Ariel & Duster's The Almanac Summer Season
Ariel & Duster's The Almanac Summer Season
Keith Margetts
Buy on Leanpub

For the Love of Honey!


A bright silver light flashed over his head and was followed by a beautiful shimmering ghost.

To Duster it looked like sunshine on a clear water pool in the summertime.

Then there was the light breeze on his face, AND, that scent.

He didn’t know where the scent came from, but he knew who it belonged to.

He sensed, rather than felt, the movement of the grass blade below his feet, and as he turned slowly around to see, the powerful scent became stronger!

Duster knew that none of it grew in this garden, though he’d smelt it in previous ones. It was jasmine! And in this garden, only one thing wore jasmine.

And as he slowly finished his turn, he received a gentle kiss on his forehead.

Then a sweet, whispering voice said, “Good morning Duster”

It was Ariel! She had come to find him for the days adventuring to begin.

Ariel was a beautiful silver fairy who lived in a fabulous wooden house high in the fir trees at the bottom of the garden, far above prying eyes.

He knew this house well, as Ariel would invite him to stay when the weather started to get cooler and the frost was on the ground.

She looked radiant this morning in her silver gown. Duster giggled to himself. He knew she had woven it from the spider silk she managed to take when Spinner wasn’t looking.

“Morning Ariel” said Duster, in his “I just woke up this morning” voice.

Ariel had flown over her friend many times in the past.

Sometimes he slept, but mostly he was just a little bit slow.

That was until the sun light caught him and warmed him up a bit.

At that time you needed to make sure you gave him reasonable space, just in case he decided to open his wings and fly!

Ariel had seen him do this a few times, but most of the time he walked slowly across the blades of grass, enjoying the taste of the dew.

She didn’t know he had wings when they first met, she had just seen this bright red coat with black spots, slowly moving across the garden bridge!

She’d lifted him off that! It was dangerous to be caught by the BIG people who owned the house, and that little person. Sometimes she would come here too, with Barker!

Around the time Ariel had met Duster, she had seen the little persons’ mother as she had been cleaning the glass of the windows, but she was using a large shiny red piece of cloth with black spots!

The little person had called it a duster!

So from that point onward, that was her friends’ name.

Duster was in fact a ladybird! Ariel knew that! But somehow you needed to call a friend, well, something else, rather than what it actually was. It just seemed right somehow?

She had known Duster a long time now, and they got on well.

He was the only one who got invited to the special parties at this time of year, and during the frozen winter months he was good company.

Ariel had seen him frozen, absolutely solid! It had been a few winters ago, and she had decided to take him in to her home for the winter. Ever since then they have been good friends.

YES, very good friends.

And now it was that time of year again! The longest day was today, the day of the summer solstice,



“Are we supposed to be doing something special today?” asked Duster, a little sheepishly. A little, very dim, light bulb was slowly coming to life in his head, and he was sure there was something going on today! He was equally sure he had forgotten all about it!

“Now, Duster” said Ariel in her best school teacher voice, “You know what today is, it’s the day of THE PARTY!” she exclaimed with a light giggle in her voice.

She knew very well that Duster’s memory for this sort of thing was very short, so had half expected her friend to have forgotten all about it!

“We have a very special day ahead, and today is perfect for it! It’s going to be a beautiful day!”, and as she spoke she swirled in circles above Dusters head.

On this day of the year, Ariel always planned a party for her friends and had asked Hummer if could have some of his hives honey for the party tonight.

Hummer had agreed to give her a large chunk of honeycomb for the party, and Ariel was planning to collect it today.

Hummers hive was on the other side of the ocean in the garden and this would have to be crossed before they could get the honey and bring it back to the party.

In almost a whisper, in case she thought they were being listened too, Ariel said “Follow me Duster, and let’s see if the ocean is clear for our trip to Hummer”.

There was however a problem!


Ribbit lived in the ocean that separated Ariel from the honey in Hummer’s hive.

He also spent much of his time asleep on the bottom of the ocean, but he wasn’t always asleep!

Without warning he could appear on the surface, and with his long tongue, he would catch and swallow any small creature he had caught.

He was a bit slow at times, seeming to be only half awake when the weather was a bit cooler. This was definitely the safest time to cross, but was usually when the weather was not good enough to enjoy a sail.

Ariel and Duster would need to cross this ocean to get the food for the party. To do this they would have to use their boat, Ocean Lilly, to cross the ocean.

Ariel and Duster made their way slowly and quietly to the edge of the ocean and hid behind a large green fern growing by the beach.

“It looks like Ribbit isn’t home?” said Duster with a slight question in his voice. He knew Ribbit well enough to know that this probably wasn’t the case.

As they were waiting beside the ocean they suddenly spied Ribbit. He was there, lying with his nose above the surface within tongue distance on the other side of Ocean Lilly!

“Can you find a treat or something for him?” he asked Ariel jokingly.

Ariel and Duster, both knew that you could fool Ribbit. If you dropped a small twig or something, onto the surface of the pond, he could be persuaded to chew on it for a while before he realized that it was in fact a twig and not a small juicy morsel for him to eat.

“I’ll see what I can find” said Ariel, as she slowly rose up and looked around quickly. The coast was clear.

Ariel said with a slight laugh in her voice “I’ll go and find him a little present for supper, wait here and I’ll be back soon”.

Ariel went back to the trees at the end of the garden. Looking around the base of the fir trees, she quickly found an open fir cone and took out one of the seeds. This would do, she said to herself with a smile.

As she returned to Duster, she made sure that her shadow did not fall on the water, just so she didn’t alert Ribbit. Just in case he was paying attention.

Ariel found Duster, just where she had left him, and motioned for him to come forward with her onto the beach where Ocean Lilly was waiting for them.

“Quiet Duster” whispered Ariel, “He’ll wake up soon. I saw him move down there”.

As Ariel threw the seed lightly across the ocean, Duster waited at the rear of Ocean Lilly behind her large beautiful flower.

At that point they heard the splosh, and saw the great red tongue emerge from the water and catch the seed. Immediately it was touched, the tongue snapped back in to Ribbit’s mouth and Ribbit disappeared below the surface with a plop!

Ariel and Duster flew over to Ocean Lilly and landed gently on her lush green leaf.

Lying gently against the beach, Ocean Lilly was nothing more than a giant green leaf during the winter months. BUT, during the summer months she was absolutely beautiful!

In those months her giant pink flower shone and shimmered in the sunshine and she was stunning!

If the breeze was light and in the correct direction, Duster could open his wings and they would glide gracefully across the ocean! If not they needed to improvise a little.

“It’s a fine day for a sail, there is a small breeze against us now, but when we come back it will be with us and we can simply spread our wings and sail” said Ariel with a smile as she went behind Ocean Lilly’s large flower and came back with the 2 paddles for herself and Duster.

Ariel had previously found two discarded ice cream lolly sticks on one of her journeys beyond the garden and had thought they would make good paddles to use for Ocean Lilly when there was no breeze to help them cross.

This was excellent news about the breeze for Duster, as with the added weight of the honey from Hummer’s hive, it would have been exhausting paddling back. Although it was slower, and needed a bit more effort, it was a wonderful way to enjoy a slow lazy day on the ocean.

