A Bump On A Log


FB_IMG_1452381022983Audio:  https://soundcloud.com/jaci-willoughby/a-bump-on-a-log

Clara, Annie and Nicholas headed down the forest path to a small clearing where the wildflowers grew plentiful. There was a small meadow of sorts in the center of the clearing that made the perfect spot for picnics or setting up games.  Clara plopped down on the ground, put the jelly jar carefully down, and started digging through her tool bag for the garden clippers she borrowed from the potting bench.

A fallen hollow log edged the meadow.  It had been beautifully decomposing for years and years and years.  Mossy patches grew on the shady side, while a small vine with violet flowers sought out the sun.  Many small animals have called it home throughout the years. Nick leaned against the log, gently pushing on the shiner around his eye and wincing at the touch.

“My mom is going to be so mad when she sees this,” Nick sighed.

Clara and Annie headed over towards the flowers and started carefully selecting the prettiest blooms to clip, and place into their makeshift vase.

A cloud temporarily covered the sun casting deep pockets of shade in the forest clearing.  The frogs and toads started to croak enjoying the break from the suns heat.  Nick watched them hop along the fallen log and the ground just in front of him.  Soon there were half a dozen frogs hopping around.

CROAK … crooooooooaaaaaaakkkkkkk … niiiiiiicccckkkkkkk .. CROAK!

Nick almost thought he heard the frongs talking directly to him .. but that was crazy!

“Hey … did you guys hear that?” he asked.  Clara replied, “Sure, the frogs and toads love the shade.  They’re just saying hello.”

“No,” Nick insisted. ” I could have sworn one of them just .. well … said my name.”

“Maybe they hit your head a little too hard this time,” Annie laughed.

A rather large toad hopped up on top of the dead log and approached Nick.  The kids watched carefully as he stopped, looked Nick dead in the eyes and said “CROOOOOAAAAAAAAAK”  Nick jumped about a foot in the air, while Clara and Annie laughed.  “See .. he’s just saying hello,” giggled Clara.

“Niiiiiiicccccckkkkkk,” said the Toad.

“Wait … what?!” exclaimed Annie.  “He just said your name!”

“Niiiiiiicccccckkkkk … you must not fret.  You will one day defeat those who bully you,” stated the Toad.  The kids looked on shocked.

Oliver the cat had been watching from the trees, and finally ambled over to the fallen log.  He hissed at the toad annoyed and said, “well now you’ve gone and done it!  Now they know.”   And just like that .. the cat was out of the bag.

Clara and Annie sat down beside Nick amazed at what they had just witnessed.  They listened as Topper – the toad King – told a story of talking animals and a magical world found in Just Beyond.  Oliver curled up in Clara’s lap and silently listened to the toad, staying wary of the tale told.  It seemed a prophecy had foretold of THE THREE that would bring peace to the lands.



Cat TailsAudio: https://soundcloud.com/jaci-willoughby/cat-tails

Taps peeked out from between the railings on the porch and watched the kids trek off in to the woods. He was one of Clara’s five rescue cats. A long haired black & white tuxedo cat, with white paws and black “Taps” on the underside … hence his name! He yawned lazily and closed his eyes to snooze on the porch.

Solstice – or Soli for short – was adopted on Yule one year. A tiny short haired Calico. Clara’s mom thought at first she was a kitten when adopted .. but as it turns out she was 5 years old and more than likely the mother of the litter. She was one of the smallest adult cats they’d ever seen! Soli wasn’t too concerned with the antics of the children .. but more interested in George the Garden snake as he slithered in front of the porch.

Charlie was rescued from a crazy cat lady. One of 30 to 40 cats … they lost count … a scrappy little fellow. He was skittish too .. won’t come near a human unless they are holding food. And even then, you have to drop the treat and slowly back away before he’ll come near it. With time he’ll learn to trust the family … but he’s going to need someone with a lot of patience.

Violet is a sassy little girl. She was given up by her former family for not getting along with the other cats. Clara had worked with her every single day to integrate in to the kitty household .. and now Violet is one of the most loving. She can almost always be found grooming or loving on the other cats. Perhaps a little too aggressive with the love .. but like Charlie, with time she’ll calm down.

Both Charlie and Violet are midnight black short haired cats. They are hard to tell apart at first glance .. but Violets coat has a distinctive shine to it, her eyes are Olive Green and her whiskers and paws are jet black as well. Charlies face is thin and his ears tall .. he reminds Clara of an Egyptian Cat from her books .. and his whiskers are white!

Oliver is the only one concerned with the direction Clara, Annie and Nick are going. He’s been out in the world and seen things at a young age. A long haired Orange tabby, rescued from a hotel parking lot with his siblings. Clara’s mom fell in love with him the second he came out of the kennel cage. Oliver is a snuggler, and is happiest when sitting in Clara’s arms. He watched the children head deeper in to the woods and wondered if perhaps he should follow them to keep everyone out of trouble.

He stood, stretched his legs, and made his way carefully across the creek. He didn’t have time today to swat at the guppies swimming by. He needed to make sure his Clara was safe.



a-rustling-bushAudio: https://soundcloud.com/jaci-willoughby/a-rustling-bush

Annie came skipping down the road to join Clara, fresh from Lacrosse practice and ready for some fun. Off they went, hop hop hop from stone to stone across the creek. A quick stop at the reeds to check for freshly laid frog eggs and tadpole, and Clara scooped up water in to a jelly jar she grabbed from the porch. There was a rustling of branches just behind them startling the girls, and they stood quickly. A Blue Jay flew from the forest and a squirrel scampered deeper in to the woods. Clara slowly tip toed towards the bushes where the noise had come from, and found two eyes peering from within!

Nicholas jumped out with a “BOO!” that had the girls screaming and running away! Nicholas couldn’t stop laughing. The girls quickly turned around and joined in the luaghter, but when Nick stood up all laughter stopped! There he was with scraped knees, his shirt pulled out from his shorts, the sleeve of his uniform jacket torn, and a nice new shiner starting to form at his right eye.

“Oh Nick, what have you gotten yourself in to THIS time,” scolded Clara. While Annie giggled slightly and asked, “What’s the other guy look like?”

Nick gave a slight shrug, an impish smile and replied, “WELLLllllll .. it was just one of those things…” Clara shook her head, and the three of them started down the forest path chatting away. Clara reminded everyone that they weren’t supposed to go too far in … they were there to pick wild flowers for her mom and THAT’S ALL!