“Ma, the radio says there’s a hurricane coming”, yelled Jay, a teenaged Florida woodpecker.
“Oh no, not again,” Squawked Mrs. Wooddebby as she was waking up one September morning.
“Mama, we have three days before it hits,” said thirteen-year-old Riley, excitedly jumping up and down on his mother’s nest.
“Well, boys we will just do the best we can and open up the restaurant to the neighborhood like we always do.”
The Wooddebbys live in a huge cypress tree and have a family restaurant, the UHop in another Cypress tree, a fallen log that Jay’s grandparents dug out many years ago. Mrs. Wooddebby is the chef and Jay and Riley bus tables, washes dishes and cleans the floors on the weekend.
“Ma, this means no school, whoopee!” said Jay. “Whooppee,” said Riley.
“Yes, dears, and if the school blows down you will have to fly up to Aunt Beulahs’ in Pigeon Forge, help her on the farm, and go to school there. Jay loved Aunt Beulah but not all the work on her farm.
“Whooppee,” said Riley who was a babe in the woods and hadn’t worked on the farm yet.
Clarence and Dorothy Devine boarded up their windows and doors.
“Dotty, please hold the nail straight. Clarence is a wonderful cat, but he’s not a carpenter,” Dorothy thought as she zipped her lips and closed her eyes. Rita Squirrel and her daughters closed up their oak tree, but Karen parked Baby, her yellow convertible, just inside the cypress log.
“It will hold the doors shut,” she told the frowning Mrs. Wooddebby. Kenny Catbird helped his Grama take in her beauty/tattoo shop sign and the Moles piled stones in front of their main tunnel.
Larry and Chase Pitbull wrapped dog leashes around their stilt house and the nearby Australian pine trees and helped Mr. Turtlety hoist up his boat from the churned up canal into the Pitbull living room.
“Fellas, I sure appreciate this.”
“Not a worry” said Larry, “What are friends for?”
It got more chaotic at the UHop in the next two days. Animals stopped in, bringing water, fruits and nuts, medicine, diapers, blankets, batteries, seeds, books and homework, coffee, toiletries, acorns, dog and cat treats, berries, carrot tops, dandelions, lettuce, candles and lanterns, toys and sleeping bags. No one knew how ferocious or long Ida Mae would be so they all brought their most treasured possession for safe keeping. Rita Squirrel brought her tea set, Mr. Turtlety brought his hammock, the Pitbull boys brought their musical instruments, and Brian Bluejay brought his tools from the garage.
The Devine cats brought towels for everyone in case they had to bathe in the canal after the storm, and the Moles brought lighted helmets in case the electric went out.
At last, two hours before the storm, everyone was holed up in the UHop snug as a bug. Mrs. Wooddebby and her boys cooked, and Karen Squirrel the waitress set up tables and chairs in between the beds, and served food. She put apples in a big tub of cider on the middle table so the children could bob for them. Larry and Chase Pitbull played music, Rita Squirrel started a bingo game and Grama Catbird made popcorn and told ghost stories to the little ones.
For two nights and two days the storm growled and groaned, the wind blew, and the rain pounded.
Lightning cracked and limbs broke, electric poles fell over and lines snapped. The canal overflowed and flooded houses and tunnels, but luckily the UHop was on the (high) ground.
“OMG, look at the walls!” said eight-year-old Ernestine Devine. Everyone looked and witnessed the sides of the logs trembling and shaking. Abruptly the wind stopped and the walls were still. Karen Squirrel moved Baby and Jay Wooddebby cautiously opened the door.
It was daylight but the sun was behind the clouds and a misty rain was falling. There was a foot of water in the street, Mrs. Moles mushrooms and Dorothy’s flowers were gone, as was the branch where Grama Catbirds sign had been. The Pitbulls TV antenna was now in the Squirrels tree and Brian and Kenny’s garage floor was covered with a foot and a half of mud.
Mr. Turtlety’s cell phone Started ringing and broke the silence. It seemed everyone in Mewville Beach now needed a taxi.
Larry Pitbull drove the kids down to the school in his pickup to have a look-see.
“Only a few windows broken,” muttered Timmy Mole who struggled in school with his bad eyesight.
“Thank God,” thought Jay who had been preoccupied with visions of the “farm” ever since his mother had mentioned it.
Moral: Every day is a precious gift. Do your best. Don’t worry, be happy.
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