This was usually a great day out, especially when you could annoy Meyaow, who would sit at the edge of the ocean watching them for hours until she got bored.

You did, however, have to watch out for Ribbit!

Occasionally he would suddenly make an appearance and land awkwardly on Ocean Lilly, while Ariel and Duster had to suddenly vacate her and take to their wings before they were caught!

But today was going to be a good day.

Slowly lowering the paddles into the water, they gently started to paddle their way towards their destination on the other shore.

There was suddenly a loud rushing noise and a water spout erupted right in front of them!

One of Ribbit’s friends suddenly flew out of the water and crossed right in front of them! They stopped, frozen for a moment, as they watched him disappear back below the surface with a loud plopping noise.

Swoosh! They were suddenly covered in water! Though it was summer, the water was still cool and they shivered as they shook it off.

“That was close!” exclaimed Duster as he packed his wings away again after shaking the water off.

“Yes, I hope the rest of them are quiet! Especially when we are coming back!” whispered Ariel.

“I hope so!” agreed Duster as he placed the paddle back in the water.

Gently paddling, aware that they may be spotted at any time, they slowly made their way across to the small beach that lay close to the tree where Hummer was busy making his delicious honey.

Ocean Lilly glided gently, looking majestic and proud! And none were prouder than Ariel and Duster as they relaxed and let Ocean Lilly slowdown in time to gently nudge the beach on the other side.

Duster collected the oar from Ariel and stowed them below the flower petals and flew slowly to meet Ariel on the beach.

As they walked up the gentle incline…. the noise was becoming deafening!

The humming noise from above was indeed the sign of a very busy hive! There, below the bow of the tree, was the huge home of Hummer and his family

And there was Hummer! Gently landing on a flower below the hive, busily collecting the nectar from the flowers to add to the honey of the hive.

But above him were hundreds, NO, thousands, of his family, flying in and out of the huge hive above.

Ariel and Duster watched in fascination for a while as the vast colony came and went. Duster said loudly, so that Ariel could hear “I wondered if they ever ran out of room in there? The way they are collecting, surely the tree trunk had to be hollow? And there are so many of them!”

“It may be!” replied Ariel, finding it hard to hear her own voice, “Sometimes they find a hollow one and use it to build in”.

They seemed to be watching the hive for hours, and it seemed to take ages for them to be noticed by the busy workers of the hive.

One of Hummers family eventually spotted them at the base of the tree and came down to see who was watching them. He suddenly recognized Ariel and buzzed around them in welcome. He then left them, nodding his head, and hurried quickly back to the hive.

They had seen Hummer disappear inside the hive to deposit his collection, but were pleased to see that he was soon back out and coming to welcome them.

“Good morning Ariel and Duster, it’s a fine day for a good party isn’t it?” enquired Hummer.

“It is indeed a good day Hummer, and it will be a wonderful night tonight too!” replied Ariel.

“Do you need us to wait for the honey Hummer? Or is it ready for collection? I can see you are all rather busy at the moment” said Ariel as she watched the activity far above her head.

Hummer replied “Everything is set, it will only take me a little time to get it for you. If you stay where you are, I will drop the honey to you from the hive entrance. Watch out for it, it’ll be heavy!”

“OK, thank you” replied Ariel as Hummer sped back to the hive and disappeared within, with what seemed to be, a vast majority of his family.

Ariel and Duster watched, fascinated, as a large piece of honeycomb was slowly extracted from the hive entrance by Hummer and his family.

And then suddenly, it was loose from the hive!

And then they RAN!

The huge piece of honeycomb landed with a loud thud, almost exactly where they had been standing!

“Thank you Hummer!” shouted Ariel above the noise of the bees as she waved goodbye.

“You’re very welcome” replied Hummer as he circled goodbye and started to return to his nectar collecting.

Ariel went to inspect the chunk that had almost landed on top of them, and while she was busy, Duster frantically gestured to Hummer to come back down. Placing his fingers to his lips, he motioned for Hummer to be quiet as he landed close beside him.

“Please excuse me Hummer” whispered Duster, making sure that Ariel was still preoccupied with the honey. “But could I ask a favour of you?”

“Certainly Duster, what do you need?” replied a very inquisitive and quiet Hummer.

“You know that Ariel loves the scent of Jasmin, and I was wondering if you knew where I could get some of it from? I don’t know of any around here” replied a slightly sheepish Duster, as he kept an eye on Ariel to make sure she wasn’t eavesdropping on them.

“Ah, you want to give her a present?” replied an interested Hummer.

“Yes, that’s it” whispered Duster, now feeling redder than his coat!

“We collect that from a field a long way away” replied Hummer, “We send out special parties for it, it adds to the flavour of the honey! I can collect some for you if you like? Just the pollen in a ball. Will that do?” he asked a beaming Duster.

“That would be splendid of you! Thank you!” replied Duster, trying to keep his voice down so Ariel wouldn’t hear.

“No problem at all, I’ll wrap it in wax to keep it fresh for you. Just come and collect it whenever you want. I’ll have it within a few weeks. Is that OK, or do you need it faster than that?” asked Hummer.

“No that would be absolutely perfect, thank you” replied Duster. “Would it be all right if I collected it early next year do you think?”

“It will keep fine Duster. Just collect it when you need to, it will be waiting for you” replied Hummer with a smile.

“Thank you Hummer. I appreciate that very much. See you next year then!” replied a thoughtful Duster. “Don’t let Ariel know, will you? It’s a surprise”.

“No problem Duster, my lips are sealed. See you next year” and at this Hummer took off and headed back to the hive.

Duster turned and found Ariel looking quizzically at the honeycomb at her feet. It was indeed a large piece! At this point, Duster was not even sure if he could move this huge chunk of honey! It was massive and would certainly be an excellent addition to any feast at the party.

He joined Ariel and they both spent a while studying the prize at their feet.

“I think I will need to try and lift it a little at the front Duster, while you see if you can get underneath it” said Ariel a little doubtfully.

“I’ll try” replied an equally doubtful Duster.

Duster slowly forced himself to crawl below the honeycomb while Ariel tried to lift it slightly to allow him underneath. Once he was completely covered in the soft sticky stuff, he lifted it slowly on his back.

“This honey weighs an awful lot!” exclaimed Duster, “It’s amazing when you think you can drink it!”

“Be careful Duster” replied Ariel with a laugh, “I don’t want to have to eat you out of it!”

Even for Duster, this was a heavy chunk, but it did taste good. He was looking forward to this party.


Ariel suddenly felt the honeycomb drop underneath her as she tried to keep a little weight off Duster. The honeycomb was now sitting on the ground with absolutely no sign of Duster below it!

“Duster can you hear me?” shouted a frightened Ariel as she thought of her friend being squashed underneath such a large piece of honey. “Are you all right?” shouted Ariel again. Hoping she would get an answer from her friend as she tried to lift the honeycomb off of him. But it was far too heavy for her to lift.

Duster could hear something, but his world had suddenly gone very dark! He couldn’t see a thing and he was covered in the sticky stuff! But it didn’t seem to weight as much as it had before? He realized that he had been pushed up into the honeycomb because of its weight! He was now within the comb itself!

“Well” thought Duster, “I could eat my way out, but Ariel would not be best pleased and it would take me all night to do it! So I suppose I’d better start climbing!”

