The Squirrels, the Sharks, and the Happy Ever After, Part I

When my sister was little, I had to spend a lot of time telling her fairy-tales to put her to sleep. When she was four, I was ten and a passionate reader of fairy-tales from around the world, so I had many stories to tell. However, my sister preferred the story I had invented on my own. The story was about squirrels who lived in a tree-trunk and had everything they could ever need. That’s it. That was the extent of the story. Squirrels living happily in a tree-trunk. I went on for hours, describing all the wonderful food the squirrels had hidden in their tree trunk, the super comfortable beds they had, and how they were never, cold, hungry, or in any danger.

I once tried introducing ferrets into the story as the squirrels’ enemies who tried to hunt them*. This didn’t go over very well with my sister who didn’t want to hear about anything even remotely bad happening to the squirrels. So I had to turn the squirrels and the ferrets into best friends. Then the ferrets got a comfortable, well-stocked tree-trunk of their own, and the story had now two groups of very happy animals.

In summer, we usually went to the country-side to visit my aunt Vera. She had two young kids of her own and they, in turn, had many friends between the ages of 3 and 8. One day, my sister gathered them all in a circle and announced,

“Clarissa knows this really great story about squirrels and she’ll tell it to us right now!”

I was a little unnerved, given that there wasn’t really a story. Or rather, the point of the story was that nothing ever happened to the squirrels.

“Wouldn’t you rather hear about Hodja Nasreddin? Or Cat in the Boots?” I asked. But my sister was determined her friends should hear about the squirrels.

For forty minutes I expatiated on the happiness of the squirrels and their friends, the ferrets. The kids were mesmerized.

“Wow,” said the eldest of them, an 8-year-old boy. “That’s the best story ever. Can you tell it again tomorrow?”

* I know nothing about the animal life, so I have no idea what the real relationship between the squirrels and the ferrets is.

7 thoughts on “The Squirrels, the Sharks, and the Happy Ever After, Part I”

  1. Wow, now I kind of want to hear this exciting story too. 🙂
    Will you ever put a photo how you looked like then?

    Some adults think childhood is this carefree age, but I guess even children from happy families have their pressures, stresses, partly from having to learn a lot about the world. So your story was liked so much due to providing reassurance of possible happy life in a friendly world. And because of you being a good storyteller, of course.


  2. I still like stories like that. Very few people understand this. I think this craving is partly why I started reading blogs instead of novels. It’s true that some bloggers have terrible things happen to them, but mostly we just tick along with ordinary lives that are fairly pleasant. Back to your story, I think the tree trunk is a particularly attractive feature; kids almost always like stories of unusual houses, especially small or somehow unnoticeable houses.


  3. Well, once upon a time at a Ukrainian Catholic church rummage sale, I came across a few kidlit titles in Russian that are part of a series called “Malysh.” This one contains three stories, the first of which is starts out with a fox threatening a family of squirrels living in a tree, and somehow ends up being carried across the water by a heron, only to find her way back walking on the heads of seals. Or so it seems.


      1. Your “conflict free” variety of storytelling reminds me of this episode of Arthur, in which Fern writes stories in which nothing bad happens; later learning the importance of conflict, danger, itd. Not that I’m into Arthur, but Arthur is on right after yoga…


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