Once upon a time, a long,long time ago, in a land far, far away there was a mouse named Jeff.
Jeff was a tree mouse, living in the woods on the edge of town along the banks of the Nicomekle River. Tree mice are exceptionally rare, and often were only ever found in stories. Jeff’s house in the base of the tree was a very well kept home. He had a nice set of wooden adirondack chairs on his front porch that he often sat in. The salesman at Costco had said it would be the most comfortable chair Jeff would ever sit in.
In the mornings that Jeff sat outside sipping on his smoothies, he often was grateful to have met that chair salesman, as it was indeed the best chair he had ever sat in. He looked over at the second chair next to him and thought about all the friends who had sat with him and remarked at just how nice they were to sit in. Grandpa had thought it was a bit tough to get out, but once he was in, he had said it was lovely. In fact, Jeff was sure Grandpa had downloaded some plans from Pinterest so he could make his own. Well, truth be told, Grandma had downloaded them cause Grandpa thought Pinterest was the devil’s playground. Once he had remarked he felt his soul being sucked out of him after spending 6 hours searching for grilled cheese sandwich recipes.
Inside Jeff’s tree house he had everything just so. There was a wooden board with hooks attached that his dad had made for him to keep his entryway neat. There was a nice red towel by the sink to set his dishes on to dry when he washed up after his meals. There was a box that held his Legos beside his bookshelf so when he wanted to build something, he always knew where they would be. Back where he kept his laundry hamper, he also kept his Dyson rechargeable vacuum. Every night before he went to bed, he quickly vacuumed his house so when he woke up, everything was neat to start the day off.
One morning he was sitting outside, sipping his spinach, strawberry and banana fibre smoothie. He was quite satisfied at how quickly his Vitamix blender had whipped up this delicious treat when he saw a lady mouse ride by on a bicycle, more quickly than he had ever seen a mouse on a bicycle move. Before he could swallow his mouthful and say anything, she was gone down the path and out of sight!
Well, Jeff sat back and marvelled at what he had seen. A mouse. On a bike. Riding at top speeds through the woods!
For the rest of the day Jeff thought about the lady mouse he had seen. Close to when it was time for his evening cheese and crackers meal, he heard the crunch of small sticks and leaves being disturbed. Jeff wondered if it was the lady mouse returning on her bike. He stopped reading his book and looked up just in time to see her rounding the corner of the trail coming from deep within the woods.
Smiling and waving, the lady mouse slowed to say hello. Her red neckerchief that had been blowing in the wind as she had been cycling quite fast, now gently fluttered around her collar. “Good evening! That is quite a bike you have there!” remarked Jeff. Grinning from ear to ear, the lady mouse removed the swimming goggles she had been wearing while she had been riding the bike. Jeff could see a dusty outline of where they had protected her vision while riding in an obviously dusty environment. “Why thank you! It has a Bionix battery powered assist motor that helps me go up hills with ease, and gives me maximum speed on the straightaways. I can get up to 42km/h if I am peddling hard! I must say though, the thought of falling off at those speeds makes my whiskers curl!”
Jeff noted that the googles appeared to be of good use also. “Yes, I need to keep these peepers in good working order. Dust makes it hard to see clearly so these swimming goggles work well. My name is MaryAnn.” said the lady mouse as she took off her biking gloves, removed her helmet and extended one paw to shake. Jeff offered his own paw and said, “Pleased to meet you. My name is Jeff. Would you like a glass of lemonade and to rest for a moment?”
Soon MaryAnn and Jeff were sipping icy cold lemonade and sitting on his Adirondack chairs overlooking the field across from his treehouse. “My, these chairs are VERY comfortable.” Jeff smiled and nodded in agreement as he sipped. Soon they were talking as though they had been friends for years. Jeff was explaining how he had made his tree house himself. It had taken several years for him to build it, as Jeff was quite particular in the little details.
