THE FLYING SQUIRREL

written by PATRICIA PACKARD REED
copyright Patricia Packard Reed
artwork by ESTHER TAYLOR

Summer in Milkweed, Maine, is a lovely time of year. Soft winds blow through the treetops, the sun shines almost every day and the air smells of flowers and pine needles. Once in a while, a thunderstorm flashes and rumbles through the town and countryside and, occasionally, a small shower sprinkles both flowers and animals. Life is slow and easy in Milkweed. Just the way life should be.

Most afternoons after a large lunch of acorn stew and two slices of toast smeared with peanut butter, Squi Squirrel settles in for a nice nap in his nest at the top of the oak tree shading the home of Emily Susan Mouse. He turns round and round until he becomes a ball. Then he plops down, curls his tail around his head and falls fast asleep. Sometimes he dreams of a great adventure, but very often he dreams of the pies and cookies and muffins that come out of the oven in the kitchen of the little mouse lady, his closest neighbor and dear friend. When Squi dreams of adventures, he wakes up scared because something was chasing him. But, when he dreams of food, well, then he wakes up hungry and peers over the edge of his nest to see if Emily Susan is down below in her kitchen. Squi knows she is happy to share her baked goodies with him and he is always delighted to eat them.

This particular afternoon, Squi didn’t dream of adventures or food. He was so tired he didn’t dream at all. He just slept. When he awoke he was full of energy. He wanted to do something. He wanted to have some fun. Squi stood up and stretched.  He fluffed his bushy tail and hopped over the edge of his nest. As he scampered down the tree trunk, he saw his friend Freemont Goat.

“Hey, Freemont,” he called. “How have you been? I haven’t seen you for a long time.”

“Hi, Squi,” came the reply. “I’ve been around but I’m pretty busy. It’s gardening time you know. I have a big garden this year and it takes a lot of work to keep the weeds out.”

The squirrel nodded his head in agreement. He knew all about gardens. Emily Susan Mouse had a flower garden that she had to weed every day.  Squi liked flowers as much as anyone, but he didn’t like to weed. He’d rather play or sleep or eat, especially eat.

Just then a loud screech came from high in the sky. Looking up, the goat and the squirrel saw Elliot the local eagle soaring way above them.

“Oh my,” sighed Squi. “It must be wonderful to be able to fly. I wish I could fly. Don’t you, Freemont?”

The goat looked at him. “I can honestly say the flying bug has never bitten me, Squi. I’m quite happy with all four of my feet on the ground. I’ve never heard of a flying goat. Not ever. But, he added, “There are flying squirrels.”

Squi stared at Freemont in disbelief. A flying squirrel?! No way!

Freemont could see Squi didn’t believe him. “Really, there are. I’ve read about them.”

“Sure, a flying squirrel. Freemont, you’re teasing me. Squirrels can’t fly.  None of us can. We can run fast and jump great distances, but we do not fly.  It’s just not possible.”

Freemont felt frustrated. He was telling the truth and his friend didn’t believe him. “Yes, there are,” he said loudly. “I’ve read about them. They don’t have wings the way birds do but they can still fly.”

Squi began to laugh. “You show me a flying squirrel Freemont and then I’ll believe you. I still think you’re telling me one big story.”

Freemont lowered his head and thought about butting Squi onto his backside, but he knew that wouldn’t be very nice. It would hurt his friend’s feelings. Instead, he cocked his head and asked, “How about I prove it to you? Will you come to the library with me?”

“Sure,” answered the squirrel. “I’d be happy to follow you just to see how you pull this joke off.”

“It’s not a joke!” yelled the angry goat. “Let’s go to the library and you’ll see I’m not making it up.”

Squi was confused. Why did they need to go to the library? Surely Freemont didn’t think they’d find any flying squirrels between the rows of books. But he’d said he’d go so go he would. He’d wait and see what Freemont had up his sleeve.

The library was cool and quiet as most libraries are. The only sounds to be heard were the hum of the ceiling fans and the swish of pages in books being turned by readers.

