In Which Our Heroine Is Given Her Name By Her Loving Parents
Once upon a time there lived inside a hollow log in a hidden mountain meadow a wee brown chipmunk named Chichester Cathedral.
Chichester’s parents had considered many other names: Cleo, Calliope, Clytemnestra, Chanteuse, Consistency, Contemplation, Centrifuge, and Charleston Chew. But then Ma Chipmunk lifted up her tiny front paws, and chirped to Pa: “O my dear Chiclet, what are we thinking? We should not give our child a name that will become hard to spell, and hard to pronounce. It will be a burden to her.”
Pa beamed his dazzling smile at Ma, and cried: “Right you are, Ma. Our daughter will thank you for your foresight forever.”
They rubbed their whiskers across one another. Then Ma whispered: “How about Chichester Cathedral?”
Pa jumped for joy. “A name she will cherish. A name everyone can chirp easily, and joyfully.”
The Childhood Of Chichester
In Which We See Our Heroine As Her Friends See Her
Chichester Cathedral was a lively creature. Cheerful, busy, filled with boundless energy, she loved to race through grasses, climb tall trees, and scurry across fallen logs.
She had bright dark eyes that moved swiftly from side to side. They sparkled in the sunshine, and twinkled in the moonlight. Her teensy nostrils constantly flared as she sniffed the myriad scents of the fields and the forest.
Her tiny paws moved swiftly over every nut she found. She twisted each kernel, pip, and core with rapid movements of her diminutive delicate claws. Her sharp little teeth nibbled quickly. She gobbled some. But others she cut open gracefully, and carried off for her sister Chrysanthemum and her brother Chadwick.
Chadwick was little more than a baby, a whelp. But he considered himself huge in stature and heroic in nature. Each morning when he awoke, he stood on the cusp of the family’s nest, flexed his front paws, and chirped: “I am The Chipmunk Colossal.”
Chrysanthemum was less grandiose. She began her day by cuddling with her Ma, Camilla the Kindly, and her Pa, Chronology the Younger.
No one could explain why her father was called the Younger, since there was no Chronology the Elder. Nor could anyone explain why he was named Chronology, because he had a terrible sense of time. Therefore his wife called him Chiclet, and his children called him Pa.
Our heroine never cuddled with their neighbor, a stern unfriendly chipmunk named Constipation. Nor did she cuddle with Constipation’s daughter, Chronic Illness.
Everyone in the homeland liked Chichester. Not just liked. Everyone admired Chichester, and everyone adored her.
Why? Because she was happy, kind, genial, and generous. She made every animal feel more thankful to be alive.
Every creature who lived in The Meadow Bountiful felt united by their love for Chichester Cathedral.
Species who normally ignore, dislike, compete, or fight with one another put their differences aside. Despite their enormous diversity of shape, character, and purpose, they all felt joined with one another by the affection they shared for their gentle little friend, the sweetest chipmunk who ever rambled.
They were unified, too, by the love they shared for their homeland. Their world was filled with beauty, plentiful with food and water, and replete with safe, sheltering hiding places.
The Circle Eternal
In Which We Meet A Number Of Creatures Not Usually Joined In Friendship
Chipmunks are curious beings: adventurers, explorers, mischief-makers.
Like all chipmunks, Chichester Cathedral got into many scrapes. So did the other animals. As they lived with and helped one another over the years, they became extremely close.
One night as they all rested together by the meadow’s calm quiet pond, they decided they were more than pals. They were, they declared, dear and permanent friends.
That very evening they held a ceremony, and they named themselves The Circle Eternal.
Would you like to meet them?
- There were two reindeers brothers, Rock and Roll.
- There were two raccoon sisters, Rhyme and Reason.
- There was a rabbit named Rutabaga, and his sister Radish.
- There was a wolf named Wellington, and a weasel named Wendell.
- There was a modest pond turtle named Pontius Titus, and her first cousin, Polonius Tusk.