As Jeff was just about to have some cheese and crackers, he went inside, and quickly returned with enough for both of them. Soon they had polished it off and after they had finished their third glass of lemonade, Jeff offered to give her a tour of his house on the inside. She admired the nice coat hook Jeff’s Dad had built, the red towel that matched her neckerchief and noticed all the Legos in the box, exclaiming “I love playing Legos! This is a great box! There are so many here!” As she was looking over his collection, she noticed a long blue curtain in the corner hanging all by itself.
“What is behind the curtain?” MaryAnn asked. He explained that it was the last part of the treehouse he was waiting to develop. He explained he wasn’t quite sure what to put back there, so he covered the area with a curtain.
MaryAnn asked what it was like to live in a treehouse. Pausing, Jeff explained that being a tree mouse was lovely, if you weren’t afraid of heights. Jeff longed to scramble up the tree, but he was quite nervous about coming back down. Even walking up a hill sometimes made Jeff nervous! MaryAnn and Jeff stood there for several minutes looking up….waaaay up, each lost in their own thoughts.
Soon, it was time for MaryAnn to be going. She asked if perhaps she could stop in for another visit the next day, and Jeff happily said, “Yes. I could make you one of my forest famous smoothies. I bought a Vitamix from Costco and it has been a wonderful investment. It makes not only smoothies, but soup and ice cream too!”
The next afternoon turned into a week of afternoons. Jeff was able to use his Vitamix to make MaryAnn vegetable soup and ice cream that they enjoyed. Several days later when MaryAnn was returning from the woods, she stopped by Jeff’s treehouse and the two of them enjoyed a sauerkraut, sardine and squash smoothie. “This triple SSS smoothie is certainly not a combination I would have put together, it is quite a unique flavour.” said MaryAnn as her straw made a great loud slurping sound when she drained the glass.
“You know Jeff, I have an idea. I have really enjoyed our visits and I would like to do something nice for you. Would you let me surprise you with something?”
“Well, that would be very kind of you. I must say though, it isn’t necessary. I have enjoyed our visits too. There really is no need.” replied Jeff.
“I understand that, but I would like to repay you for all the kindness you have showed me all these weeks. It requires a few days of trust on your behalf, and the use of some tools I saw you had in your shed. And, in the end if you don’t like it, you don’t need to use it. What do you say?” MaryAnn could be quite convincing when she set her mind to something, as Jeff would come to find out in later years . “All I ask is that you don’t peek behind that blue curtain until I am finished. Can you do that?” She smiled and waited while Jeff considered what she had said.
He agreed, and MaryAnn clapped her hands with glee. “I will start right away!” Before Jeff could say a thing, she was off and waving. “See you in the morning!!!”
The next day as Jeff was enjoying his deck chairs and breakfast smoothie, MaryAnn rode up with a large backpack stuffed with things Jeff couldn’t see. She gave him reminder instructions to not peek and she disappeared behind the blue curtain. For the next three days strange sounds came from the treehouse and MaryAnn had a sweaty brow from all her hard work whenever she came outside for a snack or a drink. At last, she was done. MaryAnn cleaned up the tools and put them away neatly as she had found them. She circled around to the front of the tree and found Jeff sitting there nervously wringing his paws, anticipating, wondering. What on earth she had been working on?!?! Jeff was always nervous when it came to surprises, though he didn’t now why. Perhaps it stemmed from the time when he bit into a cookie and was expecting it to be chocolate chip and it turned out to be raisin!! Or maybe it was the time he bit into an apple, and found half of a worm! Or even better yet, when he thought all he had to do was fart…and it was something else instead. Never mind, surely everyone had forgotten about THAT by now….
MaryAnn said that he needed to wait until the next morning to find out what the surprise was. He wanted to know why, but she silenced him by raising one paw, and simply said, “Trust me. I will see you when the birds are hunting the worms. This time though, perhaps I could have a pineapple coconut smoothie instead of a SSS smoothie?” Off she rode, leaving Jeff wondering what on earth the next morning would bring.
Jeff barely slept. He was tossing and turning wondering, worrying, not sure if he should have allowed MaryAnn free reign with her surprise for him. He kept looking over at the blue curtain, until at last he fell asleep dreaming about what the morning would bring.