“What are we looking for?” asked Squi. “Where do we start to look?”

“Shhh!” warned Freemont. “We have to whisper in here. If we make any noise, they’ll make us leave and then you’ll never see I’m right.”

Slowly the two walked up first one aisle of books and down another. The library certainly had a lot of books. Squi thought he should come back another day and see what he could find. Maybe a cookbook of peanut recipes would come in handy.

“There!” exclaimed the goat. “I found it!”

“Shhh!” hissed a beaver intently browsing through a pile of books about home building.

The two friends found a small table with empty chairs and sat down, side by side. Freemont turned the pages until he came to the section he was searching for.

“Flying squirrels.” read Squi to himself. Golly maybe there really were such things! He hoped there was because he really, really, really wanted to see one if one existed.

Slowly Squi read about flying squirrels and the more he read, the more excited he became. There were flying squirrels after all and there were even pictures of them. His mouth dropped open in amazement as he stared and stared at the pages. These squirrels kind of looked like him and yet they didn’t. There was something a bit different about them. True, they didn’t have wings, but when they jumped off the tree, their legs were not like any squirrel legs he had ever seen.

For several minutes the goat and the squirrel read every word about flying squirrels. When they had finished, they looked at each other and then jumped up to find more books about the subject.

Three books later and they had read all the Milkweed Public Library had about flying squirrels.

“I’m sorry I doubted you, Freemont,” apologized Squi. “You were right after all and I’m glad you were. It was very interesting to learn something I didn’t know. I should come to the library more often.”

The goat nodded wisely. “This is one of my favorite places to spend a summer afternoon but it’s almost closing time, so we’d better leave. I wouldn’t want to get locked in all night. That happened to Budgie Badger once and he told me he spent the entire night hiding from all the ghosts who live here. He said they only come out after dark. Around midnight, I think he said.”

“Budgie is afraid of his own shadow,” laughed Squi. “He’s mostly mean but the silliest things scare him. He dreads Halloween all year long.”

Laughing, the two friends left the library and headed home. It was still very warm out and Squi, as usual, was beginning to get hungry.

“You know, Freemont, you were right and I was wrong so how about I buy you an ice cream cone before we go home. Aren’t you hungry? I sure am!”

“Now that you mention it, I am rather empty. Lunch was a long time ago and that bucket of salad didn’t fill my stomach. Yes, thank you Squi, I’d love an ice cream cone.”

At the corner drug store Squi and Freemont went up to the soda fountain and looked at the list of ice cream flavors. A few minutes later Squi was happily lapping away at a chocolate peanut butter ice cream cone and his friend was trying to keep his strawberry treat from melting all over his chin whiskers.

“Boy, this hits the spot on a hot summer day.” Freemont’s tongue was very busy.

“Ice cream is one of my very favorite foods,” Squi agreed. “Of course, it can’t beat one of Emily Susan’s baked goodies. Nothing can match those but this is pretty tasty just the same.”

The friends walked along quietly and just before they came to the fork in the road and had to part company, Squi looked at Freemont. “You know, I bet I could fly if I really tried. There’s got to be a way I can do it. If those other squirrels can, why can’t I?”

“Because,” answered the goat as he swallowed the last bite of his ice cream cone, “because you’re the wrong kind of squirrel, Squi. You’re not a flying squirrel.”

Squi shook his head. “I know I’m not but maybe I could be if I tried hard enough.”

Freemont began to worry. “I don’t think so. I think it could be very dangerous. You better forget the whole thing. I don’t want anything to happen to you.”

“I’ll be fine,” promised Squi. “I’ll be careful. You know me, Freemont. I’m always careful. Really, I’ll be okay.” And with that, the goat went one way and the squirrel went the other way each waving goodbye as they headed home.

That night Squi had trouble falling asleep. Every time he closed his eyes he saw the flying squirrels on the pages of the library books. Every time he tried counting sheep he ended up counting flying squirrels instead. Finally, he gave up and went to sit on the tallest limb of his tree. He sat and sat and thought and thought. How could he learn to fly?

