The Yellow Bellied Sap-Sucker
It was a perfect day for a picnic. The sun was out, the birds were singing, and the picnic basket was packed. Buttercup peered into the basket to see what was inside. 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 could not be seen, but the yummy-tummy sweet smell could not hide from Buttercup’s 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 exclaimed.
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 see one.
“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 its 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 and smiled.
“Papa, I counted a one nana, and another one, and another, and the baby one there...that makes 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.
“Very 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 them nanas too you know.”
“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...” Buttercup cut in before Pumpkin could continue.
“Oh no 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.
“Papa 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 wish.
“And Papa I can make big wishes too you know!” said Pumpkin as he pulled at his papa’s chin once again.
At the Park they saw a bushy-tail squirrel that ran every which where with a big nut in his mouth.
“Hey 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 walnut.
“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 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 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 in.
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 Cherry”.
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 tan 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.
“Picnic 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;
Sing a song, a happy song, a happy little sing a song,
Of some duckies riding on Mr Pumpkin’s back,
And there goes one, and there goes another,
And every one is having lots of fun...
She swayed her shoulders from left to right and clapped her tiny bunny hands.
There’s one little duckie on the bunny’s head,
And another little duckie on the bunny’s back,
And a fat little one on his pumpkin sack
And there goes a one who fell on her bum
And 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 Old 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 quack.
Just then a sparrow came flying in and landed on the wire fence close by.
“Mrs. Sparrow, Mrs. Sparrow did you see the Yellow-Bellow 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. When she told them about the nanas in the picnic basket they all came out in a hurry.
The raccoon family came from way across the lake with their three cubs. They brought some stuff for the picnic. They brought a small bundle of nutweed, some gooseberries and a basket of fragrant Linden blossoms. 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 cubs, and a sprig of fresh dill for another excited mouth.
“Oh Papa who can think of eating when you know who ain’t no place to be seen?
Then up there first on a high branch then flying to a low one, a small bird stood 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 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 longed to see for so long. She couldn’t even tell what color her belly was. How could she, there was so little light. Mr. Sun was going down and a big fat cloud got right in front of him. The thing with clouds sometimes is that they could get in front of the sun and make it really hard for a bunny to see what color a little bird’s belly is. Then it seemed like the cloud got a little push—from the wind perhaps, because sometimes the wind does stuff like that if it sees a bunny having a hard time seeing what color a little bird is. And so then 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 a dragonfly, the patch of sunlight struck her little body 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 wants to see what color their belly is. And there was Buttercup standing almost on tippy toes with her little paws clenched up by her little mouth and the little bird turned and the sun sparkled in her eye like and made look like it was a big shining thing, 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 tree 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, but it takes more than having a yellow belly to be a Yellow Bellied Sapsucker. But just then, while the sunlight was still making her belly glow with that golden color, her little head leaned down toward the front of the bough and she looked keenly and something that was flowing very slowly down the side. 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 Old Buttercup and from where she was standing on the ground it certainly looked like a winkie eye. 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.