- There were three birds: a duck named Detlef, a heron named Hallelujah, and an owl named Omelet.
- Plus a porcupine named Peek-A-Boo, a Moose named Montgomery, a skunk named Sushi, and a feral cat named Cranston.
They agreed they would conduct a ceremony once each week to celebrate their friendship. They asked Chichester to lead their service.
The Melody Of The Moonlight
In Which We Hear The Canticle Of Comity
Every Friday evening the animals gather beneath a copse of towering cedars, link paws or talons, and bow their heads or beaks as Chichester leads them in a chant. Her silvery chirp lilts across the bed of pine needles and floats throughout the pasture beyond:
We sing that we will be friends forever and ever.
We sing that we will live together in peace and play.
We ask every living creature to band with us in loving The Meadow Bountiful, protect it as best we can, and bless it for its abundance and its beauty.
Each Friday at dusk the friends’ voices soar in joyful melody as they make their vow, and thank the meadow.
Many creatures heard their chant. Many joined The Circle Eternal.
Soon the field and the forest became a place of concord and union among all the living things who dwelled within it.
A Fateful Evening
In Which We Encounter A Species Less Healthy And Less Harmonious
One afternoon in late December, just before sunset, Chichester Cathedral bounded about in the woods that surrounded The Meadow Bountiful. All of a sudden she stopped, stood stock still, and sniffed the forest air carefully.
She had noticed a large cloud of dust rising on the outer edge of the meadow. This was followed by a startlingly loud, most unpleasant sound. A grating. A grinding. A growling.
Chichester dashed to the top of her favorite cedar. She crept carefully along its vast upper limb, rose on her rear paws, and squinted her shining eyes.
Below her she beheld a sight she never before had seen.
It was a large squat rectangular shape, seemingly not alive, yet moving fast, crushing grasses, shrubs, and flowers, leeching fumes from a stubby pipe projecting from its rear. Without regard for the topography, without regard for all the flowers, foliage, hives, burrows, and nests, it moved forward, forward, forward, crunching everything in its reckless, relentless path.
From within the bouncing bulky object many noises poured outward. Bumptious crashing from its strange, rapidly moving circular feet. Angry roars from its iron belly. Shouts and squeals from its metallic midsection.
These were sounds unlike any birds’. Sounds raucous, shrill, not sung but voiced. Voiced by voices the startled chipmunk could not recognize, because she never before had encountered them.
From high above Omelet the Owl fluttered down, and settled on the cedar’s limb. Chichester asked if her friend knew what this destructive object was called.
“That is a truck. It will be filled with humans. They call their truck a camper.”
Omelet sighed. “This means trouble. Serious, serious trouble.”
“Surely not,” chirped Chichester. “Not necessarily. Perhaps the humans will love it here, as we do. Perhaps they will join The Circle Eternal.”
Omelet fluttered her wing tenderly across the chipmunk’s little head. “O, Chichester. You always see a bright side. You always see hope and good. But we must be careful with these beings. I fly far and wide all night, every night. I have met many humans. I know them well. I fear we are in for trouble. We had best summon the Circle.”
The Summoning Of The Circle
In Which The Circle Eternal Learns Fear
Chichester Cathedral climbed atop Omelet’s strong brow. Off flew the owl. She flew to edge of the meadow, just inside the forest canopy, and settled on the The Circle Eternal’s broad flat meeting stone, The Boulder Of Amity
Chichester chirped and chirped. Omelet hooted and hooted.
Throughout the forest replies resounded. Footfalls and wing beats echoed from the tree trunks. The Circle gathered.
When all the friends arrived, Omelet explained everything she knew about humans.
“My friends, I am sorry to tell you that human beings often are careless with fire. They discard garbage and trash. They befoul water.”
She lowered her sage head and shed tears of sorrow.
“If they take a fancy to a place, they declare they own it. Then they alter it. They modify it terribly. They fell trees, fence pastures, dig craters, set traps, shoot or poison the creatures they do not like, and capture and control the ones they do like.”
