In a very thick forest, far away, live the Squires, a squirrel family, with Father, Mother, and two sisters Florina and Ester. They live high in the trees in a fanciful three story house with lots of gingerbread decorations. The house is brown like the trees with green shutters on the windows.
Summer is gone, fall is almost over and winter is very near. Florina and Ester are preparing to make a last trip out for nuts to finish filling the larder, a very large closet in the kitchen.
“Oh,” Ester sighs as she studies her reflection of herself in her bedroom mirror. She is wearing a very plain brown dress with a white apron covering most of the front of the dress. “I do wish I looked as good as my sister looks in her outfits. Florina is just so beautiful.” Ester said softly.
“Pretty is as pretty does,” says a voice outside her bedroom window.
“What! Who’s at my window? Oh, it’s you, Jake, you silly grasshopper. There you are in your top hat and coat with tails. Are you still playing while we all work?” Ester asks all in one breath.
“There’s still plenty of time left. I’m not worried,” Jake laughs.
“I’ll collect some food for you too while we’re out you silly grasshopper,” Ester says laughing too. “ Winter is almost here and you will need the food.”
“What a nice thing to do, collecting nuts, for a silly grasshopper,” Jake says seriously. “Ester you are beautiful! I’ll come along and help.”
As Jake and Ester walk to Florina’s bedroom they can hear Florina talking to her mirror.
“Oh, bother,” pouts Florina as she ties on her apron. “This apron just doesn’t do anything for me. I look a lot better without it. But, Mother said we must wear it and get a lot of work done today. Oh, bother.”
“Pretty is as pretty does,” Jake pipes up.
“Oh, what’s that grasshopper doing here?” Florina says still pouting.
“He’s collecting some food with us,” Ester answers. “Are you going out with those ribbons in your fur and all those petticoats? After all, we’re going to be working not going to a party.”
Florina is dressed in a fine green dress with lots of ruffles, and lots of ribbons around her ears. Her apron is folded so only part of her skirt is covered.
“Yes, I know that. I have my apron on. I’m ready for work.” Florina whines as she picks up her basket.
They take off with Jake dancing ahead, Ester is right behind and Florina is following at the rear.
“Oh, do catch up Florina,” Ester calls.
“I’m coming,” answers Florina as she checks her reflection in a pool of water.
“Hello down there, Florina, Ester, and Jake,” calls a far away voice.
“Oh, hello Mrs. Eden,” Ester yells back. “We’re busy collecting nuts to finish filling our larder and Jake is collecting his food for the winter. How are you’re new babies?”
“The babies are just fine and growing every day. I’ve been so busy with the babies I’m a little behind on collecting my nuts,” Mrs. Eden answers with worry in her voice.
“Oh, Mrs. Eden, I’ve found a lot of nuts and have plenty to share,” Ester hollers as she stuffs her cheeks and even her apron pockets with nuts before scampering up the tree to Mrs. Eden’s little house. She hears her sister yelling something about a tomboy but pays no attention.
“Oh, thank you Ester,” Mrs. Eden says while hugging her. “You are beautiful!”
The trio continues walking through the forest, Ester picks up a few more nuts, Jake practices his dance steps, and Florina finds a perfect twig to comb her fur. As they move through the forest they meet an old lady squirrel walking very slowly.
“Oh, Mrs. Stanton!” Florina sings out. “I didn’t see you there.”
“I’m trying to collect nuts but these old bones don’t move very fast around the forest any more,” Mrs. Stanton answers weakly.
“Oh, Mrs. Stanton, I have plenty of nuts and can share some with you,” Ester offers.
“If you have enough to share that would really help. Thank you, Ester, you are beautiful!” Mrs. Stanton wipes a tear from her eye.
After leaving Mrs. Stanton, Ester hurries to catch up with Florina and Jake. They all check their baskets before packing up to leave. But when Ester checks her basket she lets out a wail. Jake pulls out his handkerchief to help her. Florina stops in her tracks.
“Are you sick? Did you hurt yourself? Oh, do tell us what is the matter,” Florina says with real concern for her sister.
“My basket is almost empty,” Ester laments trying hard not to cry.
“Don’t cry Ester,” Jake says, still offering the handkerchief. “You very kindly shared your nuts with the new mother Mrs. Eden and with the old squirrel Mrs. Stanton. And you helped me gather food.”
“Yes,” Florina agrees, “so let me share my nuts with you because I have plenty.”
“Florina how happy I am. Thank you for sharing,” Ester says through tears of happiness. “You are beautiful. When did you find all of these nuts.”
“Oh, I found some here and there as I walked through the forest,” Florina answers pleased because she is able to help her sister.
“Pretty is as pretty does. And you two are the prettiest squirrels in the forest,” Jakes says hugging both of them.
Copyright 2004 J. Roswell