A little squirrel named Ferdinand was born on a sunny day in May. The strong rays of the sun warmed his skin as he snoozed comfortably. He spent four months living in his cozy nest with his siblings, surrounded by dense and lush leaves that provided shelter and shade.
Throughout the summer, Ferdinand and his siblings explored the many surrounding treetops and watched as the adult squirrels busied themselves burying acorns and nuts in the flower beds and lawns below.
Ferdinand was very curious about the upcoming winter. As he nibbled happily on a shriveled apple, he thought about the stories he had been told about cold weather and white flakes that fell from the sky. He wasn’t worried because he had grown a thick coat of fur.
Ferdinand was a happy squirrel and loved romping around with his friends and siblings. He enjoyed racing from one branch to the next the most.
He barely noticed that the colors of the leaves were changing each day as the sun got lower in the sky even though they glowed in vibrant shades of yellow and red all around him.
The weather was getting cooler too and a strong wind blew at night. Ferdinand did not mind. His nest was comfortably padded and his fur kept him warm.
He did have trouble adjusting to the nest rocking in the wind. The branch it sat on bobbed up and down with every gust. Sometimes Ferdinand was a little worried that it might fall down.
He woke up one beautiful autumn morning and, as usual, made a nimble leap onto the large branch that led to a wide gutter. From here, he had a good view of the entire street below.
Hold on! Something was different.
“Oh no, the leaves are gone!” thought Ferdinand. He jumped up and down nervously as he noticed that his nest was no longer surrounded by the golden yellow leaves that had been there just the day before.
“What on earth is going on?” wondered Ferdinand. “I have to put the leaves back where they belong!”
He set about picking up the many leaves from the ground. With a string, he laboriously reattached each one to the branches of the tree.
This kept Ferdinand busy for many hours. He carried each leaf up the tree trunk, one by one, and tied it carefully.
“Hey, Ferdi!” someone called from below. “What are you doing?”
The little squirrel poked his head through the leaves he had just tied and spotted Marlin the Raccoon.
“Exactly what it looks like! I’m saving the tree. It lost all its leaves during the night so I’m hanging them back up!” explained Ferdinand.
Marlin looked up in amazement. “Well, I’ve never seen anything like that before!” Shaking his head, the old raccoon went back to his ramble and disappeared.
Ferdinand heard someone else call up to him. “What are you doing up there?”
He climbed down the tree trunk to get a better look and recognized the little weasel.
“What else would I be doing?” asked Ferdinand. “Can you help me hang all these leaves back up?”
The weasel said, “Not today, no time!” Then he hurried away.
Exhausted, the little squirrel sat down under the tree and looked up. “There are still so many leaves missing, I’ll never be able to replace them all by myself!”
Suddenly he heard a loud rustling. Lilly and Caspar, two hedgehogs, were climbing through the big piles of leaves.
“Hello you two! Could you help me with these leaves?” asked Ferdinand.
The two hedgehogs nodded. “Sure. We know a lot about leaves. What can we do to help you?” asked Lilly.
“I was wondering if you could help me tie the leaves back on the tree. They all fell off overnight. I think the tree is sick!” said Ferdinand.
The two hedgehogs looked at each other in wonder. “Haven’t you ever seen leaves fall from trees before?” asked Caspar.
“We were just looking for a suitable pile of them to hibernate in,” Lilly explained.
“Hibernate in a pile of leaves?” asked Ferdinand. “So you live in these mountains of leaves throughout the winter?”
“Exactly! We look for a pile that is as sheltered from the wind as possible so that the leaves don’t fly away,” said Caspar.
“Wait, then it’s normal for the leaves to fall off the tree?” asked Ferdinand.
“Yes! Every year in autumn the leaves fall off all the trees. This helps the trees save energy so they can survive the winter. It’s great for us too because the fallen leaves are a perfect, cozy shelter!” said Lilly happily.
“Here I was trying to put all the leaves back on!” said Ferdinand, laughing out loud. The two hedgehogs laughed too. They looked up towards the treetop where Ferdinand had tied the leaves to the tree and admired what had turned into a true work of art.