The next morning Emily Susan Mouse and Solomon Skunk were sitting on her front porch enjoying a breakfast of blueberry pancakes and juice.

“I do believe, Emily Susan, it’s going to be another scorcher today. That’s a whole week of hot days. I’m ready for a cool spell.” Solomon wiped a paw across his face. Hot weather was hard on the elderly skunk.

The mouse lady nodded in agreement. “Millie Moose told me the ice cream parlor has been extra busy. Everyone wants to cool off with an ice cream cone or some other icy treat. The most popular flavor this month is strawberry because the ice cream lady puts fresh berries right from our own berry meadow into her ice cream. Millie said Squi and Freemont each had a big cone when she saw them yesterday. She couldn’t see what kind Squi had but she is sure Freemont had strawberry.”

Solomon snorted. “That Squi! I’ve never seen an animal that likes to eat as much as he does. He’d rather eat than do anything else.”

Emily Susan laughed. “You have a point, Solomon. But don’t forget how fond Squi is of naps. He never misses one in the afternoon.”

Just as Emily Susan said that they heard a loud yell and a thump. Startled, the mouse lady and the skunk leaped to their feet and rushed to the porch railing. There, smack dab in the middle of Emily Susan’s prize-winning pink rose bush, was Squi.

“What on earth are you doing in my rose bush, Squi?” asked the startled mouse. “How did you get there?”

Before Squi could answer, Solomon spoke up. “Looks to me like he didn’t look where he was going and he fell out of the tree. Squirrels do that sometimes. Still, I must admit Squi is usually pretty careful.”

“I didn’t fall out of the tree,” blurted the winded Squi. “I flew out of the tree.  Well, I sort of flew out of it.”

“Flew!” exclaimed Solomon Skunk. “You can’t fly, Squi. You don’t have wings and you need wings to fly.”

“And feathers,” added Emily Susan. “You don’t have those either. So why did you think you could fly?”

With great effort Squi managed to pull free of the rose bush. Limping, he hobbled onto the porch and sat at the table.

“Pancakes!” he exclaimed when he spotted a plate with several pancakes on it. “May I please have one, Emily Susan? Flying takes a lot of energy and I’m suddenly very hungry.” The pancakes looked delicious.

“Of course you may. Help yourself and have some juice to go with it.” Emily Susan poured a glass and handed it to her friend. “And while you eat, please tell us why you think you can fly. Solomon and I are most interested in how you came to this conclusion.”

After several bites of pancake, Squi was ready to talk. “It all began yesterday,” he explained. “I saw Elliot Eagle flying and I told Freemont Goat how much I wish I could fly, but squirrels don’t fly. He said some squirrels do but I didn’t believe him. So, he took me to the library and showed me some books about flying squirrels. They all looked just like me except for their legs. Those squirrels had extra, loose skin between their legs. When they flew, they looked a bit like a kite.”

Solomon grunted in disbelief. “I’ve read a lot of books and I’ve never read one like that. And how can a squirrel look like a kite? Are you teasing us, Squi?”

“No, Solomon. I thought the same thing when Freemont told me about it.  But it’s true. I swear it is. I can show you the books if you like.”

Solomon could see his friend was serious and not just making up a story. “If you say so, Squi, I believe you. But it still sounds odd to me.”

Squi told his friends all about what he’d read and how it had made him very curious, so curious he’d decided to try it himself. While Emily Susan and Solomon had been eating breakfast, Squi had been up in his nest trying to decide which branch to fly off. After examining all the choices, he selected the fattest limb about halfway up the tall tree. He was a little bit afraid to leap from the top of the tree on his very first flight. The oak tree was especially tall and, if he made a mistake, it was a long way down. The limb he chose looked just about right and there were bushes under it, just in case.  The trouble was Squi, who in his excitement, had forgotten the bushes down below were rose bushes. And those rose bushes, like most rosebushes, had lots of prickly thorns.

