A cold wind blew and Little Squirrel shivered when something white flew by. “What is that?” Little Squirrel asked.
“Snow,” said his mother.
“Snow?” questioned Little Squirrel.
“Yes,” replied Mother Squirrel. “Winter is coming soon.”
Little Squirrel caught a snowflake and held it in his paw. It was cold. Then suddenly it was gone. Little Squirrel looked around. But he could not find it. “Where did it go?” he cried.
“It melted,” said his mother. “But don’t worry, there will be more snowflakes soon.”
Just then snow began to tumble out of the sky. “Hurry!” urged Mother Squirrel. “We must finish storing seeds and nuts for later.”
Little Squirrel ran after his mother. At first he had helped her store seeds and nuts in the burrow, but now he wanted to hide some outdoors. Little Squirrel found an acorn and took it to the gooseberry bush. He dug a deep hole, put the acorn in it, and filled the hole with dirt. He patted the dirt with his paw to smooth it.
Then Little Squirrel found a hazelnut that he buried next to the wild strawberry patch. Little Squirrel buried some maple seeds under the dogwood tree and a small ear of corn near the fence post. Last of all Little Squirrel found two walnuts. He loved to eat walnuts, so he ate one. Then he scampered to the bank of a rushing brook and buried the other walnut.
When Little Squirrel had finished, he found his mother. The wind began to howl and Little Squirrel shivered.
“Time to go inside,” said Mother Squirrel. They scampered into their underground burrow where it was warm and snug and safe from the howling wind. Mother Squirrel wrapped her tail around herself, and Little Squirrel wrapped up in his tail too. Then they went to sleep.
Days, weeks, and months went by. Soon the air became warmer and the sun melted the snow. The sap flowed from the trees, and birds began to sing. Both squirrels began to stir in their burrow. It was spring at last. Little Squirrel and his mother sniffed the clean, fresh air.
“I’m hungry,” said Little Squirrel.
“Me too,” said Mother Squirrel. “Let’s eat some of our stored seeds.”
Little Squirrel shook his head. He wanted to go find the seeds and nuts he had hidden outdoors. First he ran to the gooseberry bush, where he dug several holes. He looked all around, but he could not find his acorn. In its place was a tiny plant. Where did that come from? he wondered. It wasn’t there before.
Then Little Squirrel ran to the strawberry patch. The strawberry plants were in bloom, and there was a strange new plant growing among them. It was growing right where Little Squirrel had buried his hazelnut.
Next Little Squirrel ran to the dogwood tree, but he could not find the maple seeds. He did notice some tiny new plants. Little Squirrel was getting hungrier, so he ran to the fence post. All he could find there were some bright green shoots. Finally Little Squirrel ran to the bank of the brook to look for his walnut, but it was not there.
Little Squirrel went back to the burrow. “Oh, Mother,” he cried, “I can’t find any of my seeds. And I buried them so carefully.”
“Are you sure?” asked his mother with a smile.
“Yes,” said Little Squirrel. “I’ll show you.” So Little Squirrel took his mother to the gooseberry bush, the strawberry patch, the dogwood tree, the fence post, and back to the brook. “See,” he said.
Mother Squirrel smiled again and said, “You have been a good gardener without even knowing it. The seeds you buried in the earth have sprouted and will grow bigger and bigger. Someday they will make many more seeds for you to eat.”
“But I don’t want to wait for these seeds to grow. I’m hungry right now!” complained Little Squirrel.
“Yes, I know,” said Mother Squirrel patiently. “Come with me. I have found some good wild lettuce. Then I will help you find some other seeds while you wait for yours to grow.”