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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Winter (the season) (08/13/09)

By Mary Lou Tiner


The Wind had chased away the last of the Autumn gold and had cast a silvery winter shroud over the forest. Almost all the forest creatures were pulling their woolly winter blankets up under their chins – or snouts or whiskery noses, whatever they happened to have – and almost all the creatures were snuggling down in their cozy homes for a long winter sleep.

Ah, but I did say “almost”, for I regret to tell you that “almost” did not include Manfred the Mouse. Manfred had other things on his mind.

The wind was nipping at Manfred’s paws and soon his little mouse teeth were chattering faster than he could nibble cheese. CHEESE! Oh how Manfred longed for a piece of lovely cheese right now!

Manfred had grown so very weary of forest nuts and dried up old berries. He wanted CHEESE!

“Hey, ho, neighbor Coon. Have you a morsel of cheese you might be a-sharing with a humble little mouse?” Manfred asked Raccoon, who was shuffling past, nose to the ground.

Raccoon squinted at Manfred with his dark, beady eyes and answered: “Don’t be a-begging me for cheese. You oughta be a-thinking less about cheese and more about winter that’s a-coming.”

Manfred sighed, “I can’t be a-thinking about winter when I be a-craving cheese something fierce!”

Raccoon only huffed and wiggled his whiskers back and forth as he shuffled away.

Manfred thought to himself: “If I go a-crossing over Hillside Creek, why, I would find myself by old Farmer Schmidt’s house. I’m sure I’ll find a-plenty of CHEESE there!”

Off scampered Manfred, as quickly as his four little mouse paws would carry him. Once or twice, he stopped and noticed that the maple leaves were mostly on the ground and not so mostly on the trees. Manfred almost turned back to the warm shelter of his burrow. Almost. But not almost enough!

While he was crossing Hillside creek he noticed patches of ice by the side of the creek bank. Once again, Manfred almost stopped and turned back. Almost. But all he could think of was CHEESE!

When Manfred arrived at Farmer Schmidt’s house he was in for a terrible surprise. The house was dark and cold. When he squeezed under the back door he discovered there was nothing there - nothing at all! Farmer Schmidt was gone! Every cupboard was bare. Every counter was wiped off. The only thing Manfred found was a piece of green, moldy cheese still stuck on an old mousetrap!

Miserable Manfred! There was nothing left for him to do but to head back to his burrow. But the homeward journey took twice as long because he had to walk against the cold, harsh wind.

When Manfred finally got home, he was in for another shock. While Manfred had gone looking for cheese, a badger had discovered his burrow, and seeing no one at home, he decided to take it over and move in!

Now everyone knows that badgers enjoy eating a tasty, mousy morsel right before a long winter sleep. Manfred knew there would be no arguing with the badger – not unless he wanted to become a bedtime snack! Quickly and quietly Manfred scurried away, feeling hungry, homeless, and almost hopeless.

Almost. But that is not the end of my story.

“Go hooooommme!” howled the wind, as it blasted the last leaves off the old maple tree. “Go hooooommme!” the wind demanded once more, insisting that all the forest creatures obey. But poor Manfred had no home. Manfred tried to huddle down underneath the fallen leaves but that offered him little shelter.

Just then Raccoon peered down from the branches of the old maple tree and seeing Manfred’s desperate plight, he invited him to climb up and make a little home next to his own. Now, mice don’t usually build homes in trees, and it certainly was not as cozy as a snug burrow, but it was a home and Manfred humbly accepted.

That winter Manfred learned an important lesson. Manfred discovered the secret of contentment, even while living in a tree house eating nuts and berries!

Ever after that harsh winter, Manfred never missed a chance to tell the other forest creatures his favorite proverb:

“The cheese is always greener on the other side of the hill!”

And that is the end of my story. Well, almost….

I almost forgot to tell you the Bible verse:

“But godliness with contentment is great gain.” I Timothy 6:6

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This article has been read 503 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Fiona Dorothy Stevenson08/20/09
Do I see a twinkle in your eye? It surely twinkles all over this story. God bless you too much.
Mona Purvis08/20/09
Oh, how I love this one! Reminds me so much of Wind in the Willow stories that my brother Brad used to love as a little boy.
Very special.

Valarie Sullivan08/21/09
Good flow, consistent voice. I liked it alot!
Charla Diehl 08/21/09
Very cute story with good flow, creativity, and a Bible lesson too. I can picture the illustrations in a children's book already.
Patricia Turner08/25/09
A beautifully written story - perfect for children. Manfred's lesson would be a good one for them too. I love it!