The Squirrel and the Apple
Out amongst an orchard full of bountiful trees there lived a busy little
squirrel. He had many friends in the orchard but most of all he loved
the many fruits, vegetables, and nuts that grew there. Of all these, his
dearest friend in all creation was a new green apple which grew high atop
the most gorgeous apple tree that anyone ever laid eyes upon. They had
met when he was just a blossom, and even then they could feel their extraordinary
bond. For hours on end the little squirrel and his best friend would sit
on the branches and talk about everything of wonder. ____
They longed for a day when the apple would be fully ripe and they could
set out on a journey together, but for the time being, all they could
do was dream; and dream they did!
____ While the apple hung from the branch
high above the orchard he loved to watch the squirrel make his rounds.
He delighted at each of the squirrel's encounters and longed for the ability
to run and climb like his friend, but he did not share these feelings
with his four-legged comrade for fear of sounding envious. He also withheld
his frustrations out of a deep love for the squirrel, for the last thing
he wanted to do was burden this fanciful creature with the shackles he
knew he must maintain. He realized that to sever the stem that chained
him to the tree before he was ripe would mean an early and unproductive
end to his life, so he accepted his vicarious position as the squirrel's
personal cheerleader knowing he might never fully be a part of his merry
____ As days passed, the apple's green skin
turned to red, and he knew his time of freedom was nearing. Excitedly,
the squirrel announced his plan. On his next trip to the forest he would
take along his best friend on what would be the apple's inaugural voyage.
____ When the opportunity for travel presented
itself, the squirrel made his plans. Since the apple couldn't walk or
run, he had built a special cart on which he would pull his special friend.
He set out on his way to the gorgeous apple tree. Along the way he met
his friend the frog who asked if he could come along. Hopping along, side
by side, the twosome made their way to the apple's tree. Passing under
a large pecan tree they heard tiny voices calling out. The pecans on the
ground were envious of the squirrel's invention for they knew it meant
that even they could journey to the forest. Realizing his invention could
be their dream come true, the generous squirrel couldn't bear to pass
them by, so he lifted them up and placed them into the cart. As they passed
under the old oak tree a similar thought was cast and the cart now held
acorns as well. As the journey continued, the cart became full of leaves,
twigs, nuts, and berries and the squirrel felt great joy at giving so
many friends such a marvelous ride.
____ At last they neared the apple tree and
the squirrel's best friend watched as they approached. At first he felt
a bit ill at ease, for the squirrel had said nothing about traveling companions,
but his discomfort did not last as he recalled why he loved the squirrel
as he did. It was the very attitude of giving selflessly that endeared
him to his friend, so he knew he could not be angry at such a noble and
____ Arriving at the tree the squirrel began
to climb, but the apple called and stopped him, telling him that the cart
appeared to be full and that there was no room for him to ride. He offered
to wait for the next trip. The squirrel apologized for his oversight but
the sentiment was unnecessary, for the apple understood and was happy
that the grounded creatures could experience such joy. He knew in his
heart that his day would come; besides, the tree, which held him tightly,
was still sustaining him. He knew the other's days were indeed numbered,
so he graciously put his own desires on hold.
____ A week later the squirrel came upon
another opportunity to take his cart to the forest. He notified the apple
by way of a bluebird and set out on his way. About halfway to the apple
tree he reached the edge of the fruit tree section of the magnificent
orchard. A pear that had recently fallen from his tree called out to him.
He had heard about the cart from an acorn friend and wished to join in
the fun. With a heart as big as a mountain, the squirrel consented. By
the time they reached the apple tree, the cart carried a plum, two pears,
and a peach. The squirrel called up to the apple, apologizing because
it had happened yet again. The apple sent down a little laugh and sent
them on their way, happy for all of them as the experience had allowed
still more dreams to be fulfilled.
____ On the next journey, the squirrel reached
the apple tree with a peach, three plumbs, and a pear. Again the apple
understood and sent them away. The next trip carried plums exclusively,
and then came a trip with only pears. The squirrel was elated. He felt
like such a noble creature for bringing such joy to the orchard. Everywhere
he turned he heard others sing his praises. He felt the greatest joy when
he thought about his best friend, his personal cheerleader cheering him
on from atop the tree. He knew the special apple would be so proud.
____ Eventually the trips never even made
it to the apple tree as the cart filled so very rapidly, but he knew all
the while his apple friend would understand. Besides, he was saving the
best trip for him, and oh would it be such a joy! All the while the apple
watched the activity, smiling through his loneliness at the joy he witnessed.
____ When all the fruits on the ground had
made their trips, the squirrel ventured over to the vegetable garden,
sending a message to the apple via mockingbird, informing his friend of
the delay. There simply wasn't time to make it over to the apple tree
and back in time for the first vegetable run, and it took so many trips,
for only two or three tomatoes could fit on the cart at one time.
____ After many days of non-stop pulling,
every object on the orchard's ground had made a trip to the forest. The
little squirrel was exhausted but he felt poignant warmth inside. He was
extremely proud of himself, for he knew of no other creature that would
go to such lengths to see that everyone was happy. His joy was doubled
by the thought of having a friend so special that would share his pride,
cheering him on selflessly as he patiently waited his turn. Even though
he had not seen or heard from his friend in weeks, that loving spirit
never left his heart.
____ The squirrel had worked so very hard,
and now he was entirely worn out, but he believed he could muster just
enough energy to give his patient friend that promised trip. Arriving
at the tree he called to the apple, yet the voice that returned sounded
much more resonant and full than he had remembered. Throughout the squirrel's
many days of service, the apple did indeed wait patiently, but he did
not rest idly on his stem. While the squirrel's journey went on and on,
he pictured his little friend as he remembered him, but time had passed
and the little apple continued to grow, and grow, and grow. Now the beautifully
mature apple was five times the size it had been at their last meeting
and the squirrel's special cart was entirely too small.
____ Crushed by the weight of his own insensitivity,
the squirrel rushed off to build a bigger cart, wondering how he could
have been so thoughtless. It took him days to gather enough material and
a week to complete the task, but at last the cart was complete, and it
was truly a special creation. He knew now that he had an opportunity to
make up for the time he'd been away, for this cart was a glorious gift,
and he promised it would be used only to carry his precious friend.
____ When he reached the tree he stopped
in his tracks as he noticed the unforgettable sight of tire tracks under
the tree. Harvest time had come and the harvest was complete. The apple
tree was bare.
____ A week later the squirrel was speaking
with a pigeon that had been the apple's mutual friend. He had just come
from the county fair, and it seemed the apple's patience and compassion
had paid off, for the bird had seen the apple on a table surrounded by
people and laced in a blue ribbon. The squirrel was happy for his friend's
achievement, but he also felt a bit of pain for having returned too late
to deliver his promise. The pain turned to anguish as the pigeon finished
the story. The apple had won the contest on the merits of his size, firmness,
and outward beauty. This rare beauty became miraculous to the onlookers
as the judges cut the apple open. Though the apple had appeared strong
and perfect on the outside, cutting into the heart revealed that the core
had disintegrated into a thousand tiny pieces.
© 1993 - Paul Stephens