|Jonathan and Robbit
were wandering up the meadow together: at least, they were wandering
as together as a rabbit and a snail can. Jonathan slid gently in
between tufts of grass, while Robbit bounced happily from side
to side above him. The sun was shining, but they could feel a sharpness
in the air that hadn't been there the week before.
"Winter's coming," Robbit
called over his shoulder, "Autumn's almost over."
"In America," Jonathan
puffed after Roland's bouncing tail, "Autumn's called
Robbit came bounding back.
He asked, sailing over Jonathan's head.
Jonathan paused, his spectacles
had fogged up and he couldn't see where he was going.
he explained, polishing his glasses slowly and carefully, "That's
when the leaves fall off the trees."
Roland stopped bouncing.
"That's clever," He
said, nibbling at a long green stem of grass, "Are all
Jonathan finished polishing his
spectacles and put them back on again. Behind the thick glasses,
his eyes looked enormous.
"I expect they're just like
us." He replied, and began sliding up the hill again,
"Just like us?" Robbit
"Does that mean they can talk with animals the way Farmer
Jack and Mrs Katie do?"
Mrs Katie was Farmer Jack's wife.
Her real name was just Katie, but everyone in the meadow called
her Mrs Katie because that seemed a more respectful thing to
"I suppose some of them
can," Jonathan was getting out of breath; he wished Robbit
would stop asking questions. Instead, Robbit stopped hopping.
He said, pointing up in the air.
" Up there," Robbit
pointed with his paw to a great big holly tree that grew next
to the farmhouse.
Clustered in amongst all the dark
green leaves of the holly tree were hundreds and hundreds of
the brightest red berries he had ever seen. So bright, they seemed
to glow in the sunlight.
"I've never seen so many
on the tree before,"
"Going to be a cold, hard
winter," Said Jonathan.
"I read it," Explained
Jonathan, "in a book. It said that, if there's going to
be a long cold winter, Nature makes sure the trees have lots
of berries and nuts and acorns and things so animals won't
Robbit was impressed.
"That's clever," He
said. He thought for a bit then added, "is Nature American
as well, then?"
"Course not," Said
Jonathan, "Nature's for everyone: all of us."
In the distance, they heard the
sound of the Old Farmhouse kitchen door opening: a few moments
later, Farmer Jack came striding down the meadow, a great big
axe in one hand.
"Hi, Farmer Jack," The
two of them called.
Farmer Jack glanced across to where
"Why, hallo Robbit," He
called back then, seeing the small round figure at Robbit's
feet, added, "And Jonathan, too."
Farmer Jack waved his axe in the
"I'm off to cut some logs
for the fire," He said, "it's going to be a cold
winter this year."
Jonathan hissed at Robbit, nudging his paw,
"I told you."
Robbit and Jonathan watched as
Farmer Jack strode off towards the woods.
"You'll have to dig yourself
a nice deep burrow, Robbit," Farmer Jack called out over
his shoulder, "and you'll need to find yourself a large
warm pile of leaves, Jonathan. Why don't you try under the
old oak tree?"
The old oak stood at the edge of
the meadow, on the way down towards the little stream at the
bottom. Nobody knew exactly how old the tree was, not even Jonathan,
and he knew more than anyone. It had been there for ever and
ever, perhaps even longer than the Old Farmhouse itself. It was
all twisted and craggy with age, and one of its branches was
missing, blown down in a great storm years ago. On one side,
as high as Farmer Jack's shoulder, the bark had been rubbed completely
off by horses and cows scratching their backs against it during
long, hot summers. For hundreds of years, the old oak tree had
been home to many of the creatures that lived in the meadow -
it was like an old and trusted friend.
"It's lost all it's leaves," Said
"They've fallen off."
Agreed Jonathan, "But they haven't gone far. They're all
underneath: on the ground."
And so they were. On the ground
underneath the old oak, in amongst its roots, lay piles and piles
of golden brown leaves. Jonathan nosed carefully under a large
heap of them: they smelt all musty, warm and damp.
He breathed happily, "That's nice."
Jonathan turned round and pushed
his way out into the sunlight again.
"I like it in there, Robbit," He
"it's all soft and warm and just a little bit damp."
But there was no answer.
Jonathan gazed around, looking
for his friend: but there was no-one there.
Jonathan called out, puzzled.
All of a sudden, Robbit's head
popped up out of the ground beside him.
"I do wish you wouldn't
do that," He said crossly, "You know it upsets me
when you bounce up out of nowhere like that."
Robbit brushed bits of earth off
"It's nice here," He
said, flicking more earth out of his ears with his paw, "The
ground's all soft and easy to dig."
"And the leaves are all
soft and warm and damp," Said Jonathan dreamily.
"Funny how when it gets
cold it makes you sleepy."
"Nature does that," Jonathan
began another explanation, "When it's a cold winter, you
sleep all through it. It's called hibernating."
Said Robbit, too tired to be impressed again: all he really wanted
to do was curl up in his cosy new burrow.
Jonathan turned and began to slide
back under his pile of leaves.
"I'm tired," He announced, "G'night,
"G'night, Jonathan," Robbit
rubbed his eyes sleepily, "See you in the Spring."
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