It was like trying to walk through a very thick treacle, as Duster climbed the wall of the honeycomb to try and get out. It was so very sticky and thick! But he was getting there.

“I think we need to re-think this one” thought Duster as he got closer to the light above him. “I don’t think you can carry a hole!”

Meanwhile, Ariel had been flying around the honeycomb looking in all the combs to see it she could see her friend. But so far she had not been able to see anything at all. She was getting worried that she would have to wait for all the honey to warm up and run out of the comb before she found him!


Suddenly! Just as she was getting really worried for her friend, he appeared right out of the honeycomb, right in front of her nose!

“Duster! I thought we were going to have to hold the party here to eat you out of there! Are you all right?” exclaimed a relieved Ariel.

“I’m just feeling a bit stuck together at the moment Ariel, but I’m fine. But I don’t think this is going to work though” said Duster. “The holes are bigger than I am! And it’s way too heavy! I think we need to try something else to get this chunk to the party”.

“I see what you mean Duster, it’s not going to be easy, is it? But how do you move this sort of thing around?” asked Ariel, a little perplexed by the problem. “How DO you move this?”

“Well, we need a far broader back than I have, and something that it won’t slide off!” replied Duster, as he and Ariel tried to remove the last remnants of the honey from his back.

“A broader back that it won’t slide off?” replied Ariel as she thought about what Duster had said.

“What about Spike?” she asked, excitedly clapping her hands together. “It wouldn’t fall of his back, would it?” she half asked, as the thought sounded better when said out loud.

“No it wouldn’t!” replied Duster, as it suddenly dawned on him what Ariel was talking about. “It would stick to all those spikes of his and not move! But how do we find him? He’s usually hidden during the day”.

“I know where he hides, Duster”, replied Ariel cheekily. “He has a hiding place around the edge of the field next to the hedge. Let’s go and see if he’s awake yet”.

Ariel guided Duster over to the area where she believed that Spike was sleeping and was calling his name quietly. Though she needed his help, she didn’t really want to wake him if he was sleeping. She could wait till later for him, provided that nobody else got the honey while they were away!

After a few minutes, Duster spotted something moving under a few leaves below the hedge.

“Could that be Spike?” he asked Ariel quietly.

“I think so” replied Ariel in a whisper. “I’m not sure if he is awake yet”.

Ariel moved quietly over to the moving leaves and gently lifted one of them up a little to see what was underneath.

“BOO!” shouted Spike, as Ariel lifted the leaf enough to see what she thought was the face of a sleeping Spike.

Ariel jumped back in fright! She hadn’t been expecting that!

“Oh Spike!” cried Ariel with a giggle. “You scarred me!”

“Shouldn’t go messing about in the bushes then! Should you?” laughed Spike. “I assume you’re looking for me?”

“Yes, sorry Spike” said Ariel a little sheepishly. “I’m afraid I need a little help, if you could? We seem to have bitten off more than we can chew with this party tonight”.

“Oh? What’s the problem then?” replied Spike. “How can I help?”

“I have a large piece of honeycomb that Hummer gave us, but we can’t carry it!” exclaimed Ariel.

“And I keep falling through the holes when I lift it!” added Duster quietly.

“Ah, I see” replied Spike. “Just a little bit small then are we?” he said with a smile.

“Just a little” replied Ariel coyly. “But with your spikes, do you think you can help?”

“Oh I think I can do that” he replied, “Glad to be of help”.

Spike followed Ariel and Duster back to the honeycomb below the hive and studied it for a while.

“Hmm”, he said as he walked around it and finally gave it a big lick! “It does taste good, doesn’t it?”

“Ok!” said Ariel with a chuckle. “You know where the party is and you’ll be awake anyway! So you are welcome to join us tonight” she laughed.

“Aw, that’s very nice of you” he laughed. “Thank you! Now let’s see if we can get this moved”.

After looking at it for a while he stepped back a little and said, “You may want to stand back a little bit further, while I do this”.

As Ariel and Duster moved away, Spike curled himself into a tight ball. As they watched, his spikes suddenly went straight up in the air! With a little push of his back feet, Spike rolled over the honeycomb and stopped, with the honeycomb on the top, as he gently uncurled himself!

“There you go Ariel!” laughed Duster. “I told you he could do it!”

“It’s certainly NOT going to move easily from there, that’s for certain!” replied Ariel. As she watched Spike uncurl and get back on his feet with the honeycomb firmly stuck to his back.

“Now then, where do we need to get this too?” asked Spike.

“The party is on the other side of the ocean” replied Ariel, as she pointed over the bridge. “We will need to be careful, but I’m afraid you are too heavy to go by boat”.

“That’s no problem. I can easily get to the other side across the bridge Ariel. Nobody is going to try and stop me!” he laughed.

Ariel knew this to be so true! Spike, the hedgehog, was a sort of hero in the garden. There were a few of his kind around, but they were nowhere near as friendly as he was. Even the family small one tended to feed him, but stay a distance away.

Ariel had seen him stand up to even Meyaow and Barker! He was indeed a hero! With both of them, he had simply rolled into a ball, and though he had been batted about a bit by both of them, he had simply jabbed their noses with his spikes!

She had watched him push himself at them with his spikes fully out, and they didn’t like it at all. Having their noses spiked, seemed to put them off the idea! So both Barker and Meyaow now gave him enough room in the garden when they see him. Even the lady of the house seemed to make a space for him. This was probably due to the fact that he ate the pests in the garden that ate her favourite plants!

So Spike had become a bit of a hero around the garden, and he was helpful if you asked him.

Spike was looking around the garden and bridge at this point. “I may need a bit of camouflage though!” he said. “If this honey is spotted, it may not make it to the other side of that bridge!”

“Camouflage?” asked Duster. “What sort of thing do you mean?”

“Well” replied Spike, “You could cover me in some of those leaves over there” and Duster and Ariel saw that he was pointing at a pile of leaves under the hedge at the edge of the garden.

“That’s a clever idea” said a smiling Ariel. “That would let you move around without too much attention”.

Quickly gathering the leaves together, Ariel and Duster brought a small pile together as Spike waited for them to be placed on his back.

Using a combination of his spikes and the stickiness of the honey, Duster and Ariel soon had Spike looking like he was a mobile pile of leaves. Only his nose and eyes could be seen below the collection on his back.

“Now let’s see if we can get this sticky stuff to the party for you” said Spike.

Spike set off, scuttling at a race, towards the bridge and stopped quickly at the start of the rail. For all the world it looked like a small pile of leaves was rapidly moving erratically across the bridge, as Spike moved quickly from side to side to try and stay in the shadows.

As he reached the other side he spotted the tail of Meyaow moving across the end of the bridge. Sitting quietly, just out of vision, he watched as the tip of the tail disappeared into the distance.

Having watched Spike set off on his journey, Ariel and Duster made their way back to Ocean Lilly and settled down for the glide back home.

After Ariel had gently wiped his wings clear of the warm sticky honey, he pushed them gently off the beach.

“This should be a nice gentle trip home Ariel” explained Duster. “The breeze is gentle, but constant, and the ocean is calm”.

“I hope so” replied Ariel, as she sat down to enjoy the cruise.

