Once upon a time, in a very lively forest, a squirrel was attempting to crack open a walnut by pushing it down a small hill and letting it hit the boulders below. This, of course, was not working, so Squirrel was starting to worry that he would have to eat from his stockpile of easy-to-access seeds that he kept on hand for moments like this. It wasn’t that Squirrel didn’t like the taste seeds, but, after eating only seeds every day of his life and never experiencing the joy of and satisfaction of cracking open a walnut and eating its delicious insides, Squirrel was dreading the idea of eating yet another boring meal.
Squirrel had to work harder than most other squirrels to do squirrel things and that included completing deceptively simple activities such as cracking a walnut. No matter how many times he stood back and watched his squirrel friends use their mouths to open a walnut and eat the delicious insides, squirrel couldn’t make all the individual actions come together to make it work. The other squirrels had decided that it was best to let Squirrel attempt to figure out how to crack a walnut on his own, so he picked up three walnuts and headed into the forest to seek the wisdom of other animals.
The first animal Squirrel came across was Snake. He was busy making a hole in the ground when Squirrel interrupted him and was very lucky that snake had just eaten and was not very hungry. Snake looked at Squirrel suspiciously as it was unusual for a squirrel to deliberately get so close to him. “I have these walnuts that I would like to crack open and eat. Can you help me?” Squirrel asked snake with an unusual confidence. Snake may not have been hungry but he was still feeling very sneaky.
“Of coursssssse”, snake replied as he slithered over to Squirrel, wrapped himself around the walnut and squeezed it so tight that it cracked open effortlessly. Squirrel went to thank Snake and take his walnut but Snake was too fast, snatching the walnut from the ground and whisking it away without a word. Squirrel was disappointed but he still had two walnuts with him so he carried on through the forest.
The next animal Squirrel came across was Bear. He was busy using clumps of clay to fix the walls to his cave when Squirrel accidentally startled him. “Excuse, Mr Bear,” Squirrel said. Bear turned around quickly to see the tiny squirrel holding two walnuts and asked him what he wanted as he was preparing for hibernation and did not want to be disturbed.
“I have these walnuts that I would like to crack open and eat. Can you help me?”
Thinking he might like one more snack before he slept for the winter, Bear agreed to help Squirrel. He asked Squirrel to throw one of his walnuts on the ground and promptly stood on it with his enormous foot, crushing it into small pieces. Squirrel looked up at Bear who smiled, bent down to scoop up the pieces of walnut and walked into his cave laughing. Squirrel didn’t mind too much and was happy that Bear might get to enjoy the walnut. He took hold of his single remaining walnut and continued on through the forest.
The third animal squirrel came across was Crow. She was busy building a nest to place her eggs in when squirrel interrupted. “Excuse me, Crow,” squirrel interrupted. Crow jumped back in fright and tilted her head to the side, examining his guest. It wasn’t often that a crow was interrupted by a squirrel, so the high-pitched voice caught her by surprise. Immediately, squirrel noticed that crow wasn’t carrying sticks in her beak, but had found a straw and was about to use that to place in her nest instead. Clearly unhappy with the interruption, Crow dropped the straw from her mouth.
“Yes? What is it?” Crow replied abruptly.
“I, um, was wondering if you could help me learn how to crack open this walnut,” squirrel asked. “The other squirrels have lost patience with me and I really would like to learn.” Crow hopped over to Squirrel and used his beak to take the walnuts he was carrying out of his hands. Crow then placed it on the leaves in front of him, lifted his head back and, using her beak, cracked open the walnut with ease. Squirrel looked up at Crow with amazement, but before he could take the walnut to enjoy his first taste, Crow quickly snatched it and flew back to his nest.
Realising Crow had left her straw behind, Squirrel picked it up off the ground and quickly dashed up the tree to where Crow had made her nest. Once there, Squirrel noticed that Crow’s nest didn’t look like other birds’ nests he had seen as it appeared to be made out of everything except the sticks that Squirrel was sure Crow was meant to use.
“Why does your nest look so funny?” Squirrel asked as he looked curiously at all of the straws, bottle caps and bits of plastic that made up the nest.
“No one’s really shown me how to make a nest,” Crow said humbly.
Thinking for a second, Squirrel suggested that they could help each other. “You could crack the walnuts, and I could help you collect sticks to make a nest.” Crow was hesitant at first as no one had ever offered to help her before. In the end, she agreed and both Squirrel and Crow worked together to build nests and crack walnuts from that day on.
My name is Gregg Savage and, every night when the house is quiet, I write and publish a free children’s story at dailytales.com.au for you to share and enjoy.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.