Breezes pushed the leaves of the wild blackberry trees. On the first day of summer, Shirley Squirrel climbed to the highest tree limb. Chattering.
“Tsik Tsik Tsik, Chrrrrrrrr”
Squirrel watched as the others began to gather. In the distance were Betty and Buster Groundhog. Gliding the blue sky was Cardinal Charlie and his mate, Louise. As he descended gracefully, his red feathers glistened like a bright light on the fireman’s truck.
In the far distance were Jeb and Rae Jackrabbit. Squirrel was excited. The Jackrabbits were bringing their babies.
The Cardinals hunched on a branch.
“Good day,” they chirped.
“These blackberries are a good crop,” said Betty Groundhog.
“Save some for us, Groundhogs,” chuckled Squirrel.
The Jackrabbits arrived out of breath.
Rae screeched almost like a rooster crowing. “Has anyone seen the babies?”
Charlie swooped to the grass.
“Whatever do you mean?”
“When we woke up, they were gone,” Jeb echoed.
Betty growled, “We need to spread out.”
Stanley Snake appeared. “Misssssing bunniessss, eh?” his tongue slithered out of his mouth. “I am headed to the briar patch. I will sssssee if they are there.”
Rat moved from under the bush. “I’ll go with snake,” he burped.
“Aren’t you afraid I’ll have you for breakfassssst,” Snake hissed to Rat.
Rat glared at Snake with his beady, little eyes. His sharp nose took a whiff as the breeze filled the air with the sweet scent of honeysuckles and wild blackberries that Rat could not resist.
“I’ll check the pasture,” squeaked Rat. He spun waiving bye bye with his thin, long tail.
“As I was saying,” Betty spit as she spoke. “Everyone spread out. We will find the missing bunnies”
Cardinals investigated the hill where Charlie thought he had seen something.
“Oh dear,” Louise chirped. “That is not the bunnies at all.”
Charlie moved the bundle with his beak. “It’s only an old scarf someone lost.”
The Jackrabbits were sad. Everyone had been searching all morning. Still no bunnies.
Tired of looking, Buster began grazing the wild blackberries. Rat joined him.
A bulging Snake slithered from the briar patch. He had big lumps in his skin where everyone could see he had eaten well while looking for the missing bunnies.
Betty, Louise, Squirrel and Rae huddled near one of the honeysuckle bushes.
“Snake looks like he had a nice meal,” Squirrel chirped.
“You don’t think he ate the bunnies,” Groundhog’s teeth chattered as she spoke.
Rae Jackrabbit couldn’t bear the thought. She placed herself down on the ground, her head locked in her front legs. She was sad.
“Don’t despair,” the lady animals told their friend.
Charlie landed next to them. “I’ve given the land a bird’s eye view.”
Louise pulled a honeysuckle placing it to Charlie’s beak. “You have to keep flying,” she chirped. “Return and search the nest.”
He glided over Ripple Creek. His wings touched the leaves of the cornstalks as he zoomed through the rows of farmer Tem’s corn. He rested himself on the arm of the old scarecrow. He squinted one eye against the glare of the sun focusing on the barnyard animals in the distance. Rat knows the layout, he thought.
Catching the backwind, Charlie returned to the wild blackberry field.
He swooped down so fast picking up Rat by the neck that the other animals hardly knew what happened.
“Hey. Where are we going?” They could hear Rat in the distance. They watched as Charlie flew with Rat hanging on for dear life. Once landed safely, Charlie hopped around. Rat headed directly for the hog trough.
Charlie stood on the barn roof. He hopped along the roof’s edge, following the faint cry. He peeked into the opening. “Is anyone in there?” he sang. The crying got louder. It was them! Charlie has found the missing bunnies – Suzie, Lucy and Tye.
“Hang on,” Charlie sang. “We’ll get you out.”
Rat slipped into the spout. “Come. Follow me.”
Jeb and Rae were so happy to see their babies.
“We were going to surprise you and get to the field before you, “Suzie purred to her Mother. “We headed in the wrong direction. We will never do that again.”
The Jackrabbits were forever grateful to all their friends.