Knock knock. “Hallloowww!!” Jeff woke to the sound of MaryAnn at his door the next morning. The sun was barely up, and here she was, pounding on his door. Well, not really pounding, but certainly knocking loudly Jeff thought to himself. Looking over at his clock, he rubbed his eyes. There had to be some mistake. The clock he had bought at Costco had always kept good time before, so why was it not working now? It said is was 5:32am. It was only less than six months old, but perhaps he should return it. He always appreciated the excellent return policy Costco had. There was NEVER any fuss when it came to returning things. Like when his friend Jane had returned her TV. It was nearly two years old when she brought it back, and she had ZERO fuss with the mouse behind the counter.
He would think about returning his clock later. Right now, he had to throw on some clothes and open the door for MaryAnn. Rubbing his eyes, she greeted him with an excited smile. She was looking forward to giving him his surprise. He started to tell her about his clock having troubles, but she was too excited to listen. She even said that she wanted to wait until after to have her smoothie. Jeff liked order to his morning and waiting to have his breakfasts was a foreign concept. MaryAnn was hopping from one foot to the other with excitement. She however, LOVED surprises.
By now, Jeff was awake. MaryAnn explained there was one more thing Jeff had to do. He had to trust her once more. With wide eyes, she led him over to the base of his tree where the lowest branch was sticking out. She explained that he was going to need to climb up the tree with her.
“But…but…but…I told you that I was afraid of climbing down the tree. Why would I want to climb up this tree?”
“Do you trust me?” MaryAnn looked deep into Jeff’s eyes and waited.
“But…but…but…” Jeff stammered.
“Will you please just trust me?” MaryAnn asked again.
“But how do I do it?” Jeff asked nervously.
“One branch at a time. Follow me. One branch at a time.” MaryAnn hopped up onto the first branch and Jeff very, very nervously hopped up beside her. Soon enough, they were on the 9th branch, and then the 99th. Jeff wondered out loud if the famous hockey player he had watched last night, Wayne Gretzmouse had ever climbed 99 branches up a tree before. MaryAnn didn’t hear him though. She was another three branches above already. “Almost there Jeff! You can do this!” She said encouragingly.
Jeff took a deep breath and was about to look down, and MaryAnn shrieked at him.
Don’t look down!
Just keep climbing!
Moments later, Jeff was standing on the very top of the tree. MaryAnn had built a lovely deck, with railings and had put two additional Adirondack chairs up there. They were just in time to watch the last of the sunrise crest the mountains of Saskatchewan, also known as the Cypress Hills.
Jeff could barely breathe it was so beautiful. He had never seen anything like it. He dropped down in the most comfortable chair he had ever sat in, and just drank in the beauty of the view with his eyes. They sat in silence, until Jeff asked nervously, “How do we get down? You know I can’t climb down the branches the same way we came up…”
If Jeff thought his friend’s eyes had sparkled this morning, they paled in comparison to how they lit up now. “This is the best part! Let me show you!”
Mary Ann stood up and took Jeff’s paw into hers and led him to something he hadn’t noticed when he first crested the last branch onto the deck. It was a slide!
MaryAnn explained it took them back into Jeff’s house…behind the blue curtain! With a shriek of laughter, she gave Jeff a little push and soon followed him as they wound their way down the slide, landing on a soft carpet of fluff, smack dab in the middle of the little unused room. Peals of laughter escaped them both. Never had Jeff felt so good! “Race you to the top,” he shrieked as he took off up the outside branch. MaryAnn quickly followed as she liked a challenge! The day was spent climbing and sliding until they collapsed with exhaustion.
Jeff had the same sparkle in his eye as his new friend did that very morning. He was grateful to have met her, to have trusted her, and now to have experienced the wonders of getting past his fears of climbing the tree. His life was forever changed.
MaryAnn thanked Jeff for a lovely day, and he waved goodbye as she hopped aboard her electric assist bicycle and sped back to town, her neckerchief blowing in the wind. Little did they know, it was to be the first of many adventures together!