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The Adventure of Woody the WoodRat
This particular Children’s story came to me several years ago when my husband, a Truck Driver, had an encounter with a Wood Rat in Chicago, Illinois. He was delivering a load of Christmas trees from Cadillac, Michigan to Chicago, when the rat jumped out at him in the middle of the city. He felt bad for this poor country rat being trapped in a strange new world.
I had written this, but was never able to publish due to the lack of illustrations that is required by most publishing companies. I hope you enjoy! Please feel free to leave comments below!
Woody forages for food
Woody the WoodRat lived in the woods in Cadillac Michigan, with his wife Clare and there 3 children. Early every morning, Woody would get up and go out to forage for food to bring back for his family. Since winter was beginning to set in they needed to get a good storage of food if they wanted to eat over the cold months.
Woody decided to go into the pine tree forest for the seeds to be found inside the many pine cones. He was busy climbing through the trees, jumping from limb to limb not paying much attention to his surroundings. He was making quite a haul of seeds for his winter supply.
All of a sudden he heard strange sounds coming from the tree he was in, the tree began vibrating and shaking. Woody hung on for dear life afraid to fall and lose his seeds. The tree went down on it’s side and just as Woody regained his grip the tree began to move again. This time it was put into a dark place and Woody felt the branches close in on him, soon it came out into the light but Woody was trapped. The tree was encased in some sort of netting. Woody couldn’t move much, being as squished as he was.
Again he felt the tree move and he heard voices, these weren’t the voices of his family or friends, these were human voices. His parents had told him about them once while sitting around the dinner table. Humans were to be avoided at all times they told him, humans are dangerous!
The tree felt airborne for a second or two only to land softly against other trees. Very shortly he was enclosed in a big box, and in total darkness. The next thing he knew he felt the box began to rumble and bump along. He was moving inside of something, he could feel it.
He finally worked his way through the branches and began gnawing his way, biting at the netting. After biting his way through a few lines he was free. His eyes adjusted to the dark and he could see a little bit. He was in a very large moving box, he must be in a truck! He had seen the outside of one of these one day while foraging on the side of a road one day.
Taking a ride in a big truck
Boy, was Clare going to be worried! All Woody could think of was his wife and children and how he missed them, wanting to be at home. Tonight when they went to bed he wouldn’t be there to tell them their bedtime stories. Who was going to help them with their homework? Clare did an awful lot of work during the day taking care of the nest and kids, she would be missing his help as well.
Every time Woody felt the truck stop, he would get by the door and be ready to jump. From time to time Woody fell asleep with the rumbling of the truck to lull him. All of a sudden there was a different sound, the truck stopped and this time the rumbling of the engine stopped as well. Woody was ready at the door.
He heard the truck driver begin to open the door and Woody jumped! The man was startled at the movement, not expecting anything to jump out at him. The man yelled “Hey!” at Woody, he was afraid and he ran. He saw more trees and ran toward them, trying to find a good hiding place. He ran in the center of them and up one tree in the hopes that the man didn’t see him.
The man did come looking for him for a minute, then said loudly, “Well little guy, you sure are far away from home! This is Chicago!” Then the man said “I’m going to be taking my break here for a while, if you need a ride home, be back here in 10 hours!”
Woody sat trembling in the tree for a few minutes, catching his breath. He had to think! How was he going to get back home? He was a long way from home, the smells were different, the sounds were an assault to his ears and these trees felt funny. He began to climb down the tree to check out his surroundings. He discovered that the tree he was in wasn’t even in the ground. It was cut off at the bottom.
The ground wasn’t earth, it was hard like the road he had seen before. He wandered among the trees to see if there was other wild life that he could talk to. Surrounding the trees was little flags and signs. It was Christmas time in Chicago, and the trees were Christmas trees waiting for people to buy them.
Woody makes a friend
As he got closer to the edge of the parking lot he saw another rat, foraging through some garbage. Woody didn’t understand this and he went to talk to the rat. At first the rat thought he was trying to take his food and hissed at him. When Woody said “Hold on pal, I just need some help.” The rat looked at Woody, who looked very different from the rats he normally saw. Woody was smaller and his fur was nice and shiny, but he looked healthy. “Well Cuz, you’re a long way from home aren’t you?” said the city rat. Woody agreed that he was indeed a long way from home.
Woody said to him “Yes sir, I am. Is there anyway you can help me get back home?” The city rat said “My name is Eddie, and if you come with me, we‘ll figure something out.” So Woody began to follow him. As he followed Eddie he looked around at all the tall hard looking things, that certainly weren’t trees. He asked Eddie what they were, Eddie replied “Those are buildings and if you value your life, you won’t go in them.” “Why is that?” asked Woody. “Well, humans live in those buildings and humans kill rats.” Woody shuddered at those words. He certainly didn’t want to die in a strange town.