Duster climbed to the top of Ocean Lilly’s flower and slowly opened his wings. The extra height would let him catch more of the breeze that was blowing across the ocean.

“I think it’s stronger than I thought!” exclaimed Duster, as the moment the wind caught his wings, he’d had to brace himself from being blown off the top into the ocean below.

Ocean Lilly quickly gained speed and was positively racing towards the other side! In no time at all they would be home!

The water boatmen and beetles could be seen scattering out of the way as they positively raced their way home. At one point, both Duster and Ariel laughed out loud, when one of Ribbit’s friends had to duck below the surface as they sped straight for him!

After what seemed to be just a few minutes, Duster said “I think we need to slow down now”, as he saw the shoreline approaching quickly before them.

Duster then slowly closed his wings, and stepped down from the top of the flower. Just in time to allow Ocean Lilly to gracefully come to a halt on the beach.

“I’ll check that the coast is clear” explained Ariel as she flew up to look around and check that they were ok to climb up to the site of the party.

“Is everything ok?” enquired Duster as she returned to him.

“Yes, it’s clear, we can go” replied Ariel as she and Duster carefully moved over the beach and started up the hill.

“I think I’m glad Spike was here! I don’t think I could have carried the honeycomb very far with the honey in it!” groaned Duster, as his little legs grew tired as he reached the top of the hill.

As they emerged from the grass, they were met by a jubilant Spike. “Ha! That fooled the old girl” he said. “She couldn’t even sniff me!”

And all three of them were laughing, as they made their way to the trees.

Then they were finally there! Laid out before them, was the loveliest sight they had ever seen!

Ariel’s friends had been busy while they were away! The party site looked wonderful and would look amazing when the sun went down and their friends took to the sky to dance.

“Doesn’t this look amazing Duster?!” exclaimed an ecstatic Ariel as she flew around to see what her friends had done.

“It does look amazing!” replied Duster. “I can’t wait to taste this honey in the moonlight! It will be well worth the effort”.

“You are invited of course Spike!” laughed Ariel as he rolled into a ball on top of a large piece of slate.

“Thank you Ariel” was the very muffled reply. “But I think you are going to have to unpeel me to get this off!”

“Oops, sorry” replied Ariel as she and Duster sat on one side of the upside down Spikes new coat. “You should be able to uncurl now” She said.

At that point Spike rolled slowly to his left and the sweet honeycomb unpeeled like a petal from a rose. It sat there in its own table cloth of leaves and looked magnificent!

With the honey returned from Hummer, and the dew collected from the lilies on the pond, the food for the party was complete and ready for the night’s festivities.

With the toadstools and mushrooms collected and the scent of the flowers mixing in the evening air, the mood was set for a wonderful evening of feasting with song and dance.

As the twilight sun sets on a still and silent ocean, the chorus from Ribbit and his friends starts to fade.

Whistler, standing proud at the top of the red birch tree at the edge of the garden, who has been singing for hours as darkness fell, rises to the final verse in his song. And then there is silence everywhere.

The gathering friends put the final touches to the party stage and prepare for the sound that will start the party off.

After a few minutes of silence, and the sun having gone from the sky, there is suddenly heard the sound they were waiting for,

“Ta-wit, Ta-woo”.

Hooter and his mate had signalled the start of the party!

Lantern and his friends suddenly appeared from the bushes and put on a light show for Ariel and her friends as they performed a shooting star in the sky.

And they sang!

All around the fir trees

And back across the lawn

Then across the ocean

And back to see the dawn

Never bothered by the tide

Or frightened by the rain

They would sing and dance

To bring the world to life again

To take a sip of honey

And a little honey dew

Then back around the fir trees

And over the ocean blue

Dancing by the lantern light

And flowing across the sky

They would feast and dance

The night away

Until the break of day

As they dance and sing around the edge of the ocean, they welcome the warmth and pleasure of dancing in the clear night air to celebrate the year.

The fruits and berries would soon be coming and the feasting would begin!

It is indeed a time for celebration.

As the sun rises in the early morning and the last of the party goers have said their farewells, Ariel and Duster return to the house in the firs to rest and dream of the day to come.

“That was a wonderful party” said Duster sleepily. “I will sleep well tonight”.

“So shall I Duster” replied Ariel with a happy yawn. “So shall I”.

As they settled down to sleep, Ariel and Duster wondered what adventure there would be tomorrow?

Only a good night’s sleep will tell!

Sleep well, and sweet dreams, see you in the morning.

What’s the Matter with Meyaow?

It had been a beautiful morning, and was promising to be a stunner of a day. Duster had been up early to enjoy the taste and scent of this one.

“Good morning Duster! It’s a wonderful day for a sail, will you join me?” laughed Ariel as she circled over her friend in the moss below.

Duster had just been finishing off his breakfast when he had seen the glimmer of silver in the sky above, and the day was promising to be so warm as to be positively glorious for a relaxing day.

“That sounds wonderful to me Ariel” replied Duster, as he opened his wings to join her. “It will be so hot today that I think we will enjoy it a lot. Ribbit and his friends will be hidden in the shade, or on the bottom of the ocean, so we should have an uneventful sail”.

“Yes, it will be a fine day for it, and I haven’t seen Meyaow out either. So all is good with the world!” exclaimed Ariel as they gently landed on Ocean Lilly as she lay next to the beach.

There wasn’t much of a breeze today, so after pushing Ocean Lilly off the beach they collected the paddles they had hidden, and gently made their way to the centre of the ocean.

It was so hot today, and it was not yet midday. But they could feel the temperature of the water as they paddled, and it was definitely very warm. Ocean Lilly herself was hot to the touch, but not too hot, and the ocean was a turquoise blue and without a ripple on its surface.

It didn’t take very long for them to get to the ocean centre, and once there, they put down the paddles and lay down to enjoy the day. The grass was very green at the edges of the ocean and there was the slight scent of the flowers and the trees in the air. “It smells lovely out here today”, said Duster, ”and the colours are so beautiful! Even the water looks amazing!”

As he spoke, the two friends cautiously went to the edge of Ocean Lilly, and kneeling down, looked straight down.

The Ocean looked very deep! But the water was so clear that they could see the fish swimming around below them. And there, lying below the fish on the rocks, were Ribbit and some of his family.

The water was obviously warm enough for them, so they would probably stay out of the sunlight for most of the day. They didn’t like it too hot these guys, so you could get days like this on the ocean without much fear of being jumped on!

Ariel and Duster could hear the waterfall at the edge of the ocean, as it babbled and spluttered away, tumbling down into the ocean below. It was somehow very soothing with the scent of the garden and the sound of Whistler and the others above.

“I wonder what they are all talking about?” said Duster quietly. It seemed wrong to interrupt them somehow.

“I don’t know” replied Ariel in a similarly hushed voice. “But they seem to be happy today, and there are an awful lot of them flying around the garden and trees. Maybe they are having a party today! I can hear the chicks in the nests in the trees, and I’ve seen a few of them. They are getting quite big now.”

“That means it’s almost “Ouch mom, that hurt” time again then!” laughed Duster.

Ariel laughed out loud at that. She knew what Duster was referring to! The young birds would be nearly ready to take their first flight! Unhappily for a lot of them, this would mean that they sort of jumped out of the nest, or off the branch, and hoped that their body knew how to fly! Because it was blatantly obvious most of them didn’t!