The plan had been to leap off the branch and soar through the air, landing on the soft cushion in the chair between Emily Susan and Solomon. How surprised they would be to see him! What a wonderful ride he would have.  If only Freemont Goat could be here to see him flying just like those squirrels in the library books.

Things had not gone exactly as Squi had planned. He did leap off the branch and he did soar but not into the soft chair. Straight down he dropped right into the prickly rose bush. Whump!

Yes, Emily Susan and Solomon had been very surprised and so had Freemont Goat who just happened to be coming up the path. Freemont had seen Squi plunge into the rosebush and had rushed over to see if he could be of help. Now all four were sitting on Emily Susan’s porch.

Squi wasn’t hurt and he did feel a bit foolish but not so foolish he was ready or willing to give up his dream of flying.

“You know,” he said thoughtfully. “Maybe I should start on a lower branch, or a higher one. I think I chose the wrong place to launch.”

“No!” declared Freemont loudly. “No, Squi! You didn’t listen to me yesterday when I told you not to try to fly and just what would happen if you did. You are not a flying squirrel. You could have been killed or badly hurt.  You were lucky to land on Emily Susan’s rosebush.”

“Lucky, Freemont? Look at all these thorns sticking out of my fur. There’s even one on my nose.” Carefully Squi plucked the sharp thorn from the tip of his nose. “I suppose you are right. I could have broken a leg or two. I’ll have to be more careful next time.”

“Next time?” squeaked Emily Susan in alarm. “Squi, there cannot be a next time. It’s too dangerous. We don’t want anything to happen to you. Leave flying to the birds. Please!”

“You don’t understand. None of you understand. Ever since I was a baby squirrel I’ve dreamed of flying. My home is a nest in a tree just like Bonnie Blue and her blue-jay family or Halia and Bailey Boo Whoot, the owl sisters. Every day I run up and down the tree and I get plenty tired. I have short legs, you know. And every day I see Bonnie Blue and the other birds just float off into the air and glide all around. Some days when the wind is right, they don’t even have to flap their wings. They just ride the air currents.  If only I could do that. There must be a way I can do fly, too. I know there is and I’m going to find it. I can’t give up my dream.”

Emily Susan nodded her head in understanding. Solomon sighed deeply and Freemont simply hung his head, thinking. All three friends knew about dreams and how important it is to have them. Still, they were worried about their friend. They didn’t want any harm to come to their favorite squirrel.

Solomon stood up. All the excitement on top of Emily Susan’s wonderful blueberry pancakes had made the old skunk feel very tired. Putting one paw on Squi’s shoulder he said, “Well, Squi, this has been quite a morning. I need a nap.” Turning to Emily Susan he added, “A most delicious breakfast as usual, my dear. I enjoyed every bite. Very kind of you to invite me.”  With a nod to Freemont, slowly Solomon made his way towards his burrow under the rose bush, yawning all the way.

Freemont finished his glass of juice and put the glass on the table. “Solomon is right, Emily Susan. Those pancakes were mighty tasty. I could use a bit of a snooze myself. Squi, you behave yourself and don’t try to be something you aren’t. We’ll figure out how to get you up in the air, one way or another. I promise and you know I always keep a promise.”

Poor Squi was feeling discouraged. His first attempt at flying had ended up in a rose bush. He had to admit it. He hadn’t soared out of the tree or even glided off the branch. He had fallen, just like a furry rock, right into Emily Susan’s delicate pink rose bush. Looking sadly at the bush, Squi noticed several of the blossoms were crushed and their stems broken off. What a mess he’d made of things and all because he wanted to fly.

“I’m so sorry about your pink roses, Emily Susan. I’m afraid I’ve crushed quite a few of them. Truly, I didn’t think I’d fall into your bush and it’s such a lovely bush, too.”

Emily Susan put her paw on her friend’s shoulder. “It was an accident, Squi.  They do happen even here in Milkweed. I know you’re sorry but the important thing is you didn’t get hurt. You could have been as broken as the flowers. Let’s bring the rose blossoms inside and I’ll put them in a vase. We can enjoy them that way for a few days.”