She stopped, and wept anew. Then she stood tall, and wiped her wide capacious eyes with her talons.
“They produce much noise from their own selves, and even more from devices they call machines. They refute the darkness with lights of their own. O, they behave in most peculiar ways. I am sure they will harm The Meadow Bountiful.”
The Humans Hideous
In Which We Are Introduced To An Unlovely Family
At that moment the object Omelet had named camper skidded and sluiced across a thick patch of tall vivid wildflowers and slithered to a halt.
The animal friends crawled to the rim of the meadow, and peered with anxious eyes.
“Look,” quacked Detlef the Duck. “The camper is opening its wing.”
“That is not a wing,” hooted Omelet. “They call it a door, Detlef. Now we will see the humans.”
Indeed they did. From the doorway belched two small ones. Then another. They were the children of the Hideous family. Their names were Honking, Howling, and Harrumph.
“Hurray,” screeched Honking.
“Hoorah,” shrieked Howling.
Harrumph did not cheer, because he was a sallow, dour fellow. He just made a snorting sound, and said: “About time we got here. Mom, when are we gonna eat?”
Out staggered their Mom. Her name was Hootenanny Hideous, but everyone called her Hoot.
She was holding a can of concoction called Yoo-Hoo. She gulped it down, crumpled the tin, and heaved it over her raw sunburned shoulder. Then she shouted: “Horrid. Horrid. Come out, dear. Harrumph is right. It’s time to eat.”
Out traipsed Horrid. He was more than more than six feet in height, and nearly, it seemed to the animals, as wide as he was tall. Certainly he was a sizable fellow.
Loud, too. He spread his thick feet apart, tilted back his big head, which looked as though it might be the pit of an elongated prune, and screamed: “Wow. Our property. Not bad, eh?”
Horrid gulped his beer and hurled the bottle into the field. It struck a rock, and shattered loudly. He lifted his fists exultantly, and bellowed: “Yes. Three points.”
Everyone in the family cheered. Even Harrumph.
Horrid stretched copiously. He rubbed the unkempt hairs on his prune head, looked left, looked right, spun himself around, took in everything.
“Ours. Ours. Every stick, every stone. Every blade of grass, every drop of water. Ours, ours, ours.”
Then he emitted gas noisily from his stomach through his mouth.
A Vision For Growth
In Which We See Into The Mind And Heart Of The Father Hideous
Hoot gave her hubby a giant hug. “Oh, Horrid. How do you think we should develop this place?”
“Yeah, Dad,” chimed Honking and Howling. “What will we do with this empty place?”
Horrid stretched again, and sent Harrumph to fetch him another beer. Hoot asked him to bring her another Yoo-Hoo.
“Ah, geez,” complained their grouchy son. “Why am I the one who has to do everything around here?” And off he slouched, grumbling, slamming the camper door behind him.
When Harrumph returned with the beverages, Horrid sat on a stump, settled Hoot beside him, and signaled that their children should sit before them.
His face reddened with excitement. His breathing quickened.
“O, Hon. O, kids. We’ll exploit every square inch of our property.”
He pointed his fat forefinger at the forest. “We’ll tear out these useless trees. Cut them down. Sell the timber, chop up the brush.
He pointed to the pond. “We’ll drain that swamp. Drain it dry. Dump some soil. Dozer it level.”
He pointed to The Meadow Bountiful. “We’ll clear this mess up in one day. Two, max. Dozer it flat.”
He beamed at his family. “We’ll run power and sewers. I’ll bet we can shoehorn 200 houses in here. Put up a school. Retail center. Church. Give it all a nice country name.”
He tugged at the seat of his colorful shorts, waved his bottle with one hand, slapped a bare kneecap with the other.
“We’ll call it Rustic Royale.”
He thought for a moment.
“No. We’ll name it Plutocracy Plaza.”