You usually heard this as the young bird landed with a thump on the ground below! If they were lucky, the parents would have placed the nest above a soft landing. But that wasn’t always possible, and a soft landing meant that it would be a great place for Meyaow to lie on also! And they definitely didn’t want that!

“Speaking of which” said Duster quizzically, “Where is Meyaow? She normally enjoys this kind of weather and is out and about early, before it gets too hot for her?”

“I don’t know” replied Ariel. “But she wasn’t around when I was having a look earlier on, and I heard that car leave. So she should be around somewhere?”

At that moment they heard the roar of the car engine and the crunch of its wheels on the white gravel as it turned into the driveway.

“That was quick” said Duster. “I wonder why they are back so soon?”

“I don’t know” replied Ariel. “Let’s have a look”.

Ariel and Duster flew up just enough to get a look at the driveway where the car was just coming to a stop.

As they watched, they saw the man and woman get out of the car with the little girl. The girl went round the back of the car and returned carrying a box by a handle. There was a lot of noise coming from that box! It sounded like Meyaow was in a really bad temper!

At this point it’s worth considering what Meyaow actually was!

Meyaow was, in truth, an Aristocrat, a real Princess. Just watching her as she moved across the grass, it was as if you were watching something hover over it. Because of the length of her coat, she didn’t seem to walk at all! Merely she would appear to glide effortlessly wherever she went.

With her head and tail held high, she would parade around the garden and dare anybody to watch her.

It was barely possible to see her as a pet, and certainly not just as a cat! She would demand, and get, attention from the woman and the girl when they appeared in the garden. And she positively bristled and spat, when the man of the house dared to talk, or even try to touch her! He made sure, especially after that episode with the ocean, that he stayed well away from her when she was around, and even moved, if she came near him! Just in case!

The incident with the ocean was memorable for a couple of reasons.

Meyaow, had come into the garden in the morning, and seeing that it was a glorious day, had decided to lie down on top of the rails that go along the edge of the bridge.

She had been sleeping there for a while in the sunshine, when she decided to warm her tummy. That was a mistake! She had obviously forgotten where she was, and just as she rolled over, she discovered that there was no rail underneath her anymore.

There was a strange noise she made, like a high pitched screech, and as she fell, she did what all cats do. She rotated her body so that her feet would land on the ground below her. She had of course, forgotten entirely where she was sleeping, and the screech suddenly stopped as she looked down to see the ocean rushing up towards her.

That was so funny! You could actually see the legs running in thin air as she dropped. No doubt she was hoping that she could get to the shore before she hit water!

It was not to be! Meyaow dropped like a stone and disappeared below the surface in a huge eruption of water and spray that threatened to empty the ocean! Almost for an instant she was sitting, dry, on the ocean floor, and then suddenly the water swept back again and covered her completely!

Meyaow was beside herself when she came to the surface, the noise alone could have woken the neighbours’ miles away.

It was at this point that the man of the house earned Meyaow’s displeasure!

He had rushed out of the house and grabbed a cloth from the washing line and headed for Meyaow. He almost dived into the water and grabbed Meyaow in the cloth. She was definitely not pleased at this sort of roughness, and had made a great show of using all her claws on the mans arms as he tried to get her out of the water and dry her. There was blood everywhere and the man was almost louder than Meyaow, by the time he had got back to the house!

She had gone berserk on him and he was not a happy man. He’d gone back into the house, as quickly as he could, making an awful lot of noise as he’d banged the door shut.

Meyaow had really been upset with him, and for the rest of the week had a really sour face on and would have a go at anything that came near her! The only one she let near had been the little girl of the house.

But ever since that time, the man has kept his distance from her.

But it had to be said, that normally she would hold her airs and graces well. Spending most of her time flouncing and gliding around the place as if she owned it. Which is what she would have everybody believe!

But at present, the man of the house was beginning to have the same thoughts again.

“I’ll get that” said the man, as he took the screaming box off the young girl. “She’s in a foul temper after her visit to the vet’s this morning!”

“We’ll put the kettle on then” said the woman as she guided the little girl to the house. “Try not to get all scratched when you open the travel box!” She was laughing as she went inside.

“Right you little terror” said the man as he gently put the box on the ground. “I don’t want a repeat of the last time please!” at that, he went to the back of the box and leant over and opened the front flap on it.

At this point Ariel and Duster just saw a blur as Meyaow exited the box, at a speed that was definitely meteoric! They had never seen her move so fast! And she was definitely NOT a happy cat! The man locked the car and headed for the door, very quickly indeed! As if he thought that Meyaow would use him as her next scratching post, very soon!

The noise had stopped but she was tearing around like a mad thing! It looked like she could almost fly! And there was a very worried Barker watching from his favourite spot at the window!

Duster and Ariel watched Meyaow for what seemed like a very long time indeed.

Eventually Meyaow seemed to calm down and stopped in the centre of the garden. She then, slowly, sat down, and had a very long, slow, glaring, look around. As if to make sure that nobody had actually witnessed her behaviour previously. She then seemed to gather her composure as she sat up straight and held her head high again. Looking a little sheepish, she stood up slowly, arching her back, as if to stretch, and positively cantered over to the tree at the corner of the house.

When she got there, out of site of the house, she immediately went into a frenzy and was using all four sets of claws on the trunk, as she tore away at the bark. It looked like she was sharpening her claws! She was ripping it to shreds!

“That’s a bad sign” said Duster and he tried to make himself look smaller.

“I think I agree with you!” replied Ariel. “I wonder what this place called Vet is?”

“I don’t know, but if that’s what it did to Meyaow, remind me never to go there!” replied Duster as he dropped back out of site to once more enjoy his day on the ocean.

After a moment or two, Ariel joined her friend, and they sat watching the garden and enjoying the sounds around them. The only thing disturbing the feeling was the noise that Meyaow was making as she attacked the tree. But eventually even she went quiet, and the scratching stopped. As the sun rose higher in the beautiful duck-egg blue sky, it was indeed a wonderful today.

They must have dozed off in the sunshine as they had lain on Ocean Lilly. Because when they awoke, the sun was very hot, and had definitely moved a bit in the sky above them.

As he lay there, Duster was becoming aware of some kind of burring noise coming from somewhere very close by!

“Can you hear that?” he asked quietly.

“I can” said Ariel quietly “Its Meyaow that’s making the noise! And she is very close!”

They moved round very quietly and peered around the edge of Ocean Lilly’s flower.

Ocean Lilly had obviously moved during their snooze! They were close to the original beach and there, lying in the sunshine was Meyaow!

“She’s a lot happier than this morning” whispered Ariel, “it looks like she is cleaning herself”, she whispered as Duster joined her.

“We may as well stay here and enjoy the sunshine” whispered Duster, “I don’t fancy taking my chances flying past her. She still may be looking for something to pester because of this morning’s issues”.

“I agree” said Ariel as she settled back down to resume her midday nap.

Shortly later, Ariel and Duster were woken by a sort of coughing sound from behind them.

“What’s up now?” Asked Duster.

“I don’t know Duster, but it sounds a bit like Meyaow?” she replied.

