I have a special treat for you all this week! When I got married, I became an aunt to several wonderful nephews and nieces. Since there are so many of us aunts and uncles, I decided to write them some stories so eventually, they would know me through them. And the Wild Wood was born. I have ten short stories in my collection but my favorite focuses on Dandy, the hedgehog mailman in the Wild Wood. Here is his Thanksgiving tale for your enjoyment!
The Cat: Pt. 1
Fall was beginning to feel like winter in the Wild Wood. There was a chill in the air that told the animals that snow was not far away, but before it came, they had the sights and smells that came with celebrating Thanksgiving.
Dandy, the mailman, crunched through the fallen leaves in the golden light of the setting sun to deliver his last letter before his holiday trip. Every year, for Thanksgiving dinner, he went through the trees, over the river, and down a lane long neglected to the garden shed where his grandmother lived. Just thinking about it made him lick his lips in anticipation. His grandmother made the very best cranberry sauce in the whole wood and her potatoes and gravy were unrivaled. Oh, and you should just see her pumpkin pie!
The little hedgehog knocked on Cheesly’s door and the mouse opened it. “Good evening Dandy!”
“Hello Cheesly. I have a letter here for your mother,” Dandy replied.
“Thank you, friend. Should you like to come in for some supper?” the mouse offered.
Dandy smiled and shook his head. “No thank you. I’m off to my grandmother’s early tomorrow morning for Thanksgiving dinner and I have a few things to finish up before then.”
“Very well. Enjoy your holiday!”
Cheesly waved him goodbye and Dandy walked home to his tree as fast as his little legs could carry him.
By the time the little hedgehog reached his front door, the wind had begun to woosh and gust, making the leaves dance and the almost bare tree branches clickety clack above him. He was so happy to close the door behind him and shut out the chilly night. As he did every evening when he returned home, Dandy hung his little mailman cap and his blue mailman coat on a peg by the door, stoked the fire from glowing embers to leaping flames and put the kettle on to boil. A night like this called for peppermint tea. Dinner was a bit of leftover chicken pot pie and after he ate, he pulled out his brown satchel from the back of the closet.
Dandy hummed to himself as he rooted through his cabinets. Into the brown satchel, he put a cup, a napkin and the plate with yellow flowers printed on it. Then he wrapped up some cheese, a bit of ham and a nice thick slice of pumpkin bread and nestled it into the pack. He would need to stop for lunch tomorrow before he reached his grandmother’s. When this was finished, he settled into his favorite chair in front of the fire with his violin and a steaming cup of tea beside him. As the fire crackled, he plucked and tuned his little violin until he could play his songs perfectly and then laid it safely in it’s case. It didn’t take long before he was so warm and cozy, he drifted off to sleep in his chair.
The sun rose on a cold clear sky and Dandy, in his best green coat with his satchel over his shoulder, made little footprints in the frosty grass. As he walked along through the trees, his breath was a cloud in the air before him. He walked fast to keep his body warm and so he would have the time to stop for a bit to eat on the way.
As the morning went on and Dandy walked along, he could feel the sun begin to warm his back. And that warmth slowly spread up his head, down his arms and eventually all the way to his little toes, though the cold wind kept him from getting too hot. He reached the river, which ran a bit fast and wild for this time of year, and decided to stop for a snack. Finding a rock warmed by the sun, he stretched out his pack and put his cheese, ham and bread on his plate, as only a proper hedgehog would do. There was plenty of time to get to grandmother’s so he ate slow, nibbling on the cheese, eating the ham in small bits and finishing with the bread. When he had brushed the crumbs from the plate and packed everything away again, Dandy realized something. Usually he was able to cross the river by way of stepping stones but today, the water was too high for him to cross safely. He thought for a moment and muttered to himself “Oh well. I suppose I shall just have to find some other way to get across.”
He walked a little ways beside the river and saw a fallen log in the distance. “I can get across there!” he exclaimed to no one in particular, and practically skipped down the riverbank all the way there. Carefully he walked across the log to the other side and thought himself very clever for finding a solution… until he began walking again and realized that the trees didn’t look familiar. And where was the old lane?
*SNAP* went a twig. Dandy froze. Something was very close and he didn’t want to admit it, but he was lost. Slowly, he turned in a circle, clutching his satchel (with his precious violin inside) to his chest, his nose twitching. He eyed the trees and the bushes closely and began to hear an odd sound.
“Who… who…” he gulped “Who’s there?”
Behind him he heard a soft *thump*. He looked around and in a spot of sunshine sat a golden furry animal with a long and large furry tail that swished back and forth. It was the cat from the garden. Dandy’s heart began to pound. He had no good memories of this cat. He remembered running as fast as his hedgehog legs could carry him as a child. He remembered hiding among flowerpots and cabbage leaves. And now this creature was sitting right in front of him, looking at him with curious green flecked eyes.
Oh dear oh dear! Whatever will happen to our poor little hedgehog? Come back tomorrow to find out!