Horrid tipped up his beer, drank it down, hurled the bottle, and guffawed as it crashed in the field.
“Yes, yes, yes. We’ll develop every square inch of our property. We’re gonna make a royal fortune.”
The Salvation Of The Spawn
In Which We Learn With Relief That The Children Hideous Will Not Become Bored
Howling jumped to her feet with a pained expression on her sour face. “But we won’t have to live here, do we Dad?”
Honking leapt up, too. “We won’t, will we Mom? We’ll go out of our minds if we have to live in this awful place.”
Hoot reassured her worried children. “Of course not, dears. We would never ask you to live in such a remote, uncultured place as this.”
And off she clambered to the camper kitchen to microwave dinners for her brood while her husband and their children fired up the gasoline generator to fuel their video games.
In Which The Circle Eternal Crafts A Plan
As the noxious Hideous family gobbled their dinner and played games of warfare against soulless corpses on their brand new Microsoft X-Box, the terrified animals crept silently to The Boulder Of Amity.
Wellington the Wolf spoke first. His eyes were wide with horror, but not with fear. Like all his courageous kind, Wendell feared nothing and no one.
“Let us all give praise and thanks to Omelet the Owl. Without her wisdom and experience, we would have been taken unawares by these beasts. We would not have known that we must defend The Meadow Bountiful.”
Everyone agreed, as the bashful Omelet trembled with embarrassment. Her crimson blush showed vividly against her snowy white plumage.
Wellington turned to business. He was, after all, by nature a hunter.
“We must organize every species in the forest and the field. The pond, too.”
He turned his noble face side to side, and cast his burning eyes upon the circle of silent friends.
“There is great risk. Our enemies have powers beyond our own.”
He lifted his snout to the sky, and howled softly.
“Our enemies are powerful. But they are not invincible. The best defense against these predators will be offense. We must attack them. We must attack them when they are at their weakest.”
He elevated his lips and gnashed his teeth.
“We must attack them when they sleep.”
Montgomery the Moose nodded his great head. His mighty antlers glimmered in the gathering moonlight.
“Wellington, you are right. These humans have do weaknesses. They surely will be complacent. They think nothing lives except themselves. Most likely they will not even bother to set up a defense tonight.”
Wendell the Weasel held up his paw. His friends knew him to be a clever creature.
“The humans are strong. They control much magic. But we, too, have abilities.”
He praised the courage and power of the wolf and the moose. He spoke highly of all the other species whose help The Circle Eternal could enlist.
Then he said: “Everyone can make a contribution. Everyone, large and small. Life has equipped each of us with abilities.”
Wendell gave his friends time to absorb these truths. Then he bared his teeth, as Wellington had bared his.
“Also we will be united. We will coordinate our attack. This will magnify our individual talents greatly.”
A chorus of agreement greeted the weasel’s wise counsel.
Hallelujah the Heron noted that birds are swift, fierce in their own way, and equipped with powerful beaks. In some cases, with piercing talons.
Rutabaga and Radish noted that rabbits, too, are swift, capable of unpredictable twists and turns, and surprisingly capable with their teeth and their claws.
Rhyme and Reason noted that raccoons are famously wily, exceptionally crafty, nimble and agile, fast as blazes, and to be feared when in combat.
Sushi smiled grimy. “I realize this is not a time for humor. But, my beloved friends, do you have any idea how terrified every human is of every skunk? Why, all my cousins and I need to do is puff out our chests, lift up our lovely tails just a little bit, prance slowly around that revolting camper of theirs, and whisper:
This skunk stinks.
This skunk stinks.
O yes, you finks,
We skunks certainly do stink.
“When we slink our stealthy, sinuous skunk dance, you just watch how those humans run. Speaking of tails. They will hightail it.”
After the gales of laughter subsided, Peek-A-Boo the Porcupine said: “It is widely known by our kind that humans also feel terror in our presence. They fear our quills. As well they should.”
