There once was a squirrel that lived in the very top of the tallest tree in his woods. Most trees grew mighty thick and very close to each other. These trees had lots of branches and critters of all kinds inhabited them. But this squirrel, Roamy, was the only animal on his tree, at least as high up as he. There were few branches as most had been destroyed in a storm.
Roamy came from a large family of squirrels. He only had three siblings but he grew up with his 12 cousins, six aunts, three grandparents, his mom and her best friend and her seven kids – their home had been destroyed in the storm as well. So when Roamy was old enough to move out and find such a great, quiet place he was more than excited.
He took to widening a hole that a woodpecker once used to obtain lunch. It took him a week or so and he got caught in the rain one night. He crawled down to the lower branches to hide under the leaves. When his new home was built, he took to the trees to find only the best furnishings for his place. One day he even made it as far as the beach for the whitest sand for decoration and cleaning purposes.
When the sun was high Roamy would sit on the second highest branch, to keep hidden from hawks, and watch the world above and below him. There were little red fruits that began to grow up there that didn’t seem to be found anywhere else. Roamy was cautious at first. He took a handful and went to find a test subject – a mole that threw caution to the wind and enjoyed the free treat.
Roamy was excited upon return; the rest of the berries were all his, and they were most delicious. Roamy got too carried away and soon there were but a few berries left and still months left before they would regrow, and Roamy had done nothing to ensure he had food for the winter. He hadn’t even been out of his tree in weeks. When he began to look for nuts and other berries he ran into some family.
They were so excited to see him; he couldn’t understand why, because he didn’t even want to be bothered by them. He searched in vain and found little. He thought he might hibernate through the winter; that would definitely save on food, but before he gave up entirely he went back to the sea. He searched all the empty shells and came back empty-handed. He crawled up to his branch.
Winter came and with it, the storms. Roamy kept himself entertained trying to cry in rhythm with the storms and his hunger pains. He didn’t want to look weak to his family, and they wouldn’t have gathered enough food for him anyways. When he could take it no longer he climbed down his beautiful tree and up the old bent oak, that had been there for generations, looking for a welcoming face.
What he found was disease. Two of his cousins and his grandpa had caught the swine flu from the crows that migrate to the area. They had little time left and Roamy offered to put them in his house until they fell asleep forever, if only he could have some of their rations to restore his energy. His mom came out of the den and offered him half lunch now and the other half when the job was done.
Roamy worked hard making his sick family members a comfy place to rest. He liked the idea of working for rewards and the idea of having others to help you in a time of need. He no longer wanted to live all alone and so far away from all the other critters. He would make it his mission to start befriending them and start offering his services in return for what they had to offer.
Then one day, Roamy gets a delivery. He had gotten a flight suit one year for his birthday but didn’t feel his woods were the safest place for a landing. The delivery was a train ticket to the mountains that overlooked a black-sand beach. Roamy was more than overwhelmed. He packed his little bags and stuffed some snacks in his cheeks and he was ready to go.
After Roamy’s arrival he had to wait two weeks to get to the top of the mountain. While he waited he made friends with the locals. On the day of his climb, many of his friends came out to see him fly. He soared through the sky beautifully, but had never practiced landing and soon found his tail between a rock and a hard place. The news that came after was devastating. Roamy had passed out from shock.
When he awoke he found what was left of his tail bandaged. He felt there was no way he could return to the woods and face all the other squirrels; his life would never be the same. But his friends didn’t let him pity himself. They all seemed to have their own stories. They told Roamy about life, and about how things happen, and that even when you think it’s bad, you should live until you can think no more. Because only then is your life truly over.
Roamy took their advice and began to think all the time. Finally, after a year of experiments, Roamy was able to create a tail that would allow him to steer better while flying. He created another piece that helped him to keep balance in the trees. He had blueprints for other friends and things to help them. Then he thought of his family and how they had helped him. He traveled back home to return the favor.
Roamy had been gone so long that his mom was no longer there, but there were plenty of new cousins running through the trees and his siblings now had families of their own. Roamy showed his family what he had been up to and they were very proud of him. Roamy decided to take the top of the tallest tree and turn it into the largest squirrel treehouse any critter anywhere had ever seen.
I love the story. The illustrations are amazing. When did you become such a good squirrel artist?