Churchill and The
one knows for sure when Churchill arrived. It seemed as though
he had always been there, living under that boxwood hedge that
ran along the side of the stream, in places surrounding the maze,
then finally brushing very close to Twybyl Woods (pronounced Twee-bull).
It was the kind of place a fellow could do some serious thinking,
or simply wander about and listen to the rabbits gossip. Churchill
remembered that it had taken him a very long time to find it,
and even longer to convince some field mice to stop playing and
help him dig in before Winter arrived. That was so many years
ago now. He still did not fully understand why he seemed to age
so slowly, and had only dim memories of lying on a stack of fresh
greens newly born when that enormous moth landed on the windowsill,
shook her wings causing great clouds of powder blue dust to swirl
that landed all over him, then flew off. The powder blue dust
smelled like . . . . . his Mom, and Dad, and lots of other things
he didn’t recognize, but it made him feel warm and safe,
and he fell back asleep. In the morning he didn’t remember
the moth, so he never had a chance to ask if anyone knew about
powder blue dust.
That first winter Churchill lived in what was
surely the size of a studio apartment, with his kitchen, bed,
and bath close enough that having guests for tea or a toddy was
out of the question. And of course at that time he only knew some
of the field mice, who preferred green tea anyway, and he had
not been able to find any locally. So he tucked in for his first
Winter in the valley, and caught up on his reading. By the second
Winter he had enlarged to a respectable home with room for three
guests, and now he had what could only be called a mansion, with
a great hall, and music room, and a superb wine cellar. Guests
stayed in their own wing, and the helpers who came in (to help
with guests) were always invited to stay in their own wing of
the mansion as well, as Churchill didn’t believe in servants,
only friends who helped. Tucked nicely under that hedge, however,
this mansion was not at all visible unless you knew exactly where
the door was, sitting at a slight angle, shaped like a live oak
leaf, and dark green, to match the ground colors. While Churchill
had grown truly to enjoy his guests, he still preferred to invite
them, rather than being surprised by an unexpected knock.
The most astonishing aspect of Churchill’s
house by far was the tower. It started in the absolute middle
of his house, built deep within the dense hedge. It extended from
the first floor pantry directly up 10 feet to the top of the hedge.
It had a circular stairway and observation platforms scattered
throughout, with an observation platform on top for very starry
nights. Churchill often thought about his tower. He had been in
his home under the hedge no more than ten years when his friend
Edgar, a Raven who kept him up on the county news, first suggested
the tower. “Just imagine how wonderful it would be if you
could see the grounds like I do” Edgar remarked casually
one day. Churchill leaned back in his chair, an odd smile crossing
his face. “Yes, yes, that would be splendid!” he replied
dreamily. “What a fine idea”.
conversation about the tower became more frequent, until one day
Churchill and Edgar approached Henderson, a large Red Squirrel,
who lived in the enormous oak tree between the hedge and the stream,
whose branches overhung the hedge, keeping it cool and shady in
the summer. Henderson was known to be an architect of sorts. There
was absolutely nothing he could not get into and open to look
at, so he was able to figure out how things were made. He could
always draw the plans. However, he always left the actual building
to the field mice, who could construct anything if you could convince
them to stop playing.
After many detailed discussions about the size
of the tower, location of the platforms, and need for virtual
invisibility from outside the hedge, Henderson had the field mice
begin to gather the wood, dried grasses and mortar. For months
Henderson could be seen hanging by his toes from various tree
branches, whipping his tail about furiously, pointing here and
there at the hedge, or at a wayward field mouse caught snoozing.
At times, only his rump and tail stuck out of the hedge, in one
unlikely place or another.
Edgar and Churchill took to sitting under the
tree, leaning against the trunk, watching this marvel unfold.
They were joined at various times by a large assortment of neighbors,
although the frogs and grass snakes were never around at the same
time. They had wonderful picnics, and occasionally the Mongoose
played her sitar. “You know” Churchill remarked to
Edgar one still August afternoon, “I am very surprised that
this activity has not drawn the attention of the main house,”
as he sipped his Merlot. “They seem to be so busy, coming
and going, never stopping to walk around and just look and listen,”
replied Edgar. “Except for the old woman. She watches all
of us, and touches the plants, and sits still for hours by the
stream” Churchill answered, glancing sideways at Edgar.
“When she sits for a while I stroll over and sit beside
her. She likes to stroke my head”. “Really!”
Edgar replied, his beak half open and eyebrows raised . . . .
. . when a loud cheering sound broke out from the hedge. Everyone
was dancing around, and clapping. The tower was finished.
Henderson and the field mice stood in front of
Churchill, ready to escort him to the stairs in the pantry. Just
before he reached the pantry he excused himself. He returned in
a moment wearing a backpack, and they all headed up the stairs
in the tower. Churchill stopped on all the landings, looking out
on the stream and topiaries, and the grounds. Continuously he
congratulated one and all for the workmanship, the angle-selections,
and the sheer artistry. He examined joints and dowels and seams
and complimented all the workers, every one in turn.
the troop arrived on the top platform, with a 360 degree view,
they were awestruck, even those who had been working on the tower.
Such beauty! Such an enchanting valley! “We can sit up here
and watch the world together” remarked Edgar, to anyone
who was listening. “And so much more!” giggled Churchill,
a gleeful look crossing his face. “I have waited months
for this!” he grinned, and ran full speed to the end of
the platform and jumped.
Everyone gasped and ran to the edge to look,
just as Churchill pulled the rip cord on his parachute. “Wheeeeee”
was the only sound they heard as Churchill rode the thermals to
the bank of the stream while Edgar chuckled, knowing exactly how
Later they all swore that they had seen powder-blue
dust flying off of his fur.
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