Buttercup & the Yellow Bellied Sap-Sucker
Some days are just perfect for a picnic,
and this was one of those days. The sun was out, the birds were singing, and
the picnic basket was packed. Buttercup peered into the basket to see exactly what
There were yummy cucumber sammies. There were carrots, with crisp green tops. There
were bright red radishes tucked neatly next to some long, green stalks of
crunchy celery. And there was something else in the basket, something that her
eyes could not see, but the yummy-tummy sweet smell could not hide from her
little nosie. She knew where they were, they were
right there under the soft white cloth with the tiny color prints of little
bunches of carrots and lettuces. She reached down inside and lifted one corner
of the cloth, and there they were! First she saw their little stems that were
brown at the tips, and as she lifted the cloth some more she saw their
beautiful, freckled yellow bodies. “Nanas!” She
The yellow color of the nanas reminded
Buttercup that she was going to the Park hoping to see the elusive Yellow
Bellied Sapsucker. Elusive means that
you hardly ever see a Yellow Bellied Sapsucker when you go out to the Park to
“Papa-Shmapa! How many nanas are we taking to the
picnic?” asked Buttercup.
“Why don’t you count them?” Suggested her Papa as he shut all the windows in the apartment.
Buttercup grumbled in a playful voice,
“Every time I need to know how many
nanas theriz in a picnic basket I got to count ‘em!”
She smiled because she only pretends to be upset when she has to count nanas.
The truth is she loves to count...especially when there were nanas to count.
“Oh-Tay Papa Shmapa!” said
Buttercup and she took a deep breath and began to count the nanas. “Now let’s
see, there’s a one nana,” she gave the first one a soft pat, “...and there’s
another one nana,” she gave the second one a soft pat also, “and there’s
another one nana...he’s a fat juicy one!” She gave the third nana a soft pinch
on his freckles. “And a baby one nana...hiding behind the sammies! Yay!” She shouted.
“How many nanas did you count,
Butters?” asked her Papa as he came over and peered into the basket. Pumpkin
also came over and looked into the basket. He took a few sniffs of the nanas
“Papa, I counted a one nana, and
another one, and another, and the baby one there...that makes...” she thought
very hard, “a whole bunch of happy nanas there in the picnic basket!” She was
very proud of herself so she gave Pumpkin a soft pinch on his chubby cheeks and
she gave her Papa a big hug.
good! One day you’ll be able to count big bunches of nanas...all
by yourself.” Said her Papa.
“And Papa I can’t count nanas too you
know!” said Pumpkin as he got himself mixed up in the hug. Then he got a hold
of his papa by the chin and pulled it gently toward him and said “I love to eat
‘dem nanas too you know.” He whispered into his
“Papa, do you think that we’ll get to
see old Yellow Belly today?” asked Buttercup.
“Papa how come we never saw that little
birdie no time?” asked Pumpkin. “Maybe I think so we’d never see his face...” before
Pumpkin could continue Buttercup cut in.
Papa! We’d see that ole Yellow Belly...I just know it Papa. Then
she held Pumpkin by his floppy ears and beseeched him to believe that they will
see the Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker. Beseech means you hold someone by the ears
and tell them that they’ll see a thing that they don’t believe they’ll see.
“You think we have enough nanas there in that picnic basket Papa Shnups?” She continued.
When it was settled that there were
enough bananas...“because you know it’ll be a sad face time if you run out of nana’s in the middle way of a picnic!” she asked her papa
one more time about the Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker.
do you think we’ll get to see that pretty birdie today?” She
spoke quietly because she didn’t want Pumpkin to stop believing.
“I don’t know Sweet-Lumps,” said her
papa as he lifted them both up to look out of the window. “Maybe you can make a
big wish...maybe we can all make a big wish.”
“Oooow I can
make some big ones of those ones!” she said as she got ready to make a big
“And Papa I can make big wishes too you
know!” said Pumpkin as he pulled at his papa’s chin once again.
They walked up the Avenue which was
quite busy. Papa held the picnic basket and Pumpkin and Buttercup held each
other’s hands. Just before they entered the Park they saw a big brown horse
standing at the entrance to the park.
