Chipmunk is looking for a friend

Chipmunk is looking for a friend

You have probably seen a chipmunk, a tiny forest creature, at least once. You might have noticed the five black stripes that run along its back.  And if you ever visited the forest in June in the early hours of the morning, when the sun touches the tree-tops with its gentle rays that are still not too hot, you might have heard chipmunk sounds. Usually, this creature sits on the topmost branch of an alder tree and, with its tail on its back, looking so much like a squirrel, chirps in a soft voice, “Chuck… chuck…chuck…”

If you don’t think of harming this creature, the chipmunk will nod as if greeting you, climb down to a lower branch and say, “Chuck… chuck…chuck…”

And if you try to catch him, he will produce an ear-piercing shrill and, turning his striped back to you, quickly run into the shrubbery. The forest around you will become tensely quiet. All of its inhabitants, the furry ones and the feathered ones, will hide in crevices, hollows and burrows. But as soon as you leave, the chipmunk will reappear, jump upon the same alder branch and start chucking again, «Chuck… chuck…chuck…”

So, once upon a time, a furry, reddish-brown chipmunk lived in the forest. He lived there alone. Everyone knows that when you are alone in the forest, you get depressingly sad.

The chipmunk thought, “If I’m here all sad and lonely, there must be someone else out there crushed by loneliness, too.” So, the chipmunk started roaming the forest, looking for a friend.

He jumped from tree to tree, from shrub to shrub, looking under fallen trunks and exposed roots, peeping into crevices and burrows.

After a while, he encountered a stoat and told him, “Greetings, Stoat! Don’t you feel lonely? Let’s be friends!”

The stoat replied, “No, Chipmunk, I’m doing fine. And since loneliness is going to kill you anyway, come visit me tomorrow – I will eat you.”

The chipmunk thought to himself, “I’d better be eaten by Stoat than rot in the ground.” And since he still had a lot of time left until the next day, he started jumping again from tree to tree, from shrub to shrub, looking under fallen trunks and exposed roots, peeping into crevices and burrows.

After a while, he encountered a fox and told him, “Greetings, Fox! Don’t you feel lonely? Let’s be friends.”

The fox replied, “No, Chipmunk, I’m doing fine. And since loneliness is going to kill you anyway, you’d better come visit me tomorrow – I will eat you.”

The chipmunk thought to himself, “I’d better be eaten by Fox than rot in the ground.” And since he still had a lot of time left until the next day, he started jumping once again from tree to tree, from shrub to shrub, looking under fallen trunks and exposed roots, peeping into crevices and burrows.

Then, he encountered a sable and told him, “Greetings, Sable! Don’t you feel lonely? Let’s be friends.”

The sable replied, “No, Chipmunk, I’m doing fine. And since loneliness is going to kill you anyway, you’d better come visit me tomorrow – I will eat you.”

The chipmunk thought to himself, “I’d better be eaten by Sable than rot in the ground.” And since he still had a lot of time left until the next day, he kept jumping from tree to tree, from shrub to shrub, looking under fallen trunks and exposed roots, peeping into crevices and burrows.

Finally, he encountered a bear. The bear was sleeping in the shade of a sprawling stone pine.

The chipmunk grabbed the bear’s ear and started pulling it. With some difficulty, he managed to wake the bear up.  The bear shouted, visibly displeased, “What do you want from me?”

The chipmunk replied, “Greetings, Bear! Don’t you feel lonely? Let’s be friends.”

The bear lazily lifted his head, yawned and asked in a sleepy voice, not even looking at the chipmunk, “And why exactly should we be friends?”

The chipmunk responded, “We’ll be better off together. You’re big, but clumsy, while I am small and agile. I’ll sit on a treetop while you sleep and watch for any danger coming your way.”

“Look, I’m not afraid of anything,” replied the bear.

“In that case, we can pick nuts together.”

The bear looked at the chipmunk and said, “Did you say nuts?”

