Jakes Home Coming #4
Once Jake was on the ground he knew he had to be very careful or he could find himself locked up again in one of the human’s traps. He carefully made his way through the fence and across the pasture. This time the cows were in the barn, making it an easy trip. Once Jake was under the pasture fence he looked for a safe place to sleep until morning. Now that the snows had melted he found a hollowed out log and crawled inside.
Jake woke to a thunderstorm. It didn’t matter to him, he was going to make it to the river and find Hattie before night fall. It was a hard trip. Just the mud he was carrying on his feet made him tire easily. He stopped many times to rest. The only good thing about the trip was the rain was keeping other animals inside. He worried less about running into danger.
By the time Jake finally reached the old hollowed out tree he was muddy and exhausted. He poked his head inside. To his delight his family was safe and sleeping. He lay down along side of Hattie and fell into a deep sleep for the first time since he had left his family in the late winter.
Morning was such a happy time. Jake had to get use to bunnies that had doubled in size and now had names he had to remember. They took a long walk along the river’s edge so Jake could clean himself up. All day was spent sharing the stories of the winter that had just past. Jake was surprised to learn of the bear families kindness and Hattie was just as surprised to hear about the humans and old Ben.
It turned out to be a wonderful summer. Jake taught the bunnies so many things, knowing they would be leaving the next time summer came around. One more year and the bunnies would be adults, ready to make homes of their own. He worried about Skippers unwise choices. He was always poking around places that were not safe, no matter how many times Jake & Hattie had warned him.
One morning the Bear family came to visit. They were enjoying sharing the day when all of a sudden the birds in the trees began to shout, Sissy came running for Jake and all the other animal neighbors came out to see what the racket was.
They all ran to the rivers edge where baby bear was laying on his belly, hanging onto the branch of a bush half way down the river bank. When Jake peered over the edge of the bank he saw Skipper dangling by his one leg just inches from the waters swift flow. Papa bear pulled his son to safety and tried to climb down the bank to rescue Skipper but he was just too big and heavy. With each step he sent rocks flying down towards the screaming rabbit.
Just then the king of snakes slinked down the rocks and onto the limb of the dead tree where Skipper hung shaking, as drops of river water splashed onto him. Hattie couldn’t look. Surely Skipper would end up in the mouth of the river or the mouth of King snake. Everyone ran for cover leaving the rabbits and bears to look on helplessly.
Mr. Snake had something else in mind for Skipper. He wrapped himself around the rabbit and dragged him along the branch, pulling him up the bank and dropping him at the feet of his father. Without a sound, he skittered away into the grass.
Hattie was so shocked she stood in silence, forgetting that skipper lay on the ground exhausted from his adventure. Papa bear picked Skipper up and gave him a good shake to make sure he was alive while Jake hopped off trying to find the snake in the grass to thank him.
Night was beginning to fall so the bears left for home. Skipper was put to bed knowing his punishment would come in the morning. Jake didn’t find King snake to thank him and he was still in shock from the days happenings when he lay down to go to sleep.
The rest of the summer Skipper spent playing outside the tree where he could be seen by Hattie. It wasn’t much of a punishment because Skipper was now so fearful of the river that he wouldn’t go near it even when Jake was with him. He did have a lot of questions about Mr. Snake. Questions that Jake and Hattie were having trouble answering.
Jake knew the snakes were not his friends on a regular day but he was beginning to understand that there were times when his worse enemy could be counted on to help him. He thought he had learned everything but this past year had taught him some new things, good things about his neighbors, and even the humans.
There were already signs of fall. Leaves were drying out and mornings had a chill in them. This year Jake wouldn’t be making the same mistake of the past. He wouldn’t need to leave and find a winter home. The bears had invited them to share the cave again. Jake was very grateful that he didn’t have to dig a hole even with the help of Skipper. Jake and Hattie were beginning to feel age coming on them. It would be a good winter with the bears protecting them in the dry cave and this year they would all be together.
Hattie was ready to spend this last season with her children. She would be sure to make them ready to build their own families. Sissy had become a little beauty this summer. Her tan fur had streaks of gold in it. Skipper’s river experience had tamed his adventurous nature. Hattie knew she and Jake would be alone next summer, growing old together. She knew how special that was remembering only last winter when she thought she might never see Jake again.
But for now it was time to get ready to meet up with their friends and just enjoy what winter would bring.
Jake’s Big Decision #5