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A Forest Tale

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Forest Tale
By Ann Lustgarten
 
As a young mother, I became very friendly with a group of PTA moms. We had very different personalities but worked well with one another and loved each other very much. As time has passed, our lives have changed. The loss of the ‘peaceful’ one prompted this parable.
 
To the outside world, and to the unbelievers, the forest seems to be a place where many different creatures live, each unto themselves. But to those of us who really know, the forest is a place teeming with activity. The forest creatures meet together and send their children to school and very much mix together. Why they even have a parent groups and that’s where Mrs. Porcupine was headed.

As she waddled along, she brushed back her bristles and straightened up. She was ready for this adventure. She had been living in the forest for quite a while. Now her child was old enough to begin school and Mrs. Porcupine wanted to find out more about it.

She had spoken to both Mrs. Dove and Mrs. Owl. They had encouraged her to come to their parent groups, to meet other parents and to get to know more about the school. So there she was in the clearing.

All around were the beautiful signs of fall. The leaves were beginning to change their colors and flutter softly to the ground. The animals needed to be extra careful now, lest their movement though the leaves and grasses arouse the notice of the human folk wandering there. Soon was the time that the animal’s lives would become busier and busier, as stronger and warmer shelters would be needed and supplies brought in for the cold months ahead.

But for now, Mrs. Porcupine was able to relax and enjoy her surroundings, with only a slight bit of apprehension.
She had met Mrs. Dove, a lovely and peaceful woman. How serene she seemed! Almost as if she had been granted special powers of understanding and compassion.

Seated next to her was Mrs. Owl. She was wise. Just the sort of soul someone would turn to. Mrs. Owl was the one to whom all the animals came with their questions. She could mend a wing, or warm a nose; recommend just the right antidote which one’s youngsters had eaten a poisonous plant.

There were some new faces as well.

Having spent the day working on her new home, Mrs. Beaver still had a saw and hammer in her pocketbook. When the Beaver family headed into the winter for their long winter’s nap, she wanted everything to be just so, even if it meant doing it over and over again. She was exhausted. Having four children was just too much work!
The field mouse, Mrs. Mouse was quiet. Quiet as a mouse, as a matter of fact. She was pretty sitting there. She had been busy, too, carting acorn drums from to school and back again. The smallest mouse was smaller than the set of drums and that required a helping hand. But mothers don’t really mind those sort of things,
There was a raucous squirrel, sure to make trouble. She was busily cracking acorns, and throwing the shells all over. All the time she was squawking and screeching and never being quiet.

A rabbit was there, too. Mrs. Hare they called her. She sat in the back with her coat wrapped around her. She was willing to talk but she really didn’t want anyone to know that another bunny was expected. She had several at home already, whom she adored, but creatures could be so thoughtless in their comments. In fact, Mrs. Porcupine was embarrassed herself when she blurted out, “You have SIX children!”

Fluttering in came a bird. Mrs. Wren brought with her a lovely cake made from only the freshest and most natural of ingredients. She loved to stay around her home and bake—and clean—and work on her crafts. But she liked the fact that she had wings and could from time to time, as the spirit loved her, fly away for a moment or two.
As she looked, Mrs. Porcupine saw many of nature’s creatures. More mice, and birds, a chipmunk, and even some snakes.

The meeting was called to order by Mrs. Owl. She asked everyone to introduce themselves, but only after she introduced Mr. Badger, the principal.

As she looked around, Mrs. Porcupine wondered with whom she would become friendly. She knew who she would like to get to know. There were six in particular who had the style she was looking for.

Sure enough as time, and more meetings went by, she became friendly with that same six. They worked together on getting things ready for the school and on committees and for the safety of the forest.

One day, Mrs. Mouse sighed, “I never seem to get my sewing done. I wish I could find a way to accomplish more.”

“Well,” said Mrs. Porcupine. “Why don’t you come over for tea some afternoon and show me what you are doing?”

“Fine,” answered Mrs. Mouse. “How about Friday? Shall we include some of our other acquaintances, too?”
A nod of Mrs. Porcupine’s head began a tradition that lasted through the winter months ahead, and on through the years.

The seven delightful ladies met most every Friday after they had bundled their little ones off for school. They discussed and planned and reviewed and advised. They watched as new little boys and baby girls came to them. All together they had twenty-three offspring. What things they had to discuss!

There were broken bones and broken hearts. There were the teachers and the taught. There were problems of the forest and of the world to solve. And, of course, this magnificent seven had the answers to everything, or at least, acted as if they did.

As their children grew older, the seven began to get out in the world more themselves. They children were not as dependent on them as they once had been. Some of the children went to the forest college and beyond. Some were married. One even became a doctor. They were wonderfully successful and beautiful and handsome and brilliant children and all the things that mothers feel about them. The seven found activities for themselves which did not always include each other as once they had. They began to work and to branch out.

But they always had some time for one another. They were available for each other through the sad, happy and difficult times.

One day a cloud came over the forest. There was a sadness which pervaded every lead and blade of grass. The sun no longer shone as brightly through the leaves. The flowers seemed not as bright.

Mrs. Dove had flown away.

It was she who had provided the others with strength and calm. It was she who had shown them that time and patience was a virtue. She who had the positive outlook, that, after all was said and done, the problem would be solved

Who would show them now?

What would they do?

Well, all was not as sad as it seemed. As you know, all good fairy tales have a happy ending.

You see, Mrs. Dove had left her imprint on each of the other six. And on her children and on their children. She had left that mark on all the creatures of the forest and all around her. They would always have her spirit with them to guide them and to help them.

And where had Mrs. Dove gone?

Why she had flown to another place. A place where she could prepare for the others. She would be back. She would take them, one at a time, to the better place, where they could find the peace she had.

She had had the peace and serenity because she was the one who would lead them there.

She had only flown ahead—not away!

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