“I’ve got to find seeds and nuts for the winter. I feel its bite when I wake up from a night that gets longer than the one before,” thought little Chiquita Chipmunk shivering a bit this late bright afternoon in October. She was out and about, running from her nest under the porch to the bird feeder and back. Those Who Live Upstairs put out a new supply of sunflower seeds every day, along with fresh water.
The trees had shed most of their leaves and covered the lawn with patches of gold and crimson, orange and auburn. Leaves! Yes, she realized, “I need leaves for my nest.” Her home was a far corner of the crawl space below the porch. The windows of that room could be opened when the weather was warm and closed when it was frigid. She crammed several crinkly leaves in her pouches and hurried to the small entrance. In she dove to deposit the leaves and out she came to get more. She lost track of how many leaves she packed around her bed. They lay heaped in a pile twice as tall as she. She jumped into the middle to pack them down into a fluffy mattress. Her bed was now dark and very cozy.
As she was about to jump out into the laughing fragrant air she heard the sliding door of the porch open. She peeped out and saw Those Who Live Above come out and walk to their chairs with a low table between. As they sat she saw they had a large paper bag that they placed on the table. Whole peanuts! These were Chiquita’s favorite food. If she had two for breakfast, two for lunch and two for dinner she could do very nicely in the middle of winter.
Out she scampered toward the two who had now brought out handfuls of lumpy treats. Very quietly, the lady held a peanut close to the ground. Chiquita took the treat and quickly stuffed it into her left cheek pouch. The man now held one out and she grabbed it and stuffed it into her right cheek pouch. She ran as fast as she could to her lair and placed the peanuts in a pile near her bed. She returned to the patient twosome again and again.
The mellow sky turned its tawny early evening shades. She had gathered enough peanuts for many comfortable meals in the pleasant darkness of her little palace. Perhaps tomorrow Those Who Live Above would bring more peanuts. Chiquita waited as darkness brought her peaceful sleep.