Although not members, Sedgwick the Squirrel and her petite husband Magnificence the Mouse had tiptoed to the outer reaches of The Circle Eternal. Sedgwick was smart, and she was funny.
She drew herself to her full squirrel height, and cackled: “I often have observed that all humans are strangely scared of all scurrying, scavenging rodents.”
She darted round and round the circle to demonstrate the wily ways of nature’s rodents. Then she resumed her seat on the edge of The Boulder Of Amity.
“Why, we can mobilize every squirrel, shrew, rat, vole, and mouse for miles around. Why, we can bombard these humans with swift, shifty scurrying and scavenging. Why, they will be terrified. They will panic.”
This caused a hubbub of agreement and glee.
Cranston the Cat was an excellent orator, and a fine mimic. He was famous for his Winston Churchill imitations.
When the hubbub stilled, Cranston stood proudly on his graceful paws and in his deepest, most throaty voice solemnly meowed:
We shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.
A Chipmunk Weeps
In Which A Gentle Soul Restores The Frightened Friends To Their Better Natures
In the midst of all the hope and hilarity, Omelet the Owl noticed that Chichester Cathedral was weeping.
Omelet fluttered to her side. “What is it, Chichester? Are you afraid?”
“No, Omelet. I am not afraid. I am sad.”
Then she bravely marched into the center of The Circle Eternal, and sang:
This plan is not kind, this plan is not wise,
This plan makes tears come into my eyes.
Silence befell The Boulder of Amity.
In her calm beautiful voice, Chichester chirped: “Our fear and ferocity are natural. But our meadow does not want dread, and our meadow does not want cruelty. This is never what our meadow wants.”
In her gentle way, Chichester reminded the animals that The Meadow Bountiful loves love. The Meadow Bountiful wants kindness, peace, and unity, always.
Wellington the Wolf knelt before his tiny friend. “But, Chichester, how can we meet this terrible challenge? How can we survive if these horrible humans chop down the forest and drain the pond and flatten the field? How can we live if they fill up our beautiful world with houses and schools and churches and stores? Not to mention the messes they will make with their garbage and their trash?”
Just then, as if by a miracle, the moon, almost as full as during its harvest cycle, broke through the thick cloud cover and shed radiant pure silver all over The Boulder Of Amity. It fell most brightly and particularly upon the quivering little chipmunk.
The other animals caught their breaths, and exclaimed. Chichester closed her eyes, as if listening to a voice withheld from all others. Then she smiled. Her lips moved silently. Her friends could read that she had whispered: “Thank you, dear Meadow.”
The chipmunk opened her eyes. As she spoke, she looked searchingly into each of her friends’ faces, friend by friend, one at a time, each in turn.
“Dear friends, what has our life in our meadow always taught us? What do we know?”
Her quivering altered. She quivered now with certainty and exaltation. “We know there is abundance. We know there is abundance for all.”
She waited while everyone gathered their calm.
“These humans are just beings, as are we. They are just confused at this time, as are we. They are not seeing well. They are not listening to the meadow. Nor are we.”
She waited once more. All the friends settled quietly, and found comfort.
“We must not give the humans fear. We must not give them anger and attack. Fright and fury and battle are not gifts. They will grow nothing.”
The animals lay silently listening. From each there seemed to arise a glow similar to the moon’s.
“Let us give them gifts of kindness and greeting. Let us give them compassion. Let us help them see. Let us help them hear.”
She paused once more.
“Let us help them heal.”
Gifts Of Kindness
In Which The Creatures Of The Meadow Offer Help And Healing To The Family Hideous
By this time, only Chichester Cathedral was not weeping. Every other animal in The Circle Eternal was crying openly.
They were not sad. They were not afraid. They were crying with happiness.
Omelet hugged Chichester with her wonderful whispery wings. Wellington stroked her with his warm, luscious fur. Rhyme and Reason caressed her with their mysterious dark masks. Montgomery rubbed her with the soft moss that tipped his majestic antlers. Sushi brushed her with the nonthreatening fleece of her gorgeous tail.