“Yeah, nuts. And berries, we can pick berries together, too.”

“Did you say berries?”

“Yeah, berries. And we can catch ants together, too.”

“Did you say ants?”

 The bear, now fully awake, sat up. “So, you say we’ll be picking nuts, and berries, and ants together”

“Yes, nuts, and berries, and ants.”

Pleased with what he heard, the bear said, “OK, let’s be friends then.”

So, the chipmunk had found a friend, a big and strong one. No-one in the forest could boast of a friend such as the chipmunk’s.

One day, the chipmunk met the stoat. Delighted, the stoat said, “Here you are, finally! I will eat you now.”

The chipmunk replied, “Me and Bear are now friends.”

The stoat said, trembling with fear, “You and Bear? Oh my…”

The chipmunk just kept running. After a while, he met the fox. The fox started dancing with joy.

“I’ve waited a long time. I will eat you now.”

The chipmunk replied, “Tell you what, I’m friends with Bear.”

The fox just stood there, breathless.

“You and Bear? Oh my…”

The chipmunk just kept running. Then, he encountered a sable. The sable said, in anticipation of his meal, “My wait has been long. I will eat you now.”

The chipmunk replied, “You know, me and Bear are friends.”

The sable got so terrified that he flew up a tall tree like a bird and then asked from there, “You and Bear? Oh my…”

So, the bear and the chipmunk stayed together. The quick chipmunk would find nice berry spots and stone pines with lots and lots of cones. The bear was quite happy to have such a friend.

Soon, the bear got so fat he could hardly walk at all. Instead, he would rest most of the time. Sometimes, he would interrupt his sleep and tell the chipmunk in a commanding voice, “There, chipmunk, bring me some cowberries,” or, “There, chipmunk, scratch my back.”

Autumn came, and there was a long, cold winter ahead.

The chipmunk was worried.

“Listen, Bear, winter is coming. We have to store some food.”

Lazily, the bear replied, “Right, Chipmunk. Go ahead and get some food to store!”

 Having said that, the bear just lay there, doing nothing.

“How am I going to gather so many berries and nuts all on my own? You eat so much!”, replied the chipmunk, almost crying.

“I told you to store food!”, shouted the bear angrily. “And I will dig us a lair. We’ll have a big lair. A real home. Not like your tiny burrow.”

The depressed chipmunk dragged along to pick some nuts.

Suddenly, a snow-laden cloud appeared in the sky.  The chipmunk started jumping frantically from bush to bush to grab the nuts before they would get buried under snow.

Eventually, the chipmunk managed to store some food.

The bear lay down in his lair, placed his paw beneath his head and fell asleep. He hibernated for a couple of months, and then woke up, hungry. Immediately, he ordered the chipmunk to fetch him some nuts.

With his belly full, the bear fell asleep again. Unfortunately, there was not much food left, so the chipmunk tried to stretch it for as long as possible. He had to eat less and less every day, just to survive through the winter.

He would eat one tiny nut, get to the lair’s entrance, lick on some white frost, and it would seem to him that he was full. The chipmunk did not even notice how thin and feeble he had become.

Somehow, he managed to stay alive until spring came. As the snow started to melt, the bear woke up. Contented, he stretched and told the chipmunk, “Excellent winter we’ve had together, didn’t we?”

Then, he nodded approvingly and said, “You’ve done a good job, Chipmunk.” After that, he ran his paw along the chipmunk’s back, his claws leaving five bleeding traces. That’s how five dark stripes appeared on Chipmunk’s back, a reminder of his being friends with Bear.

After that, the chipmunk left the bear, deciding to live alone.

This year, I saw him again. I was walking along the edge of the forest, and the chipmunk was there, sitting in a bush. He turned towards me and said, “Chuck… chuck…chuck…”

Perhaps he thought I wanted to be friends with him. Maybe I misheard him and what he really said was, “Check…check…check me out, I’m here!”