“Hello Mr. Horsie!”
greeted Buttercup. “We’re going to the park for a picnic and you can come too”.
The horse looked very sad. “and we’re going to look
for the Yellow Belly Sappy-Face...did you see the ‘yellow-belly’ anyplace Mr. Horsie?”
“No I’m sorry I didn’t little bunny
rabbit, and I cannot go to your picnic because I have to work here for the rest
of the day,” said Mr. Horse who found it hard to speak because there was a
thick steel rod inside his mouth, he looked very despondent. ‘Despondent’ means a horse can’t go to a
picnic when all he wants to do is go to a picnic.
“Oh Mr. Horsie
I would love for you to come along on our picnic we’ve got lots of sammies and nice veggi-bibbles.” Said Buttercup trying to cheer up the big beautiful animal.
The horse turned his head around to watch his driver who was standing against a
light post having a drink from something in a brown paper bag. Maybe it was
raspberry juice because it made his eyes very red.
“No you go along without me little
bunny rabbit and I’ll stay here just in case the Yellow-Belly Sapsucker comes
along,” said the horse.
“Well OK then,” said Buttercup and her
papa lifted her to give the horse a big hug and kiss. She then took a tall
crunchy carrot from the picnic basket and gave it to the animal. The horse took
the carrot and smiled. His smile was so bright that you could barely make out
the shining steel rod fastened through his mouth.
Once inside the Park they saw a
bushy-tail squirrel that ran every which where with a big nut in his mouth.
there Mr. Screwy-Willy!” Said Buttercup as the squirrel ran up
a tree and sat on a comfy branch. He was a young one born just last spring.
“I’m having a walnut for lunch.” Said he. “My mama told me where it was buried...right there
over by that flower bed right over there!” And he began to munch on the big
“We’re going on a picnic and we’re
going to look for the Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker, and we got lots of nanas and sammies and cup-cakes, all kinds of nice stuff right there
in that picnic basket!” said Buttercup excitedly. “Did you see the old
Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker Mr. Screwy-Willy?” she asked. The squirrel was quite
occupied with his big walnut.
“I ain’t see
no Yellow...I’m having a walnut right here...my mama tell me that it was buried
right over by the flower bed right there...” said the young squirrel and he
continued munching on his nut.
Further in the Park behind a long line
of freshly painted green benches they saw a flock of pigeons being fed by an
old woman with fat ankles.
“Hey Pidgy-Widgies! We’re going on a picnic and we’re
going to look for the Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker and we got lots of nanas and sammies and all kinds of nice stuff right there in that
picnic basket!” said Buttercup excitedly. “Did you see the old Yellow-Bellied
Sapsucker Pidgy-Widgies?” she asked. The pigeons were
quite busy eating all the food that the lady with fat ankles was feeding them.
One of them took the time to answer, her but his mouth was so full of food that
Buttercup didn’t understand what he said at all. She turned to her papa. “Papa
I’m getting worried! No one is seeing that ole Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker!”
Just then a gang of black crows landed
on top of a tall oak tree that leaned over the path. Buttercup tried to talk to
them but they were making such a ruckus that she could not get a single word
They went up a little hill where they
could see the big lake with the ducks and swans and cormorants and all agreed
that they should have their picnic right there under a shady Yoshino Cherry. A
Yoshino Cherry is a big tree with a little sign on it that says “Yoshino
Pumpkin walked under the tree and
looked straight up.
“Papa, maybe one day when I’m big and
tall I can climb all the way up that tree right there!” His papa picked up the
little brown and white bunny and put him close to the tree so he could feel
what it’s like to be up high. Pumpkin was a little apprehensive. ‘Apprehensive’ means a bunny is not really
quite ready for getting up high in a tree. “Papa maybe I can climb this
tree after we have some nanas and maybe you can put me back down closer to the
picnic basket on the ground right there” said Pumpkin pointing to where the
Time!” Buttercup shouted. She yelled so hard that the raccoons all
the way across the lake could hear her. Pretty soon there were some ducks
joining them around the picnic basket. There were Mr. and Mrs. Duck and their
new babies. Buttercup gave each little duckling a little hug. One little
duckling jumped on Pumpkin’s back for a ride. Pumpkin was very shy and didn’t
want to give the little downy quacker a ride so he
sat put. Only the baby duck climbed up onto Pumpkin’s head and peered over to
watch his chubby face. Pumpkin didn’t like too much what was happening because
the duckling’s little webbed feet were still wet from swimming around in the
lake. But when the little fuzz ball looked over at him and their eyes met he
felt sort of fuzzy in his little bunny tummy. He had to kind of cross his eyes
to see the duckling’s eyes and then all of a sudden he felt like hopping around
the picnic basket to give the ducking a ride. The duckling was having so much
fun that all his brothers and sisters decided to hop on. Buttercup jumped with
delight and Mr. and Mrs. Duck laughed and cheered.
