THE BALLOON RIDE

Granny tells a story

Gather round, children, and let Granny tell you a story!  Would you like to hear a story about Freddy Mouse?  Good!  Freddy lived in a big red barn across the lane from a big white farm house.  A little boy named Pete lived in the big white house and Freddy loved to watch him play.  Well, this day…     Freddy Mouse woke up, stretched, straightened his whiskers, nibbled a piece of corn for breakfast, and thought about the day.  The late morning sunlight was warm and golden as it fell upon the hay bales in the big red barn.  The hayloft was Freddy’s home and he was very comfortable inside and outside.

“What shall I do today?” he thought.  He ran down a beam to the driveway of the barn, looked out the door and around the barn lot.  He looked at the big white farmhouse across the cinder lane.

“I wonder if Pete will play outside today?” wondered Freddy.  And, just then, he saw Pete come out of the house and run down the sidewalk.  He was holding something big and round and red.  The something had a string tied to it and bobbed along in the air behind the little boy.

“Hmmm, what’s that?” thought Freddy.  “It certainly looks interesting!  I’d like a closer look!”  He scampered across the barnlot, under the gate, across the lane and behind a big rhubarb leaf.  From there he watched Pete play.

Pete ran through the yard and the red toy bounced along behind and above him.  He would bat it and it would float away and come back.  Pete was having fun!

Just then Pete’s mother called, “Breakfast is ready!”

“Not yet, Mom!” Pete answered.  “I don’t want to come in yet.”

“You have to come in and eat,” said his Mother, “just tie your balloon out there and you can play with it after breakfast.”

“So!” thought Freddy, “that’s a balloon!’

Pete tied the balloon’s string to the twig of a rose bush.  He was in a hurry and didn’t knot it very well.  Then, he went into the house.  Freddy jumped up and down with delight!

Wonder if this will bounce?

“O boy!  Now’s my chance to get a closer look at that balloon!”  He ran out from under his leaf and over to where the balloon was tied.  He saw the string hanging down from the twig and wondered if he could make it bounce like Pete did.  He wrapped the string around his front foot and gave a tug.  It did bounce!  He wrapped the string a little tighter so he could get a better grip and gave a bigger tug.  The balloon bounced higher.  The third time, he gave a VERY hard pull.  And the string came loose, the balloon went up in the air, and Freddy went with it!

“O boy!” squeaked Freddy.  “This is fun!”  And he grabbed the rest of the string with his other front foot so he could hold on really tight.  Then, he looked down. “Uh oh,” he thought, “up is certainly a long way from down!”

Up is a long way from down!

He held on even more tightly.  “I hope I don’t fall off this balloon!”

The balloon floated across the yard, over a tree and across the pasture.  And still, Freddy was swinging back and forth below it.  It sailed across the creek and into the woods.  Freddy was getting scared.  “How will I ever get back to my barn?” he thought.

The balloon finally came to rest in the top of a big tree.  Freddy grabbed a branch with his hind feet and held on for dear life while he worked the string off his front feet.  “You can just go on by yourself, old balloon!” he cried, “I’m tired of flying!”

He made his way down to a broad limb, and there he peeked through the leaves to the ground.  “Oh, no!  I’m still a long way up!  What am I going to do?”  Freddy began to shiver.

A squirrel came down the tree!

Just then a big, gray squirrel came skittering down the tree.  He stopped short when he saw Freddy.  “What are you doing up a tree?” he asked.

“Ooooohhhhhh,” said Freddy, still shivering, “see that red shiny thing up there?”

The squirrel looked at the red balloon stuck in the top of the tree. “Yeah.” said the squirrel.

“Well, you see, this kid was playing with it.  Pete.  He’s my friend only he doesn’t know it and I went over to watch and he left it and I grabbed the string, – see it dangling? – and it flew and flew!  A long way and it left me here and I don’t know how to get down and I don’t know how to get back to my barn….and I feel miserable!”  Freddy ran out of breath and courage all at the same time.

“Slow down!” said the squirrel.  “My name’s Sammy and I’m good at solving problems.  I can get you home.  Just let me think.”

“Can you take me back?” asked Freddy.

“Nah, I don’t go that far.” said Sammy, “I stay pretty much around this tree.  But there’s a friend of mine goes everywhere you can imagine.  Just a minute.”  The squirrel ran back up the three to the very top.  He yelled, “Hey, Randy Raven!  You around anywhere?”  Then he ran down and sat by Freddy.  “He’ll be here pretty soon if he heard me.”

Suddenly, a huge black bird came flapping straight toward Freddy and Sammy.  Before Freddy could jump, the bird lit on the limb right next to him.  Freddy was so scared he ran behind Sammy and hid in his tail!

Sammy laughed.  “C’mon, Freddy, don’t be scared.  This is my friend, Randy Raven.  You can ride on his back and he can fly you to your barn.”

“F,f,f,fly?” stuttered Freddy.  “Are you sure?  He’s awfully big and he’s got a mean looking beak.  He could really hurt me!”

“He won’t hurt you,” said Sammy. “He’s nice.  Talk to him, Randy, and tell him you’re OK!”

“Well, he looks like a pipsqueak to me!” said the big bird.  “Looks like a scared little wimp!”

“I am not a wimp!” Freddy stepped out trying to make his muscles look big.  “I’m as brave as anybody!”

Randy put his head down close and looked at him with one big, yellow eye.  “You sure you’re brave enough to fly?”

‘Y y y y yes,” said Freddy, “I I I’m just Freddy Mouse and I’m lost and I I I’d sure like to get back to my barn!”

The only way I can get you there is for you to climb on my back, grab a couple feathers and let me fly.”

“Your back?”  asked Freddy, looking very small and nervous again.

“Back,” repeated Randy, “Unless you want me to grab you with my claws.  “’Course you’d be real close to my big beak if I did that!”

“Quit teasing him, Randy!” scolded Sammy.  “He’ll take you home, Freddy.  He’s a good bird.  Even if he does like to kid around!”

Freddy stood there for a minute, but he couldn’t think of any other way to get home.  So, he climbed on Randy’s back and settled in behind his wings.  Almost before he’d had time to grab feathers with all four feet, Randy took off!  Freddy thought he might faint.  And Randy decided to pull a few more tricks.  He swooped down low and then back up again. Poor Freddy’s stomach did cartwheels.

Randy straightened out and laughed.  “You hold on pretty good, kiddo!  Where did you say you lived?”

Freddy answered weakly, “I I I live on over the creek and through the yard and in that barn.”  He pointed with a trembling paw. “See over there?”

Randy flew over the creek, through the yard and into the opening in the haymow where bales were unloaded.  He lit on a bale of hay and let Freddy jump off. “Now, you’re home.  If you want, I’ll come see you another time.  But you better stay close to home ‘til then so you don’t get into any more trouble!”

Freddy was so glad to be home! He thanked Randy and waved to him as he flew off.  Even though he felt he had indeed been rather brave throughout, he stretched out on the bale and thought, “I don’t think I’ll ever leave home again!”  And he was so tired from being frightened that he curled up and took a long nap.

Freddy takes a nap!

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About dswan2

Poet, author, columnist, lyricist, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, wife of 50 years. Born and raised in America's Heartland
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