Description: It reminds us about the fact that ‘wildlife’ is not as wild as we think.
One Sunday, after lunch, Arthur was playing at home when his parents asked, “Arthur, should we take a walk?” “Oh yes!” Arthur answered.
Arthur grabbed his favourite toy, a stuffed fox, and went out with his parents. They went up the hill and followed the path leading to the forest. Arthur enjoyed taking a stroll but he stared down at his feet, and often checked that his toy was all right, so he was not going very fast. His parents told him, “Arthur, stay close to us so you don’t get lost.” Arthur was about to answer when he looked up from his feet and stopped, suddenly. He could no longer see his parents; he could see only trees and bushes.
He called them, “Mummy? Daddy? Where are you?” Nobody answered.
Arthur was afraid, he sat down and sighed very hard. Where are my parents? How am I going to find my way back home? The forest seemed very large and threatening.
Suddenly, a red shadow came out from a bush and stopped in front of him. “Hello” said the red shadow, “why are you sad?” Arthur looked closer and saw that it was a fox, a real one, with sharp eyes, thin paws and a fluffy tail. “Hello”, Arthur answered. “I am sad because I cannot find my mummy and daddy.” They shouldn’t be very far away,” the fox said. “Come with me, we will find them.”
Arthur got up and followed the fox’s fluffy tail. “Do you live here?” he asked. “The forest scares me.” “Yes, I live in the forest,” the fox answered, sniffing yellow flowers here, red flowers there, “I know it by heart! I know it by day, when it is hot, when the air is heavy and the smells are strong. And I know it by night, in the fresh, cool air, and I gaze at the stars from the hilltop.”
The fox kept walking and looked at everything around him. He stopped and turned to Arthur. “Look at the trees,” he said. “These are pines. They smell good.” Arthur smelled the perfumed air which almost tickled his nose.
The fox started walking again and soon stopped next to a rock. “Touch the white stone,” he said, “it’s soft.” Arthur put his hand on the smooth, cool stone, and then placed it on his cheek, which was warm. Next to the white stone, there was grey rock with green moss, but also purple flowers and yellow flowers. “So many colours!” exclaimed Arthur.
After a few moments, the fox said, “Listen to the cicadas. They sing all afternoon when it is hot.’ Arthur could barely hear him, because the cicadas were singing very loudly! The cicadas made ss ss ss ss ss sounds.
When they were quiet, Arthur could hear bird songs. They went up the hill and, at the top, the fox sat down in the shadow of a tree, on a mat of pine needles. Just behind the tree, there was a cliff of grey stone overhanging the woods. “From here, I can see the whole forest,” the fox said, “and the birds in the sky, the butterflies, the bees and the clouds. At night, I see the bats and the fireflies, I hear the crickets and watch the stars.” Arthur also stood under the tree and admired the sea of green woodland below, with dots of white stone. And when the wind blew, he felt the warm air with the smell of pine and the earth drifting up. They went down the hill and were again in the heart of the forest. “The forest is a wonderful place,” the fox said to Arthur. “It is full of extraordinary sounds, colours, smells and textures. You just have to look around you. Are you still scared?”
“Oh, no!” Arthur said. “Everything is so beautiful! Thank you for showing me the forest. From now on, when I am walking, I will look at everything around me and not only at my feet.”
The fox said, “Your parents are behind these big bushes, go to them!” Arthur hugged the fox to thank him and ran to his parents “Mummy, Daddy, I finally found you!” Arthur exclaimed with relief.
“A fox helped me look for you and showed me the forest.” “But what are you saying, Arthur? his mother asked. “You went hiding behind these bushes to play a few minutes ago.” “And speaking of foxes,” his father said, “where is your toy?” Arthur looked around. These were the same bushes. And he did not have his toy.
He ran behind the bushes and yelled, “The fox will surely help me find my toy, he knows the forest so well!” But in place of the fox, Arthur saw his toy. He picked it up swiftly and called the fox, the real one, but the fox did not show up.
“Come on, Arthur,” his parents said, “let’s go on with our walk. Besides, foxes are very shy, you know, they like to hide.” Arthur started walking again and kept looking around him to see the fox. He looked at the trees and flowers, he smelled the pines, touched the rocks and listened to the cicadas and birds. Then he remembered that it was the fox who had helped him enjoy the forest.
So, he hugged his toy fox very tight and said, “Thank you.” On a stroll with his parents, Arthur learned to appreciate the forest, thanks to one of its inhabitants with sharp eyes and a fluffy tail.
About the illustrator –
Aadhya Ganesh is a student that is passionate about taking action to protect the environment, using art and music as a medium to connect people to nature. She loves to play and teach piano and she aspires to become a veterinarian