Eddie and Olive
Eddie took him down a few alleys, between the tall buildings until they reached some other city rats who were having a nap. Eddie introduced him around to his friends and family. Woody met Eddies wife Olive, she was lovely. She invited Woody to supper. While they were eating, Woody talked.
Woody told her about his wife and children and where he was from. How the trees grew so tall and food was plentiful, there were no humans, usually. The air was fresh all the time, there was room for the kids to grow and play. He did tell them that winter got really cold though! Olive looked at Eddie and said “Oh Eddie, that place sounds divine! Can we move there?” Eddie and Olive were newly married and didn’t have children, and he thought about it for a little while. He told her “Olive, if we moved there you wouldn’t get to see your Mother or your sisters.” Olive decided to go speak with her mother for a little while, to ask her advice on moving.
The city is a dangerous place
Eddie continued to show Woody around their little part of the city. Woody told Eddie what the man had shouted after he ran. Eddie thought about it, not sure if he could trust a human or even if he wanted to. He had always avoided humans and their traps. While he was thinking he didn’t pay attention to Woody, the next thing he knew there were horns blaring. Eddie looked around and seen that Woody was in the middle of the road. Cars were all around, their tires coming too close to Woody for Eddie to feel comfortable.
Eddie yelled to Woody “Get out of the road, you wanna get run over?” As quickly as possible Woody got out of the road and onto the sidewalk once again. “Whew, that was scary!”, said Woody. “Ya gotta pay attention around here pal, you never know what‘s gonna come at you!” said Eddie. Woody said “Yeah, it’s dangerous around here, I want to go home!”
Eddie and Woody decided that the least they could do was give that truck diver a chance, to see if he really meant what he yelled.
A decision is made
They headed back to Eddie’s nest, Woody ready to go home, not liking the city at all. Olive was back from her Mother’s and she was excited. “Mother said we should go Eddie, get out of the city and find us a nest where we can raise our family.” Eddie thought about it and said “You know Olive, I think you’re right, we need to get into the country.” Then he looked at Woody and said “You’ll show me around? Help us out?” Woody said he would be glad to, and to Olive he said “You’re just going to love my wife Clare, she’s just as sweet as can be. She will be glad to have another female around to talk to.”
Olive gathered their meager belongings and with Eddies help they carried them back to the Christmas tree lot. Sure enough the truck was still there. They hid in the trees to make sure no one was looking, the door to the truck box was open just a little bit. Woody decided it was now or never and made a mad dash to the truck. Eddie and Olive followed, climbing in the truck box. The smell of the fresh pine trees was still inside. Olive commented on how fresh and wonderful it smelled. Woody told her “That’s the way the whole forest smells.”
The ride home
There were a few branches laying around the bed of the truck, so Woody and Eddie moved them into a corner for a nice soft resting place to await their ride. The sound of a door closing woke them and Woody peeked out of the branches to see the truck driver looking in the back of the truck. The truck driver said “Well there little guy I see you made it back from your adventure. Looks like you found a couple of friends to ride with you. We’ll have you home in about 6 hours or so, just hang on for the ride.” And the door closed, taking them into darkness.
The truck started up with a rumbling and the box started bouncing. The ride was a little rougher going home than it was before. They just sat huddled in the corner trying not to be sick. Eddie and Olive had never been for a ride before.
The truck stopped a couple of times, Eddie and Olive were ready to jump out but Woody was an old hand at this and told them, “Not until the truck shuts off.” They were just as nervous as Woody had been on his trip into the city.
Back home again!
Finally the truck stopped for the last time, the rumbling of the engine stopped and Woody said “It’s time to go folks.” They ran down the side of the truck box and waited by the door. Listening to the squeaking of the door handles, they were ready to jump. As soon as it was possible Eddie and Olive jumped out of the truck, with Woody close of their tails. Once they were free and clear of the truck, Woody stopped and turned around to look at the truck driver. They looked at each other and the truck driver said “You’re welcome little guy, be careful because next time you might not get a driver that likes rats.” The driver closed the doors and headed back to the cab of his truck.
Woody led the way to his nest to be greeted with squeals of delight from his wife and children. They had been so worried about him. Eddie and Olive stood back while Woody greeted his family and tried explaining to them about his adventure. Finally when things had calmed down he introduced his new friends to his wife and children.
As he predicted, Clare was delighted to meet Olive and have a friend. She couldn’t wait to show her the ropes. Woody himself was glad to have a friend, the two of them could forage together and share in the gatherings.