They both looked carefully around behind them where Meyaow had been lying earlier. She was still there, but now she was obviously having a problem! She was coughing an awful lot, and it seemed like she was trying to be sick!

The coughing was getting seriously worse as they watched her. And she was obviously beginning to have real problems with her breathing.

“She’s in trouble Duster! I know she’s a pest, but we do really need to help her, and quickly! You wait here and I’ll go and get a few friends to help out”.

“What can I do?” asked Duster as Ariel took off and headed for the woods.

“Nothing Duster, just stay out of her way!” replied Ariel, as she disappeared in a flash into the sunshine above his head.

Meyaow was certainly getting worse, thought Duster, as he sat on Ocean Lilly watching her. Her coughing and retching was getting more and more strained, and she was obviously getting more distressed all the time.

It must have been just a couple of minutes later that Ariel returned with five of her friends. The six of them grabbed on to the collar around Meyaow’s neck, and as Duster watched, they began to jump up and down!

“We need to do it all at once” shouted Ariel to her friends. “On the count of three, jump!”

“ONE, TWO, THREE, JUMP!” cried Ariel.

Right on cue, all of her friends jumped hard on the back of Meyaow’s neck.

As Duster watched, there was obviously still no improvement to poor Meyaow’s condition as she continued to wretch and cough.

“Alright, we need to do this again!” shouted Ariel.

“ONE, TWO, THREE, JUMP!” cried Ariel.

There was one great cough, splutter and a gasp from Meyaow as a large ball of something flew out of her mouth and bounced off the bridge. She then promptly lay back down on the ground gasping for breath.

“OK girls, thanks for your help” said Ariel as her friends quickly dispersed back towards the woods. “I’ll see you tomorrow”.

At that, Ariel dropped down to her friend Duster and they sat quietly and watched as Meyaow composed herself on the grass bank where she lay.

As they watched, she shook her head as if to clear her thoughts and looked quietly around her. Within a few minutes she had got her breath back and was beginning to look her normal composed self.

It wasn’t long before she spotted Ariel and Duster watching her, but instead of jumping at them, or running after them, she seemed to have a strange, almost happy, look on her face for a moment. Just for a moment mind you.

Then she seemed to have had enough of the lying around in the grass thing and stood up, stretched, and cantered off towards the house with her head held high.

“It was a fur-ball Duster” said Ariel. She could have chocked on that if we hadn’t got it out.”

“Fur-ball eh?” said Duster quietly. “You’d think they would be immune to that, seeing as they are covered in the stuff.”

“Yes Duster, but they are not supposed to swallow loads of it in one go! And by the state she was in this morning, there must have been plenty of it!”

After a moment’s thought Duster said “So what can you do with a fur-ball then?”

“Well, we could play with it” mused Ariel. “But if it gets cleaned up properly, we can use it as a bed warmer for the winter!” she exclaimed with a laugh.

“I spotted something we could use to stuff with this fur?” said Duster

“You did?” replied Ariel. “What was that?”

“Well Ariel, come with me and I’ll show you.”

Duster flew slowly over towards the bin sitting at the corner of the house.

There, lying behind the bin, were two little perforated bags.

“Will these do Ariel?”

“Yes!” exclaimed Ariel. “These are perfect! All we have to do it collect the fur-ball and clean and dry the fur. Then we can stuff these little bags with it. If we can find two more, there should be enough of Barkers hair on the grass for us to make a top cover also!” she laughed.

“We will be snug and warm this winter!” laughed Duster. “I’ll get the fur-ball and meet you at the house.”

Ariel lifted the two empty tea bags and headed back home. As she flew over Duster she almost dropped the bags as she was laughing so much.

There was Duster, standing on top of the fur-ball, dancing like a clown, and rolling the ball across the grass! It looked so funny from up here.

“I’ll race you home!” shouted Ariel happily. “See you there!”

“I think you are being unfair! This thing doesn’t want to go in a straight line!” laughed Duster. As it seemed that all his legs wanted to go in different directions.

“I’ll see you back there, but at this rate, it might be in the morning!” he laughed.

Ariel had already cleaned off the duvet covers when Duster finally arrived, exhausted, at the foot of the tree.

“I don’t think I’ll be joining the circus!” gasped Duster when Ariel came to the front of the ledge. “My little legs are just no good for rolling a ball around all day!”

“You get a drink of that honey dew by the stove and I’ll see about cleaning that fur up for our new duvets tonight”. Said Ariel as she flew down to lift the drying ball of fur.

“Now that will be just right for tonight’s dinner! Excellent! Thank you” said Duster as he flew up to the house, only glad to get off his feet for a while.

Ariel spread the fur out thinly on the balcony to allow it to dry while they had dinner. Dining on honey dew and pine nuts, the friends rested gently in the warm night air watching the sun go down across the hills.

Just before the sun finally disappeared, they checked the fur was dry and gently stuffed the duvets until they were plump and airy.

Settling down for the night, they thought about the day they had just had.

“That was an interesting day” said Duster sleepily. “I will sleep well tonight”.

“So shall I Duster” replied Ariel with a yawn. “So shall I”.

Ariel felt all snug and warm as she pulled her new fur lined duvet over her head.

As they settled down to sleep, Ariel and Duster wondered what adventure there would be tomorrow?

Only a good night’s sleep will tell!

Sleep well, and sweet dreams, see you in the morning.

Mishkas Harvest

Thrash, Thrash, Thrash, Thrash, BANG, THUD!

Thrash, Thrash, Thrash, Thrash, BANG, THUD!

Thrash, Thrash, Thrash, Thrash, BANG, THUD!

“What on earth is that noise!” cried Duster as he woke with a start!

“I don’t know” replied Ariel, “But it’s awfully close!”

They both quickly got out of bed and looked outside.

“There are an awful lot of big lights out there” said Duster as he looked around from the window. “It’s not yet day time, but the fields all lit up! And why is the house shaking so much?” he cried as they continued to hear that terrible sound from outside.

Thrash, Thrash, Thrash, Thrash, BANG, THUD!

Ariel stared out of the window and began to realize what was happening.

“I think I know what’s going on” she said. “I’ll be back in a minute”.

At that she opened the door and flew into the light. After a short time she returned a little flustered.

“It’s the harvesters that are causing all the noise and commotion out there Duster. They are harvesting the grain from the field and creating hay bales for Neighbour and his friends. They always start early if the weather is good and work through the night to get finished. At least they will be in the second field tomorrow. We will get a bit more sleep then.”

“So is it going to be like this all day then? They are going to give me a headache!” moaned Duster

“I’m afraid so. We will need to spend the day at the other side of the forest if we want any peace today” replied Ariel.

“I think I will just hide under my duvet!” said Duster. “Wake me up when they have gone!” At this Duster disappeared under his duvet and pulled it tight around him to blot out the noise.

Thrash, Thrash, Thrash, Thrash, BANG, THUD!


Thrash, Thrash, Thrash, Thrash, BANG, THUD


Thrash, Thrash, Thrash, Thrash, BANG, THUD


“What is it now! Exclaimed Duster, peeking out from under his duvet. “Do they want in here as well?”

“No Duster” laughed Ariel. “Somebody is knocking on the door.”

“Well I hope they brought something quiet with them and they’ve brushed their feet!” replied Duster from below his duvet.


