a fictional children's story for all ages
This is a story about two Siamese cats, Clarence and Dorothy, and their adopted Himalayan daughter, Ernestine. Clarence is a night watchman, and a devoted family man cat. He loves Dorothy and Ernestine with all his heart, and is always concerned about his friends and neighbors. Dorothy knows no strangers. Their little pink house is the hub of community gatherings. Ernestine has an abundance of playmates as well as adoring parents, and is a very contented kitten. Her best friend forever is Suzy Squirrel, who lives in the big oak tree next to the Cat family’s house with her mother, Susan Squirrel. They are well behaved youngsters, but sometimes, because of their inquisitive natures, find themselves in precarious situations.
Once in the summer after a hurricane, they decided to make a raft from the bottom of Ernestine’s cat carrier and branches that fell from Suzy’s tree. They launched the raft into the rain swollen canal in back of the house, like pirates in the movies. “Avast me matey”,Ernie proclaimed to her besty. Suzy beamed back, “All systems GO, Cap’n Ernestine”, and the two proceeded on their journey, not realizing all canals in Florida eventually lead to the Atlantic. Brian Bluejay sighted the vessel rapidly heading towards the ocean and dive-bombed back to tell unaware parents. The whole neighborhood was on alert and raced from one bridge to another until the little ones were sighted. The Pitbull boys, Larry and Chase, came to the rescue with their strong arms, powerful jaws and sturdy backs. They fished out the now terrified youngsters. “Love you Mr. Larry”, whispered Ernie as she tearfully clutched his neck. “Here she is, don’t be too rough on her”, proclaimed Larry as he pawed the little white cat to Dorothy. She purred to Clarence, “I’m just so happy she’s alright, I can’t punish her!”, and rocked her baby to sleep (all night).
One winter when the trees had skimpy foliage, Ernestine and Suzy spotted an abandoned hawk’s nest at the end of a long Australian pine limb. They scampered up the tree and ventured out on the bough to investigate. When Ernestine looked down and down and down, she was petrified, and in her frantic desperation, got dirt from the old nest in Suzy’s eyes. “OMG Ernie, I can’t see!!” and blindly clung to the branch. They were stuck up in the tree and afraid to climb down. “HELP US!!” yelled the girls in unison. That time Mrs. Wood Debby and Kenny Catbird tied a rope around the fledglings and lowered them to their hysterical Mothers.
Clarence thought it would be a good idea if Ernestine and Suzy spent some time apart.
Dorothy had been wanting to visit her mother in New York even though they talked on the phone and emailed every day. It was not the same as face to face, with rubbing and grooming as cats like to do.
Plane tickets were bought, kitbags were packed and the little girls tearfully said goodbye. Mr. Turtlety took Dorothy and Ernestine to the airport in his new taxi. It was a beauty, green with white lettering and a lighted shell on top. It was not the fastest transportation on the highway, but definitely safe, and Clarence felt good about that.
The trip was long, as they had to change planes and wait for connecting flights several times, but at last mother and daughter arrived in Wooftown on top of Polkville Hill, where the road leading from the airport wound around and down like a corkscrew. Mr. Turtlety had called his cousin, Mitch Torty, to pick them up and take them to Grammies’. By the time they got to the farm Ernestine had fallen asleep in the taxi. When she woke, she found herself in a big featherbed in the attic. Morning light streamed through dormer windows which Ernestine easily unlatched. It was a beautiful spring day, with robins singing, the sweet scent of apple blossoms and lilacs, and sunshine colored daffodils swaying in the breeze. “Am I in Heaven?” she thought. She tiptoed down the stairs and opened the front door. It was April, with a crisp, cool freshness in the air she had never experienced in Mewville Beach. Sap was spilling down the maple trees into pails clinging to corduroy trunks. Grammie had recently sown her little vegetable and flower garden, but already green pea and onion shoots poked little heads up through melting snow. Crocus and tulips were struggling to rise above thawing beds and baby animals were tottering around their Mothers’ legs, bleating and mooing.
Grammie was scurrying around her big kitchen making a cat friendly breakfast for her daughter and granddaughter. “Teeny, come here and give Grammie a big sniff.” Ernestine ran to her fluffy, aproned grandmother, who smelled of roses and wood smoke. After much hugging, tail twining and face licking, little Ernestine climbed up into Grammies’ special long legged grand kitties chair at the big farm table. She looked like a princess holding court. Besides her mother catering to her every whim, now she also had the full attention of her doting grandmother. There were catnip pancakes with smiley faces made from embedded greenies, maple syrup, raspberry omelets and peppermint tea made from spring fed water . “OMG”, Ernestine mumbled to herself, “Suzy would be so jealous.”
