It was a fine fall day with the sun bright and the air crisp. Bear Cub was happy as he walked through the golden woods.
“Ho, Bear Cub!” cried a small voice.
Bear Cub looked down. He saw Chipmunk carrying a large pile of seeds and nuts. “Do you need help, Chipmunk?”
“Yes, thank you.” Chipmunk divided the pile in two. “I’m taking food to my home to store for the winter. It will be coming soon.”
“Winter is coming?” asked Bear Cub. “I’ve never lived through a winter. What will it be like, Chipmunk?”
“Winter? Why winter will be …” Chipmunk stopped walking and tapped his foot as he thought. “Winter will be … Hmmmm …” Chipmunk started walking again. “Come to think of it, I spend winter underground, so I don’t know too much about it.”
They stopped beside a stone wall where there was a small hole in the ground at its base. Chipmunk ran into the hole with his load of seeds and nuts, then popped out again. “Thanks for helping, Bear Cub. About winter—I hear that it gets mighty cold and that food is hard to find.” Chipmunk took the pile of food from Bear Cub and popped into the hole again.
Bear Cub saw a bird pulling up a worm. “Hello, Robin. Do you know what winter will be like?”
Robin swallowed the worm. “I don’t stay here for the winter, Bear Cub. I fly south where the weather is warm and where food is plentiful.” Robin grabbed another worm and ate it. “I can’t stay to chat, Bear Cub. I must eat lots of worms before I fly south.”
Bear Cub heard a digging sound. He followed the noise to a small hole in the ground. “Hello!” Bear Cub yelled down the hole.
A brown head with a long nose popped up. “Yo, Bear Cub! Did you come to watch me dig?”
“Is this a new tunnel, Mole?”
“Yes, Bear Cub. It’s a deeper tunnel. With winter coming, I must go deeper to keep warm.” Then Mole popped back into his tunnel.
“What will winter be like, Mole?” Bear Cub called down the tunnel.
Mole popped his head out again. “Winter will be cold.”
“And will food be hard to find?” asked Bear Cub.
“No, there’s plenty of food. I get all the worms and insects I need in my tunnel. I have to get back to digging now. Why don’t you talk to Beaver? He can tell you more about winter.”
Bear Cub found Beaver cutting up a tree limb with his sharp teeth. “What will winter be like, Beaver? I’ve heard that it’s cold and that food is hard to find.”
“Not for me,” said Beaver. “I stay warm in my lodge during the winter, and I eat the sticks that I’ve gathered and stored there.” Beaver cut another limb to size. “I don’t see that much of winter, Bear Cub. You should ask Deer. She stays above ground all winter long.”
When Bear Cub asked Deer about winter, her soft brown eyes became sad.
“Winter is short, gray days when snow covers the grass and leaves. Winter is long, dark nights huddled against the wind. Winter is always looking for food and shelter.”
Now Bear Cub was worried. What would he eat in winter? He didn’t have a tunnel in which to store his food. How would he stay warm in winter? He didn’t have a beaver lodge to keep out the cold. He couldn’t fly away like Robin. Would he be like Deer, without food or shelter? He had to find his mother. She would know what to do.
When Bear Cub asked Mama Bear about winter, she wrapped her arms around him. “Don’t worry about winter,” she said. “We will eat so much food that we will not get hungry. We will spend winter in a cave. We will be warm because our fur will be thick. We will sleep through most of the long, dark nights and the short, gray days. And when we wake up, it will be spring!”
Bear Cub was no longer afraid. He looked forward to spending the winter snuggled against Mama Bear. “Now I know what winter will be like, Mama,” said Bear Cub. “Winter will be wonderful!”