“Papa, that’s such a happy thing that
it makes me want to sing a song!” said Buttercup.
“Then sing a song and we’ll all sing
along with you!” said Papa.
“But Papa I don’t know any songs ‘bout
some duckies on a fat-faced bunny’s back or anything
like so!” she said as she appeared to be a little sad.
“Then maybe you can make one up,” said
Papa, “you know how you’re good at that sort of thing,” he continued.
“Well you’re right about that,” she
said confidently, “I come up with some good ones sometimes.” She boasted. Then
she watched the little ducklings hopping onto Pumpkin’s back and some of them
were falling off and rolling in the grass. She began to sing;
song, a happy song, a happy little sing-a-song,
some duckies riding on Mr. Pumpkin’s back,
there goes one, and there goes another,
every one is having lots of fun...
She swayed her shoulders from left to
right and clapped her tiny bunny hands.
one little duckie on the bunny’s head,
another little duckie on the bunny’s back,
fat little one on his pumpkin sack
there goes a one who fell on her bum
she’s rolling on the grass there
Buttercup was having so much fun that she forgot all
about the picnic basket. But she didn’t forget about the special someone that
they came to see. She hopped into her papa’s arms,
“Oh Papa, if only the Ole Yellow Belly
was here she could sing along with us!” She put her little head in her Papa’s
chest. Then she sprung up when she remembered that she didn’t ask Mr. and Mrs.
Duck if they saw the Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker. “Oh Mr. and Mrs. Duck did you
see the Old Yellow Bellied Sapsucker any place today?”
“No we haven’t,” answered Mr. Duck in a
Just then a sparrow flew in and landed
on the black wire fence close by.
“Mrs. Sparrow, Mrs. Sparrow did you see
the Yellow-Belly Sapsucker?” asked Buttercup. The little brown sparrow looked
to the left and she looked to the right, and then she answered.
“Today is a very sunny day and I
decided to take a bath in the sand!” Sometimes sparrows talk about something
other than Yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers.
“Maybe you’ll like to have some
sunflower seeds or maybe a cucumber sammy
from our picnic basket?” offered Buttercup.
“Well since it’s a sunny day I think
I’ll have some sunflower seeds.” Most of the time Sparrows
respond correctly when sunflower seeds are offered.
It was time to setup the picnic and
everyone helped. Pumpkin held one corner of the picnic blanket, Mrs. Duck held
another and Buttercup held the third. Mrs. Sparrow flew down and helped with
the last corner. It was spread out on the soft grass, but just before it was
laid flat all the little ducklings ran under it. All except the one little
duckling that remained on Pumpkin’s back.
“Hey you little duckies
you better come out from under that picnic blanket!” shouted Buttercup as she
lifted her corner of the blanket to see them. When she told them about the
nanas in the picnic basket they all came out in a hurry.
Mr. & Mrs. Swan and their four cygnets
climbed out of the lake and walked up the hill towards the picnic. The raccoon
family came from way across the lake--they walked with their three cubs one behind the next on the outside ridge along Bow Bridge. Each
one brought some stuff for the picnic. The swans brought a small bundle of nut
weed, and some gooseberries, and the raccoons brought a bouquet of fragrant Linden
blossoms. Sitting on one of the Linden
blossoms was Mr. Bumble Bee and his two children. His boy had his head buried
inside of a blossom and he wiggled his feet as he ate some nectar deep inside
the flower. His girl bumble bee appeared sad and somewhat angry.