Squi was grateful that his friend was so forgiving and more concerned for his safety than the loss of her roses. Why she’d even found a way to enjoy them. What a wonderful little mouse, Emily Susan was.

There was one last blueberry pancake on the plate and Squi eyed it hopefully. Now that he was feeling a bit better his appetite was feeling better, too.

Emily Susan held the plate out to Squi. “I think you’d better finish this lonely pancake. After your adventure this morning you need extra energy.”

Happily, Squi munched the pancake and began to wonder what he could do next to get himself wings. He’d have to be more careful, but he couldn’t, he wouldn’t give up his dream. Not after just one attempt. There had to be a way he could fly and he was determined to find it.

For three days things were quiet around the neighborhood. The heat kept most of the animals in their homes or rocking on front porches. Nobody had much energy. Even Budgie and Bennison, the badger cousins, hadn’t been seen which made everyone happy. Nobody was in the mood to deal with those two scoundrels.

A few days later the heat wave ended. Milkweed was once more a busy little town enjoying summer. Children went swimming and families ate picnic lunches in the park. Everyone was happy. Everyone except Squi.

You see, the little squirrel still dreamed of being a flying squirrel. He was confident he could do it if only he could figure out how. After his first disastrous tumble out of his tree and his crash into Emily Susan’s prized pink rose bush, Squi was a bit nervous about attempting it again. What if he fell on the ground and broke a leg? Squi desperately wanted to fly but he also wanted to be safe. There just had to be a way and, by gosh, he was going to find it.

Emily Susan Mouse had been thinking about it, too. She knew her friend wouldn’t give up his dream easily. After all, dreams are very important. However, the mouse lady wanted her dear friend to be accident free if he was going to fly. For the next few days, Emily Susan tried to come up with a solution. Then, one morning she had an idea.

High over her house Elliot Eagle was circling round and round looking for his breakfast. Riding the wind currents, he floated effortlessly. Watching him dip and glide Emily Susan could understand why Squi was so eager to fly himself. It did look exciting and a little bit scary especially if you are a small mouse who is afraid of heights. Taking her red bonnet off her head, she waved it as high in the air as she could reach. She was confident that Elliot with his sharp eyes would notice it and come to see what she wanted. Sure enough, after a few moments, the large bird flew down and landed right on Emily Susan’s thinking stone in her garden.

“Is something wrong, Emily Susan?” he asked. “I saw you waving your bonnet and I thought you might be in trouble and need my help. Especially since it’s a red bonnet. Is there something I can do for you?” Like everyone else in Milkweed, Elliot Eagle was very fond of the little mouse lady.

Putting her bonnet back on her head, Emily Susan hopped up beside the eagle. “Oh, Elliot,” she said. “I’m so glad you saw me. Yes, I was trying to get your attention. There is something I need to discuss with you. And she told the bird all about Squi’s dream of flying and how he’d tried once only to end up in her pink rose bush with thorns stuck in his nose and all over his tail. She explained how worried she was because she knew Squi would keep trying to fly and could possibly hurt himself. How, she asked, could Squi fly safely?

The large bird squinted his eyes and looked up into the sky. Of course Squi wanted to fly. He’d never met a creature that didn’t want to try it at least once just to see what it was like. Even Beverly Bear had confessed one day that she wished she had wings so she could glide through the clouds like he did. Elliot had laughed silently to himself at the idea of a full-grown black bear with wings, but he had listened politely and promised to tell her if he ever found a way she could explore the sky the way he did.

Beverly was most definitely too large and heavy for Elliot Eagle to give her a ride on his back. Squi was much smaller and the eagle thought it quite possible he could give the little squirrel a ride above the town and the surrounding forest. Perhaps, if Squi hung on tightly, they could even go as far as Three Pines Lake at the edge of the big forest surrounding Milkweed. What a nice, long flight that would be. Quite an adventure for a squirrel!

Emily Susan had been waiting patiently while Elliot thought about the dilemma. “I can see from the look in your eyes that you have an idea, Elliot. Have you thought of a way Squi can make his dream come true?” she asked eagerly.

