladybug. They are also easier to eat.”
“Okay,” said Grasshopper, “I don’t want to get sick. I just want to eat, and leaves are my favorite food. You can go this time, but if I don’t get full on leaves, I’ll come looking for you.”
“Thank you, Grasshopper,” said Ladybug. “You’ll be rewarded for your kindness.”
Ladybug flew away to join her family, and Grasshopper dined to his heart’s content on tomato leaves. Both were happy.
Junah and Mo smiled at this harmonious result, but suddenly a large shadow swept over the Vine Corner. Junah saw immediately that it was the hawk, back for more food. Instinctively, Junah squatted down to cover Mo and protect her from the hawk. But the hawk just passed over them and grabbed the leaf-eating grasshopper in his claws.
Grasshopper yelped, and almost instantly a flurry of red dots rose up from the vines and fluttered around the hawk’s eyes. He reached up with one of his claws to swat the ladybugs, but in doing so he dropped the grasshopper. The hopper landed on the vines and hid underneath the big leaves. The hawk screeched and flew away. Junah and Mo both breathed a sigh of relief.
“Thank you, Junah,” said Mo, “for shielding me from that hawk. A mouse is their favorite food.”
“I just reacted,” said Junah, surprised at his own movement. “I wonder how grasshopper is getting along.”
They looked in the vines. Grasshopper had a bruised leg on the side where the hawk had grabbed him. But other than that, he was all right. He looked around and saw Ladybug sitting on a leaf looking at him.
“You were right, Ladybug,” said Grasshopper. “Even a little bug like you was able to help a big bug like me. Thank you. I’ll never forget it.”
Ladybug smiled. “You’re welcome, Grasshopper,” said Ladybug. “Never underestimate the power of a good deed. I have seen it pay off in many ways.”
“That’s a big thing to know,” said Mo, as she and Junah walked back to the round stone bench. “Just like you let me go when you first entered the garden, and then I helped you tour the garden. And now, you saved me from the hawk. This is amazing. Helping someone really makes a difference.”
“You’re right, Mo,” said Junah. “I wonder if helping is the secret of the garden. You know, the sisters said after I experienced the secret, then I could help others.”
“That must be part of it,” said Mo. “So we’re on the right track. We just need to keep on experiencing, I guess.”
Junah’s purr: Every action has a reaction; a good deed always comes back.
Stay tuned! Episode 17 will come your way in two weeks.