“What’s the matter little girl bumble
bee?” asked Buttercup as she put her nosie very close
to the distraught little bee. (Distraught means a bee’s not happy). Buttercup
gave a soft poke to her brother’s bum who was still buried halfway inside the
“Well we were sitting high up on a
tree, my papa, my brother and me, and we were having some lunch on these
blossoms, and all of a sudden someone broke off all our blossoms and put them
in this basket!” cried the little girl bumble bee, who turned and gave a mean
look to Mrs. Raccoon.
Mrs. Raccoon looked surprised and
“We’re sorry little bumble bee, we
shall never pick any blossoms again, especially if there are pretty little
bumble bees on them,” said Mr. Raccoon who hugged his wife and his three cubs.
One of his cubs climbed up his papa’s back to look into the basket with the
“I would like to sit next to you at the
picnic,” said the little raccoon cub to the little girl bee. She looked at the
handsome little cub and blushed a little. When a
little girl bumble bee blushes, it means she likes the idea of sitting next to
the little boy raccoon. Buttercup gave another soft poke to the little boy bee
who pulled his head out slowly from the blossom. His face was covered in sticky
nectar. He looked at Buttercup and smiled and she put her nosie
up close to him and he gave her a little kiss, only his face got stuck to her nosie and his sister had to help pull him off.
Everyone sat down around the picnic
basket and had a saucer of goodies.
“Now it’s your turn to have something
to eat Buttercup, you haven’t eaten anything,” said Papa to his little bunny
who was only concerned with serving a cucumber sandwich to Mrs. Duck, and a
small bunch of red grapes for the raccoon cubs, and a sprig of fresh dill for
another excited mouth.
Papa who can think of eating when you
know who ain’t no place to be seen?
“What’s that?” asked Mr. Bumble Bee as he
hovered in the air and pointed toward the sky. There was something in the sky
and it was yellow, and blue, and red and there were some purple parts too.
“What’s that Papa?” asked Pumpkin who
still had his little duckling friend clinging to his neck. He reached up so his
papa could lift them both higher. As his papa lifted them, the duckling climbed
up on Pumpkin’s head and held on to one of his floppy ears.
“I know, I know!” shouted the youngest
of the raccoon cubs, “that right there is a airy-plane!” he looked back timidly
to his siblings to see if they agreed with him, then he turned to look at his
little bumble bee friend with a very proud expression. Timidly means a young
raccoon isn’t too sure if a yellow and blue and red and purple thing up in the
sky is an airy-plane.
no airy-plane up there boy!” said one of Mr. & Mrs. Swan’s little cygnets.
“That’s a mota-sickle up there!” The little cygnet
appeared proud that he knew what the thing was. “I know all ‘bout mota-sickles and all that stuff!” he continued. Then he dipped
his head low to the ground and began to run in and around everyone making a
very silly sound with his bill. “Brrrrrrr, brrrrrr!” he went.
“That aint no mota-sickle! That
up there is a shrishmush tree!” cried another voice.
“No it ain’t
a shrishmush tree!” yelled young rat, “it’s a...it’s
a...” he continued nervously.
“It’s a what?” asked Buttercup who put
her hands on her waist and looked straight at the bashful little rat. The
little chubby face rat immediately hid himself behind his mother.
telling you nothin!” he covered his face with his
mother’s dress, and then he peered out on the other side of her. “How come you
only like to ask me a whole bunch of things?” he yelled, then
he covered his face again peering out of one side, then the other. Buttercup
leaned over to one side to catch a glimpse of the little rat who quickly peered
out of the other side.
“I’m going to catch you!” she whispered
aloud to him.
catching me!” he said and he covered his entire body under Mrs. Rat’s dress.
“How come we aren’t having some of that pie there?” From where Buttercup was
standing only the little rat’s tiny arm could be seen from behind his mother’s
dress pointing to a large black raspberry pie sitting flat on the picnic
“Those are balloons floating up there,”
said Papa finally. Someone probably had a party and let them loose.