“I have, indeed, Emily Susan. Squi can sit on my shoulders. I’ll wear that red scarf you made for my birthday. It’s long enough that I can wrap it around my neck and then tie the ends around him so he won’t fall off. Squi will see everything I see and it will feel as if he’s flying himself. My feathers will be his feathers and my wings will be his wings. I think that should make him happy, don’t you?”

“What a wonderful idea!” exclaimed Emily Susan. “Squi can soar through the air with you and still be safe. He will be thrilled. I was sure you’d know just what to do.”

Elliot was very pleased to be able to help the mouse lady. She had helped so many of the animals living in Milkweed and it felt good to be able to assist her for a change. Now all they had to do was find Squi and tell him their plan.

While the mouse and the eagle were sitting on the thinking stone in the garden, Squi was high overhead in the oak tree having his after breakfast and before lunch snooze. He was completely unaware that plans were being made right under his napping spot, plans to help him fulfill his dream of flying. Suddenly he heard his name being called loudly. Blinking his eyes, he peered over the edge of his nest and looked around. Below, in the garden, were Emily Susan Mouse and Elliot Eagle. Elliot was, in Squi’s opinion, the most majestic bird he had ever seen. He was king of all birds. He was the grand master of flying. How Squi admired him. If only he could be like Elliot.

With a sigh, Squi called down, “I’m up here, Emily Susan. Do you need something? Have you some baking for me to test taste for you?” Squi was constantly hungry and always eager and willing to try any samples the mouse lady might have from her oven.

“No baking today, Squi, but I do need to have you come down to my front porch for a few minutes, if you would, please.” Emily Susan smiled to herself. Squi was going to be so surprised.

Squi stood up and unwrapped his fluffy tail from around his head. He had been curled tightly into a ball for his nap and now he was a bit stiff. With a long yawn and a big stretch, he scampered over the edge of his nest and scurried down the tree trunk. Bouncing onto the porch railing, he saw the mouse lady and the eagle were already there waiting for him.

“Hey, Elliot!” he exclaimed. “What brings you to our neighborhood? On such a beautiful day I’d expect you to be way up in the sky riding the wind. It must be wonderful to be able to do that. I do so wish I could. There are flying squirrels, you know, only I’m not one of them.”

Elliot nodded wisely. “You may not be a flying squirrel, Squi, but that doesn’t mean you can’t fly.”

Squi blinked in surprise. “Didn’t Emily Susan tell you about my one and only flight? I wasn’t really a flight, Elliot. It was more like a flop. I threw myself off the limb of the tree and went straight down into Emily Susan’s beautiful pink rosebush. I got covered with picky thorns. It was all because I wanted to fly. Just once in my life I wanted to soar like you do, to feel the wind blow my ears back, and what did I do? I flopped.” Squi hung his head sadly.

“Don’t you even think of giving up, Squi.” Elliot told the unhappy squirrel. “I know a way you can fly if you’re up to it and if you can be brave.”

Squi couldn’t believe his ears. Elliot knew how he could fly! Of course he was up to it. Brave would be his new name. Beaming excitedly, he said, “Oh, I’m up for it. I sure am. But what is it I’m up for? How can I fly, Elliot?”

The eagle tied a long, red scarf around his neck and hopped up on the porch railing beside Squi. “This is what we’ll do, Squi. You climb onto my back and tie the ends of this scarf around your middle as tightly as you can. Can’t have you falling off once we’re up in the air. Emily Susan knit this scarf for my last birthday and it’s just the right length. Once you’re ready, grab hold of the feathers at the back of my neck. Pretend I’m a horse and you are holding reins. Don’t pull too hard on my feathers because I don’t want them to come out. They don’t grow overnight, and I need every one of them. Let me know when you are ready and we will take off. It will feel as if you have wings of your own You will be able to see everything I see when I fly.”

Squi could hardly believe his good fortune. Elliot was going to take him flying. He, Squi Squirrel, was going to soar like an eagle. This was his lucky day indeed. And it wasn’t even his birthday or Christmas.

