The WoodChuck That Wanted To Fly – Open Heart Story
Story By Cynthia Lee De Boer
A family of woodchucks was snugly sleeping in their dark burrows, content with their lives. Edie was the youngest and the exception. This sunrise found her as so many before, staring up at the trees longing to be a bird. A robin to be exact; just like her friend Betty. She envied her friend’s beautiful singing voice, slender body and magnificent wings. Most of all—she envied her ability to fly!
Edie didn’t like her thick stocky body with its short legs and tail. Her family tried to encourage her by telling her what great diggers they were. They bragged about being able to sleep all winter while birds had to fly south. Woodchucks also considered themselves to be very attractive. They had cute little ears, sensitive whiskers and strong claws for digging. Digging, digging, digging! That seemed to be all her family could talk about. Edie found it to be
Bor-rring, with a capital “B”. She wanted to fly through the air—not dig through the earth! But that was not to be.
She ran everyone off with her constant complaining, so she decided to move, burrowing a new home at the base of Betty’s tree. The two friends shared meals of seeds, flowers and insects. Betty filled Edie’s head with her stories of sky and wind and wonderful places, far from the forest. The stories were amazing, but they only increased the young woodchuck’s sadness. She began sleeping longer and longer, escaping into her dreams, where she flew with Betty on amazing adventures. Soon Betty couldn’t even coax Edie from her bed. She worried for her friend and went to the woodchucks to ask for help. After a long talk they realized it was all up to Edie. Betty visited Edie throughout the days to follow but nothing changed.
Meanwhile, summer was passing quickly and Betty had become the mother of three tiny birds. Exhausted from caring for her young and her friend, she fell into a deep sleep with outstretched wings protecting her young from the increasing rainfall. Suddenly, a loud crack of lightening sent Betty’s tree slamming onto the ground. She and her chicks were pinned under heavy branches and layers of pine needles. The forest instantly jolted into a noisy chattering. Everyone was scurrying about searching for family members and watching fire dance over the fallen tree.
Edie quickly emerged from her burrow hearing cries for help. Without thinking, she began to dig. The only way out was down, and Edie was at Betty’s side within seconds, freeing her and her offspring. Into the safety of the earth they raced through the freshly dug tunnel and surfaced several yards from the burning tree. They watched in horror, as their home was already lost in the flames. Thanks to Edie, the robin family escaped certain death.
Betty arranged a “Hero’s Party’ and the entire forest came. Edie, embarrassed by all the attention, sat high on a flat stump covered with beautiful flowers. Betty began the celebration by sharing the story of her amazing rescue. Edie spoke next, saying she did not feel like a hero at all. In fact, she felt ashamed for all her complaining. Her speech ended with loud cheers from the crowd when she said, “I just did what every woodchuck is meant to do:
Author’s Note: We each have special gifts, and we need to appreciate them. The adorably perfect drawing was provided by Mark Danner. Original Story Date: August 2009