“How come we don’t have any balloons on
our picnic Papa?” asked Pumpkin as he gently pulled his papa’s chin toward his
Just at that moment Mrs. Duck began
quacking very loud because she got quite upset. Mr. Duck put his arm around her
and tried to calm her down. Papa knew why Mrs. Duck got upset so he began to
explain to Pumpkin,
“Oh no Pumpkin, we shall never have
balloons on our picnic,” he said to the attentive little bunny rabbit.
“But why Papa, balloons are so pretty
and they got red ones and blue ones and all kinds of ones there...” he asked,
as he looked into his papa’s eyes.
“And-and-and they got some red ones too,
and they go up high in the sky there!” said his little ride-along duckling
“Yes they are pretty and they do go up
high, but sometimes they break and make a loud scary noise!” explained Papa.
“Then the little pieces get everywhere...” he continued.
“And little ducklings eat them and get
very, very sick!” cried Mrs. Duck.
“And little raccoons swallow them nasty
things too!” cried Mrs. Raccoon.
“And that’s why we don’t have balloons
on our picnics,” said Papa and he put the two little ones gently on the picnic
blanket. Pumpkin’s little duckling friend jumped off and went over to his
mother, who was still very upset. He nestled his head under her wing. Pumpkin
followed his friend close behind and gave Mrs. Duck a soft pat on her wing.
In the midst of all that was happening
Buttercup heard a faint whistle in the big London Plane next to the picnic
blanket. She looked up and saw a small bird up there, first on a high branch, then it flew to a low one. There on the low branch the bird
stood still as a soft breeze ruffled the soft downy feathers on her small face.
Buttercup stood very still with her mouth agape. (Agape means that a bunny
can’t believe that she’s seeing a thing that she’s actually seeing). Everyone
was paying attention to the balloons and could not see what poor Buttercup was
seeing. She was too shocked however to draw their attention to it.
But how did she know that this was the bird
that she craved to see for so long. How could she be sure if she couldn’t even
tell what color the bird’s belly was?
And indeed see could not, for there was
so little light. Mr. Sun was far from setting, however a big puffy cloud got
right in front of his fat yellow face. The thing with clouds sometimes is that
they could get in front of Mr. Sun and make it really hard for a bunny to see
what color a little bird’s belly is.
Not but a few moments later it seemed
like the cloud got a little push, from the wind perhaps, and it began to move.
Sometimes the wind does stuff like that if it sees a bunny rabbit having a hard
time making out the color of a little bird’s belly.
Gradually there was a little bit of
sunlight beginning to appear on the green leaves of the London Plane, and the
little bird looked up because there was perhaps a dragonfly passing by above
her. And as she raised her little head to see if it was indeed a dragonfly, the
patch of sunlight struck her little body and made it quite bright, but her
belly was still hidden. That’s the thing with little birds sometimes; they show
off their bellies all the day long except for when a little bunny rabbit wants
to see what color their belly is. Buttercup was hopeful so she stood up almost
on her tippy toes, with her little paws clenched up
by her little mouth, and the little bird turned just enough to make the sun
sparkle in her eye. She turned some more and her belly turned also, and the
sunlight bounced off it to show the yellowiest, belliest
anyone had ever seen.
She sure had a yellow belly, but was
she the real yellow belly sapsucker? When Buttercup looked around she saw that
everyone was staring up at the bird that was perched on the low branch. Then
she heard someone behind her speak,
“How do we know it’s a Yellow Bellied
Sapsucker?” It could have been Mr. Raccoon who asked the question, but
Buttercup wasn’t sure. She knew it was Old Yellow Belly up there because she
could feel it in her tummy, that’s how. She could even close her eyes and know
because a special feeling in her tummy made her know. But for the rest of
observers it takes more than having a yellow belly to be a Yellow Bellied
And just then, while the sunlight was still
making her belly glow with that soothing golden color, she leaned her little
head down toward the front of the bough and looked keenly at something that was
flowing very slowly down the side of the branch. It was something thick and
clear and it sparkled in the sunshine. The pretty little bird with the yellow belly
put her little beak closer to the substance and just before she made contact,
she glanced over to ole Buttercup. From where Buttercup was standing on the
ground it certainly looked like a winkie eye she got from the little bird. Then
the bird put her little beak right into the thick liquid and sucked. By the
happy expression on her small face it appeared to be the best sap that she ever
sucked that spring.