Chattering happily, Squi climbed carefully onto Elliot’s back and fastened the red scarf tightly around his middle. When he was sure he was safely held in place, he gently took hold of the great bird’s feathers and announced he was ready for his adventure.

Squi looked at Emily Susan. He had the biggest smile on his face the mouse lady had ever seen. “Look at me, Emily Susan!” he cried happily. “I’m really going to fly. I can’t believe it!”

Elliot took a deep breath and prepared to take off. Elliot soon discovered that Squi was a bit heavier than he looked. Evidently the squirrel had made a few too many visits to the mouse lady’s kitchen for blueberry muffins and thick slices of pie. Later, the eagle would have to speak to the mouse lady and suggest more salads for the squirrel and fewer baked goodies might be a good idea.

“Here we go!” cried Elliot. Suddenly they were way up above the tops of the trees. Squi looked down and saw his nest. It looked so tiny and yet it was really a very large nest. Emily Susan’s house was small, too. He could barely see her standing on her porch waving to him.

“Is there any special place you’d like to see?” asked Elliot as he drifted on the wind.

“I want to see everything,” cried the excited Squirrel. “I want to see the river that runs outside of town and a mountain and the big lake where we go swimming. I’ve always wondered what things look like from up here.”

Elliot dipped low over the river and followed it for a few miles. Ducks and geese passing by were surprised to see an eagle with a squirrel on its back and were even more surprised when Squi waved and called out “Hellooooooo.”

As they flew over the berry fields, Beverly Bear looked up. She was so startled her mouth dropped open and she dumped her two buckets of ripe strawberries onto the ground.

At the edge of the beaver pond Millie Moose was busily munching lily pad roots.  Hearing her name called from the sky, she glanced up and saw Squi as he sailed past on the back of Elliot. Millie thought it was perhaps the most extraordinary thing she’d ever seen. Whatever was Squi doing up there? Suddenly she had a thought. If Squi, a squirrel, could fly, well, maybe she, a moose, could fly too. She’d have to think about that a bit.

Suddenly, far below, Squi spotted Freemont the goat sitting on his front porch. He was reading his latest book from the library. Freemont was always reading a book from the library.

“Oh Elliot! There’s Freemont Goat down there. Please, can we swoop down so he can see me flying? He’ll never believe it unless he sees me with his own eyes. He told me I’d never be able to fly.”

“That’s easily done,” answered the eagle as he went into a steep dive. “We’ll buzz Freemont and he’ll be sure to see you, Squi. Hold on tightly.”

Freemont was enjoying his afternoon of reading. His book was an adventure story and Freemont, who lived a rather quiet life, loved nothing better than an adventure and, for him, any adventure was an exciting one. Suddenly, and without any warning, something large and feathery zoomed by his head nearly knocking the book from his grasp. Freemont jumped to his feet and raced to the edge of his front lawn trying to see what had nearly knocked him over. No! No way! It just couldn’t be. But it was and Freemont was seeing it with his very own eyes. Squi Squirrel had sprouted wings and was flying.

Since Freemont could see only the back of the departing dive bomber, he didn’t know Squi’s head was blocking the view of Elliot Eagle’s head. So, of course, it looked as if Squi had indeed turned into a bird and a very large bird at that.

Freemont shook his head several times to see if he was dreaming, but he wasn’t. He was most definitely wide awake. Dropping his book onto his chair, the goat ran as fast as he could to Emily Susan Mouse’s home.

By the time Freemont saw the mouse lady on her front porch, he was gasping for air. He’d run at his top speed and he was very tired. “Emily Susan,” he croaked, “Come quick. Something dreadful has happened to Squi! He’s turned into a bird. I don’t know what kind of bird he is but he’s huge.” Freemont stood up on his hind legs and spread his front legs as far apart as he could to show just how large Squi had become. “I just saw him fly by. He zoomed over my head and almost hit me. I still can’t believe it. I guess he just dreamed so often about being a bird and getting to fly that he finally turned into one. I suppose that means he’ll soon be flying off to see the world and he won’t live here anymore. I’m really going to miss him.”