Cranston spoke for all. “O, Chichester. You are right. This is who we must be. This is what we must do.”
Swiftly they made their plan, and silently they carried it out.
All the animals foraged in their own way for a gift of token. Some gathered exquisite stones. Some collected boughs of pungent pine. Some assembled cones and nuts. Others plucked grasses, perfumed petals, wild rose hips, graceful garlands, bouquets of holly, and posies of mistletoe.
Side by side they padded to the camper.
The humans Hideous were sleeping. They did not hear a thing.
A New Morning
In Which A Lost Family Discovers Its Bearings
Late the next morning, Howling and Honking woke up.
“Mom,” they shouted. “What’s for breakfast?”
Harrumph stomped outside, and roared: “Dad, fire up the generator. I want to play Grand Theft Auto.”
Suddenly they became wordless. Howling gaped. Honking gasped. Harrumph wheezed. As one, they dashed into the camper, roused their parents, and led them outdoors.
Side by side, they stood speechless at the base of the stairway.
Before them, arrayed in a vast arc of greeting, lay all the animals of The Circle Eternal.
They were joined by many other creatures who had been summoned by Samson and Sedgwick. All manner of birds, rodents, and mammals. A vast assembly of insects. Worms, snakes, snails, turtles, frogs, beings small and large in numbers massive.
Above the surface of the silent pond poked the smiling faces of hundreds and hundreds of trout, bass, pickerel, sunfish, and eels.
Every creature was smiling warmly. Upon each there shone the brightest, purest rays of sunshine.
Arranged before the crescent of welcome were gifts of every variety imaginable. Branches and boughs, sticks and stones, buds and blooms, saps and syrups. Every gift radiated in the sunshine, and reflected off the pond waters crowded with creature heads.
The family Hideous held their hands to their hearts, and kneeled on the grassland. Tears welled unbidden and unwiped from their wide eyes.
Smiles formed on their faces. Even the habitually downturned mouth of Harrumph flickered, fluttered, then burst into a helpless grin.
Hoot sobbed. Horrid bawled. Their children wept.
Chichester Cathedral crept forward from the circle. She climbed across Horrid’s outstretched hand, mounted his mottled arm, touched his bulbous cheeks one at a time, and lay her tiny head on his furrowed brow.
The Outcome Of Love
In Which A Human Family Transforms
This story has a happy ending.
That morning, then and there, on the spot, the family Hideous resolved they would use all their power to protect the animals and preserve The Meadow Bountiful.
We all do have power, you know – if we will choose to know our power, and use it.
First, Hoot cleaned up her Yoo-Hoo cans and Horrid collected his crushed bottle shards. Then they called their attorney on their cellphone, and directed her to donate every square inch of their property to the Nature Conservancy with immediate effect.
The Conservancy gracefully received the gift. As is their practice, they used every law of the human species to ensure The Meadow Bountiful never, ever, will be disturbed.
Hoot and Horrid sold their camper. They bought a truck equipped to operate on natural gas, fitted it out as a mobile veterinary clinic, and became legendary in the animal world as benefactors and healers. However, no one received more benefaction and healing than they themselves. Ma and Pa Hideous became very happy, long-lived persons.
Honking, Howling, and Harrumph gave away all their electronic toys. They studied well in their schools and, later, in their universities.
In her adulthood Honking became an environmental attorney and, later, an activist judge.
Howling became a director of the national forest service.
Harrumph became a philosopher of religion, and a professor of consciousness studies.
And the animals?
O, the animals lived happily ever after.
As may we all – if we will see The Meadow Bountiful, if we will hear The Meadow Bountiful, in which we too, every one of us, do dwell.
In Which We Satisfy Every Requirement Of The Age Of Science And Technology
We are pleased to certify that every single word of this story is absolutely, 100%, totally true.