Seedy Shortcut
by: Ashley T.

Animals scurried everywhere – up trees, along the ground, over rocks, and through cracks. It looked like rush hour in a major city. A crisp, cool breeze rustled through the colorful leaves, and acorns came down like rain. Fall was definitely here. It was late in the morning, too late to still be asleep, yet a young chipmunk named Chipper was nestled deep in her burrow, sleeping soundly. Suddenly, she awoke. The loud call of Mama Jaycee, the Blue Jay, right above her burrow, brought her out of her slumbers. Chipper rolled over, not sure if she was ready to wake up. Sluggishly, she crawled out of her hole and blinked in the sunlight. Chipper took in a deep breath, filling her lungs with the refreshing air.

 

“Fresh food, fresh food, fresh food!” Mama Jaycee began to caw again. Chipper glanced up to see what the Blue Jay was so excited about. She was surprised to spot a bird feeder hanging on the side of the little brick house right next to her hole. She had never noticed it before. Chipper scrambled to the top of the bird bath that rested above her home. The bird looked down at the curious chipmunk.

 

“Good morning, Chipper,” Mama Jaycee greeted her warmly.

 

“Good morning to you, too.” She paused. “Whatcha doin’, Mama Jaycee?”

 

“The humans filled the feeder this morning with fresh seed, and I’m calling my family and friends to tell them it’s here,” she explained.

 

“Ohh… may I try some?” Chipper asked.

 

“Of course,” Mama Jaycee replied. The chipmunk climbed the wall to the window sill and then leaped onto the feeder. She reached her tiny fingers into one of the holes in the tube, grabbing some of the seed. Chipper nibbled.

 

“This is wonderful!” she exclaimed. Mama Jaycee smiled.

 

“Hey, Chipper! Whatcha up to?” Chipper peered around the tube.

 

“Rikki!” She quickly jumped off the feeder and ran down the wall to meet her best friend.

 

“Well, are you ready to start lookin’ for food?” the raccoon asked.

 

“Actually, Rikki, I have a better idea,” Chipper replied smugly.

 

“Oh, really?” Rikki’s eyes widened with curiosity. Chipper turned her head to see if Mama Jaycee was still perched on the feeder. She wasn’t.

 

“You see that bird feeder over there?” Rikki nodded. “That’s our food supply.” Rikki grinned, and her eyes twinkled behind her little black mask. “That’s not the best part though… the humans refill it every day.” Rikki’s smile became wider.

 

“Brilliant,” she stated, “Let’s start tonight.” Just as their plans were finalized, Old Henry, the wise, ancient squirrel, climbed down the large oak tree. “Good morning, girls,” he said.

 

“Good morning,” Chipper replied brusquely, knowing he had probably heard their plans. Rikki didn’t speak.

 

“I see you’ve found the fresh seed.” They didn’t reply. “It’s tasty, isn’t it?” Chipper only nodded; Rikki didn’t move. “Let me warn you, though, this seed will not last the winter. If I were you, I would put my efforts into another food source.” Chipper nodded once again but did not speak, and Rikki just scowled. Old Henry sighed and went on his way, hoping that the two would listen to him. Rikki immediately turned to Chipper.

 

“Don’t listen to him, Chipper, he’s nuts. He’s just telling you that because he thinks it’s such a good idea, and he’s mad because he didn’t think of it first!” Chipper agreed. They would not be changing their plans.

 

Every day, the two emptied the feeder and stored the seed. Every day, the humans refilled the feeder. Every day, Old Henry and Mama Jaycee faithfully warned Chipper and Rikki that the seed they were gathering would spoil before winter was over. And every day, Chipper and Rikki completely ignored their wisdom.

 

When winter finally came, Chipper and Rikki had finished gathering their prize seed. They were proud of their work over the fall. Old Henry was disappointed that the two girls hadn’t listened to his advice. He knew that the stored bird seed wouldn’t last. Mama Jaycee just shook her head.

 

“See ya in the spring, Chipper!” Rikki shouted over her shoulder as she ran to her den in a hollow oak tree.

 

“OK! You, too!” Chipper climbed into her hole. She took another look at her lovely seed, then buried herself deep in her bed and drifted off to sleep.

 

During the middle of winter, Chipper awoke hungry. She stumbled groggily to her storage. She took a handful of that marvelous seed and munched.

 

“Phwwwa!” Chipper spit out the food. She felt nauseous. The seed tasted horrible. Then reality sank in – the seed had spoiled. Suddenly, she realized a horrible truth: this was the only food supply she had stored for the winter, and now it was ruined. This was going to be a long winter. Chipper thought back on what Old Henry and Mama Jaycee had tried to tell her, and she learned her lesson:

 

Shortcuts don’t always lead down the best path, but wise advice usually does.