Melina Gunnett

December 27, 2011

Storybook Forest

Filed under: Stories — Tags: , , , , , — Melina Gunnett @ 3:40 PM

As many of you already know, Alice Washburn (Badger) passed away yesterday. This loss has will be felt by many of us, not just now but in the years to come, because there is now one less smile, one less hug, one less song, in the world.  This story is for you Badger.

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Storybook Forest

Storybook Forest is one of my favorite places to visit. It is filled with trees that, one day, will become books. If you know how, you can sit for hours reading their stories in the patterns of their bark.

It is a wonderful place to explore and, like all fantastical forests, it too has a famous denizen. The Hundred Acre Woods has Pooh, Tyto has Soren and Storybook … Well Storybook has Badger.

I remember the first time I found my way into Storybook. I couldn’t have been much more than a scraggly little kitten back then. I had been wandering for hours, and thought myself lost for good, when a fuzzy striped face peeked out of one of the trees and said hello. I must have jumped three feet straight up!

“What you doing?” It asked.

I was so surprised I answered. “Trying to find my way out of the woods.”

“Now why would you want to do that?”

“Because I’m lost.”

The fluffy ball of fur bounced down from the branch it had been sitting on. “Well, now you have been found. Hi, I’m Badger.”

And that’s how we met.

Rather than show me my out of the woods, Badger helped me find my way through them. I couldn’t of had a better guide. She knew every story on every tree and taught me how to read them. She also knew ever creature that called Storybook it’s home, from the lone wolf to the wise owl, and she was friends with all of them. She was so gregarious even Old Man Crow got on with her, and he didn’t like anyone.

Their’s was a strange friendship. They were opposites in almost every way. Old Man Crow was a nasty old bird. He never had a good thing to say about anyone. While Badger loved everyone and you couldn’t have met a nicer critter.

Why once, when we were out walking, a couple of young squirrels started to throw nuts at us. One hit her square on the nose BOP! Had it been me, the fur would have flown.

But Badger, being Badger, just apologized for being in the way and ask them if they needed any help. Actually, now that I think about it,we did end up helping them pick up the nuts. Then they escorted us around the forest for the rest of the day, playing guard to make sure no one messed with their Badger.

Anyway, Old Man Crow usually wouldn’t let anyone near his tree. It’s a shame really. While he may have been odious, his tree was beautiful. He collected baubles from all over. Every place you looked something twinkled or gleamed. While I wasn’t around back then, I suspect that was what first attracted Badger to the tree. She loved anything shiny.

Normally Old Man Crow would squawk and chase away anyone crazy enough to get close. He afraid that someone was going to steal one of his baubles. You have never met a more suspicious bird. Badger hardly even seemed to notice. She would just give him one of her innocent looks and ask him about whatever bauble had caught her attention. Even he couldn’t look into those big Badger eyes and believe she meant any harm. He would always end up giving in and telling her the story.

Badger seemed to have that effect on everyone. Every time I visited the forest I would find her surrounded with by friends. Often it would turn into a party. Badger loved parties, because they combined all her favorite things: yummy food, wonderful critters, fun stories and song. Badger loved to sing.

Okay, maybe none of us actually knew the words that were supposed to go with the songs. But that never stopped us. We were surrounded by an entire forest of words, so we just used them. We would sing about dragons and pirates and knights and fairies and when ever you followed the music, there you would find Badger.

Making up songs became a very popular past time. You could hardly pass a stump without hearing music. Then one it suddenly stopped.

I found the forest engulfed in an eerie silence. No one wanted to talk or play. Everyone I saw just looked sad. Finally I went to Badger’s burrow to find out what was wrong.

Her door stood open and the roof was caved in.

That was when I finally understood. The great Huntsman had come and taken Badger away.

Then I too fell under the spell of that strange silence which had overtaken the forest. I wandered aimlessly through the forest for a while, unsure where to go. Badger had always been there to guide me. I would stop occasionally at one of the trees, reading a snip-its from the story in its bark the way she had taught me. Then I would move on again in silence.

I finally ended up beneath her favorite tree. It was the same one she had been reading when we met. As I read the story in its bark I remembered the tune she had made up to go with it. Without even realizing it, I began to sing. Before long other voices joined me.

Slowly music began to take over the forest, bringing everyone together. People started to tell their own stories of Badger and all the wonderful things she had done. Food began to appear – Chocolate and Ice Cream and Ginger Ale – all her favorites. Before long it was a party. All of her forest friends gathered to give each other a small portion of the love she had given to them.

Badger would have loved it. She always loved a good party.

Rest in Peace Badger – You will be missed by all of us.

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