Thrash, Thrash, Thrash, Thrash, BANG, THUD

“I’ll get it Duster. Just you stay where you are.”

At that Ariel turned towards the door and opened it, just a little, enough to see Mishka the mouse standing there.

“Hello Mishka, how are you?” asked Ariel as she opened the door to allow her guest to enter.

“I’m sorry to bother you Ariel, but I really need somewhere to stay while they are busy in the field, and I couldn’t think of anywhere else to go that would be safe!” cried Mishka. “Meyaow will get us all, if we stay down there!”

At this point, Mishka’s entire family seemed to enter through the front door all at once! As Ariel looked around behind her, they seemed to fill the entire house! And poor Duster even had one sitting on top of him!

“Hoy!” exclaimed Duster, “Get off me! I’m not a cushion for you to sit on!”

Alarmed by the exclamation, Mishka’s child got off the duvet rapidly and apologised loudly, to be heard over the noise outside.

“I’m so sorry Duster” said Mishka. “But we really do need somewhere safe to stay for a day or so?”

“That’s alright Mishka. You are all welcome to stay for the time you need. There are even some grains for you to eat over there” and Ariel pointed to a small collection of seeds in the corner beside Dusters bed.

“Thank you” replied Mishka with relief. “It should only be for a day or so.”

“That’s ok” replied Ariel “It will be tight and cosy. But we’ll manage alright.”

Ariel had known Mishka for a while now. She lived in a small, but neat, little burrow. Just a short distance into the field that was now being churned up by the harvesters.

At this time of year she always tried to move her family. But the harvesters had come unexpectedly early this year due to the good weather, so she had been caught out, with nowhere safe to go.

It was a matter of some interest to Ariel though, that Mishka seemed to always be waving farewell to her brood at the field edge as they started their own lives, but never seemed to have any less around her? She always seemed to have a good nine or so children with her, or at home.

Ariel never understood how she could always have so many, when they always seemed to be leaving? But Mishka always looked after her brood of children, and even Meyaow had never managed to catch her unawares and have any of them for lunch!

That said a lot for the attention that Mishka always paid to her offspring. She would never leave them to their own devices while they were young enough to need her.

You could often see her at the top of the sheaths of corn in the field, collecting for her family. This she would do almost constantly during the day. Running home in a strange pattern, so as not to show anybody exactly where her home was. That nest was always hidden and difficult to find. Every year or so, Mishka would move house, so as not to be predictable to any predator who fancied a quick lunch!

“Well” said Mishka, after settling her family down, next to the corner with the food. “At least when they are finished, the larder will be absolutely brimming with food! They always lose a lot when that machine comes into the field, and it’s easy for me to gather what they leave behind. If you want some, I will collect it and bring it to you?”

“Thank you Mishka” replied Ariel, watching as Mishka’s family quickly demolished her larder. “That would be nice. We’ll help you gather what you need and bring some back to the house when the harvesters have decided to leave the field.”

“And it can’t come soon enough!” exclaimed Duster, extracting himself from below the ample and warm coat of one of Mishka’s family. “I will be glad when we get our peace and quiet back! That racket outside is enough to shake us all out of this tree!”

“Oh Duster” said Ariel laughing, “have some honey dew and a pine nut! We are perfectly safe up here. They are too far away to cause us anything more than a headache.”

Thrash, Thrash, Thrash, Thrash, BANG, THUD

“Well, the way they are bouncing us around, I feel like I could just bounce out the door and drop off the ledge!” replied a very flustered Duster, as he tucked into his pine nut and kept his drink held in two hands to stop himself from dropping it.

“They will be gone soon enough Duster” said Mishka. “This field never takes them more than a day because of its size, so they will be finished soon.”

“I hope so” replied a disgruntled Duster. “I like it when it’s quiet. I don’t like noise!”

Thrash, Thrash, Thrash, Thrash, BANG, THUD

“Oh for goodness sake!” cried Duster, and clutching his drink and pine-nut, he crawled back under Mishka’s offspring’s coat muttering “At least it’s quiet and warm under here” and he was gone.

“Well we might as well just sit down and try and relax for a while” said Mishka.

“Well, we can try!” replied Ariel, as she listened to the noise from outside.

Thrash, Thrash, Thrash, Thrash, BANG, THUD

“It does seem to be getting quieter though?” Ariel stated as she settled down in her chair.

During the afternoon, the noise was obviously getting quieter, and within an hour or two it was definitely nearing the end of the field.

Thrash, Thrash, Thrash, Thrash, BANG, THUD

Eventually, as it became early evening, even Duster had re-appeared and was joining in the conversation again. Then they heard the harvesters moving out of the field and it was again quiet in the house. That is, apart from the munching noises from the corner of the room, which also stopped after a short while.

“Well thank goodness for that” said Duster, as he watched the harvesters disappear into the distance. “We have quiet at last! Hopefully for a long time!”

“It will be for about a year” replied Mishka. “They don’t come more than once a year”.

“Thank goodness for that. I prefer to wake up slowly and quietly” said Duster a little tiredly.

Looking around at the carnage before him, Duster muttered “It looks like we may need the harvest! The kids seemed to have cleaned us out!”

“I’m sorry Ariel” muttered Mishka shyly. “They seem to have eaten you out of house and home. There’s not a morsel left in the house!”

“Don’t worry Mishka” replied Ariel, seeing the now empty corner, “We can soon refill the larder” as she spoke, she saw the entirely empty larder where there was not even a crumb left!

“Now that they have left the field, we can fill it back up very quickly”

“It will be easy to fill up” replied Mishka. “The field will be covered in corn now. It’s harvest time!”

“Just as long as Meyaow is not around!” replied Ariel. “I’ll go and check that the coast is clear and then we can all go out and collect our harvest treasure!”

Ariel opened the door into a clear and warm night. The stars were just starting to show in the darkening sky and it was going to be a wonderful night.

As she flew around the tree, and entrance to the field, it was obvious that all was quiet and there was not going to be a problem collecting the harvest this evening. The field looked as if it had received a very short haircut! The once long tall corn had been completely cropped and you could now see the earth below it very clearly. But there was an awful lot of corn grain left around. This was going to be easy.

Ariel retuned to the house and found just about everybody on the ledge outside looking down and waiting for her to return.

“Is everything clear?” asked Mishka and Duster, both at the same time.

“Yes” replied Ariel. “We can go and collect our groceries now!” she said with a laugh.

At this point Mishka and her family shot down the tree, silently, and were last seen disappearing into the field at high speed!

“Well, we won’t see them until their stuffed!” laughed Duster. “I’m surprised that they have anywhere else to put the food! They have been eating all day already!”

“I’m sure they will find somewhere Duster” replied Ariel. “We should join them before they empty the field completely” she laughed.

“You stay here. I will bring the corn to the ledge, and you can stack it inside. Alright?”

“Alright Ariel” replied Duster. “You collect it and I’ll stack it. No problem.”

For the next few hours Mishka and her family were very busy squirrelling away as much corn as they possibly could before the sun disappeared and the moon started to rise. Their larder very quickly filled to bursting point, and every nook and cranny within their burrow was positively brimming with the new year’s harvest. This would definitely keep them fed well during the coming winter.