After the sumptuous repast, Dorothy and Grammie loaded the dishwasher and cleaned up the kitchen while Ernestine watched Tom and Jerry on the new HDTV. “Some of that stuff is so depressing nowadays”, Grammie told Dot ,”that I don’t even watch much news. The economy doesn’t seem to be getting any better, so many unemployed and who knows how many cats are living in the woods. Also I notice everyone pays for their purchases at the store with CREDIT CARDS!” Grammie still held a full time job at Jims Club as a greeter. Her hired dog, George, worked the farm. She had taken two weeks off to spend time with her offspring. “Well, Dotty, what would you like to do today?” “Today we should probably rest from our trip, but tomorrow I would love to take Ernestine to the Catskill Game Farm, Dorothy said, “Then we can show Ernestine where the animals you and your friends rescued used to live”. “Oh yes”, said Grammie, “ That was a stressful day. We scraped together all the money we could spare and marched on to the auction. We bought aoudads, nilgae and lots of birds and took them all to sanctuaries so they could retire in peace and happiness. All God’s creatures deserve respect and compassion. Some day I hope to visit every one of them, and I will take Ernestine with me”
Ernestine decided she would help George. First they collected the overflowing sap pails and dragged them by sled to the sap house where he boiled the nectar down until it was maple syrup. The aroma was so powerful Ernestine could taste it just by quivering her tiny nose. George showed her how to make jackwax by pouring the hot syrup on clean snow. It instantly formed a waxy, delightful candy.
“Mr. George, “exclaimed wide eyed Ernestine who was standing before a huge warthog ,”This is the biggest piggy bank I have ever seen!” “Oh no, dear”, said George,” This is Lydia, a warthog your Grammie bought at an auction for $10,000. She didn’t want Lydia to be bought by people who would Hurt her and possibly end up eating her because she came from Catskill Game Farm. Some days Lydia Pokes around in the barn and some days she stays in a room Grammie fixed up for her in the house.”
Every day George had to clean the barn, brush the horses, and feed all the other animals . He cut hay and corn in the summer. He raked colorful leaves into mounds that were burned in the sunset, harvested the pumpkins and readied the barn for freezing weather in the fall. In the winter, his job was to keep every living being warm enough and to shovel and plow snow. The farm turned out to be more work than Ernestine ever imagined existed! She was starting to get homesick for Clarence, Suzy and her little pink cottage on the canal.
Bright and early the next day, Grammie packed a lunch for her little family and they piled into Torty’s Taxi. The two hour drive was up and down mountains, through woods, over bridges and past picturesque farms with white frame houses, red barns and blue silos. At last they arrived at the Catskill Game Farm. Ernestine was so excited. She had never before seen a white rhinoceros which was as big as a house or giraffes as tall as trees. There were hippopotamuses as big as George’s truck and huge bison with scary looking horns and hooves. Ostriches bigger than Clarence clomped around, and Halloween looking vultures with hooked beaks and seven foot wingspans hopped from one concrete perch to another. Piercing eyed eagles looked at Ernestine like she was lunch! Hiding behind her ample grandmother, Ernestine started to get homesick again. After a picnic under the trees, it was time to go home. Dorothy realized the fun Game Farm she had remembered as a kitten was not such a good home for the inhabitants who were all kept in small cages and enclosures, and felt sad as they walked to the parking lot in the sunset.
It got dark on the way home, and Ernestine imagined rhinoceros’ and eagles following Mr. Torty’s cab, and lurking behind the big oak trees. Dorothy had to carry her in and Grammie rocked her to sleep that night and every night until vacation was over. Two weeks passed too quickly and it was time to return to Florida. Grammie did not like her offspring on an airplane. “If cats were meant to fly”, she said, “God would have given them wings.” Nevertheless, they were soon in the air, and finally arrived safely on the ground to a glorious orange, red and gold sunset, that slid into a midnight blue starry evening.
A Welcome Home party, hosted by the Mole family from the back yard, was awaiting the travelers, and as Mr. Turtlety pulled up to the brightly lit cottage, the neighborhood, led by Clarence, spilled out of the house. It was now May, and the smell of gardenias, jasmine and orange blossoms wove together. All the guests brought their favorite dish to pass, and the Moles provided milkweed punch and pink rhubarb cupcakes with catnipfetti frosting (Dorothy’s favorite). The Squirrel sisters, Sharon, Karen and Susan had hung May baskets filled with flowers and candy around the picnic tables, trees, blankets and stumps where all the friends congregated for the party. Mrs. Mole exclaimed, ”You Squirrel ladies know exactly how to pretty up a party”.
When Mr. Turtlety delivered his precious cargo to the pink house Ernestine was wide awake, and leapt from the van to Clarence’s outstretched arms. Suzy was jumping up and down waiting her turn to greet her best friend forever . “Tell me all about the FARM, and all about New York, and all about the plane ride, and all about the Game Farm”. The birds sang “Auld Lang Syne” while the Pitbull boys accompanied on the drums and keyboard. The feast began, and everyone ate, danced and enjoyed each other. Dorothy was relieved to be home, but of course missed her Mom.
The moral is sometimes friends become family and family become friends, but wherever your loved ones are will always be home.
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