Once upon a time there lived a squirrel, which was used to gathering nuts in a small town in Upstate New York. Now, New York and the small town, for that matter, had fine nuts—too many of them really, so the squirrel finally left the Apple state and sought kinder, gentler nuts in Western Pennsylvania. He felt that Pennsylvania would be the land of trees and though there may be even more nuts in such a place, he heard that this place carried some great nuts of knowledge. These would make him a better, smarter, and even a gutsier squirrel, but little did he know that there is more to happiness than simply good nuts.
One day, not long after he arrived in Nuttyanna, PA, the squirrel was scampering around in desperation trying to find and gather these great nuts of knowledge when, suddenly, he came across this beautiful, dark-haired fox. He was taking a break by and old, fallen tree—a pleasant place—with wonderful odoriferous flowers of white, blue and purple sown in throughout the landscape. This delightful fox approached him. Once the two made eye contact, she glided toward him with beaming eyes and an enticing smile; she almost seemed happy to see him. The squirrel twitched nervously but greeted her with his big, brown gentle eyes.
“Hello,” said the fox, “My name is Young; you must be new here.”
“Hi, Young, my name is squirrel and, as you can see, I am a squirrel. I am new here; how did you know?”
The fox sighed, “Well, I don’t get a chance to meet nice squirrels often, so I know you are new here. “
“Really? I would have thought there were many squirrels just like me here.”
“No,” she smiled, they all are ugly and do not have bushy tails. Your tail is handsome and you have gentle, good eyes.”
Young smiled with confidence, while squirrel blushed somewhat. He was not used to compliments from pretty foxes, and nothing was a bigger compliment to a squirrel than noticing his tale.
“Well, you, too, are quite pretty and …”
“Witty? Yes, I am witty though not as much when I speak squirrel. You should hear me speak fox. I am much better really. So why are you here?”
“Well,” feeling much better now that he felt he knew Young a little, “I am trying to find the great nuts of knowledge. I came here from Upstate New York where there are many nuts, but I want something more…”
The fox giggled quietly, “There are a lot of nuts, nuts with bad taste, everywhere. There are probably more here than in New York.”
“Oh, really,” said the twitching squirrel. “So there are no great nuts of knowledge here?”
“I wouldn’t say that, grinned the fox. But you have to come on a journey with me to find them.”
The squirrel was all too happy to oblige his pretty new friend, and he agreed and even went out of his way to hang out with the fox.
As time went on, the squirrel began to fall in love with the fox, even though his search for the nuts came up empty. She, too, seemed to grow more attached.
But one day, Young was gone. The squirrel searched everywhere but could not find her. He grew frantic, even more than usual for a squirrel. He searched high and low, and even called her name. Finally, he thought to look for her where they first met, by the tree with the odoriferous flowers. He wasted no time in returning to his favorite spot. When approaching, we saw the fox sitting there, with her head bent downward.
“Young,” the squirrel called, “where were you?” I thought we were going to go out today?”
The fox looked at him with a somber smile and spoke. “I got scared.”
“Scared? Scared about what?”
“Of being together. The timing is right, but you are a squirrel and I am a fox. I am afraid of what my family, what my friends will think, how they will react.”
The squirrel stood there speechless for a moment. He had felt the same way at times. How could a fox live in a tree or how could he live in a burrow? Though he thought of these things often, he never let it get in the way of his search for love, for companionship.
He then spoke, “so you are worried about how to live in a tree, and I am worried about how to live in a burrow?”
Her old smile returned. “Why don’t you and I meet here later? Don’t worry I will be here. I am a fox of my word.”
The squirrel knew that Young was a fox of her word, so he agreed and then scampered off.
Later on, the squirrel returned to his favorite place and saw the fox sitting here. He suddenly froze and hesitated to approach her. He realized–while gazing at her in the midst of the heavenly flowers, the downed tree, and all the powerful trees towering all around them–that Young would be the most important and significant being in his life that no matter what, he loved her, even if he did not find the great nuts of knowledge.
Then he heard her speak and looked up in surprise. While thinking this, his feet must have carried him toward her.
“I thought you were going to walk away. I was going to get angry, but you came.” She smiled.
“Yes, I came…and was thinking about you…us.”
“Me, too. I was always thinking about us.” She grew serious, “I need to go away for a month and meet my family.”
“Oh, no,” said the squirrel, “I love you and don’t want you to leave.”
At this moment the squirrel cried, and they both embraced.
“I love you too,” said the fox crying.
At that moment, the squirrel felt much better. He knew that she would not run away. She was going to visit her family. They agreed to keep in touch, and they did.
The squirrel never found any great nuts of knowledge. He never found any nuts at all. What he did find was that though the fox could not live in a tree and he could not live in a burrow, they could live in the whole forest together. That was a good thing, because ten years later, they became parents of twin white tigers in the year of the white tiger, a boy and a girl. One nutty and lonely squirrel became part of a family of four.
The tigers now rule the forest.
Dedicated to my wife, my son, and my daughter on December 25, 2011-
Love, your squirrel, husband, and father, Dropout Professor.