During this time Ariel was also very busy, and was almost breaking into a sweat with the amount of flying backward and forward from the field. With every armful she collected, the pile on the ledge of the house was positively brimming. Duster was having a real struggle keeping up with her. Though he had only a short distance to go, this corn was just the wrong size and shape for him to carry. So he could only get a few at a time. Unlike Ariel who could come back with a couple of arms full!

After an hour or so, Duster was looking at the small pile of corn in the larder that he had managed to move from the ledge. This was harder than he thought. Ariel was very quickly out-pacing him. The pile outside was growing larger by the minute and he was definitely getting tired now. At this point, Duster decided to take a short break and have a look to see what was happening outside.

In order to have a look down he would have to stand on the ever growing pile of corn that Ariel had been placing on the ledge of the house. Climbing to the top of the pile, he could see down into the field and garden below. There he could see Mishka and her family, scurrying backwards and forwards collecting and carrying all the corn to their burrow. Meanwhile Ariel was collecting small armfuls of it to carry back up to the house.

As he watched, Duster was aware that he had to keep adjusting his feet on the pile below him. Slowly, but surely he began to realize that he was looking more down than he had been before? And what was more, he seemed to be getting closer to the edge of the ledge! As he thought about this, he was suddenly aware that he was actually moving forward towards the edge! He started to back pedal on the pile of corn. But that just seemed to be making matters worse!

Then suddenly, he was falling, upside down, head over heels all the way down towards the ground! As he tumbled, he was aware of pieces of corn dropping on him from above and was secretly wishing he had just stayed in the house!

As he fell, Duster struggled to get the right way up. He was trying to twist and turn, but every time he tried, a piece of corn would hit him and turn him back round again!

“Oh dear!” exclaimed Duster “This is going to be very sore! I wish there was more moss down there!”

At this point, Duster gave a tremendous heave, and with that he managed to twist around enough for him to open his wings. It was probably the worst landing he had ever had in his life! Normally he would simply flutter gently to land, hardly noticed, on a blade of grass! But this time he found himself bouncing on and off the ground as he got hit from above by the corn falling off the ledge of the house! After bouncing a few times he eventually come to a stop on the ground. But it was definitely not where he wanted to be!

He found himself standing on a small mound of corn under the base of the tree. As he looked up at the house above him, he was being hit by the corn dropping from above!

Bong………Bong…….Bong…..Bong….Bong…Bong..Bong.Bong, Bong, Bong, Bong……

“Oh NO!” thought Duster, “This is going to hurt even more!”

Duster saw, what looked like all the corn that had been sitting neatly on the ledge above, falling to the ground from high above him.

“I wish I was bigger!” exclaimed Duster as he covered his head and tucked his legs under him to wait for the great crash from above. After a short time he was completely covered, with not a single sign to say that he was underneath it. And then there was only a large pile of corn on the ground. He was completely buried.

Duster tried to move his legs out from beneath him, but the weight was too much to allow him to move! He tried to lift his head, but there was no way he could lift it! The weight above was just too much to let him move.

After a while it had stopped hurting so much, but he could feel that the weight on him seemed to be increasing. He was getting tired and he could tell that it was pressing him down even more.

“Help! Help!” he cried, but he could barely make a sound under all this corn.

Ariel returned from her forage in the field to find a very empty ledge in the front of the house and was pleasantly surprised to find it very quiet up here.

“Duster is keeping up well” she thought as she returned to the field to collect the last load for the larder. “This lot should keep us fed for a good time to come.”

As Ariel returned for the last time, she entered the house, expecting to see a good pile of corn in the corner, and probably a very tired Duster leaning against it.

But inside the house it was quiet? There was no sign of Duster? And the pile of corn that should have been in the corner of the larder was barely touched?

“What’s happened to Duster?” she wondered as she placed the last lot of corn in the small pile in the corner. “He wouldn’t have left just like that? Where did he go?”

Ariel returned to the ledge and looked around for a while. There was only a small amount of corn left on the ledge? Where did the rest of it go? And did Duster go with it?

“No” she thought, “Something must have happened, but what? Did something rob them and take Duster too?”

Just as she thought this, she glanced down at the ground. Though it was getting dark, she could see something down there below the tree. She wasn’t sure what it was, but it looked like a pile of corn?

“What on earth is that doing down there?” wondered Ariel. “That’s why it’s so empty up here! But where is Duster?”

Ariel flew down to the base of the tree and saw that the pile was indeed all the corn from above, but there was no sign of Duster anywhere?

“Duster! Where are you?” shouted Ariel.

“Mmmm, Mmmmm mm mmm mmmmm!”

“What was that? Where are you?” said Ariel.

“Mmmm Mmmmm mm mmm!”

Ariel sudden realized where the noise was coming from. It was below the pile of corn on the ground. Duster had been buried by it!

“Oh no Duster, hold on!” she cried.

Ariel quickly grabbed scoops of the corn from the top of the pile and took it up to the larder above. After only a few trips she managed to see the top of Dusters back.

“Hold on Duster, it won’t be long now!” she shouted as she headed back up to the house.

“Mmmmm mmmm mmmmm mmm!”

Ariel returned to Duster and now started to brush the corn off his back into another pile behind him. After just few moments, Duster poked his head up and took a long, deep breath.

“Phew, I was getting hot under there! I thought you would never find me!”

“Oh don’t be silly Duster. Of course I would find you! There was no way you could have cleared that pile up there! And you don’t make a habit of disappearing!” as she spoke Ariel cleared the last of the weight off Dusters back to allow him to move.

“Thank you Ariel. My little legs were getting a bit crushed under there!” exclaimed Duster as he finally managed to stand up and move away from the corn pile.

“No problem at all Duster, but please, will you just sit down when you’re tired? I may not find you as fast the next time” she laughed.

“You have my word on that one!” exclaimed Duster, as he looked on at the pile of corn around him. “It looks like we still have work to do tonight though.”

“Ah it won’t take long now. Just go up to the house, and I’ll ferry the corn in. Now that it’s gathered, it’s only a short hop.”

“Alright then, I’ll see you up top” said Duster as he gently stretched his wings. They were definitely a bit bruised! But after having tested them, he flew slowly, and carefully, back up to the house above.

Several journeys later. Ariel had finished moving the pile from below. Except for the few that Spike had scoffed, when he found them lying on the ground!

By the time Ariel had finished, it was nearly midnight, and it was starting to rain a little outside.

“I think we should have a nibble or two as a midnight feast” said Duster as Ariel settled herself down for a while before bed.

“Now that sounds good to me” replied Ariel sleepily, as Duster handed her two corn seeds and an Acorn shell, half full of honey dew.

After their supper, Duster and Ariel were lazily dozing, in the chairs made from seashells and moss, and covered by their duvets. It had been a long day, and they were well on their way to sleep. Having decided it was far too late to stay up any longer, they decided to call it a day and retire for the night.

It would be another great day tomorrow.

“That was an excellent meal” said Duster sleepily. “I will sleep well tonight”.

“So shall I Duster” replied Ariel with a yawn. “So shall I.”

Ariel felt full, snug and warm, as she pulled her duvet over her head.

As they settled down to sleep, Ariel and Duster wondered what adventure there would be tomorrow?

Only a good night’s sleep will tell!

Sleep well, and sweet dreams, see you in the morning.