Of Forests and Wasps….. A Story (Part IV)

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On Thursday we heard about Robert’s family’s “holiday home” a tipi and how he got afraid of the forest. On Friday we learned about his friend Squirrel and met his uncle. Yesterday we went up the mountain with his father and saw an accident:

He took his water bottle, some dressing and the iodine out of his leather backpack. His father had shown him how to use them. Just in case. He took some pieces of the dressing, wet them with the water and tried to clean the wound as good as he could. It was not deep but bled terribly. Another piece of dressing for the iodine. He then carefully bandaged the wound having his fathers head in his lap. His father’s breath was calm and regular but he did not wake up. “What shall I do now?” He realised that he was shaking again badly. He hugged himself and sat down taking a sip from his flask. His body calmed down a bit.

He felt the soft breeze coming out of the forest. The insects hummed soothingly. There was a little hoot somewhere away. He had not realised that the owl had flown to the entrance of the path and sat there patiently. He shook his head “I can not leave him alone owl! I just can’t” The bird hooted reproachfully at him. He began to shake harder again. His father’s voice came to his mind:” If someone is not conscious longer than half an hour you must under all circumstances go and get help!” The words rang in his ears.

For some strange reason, Squirrel came to his mind. “Here is a little guide for you!” his father had said to Squirrel one day when he came to visit them. He gave Squirrel a beautiful wasp in a block of glass but Squirrel dropped it immediately. “I can’t take that!” Squirrel said. “Why not?” asked Roberts father. “Because it is dangerous!” “How is it dangerous?” “Well it stings!” said Squirrel as if Roberts father was an idiot. “Has this one stung you?” His father asked. Squirrel looked at him first and then at the glass block at the ground. “No,” he said slowly. “Has any wasp stung you so far?” Another slow “No” “OK!” was all his father said and he left the room. Squirrel had a look at Robert who just shrugged his shoulders. He knew his fathers sometimes odd ways very well but he did not say a word. When Squirrel left that day Robert realised he had taken the wasp.

A stronger hoot brought him back to reality. “I can’t! I just can’t!” That feeling started creeping up his spine and into his stomach. His breath ran out of space and he felt like fainting. “You can’t faint! You can’t faint!” he said to himself. Another sip from the flask. Breathing heavily he said again:”I can’t” But the owl’s eyes just seemed to say “Remember what your father told you!” followed by a really reproachful hoot. “He would not expect me to go through the forest on my own!” Robert thought but even as he thought it he knew he was searching for excuses.

He stood up. The bottle in his hands. And then just stood there. Suddenly the owl came flying back and landed on his shoulder. It was a tiny white barn owl who tipped his ear with its beak. “You can do it” it seemed to say. “No I can’t!” anger glared up in Robert. “I can’t” He moved his shoulders suddenly and the owl nearly fell off but caught itself up and flew back to the entrance but then made another turn and flew away. “Don’t go! Please don’t go!” Robert shouted.

But he was alone. He had a look at his father who laid peacefully under the tree. ” If someone is not conscious longer than half an hour you must under all circumstances go and get help!” he heard again. Robert had a look to the path which loomed gloomily at the other end of the meadow. The branches of the surrounding trees looked like giant teeth just waiting to swallow him. ” If someone is not conscious longer than half an hour you must under all circumstances go and get help!” Robert did not know how long his father was unconscious. He did not have a look at his watch as he was taught.

Robert slowly walked over to the path. Too soon he was facing its hollow line down the mountain and his muscles just blocked. He could not go any further. He heard another hoot from inside the forest along the path and he could see the owl’s wings flutter a bit further down. He suddenly felt calmer.

“OK then,” he thought and ran. When he reached the owl breathing hard the bird just left the branch which it was sitting on and flew a bit further. Robert stopped for a minute and caught his breath. Then he ran on. And ran and ran and ran. All the way back down to his uncle’s lodge. His uncle saw him and came towards him “Robert! What happened?” but Robert just fainted in his arms.

He was back with Squirrel in the city. They were at the storage shed with some Gobstoppers in their mouths when the familiar buzz of a wasp grew louder and louder. Robert was looking around checking and as he saw the insect tried to wave it back out. Squirrel said:” Please leave it alone!” “What?!” Robert could not believe his ears. “What have you just said?!” “I said: Leave it alone!” and Squirrel grinned. “After your dad gave me the wasp in the glass I could not stop thinking about it. I started reading up on it. I got to the library and borrowed all the books about insects. Do you know that wasps help as much as bees to pollinate flowers? Without them, we would not have anything growing. And there are wasps which are parasites. They eat up loads of bugs that no one wants. The ones that destroy plants for example. And the nests they build are fantastic!” Robert stared at Squirrel. “I think I have to call you wasp from now on!” He laughed. “But how can reading help you to lose your fear?” “Don’t know!” Squirrel just said. “It just happened!”

“Robert!” “Hmmmm” His whole body was aching. He did not want to open his eyes. “Robert!” he realised it was his fathers calming voice. “DAD!” he was up in a second. His father was lying in the bed beside his in his uncle’s lodge wearing a turban-like bandage around his head smiling at him. “Oh, dad I am so glad you are ok!” “And I am very proud of you!” His father smiled. “Why?” “You went through the forest to get help!” “But I waited too long!” “Well you got help and I am safe and that is the main thing! I am very proud of you!”

A few days later they were back at the tipi. Robert was in front of the forest with a bowl full of bread, butter and berries. He walked a bit into the oak trees until he reached a single beech tree. He placed the bowl under it. “Forest I greet and honour you! Thank you for providing us with shelter and nourishment! Thank you for saving my father!” He got up, smiled and ventured deeper into forests secrets. There was the faint hoot of an owl somewhere!

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