By now Emily Susan was laughing so hard she spilled her lemonade down the front of her apron. When she could get her breath, she squeaked out,

 “That’s not Squi, Freemont. He didn’t sprout wings at all. He’s riding on Elliot Eagle’s back. It was the only way either of us could think of to get Squi up in the air safely. Maybe now he will be happy and give up his attempts to fly on his own.”

Freemont breathed a sigh of relief. “That’s a load off my mind. I was afraid Squi had turned into a completely new animal. I wouldn’t want to see him eating bugs and worms instead of the peanuts he loves so much. Just think, instead of peanut butter cookies, you’d be baking oatmeal cookies with worms and other kinds of insects. Those sound yucky to me.”

Emily Susan made a face that told the goat she agreed with him. No way did she want worms or bugs baking in her oven. The very idea made her tail twitch.

“Look! Here they come now.” The mouse lady waved as the fliers swooped towards the house. From the huge grin on Squi’s face, it was obvious he had enjoyed his adventure immensely. It didn’t bother him on bit that he had a fat, black and orange butterfly caught between his two front teeth. Emily Susan reached over and set the bewildered insect free to fly off and tell its family about the strange morning it had survived.

Squi gave Emily Susan a big hug. “Oh boy, that was some ride! I’ve never had so much fun in my entire life. It’s so beautiful up there. You can see for miles. I can’t thank you enough for taking me, Elliot. You made my dream come true. I am one lucky squirrel.”

Elliot ruffled his feathers and looked at his passenger. “Happy to be of service, Squi. However, I do hope this has shown you flying isn’t as easy as it looks. You can’t simply leap off a tree branch or a rooftop or even the edge of a mountain cliff and expect to fly like I do. It takes lots of practice to soar and dip and glide. Riding the different air currents can be dangerous unless you know what you’re doing. I did my share of falling out of the nest and being blown into things and it hurts. My mother was always afraid I might break a wing and then one of the cats from Farmer Bob’s barn would catch me and turn me into a tasty lunch. You need to have real feathers to fly unless you are the kind of flying squirrel Fremont and you read about in those library books. Anytime you yearn to get back up in the clouds, you call me and we’ll take another spin together. That’s the safe way to do it. Okay? You promise?

Squi thought about it for a minute and then shook his head in agreement. “I promise, Elliot. You’re right. Flying with you is the best and safest way and it’s so much fun. I won’t try to do it again by myself.”

Emily Susan and Freemont sighed in relief. Squi had his flying adventure thanks to Elliot Eagle and he had given his word not to attempt to fly on his own. Squi always kept his word. He would be safe. What a good friend Elliot Eagle was.

Clapping her front paws together, Emily Susan declared, “I do believe this calls for a celebration. Let’s have some ice cream sundaes. I made a big batch of ice cream while you two were gone and it’s ready to eat.”

“What flavor?” squeaked Squi excitedly? He loved all flavors of ice cream. Most of all he loved a very generous serving of it.

“Vanilla, of course,” came the reply, “but you can put anything you want on top. I have blueberries and strawberries from the meadow and of course some chopped peanuts.”

“Peanuts!” chirped Squi hopping up and down in excitement. “I want some peanuts on my ice cream, please”

“Blueberries for me.” decided Elliot. “Blueberries are my favorite fruit.”

“Definitely strawberries,” Fremont said licking his lips in anticipation.

All three looked at the mouse lady wondering what she’d put on her ice cream sundae. Surely not cheese which she seemed to enjoy on almost everything she ate.

“I’m going to have some of each one of them. After all, this is a celebration of Squi getting to fly and having his dream come true.”

Emily Susan led them into her cozy kitchen and soon the four friends were filling their mouths with ice cream and blueberries and strawberries and peanuts. Nobody said a word when Emily Susan Mouse sprinkled some plump cheese curds into her bowl of vanilla ice cream and stirred it in with the red and blue fruit. After all, this was a celebration.

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