Trouble on Maple Tree Lane

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There was trouble on Maple Tree Lane. There was trouble at the big maple tree in the forest.

Olivia could hear the bull frogs announcing the news in the nearby pond. What should she do? There were two problems. There was only one Olivia. (As we remember from the story Who, our smart, young heroine, Olivia, solved the mystery of the missing baby owl and brought little Who Owl safely home to his family.)

Olivia looked across the field behind her house on Maple Tree Lane. She looked out to the big frog pond, which lay between the far away meadow and the forest. The bullfrogs were becoming louder and more insistent. Olivia had to get to the big maple tree in the forest. The trouble at home would have to wait.

Suddenly, the frogs became quiet. Only the songbirds could be heard in the meadow beyond the pond.

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Splash!! What was that? Olivia shaded her eyes from the bright summer sun and stared out over the field to the pond and to the meadow beyond. Why were the bullfrogs so quiet all of a sudden? Olivia saw the tips of four tails in the reeds.

Freddy and Felicity Fox, Wendy Wolf, and Cody Coyote, who had assisted and befriended Olivia on her first adventure in the forest, had again done the only thing they knew to do. They ran through the forest, past the two big hills in the distance, and over the meadow, but this time they ventured as far as the frog pond. Being wary of humans, they dared go no further, but stopped to tell the bullfrogs in the pond, who then put out the alarm. The creatures of the wild knew that only the few special humans who really understood nature would get the message.

Olivia was one of those special humans and she knew the bullfrogs were passing on news of something important. Olivia knew that she had to hurry. Grabbing her sand beige safari hat, her sunny pink hoodie, and her forest green backpack, she scampered through the field behind her house.

Arriving at the edge of the pond, she stopped and listened. She heard the one little squeak amid the cacophony of the bullfrogs, which told her that her friend Farley Field-Mouse was nearby.

Farley emerged from the tall grasses next to the pond. “Hurry, there’s trouble at the big maple tree in the forest”, squeaked the little field mouse.

Olivia pulled her hat tighter onto her head and looked over the meadow and into the forest. What could the trouble be? Well, there was no use just standing there, so she and Farley raced through the meadow.

The wild forest dogs stayed behind at the pond to have a drink of water and to have a rest.

The grasshoppers in the meadow hopped, buzzed and rubbed their wings in excitement. “Thataway...thataway...thataway”, they hummed and buzzed in unison.

The field daisies nodded toward the forest in agreement.

“Here”, exclaimed Olivia holding down the open palm of her hand to Farley, “Jump aboard and hang on.”

With Farley safely perched on her left shoulder, Olivia ran like the wind through the meadow and soon arrived at the edge of the forest.

Now, most folks know that even the forest folk like an afternoon nap, so not a sound could be heard in the lazy mid-afternoon.

Quietly, Olivia and Farley crept into the trees. Underfoot, the pine needles made a soft carpet to walk on, while overhead, the branches of the trees created a canopy of cool shelter from the hot summer sun. Openings in the branches allowed the daylight from the clear blue sky to show them the path on the forest floor.

Olivia slowed to a walk and she and Farley quietly tip-toed through the trees. After some time walking, Farley’s sharp mouse ears picked up a faint noise.

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Closer and closer they crept towards the big maple tree in the forest, and the closer they got, the louder the noises became. What in the world was going on?

Olivia heard old Grumpy Bear growling and huffing. The Owl Family in the big maple tree was all a-flap with fluster and fear.

Oscar Owl was running around and around and around the base of the big maple tree yelling, “Where? Where? Where?”

Well now, everyone knows that owls say “Who”, so why was Oscar yelling “Where?”

Callie Crow and her family cawed from a copse of fir trees. Mabel and Mary Mourning-Dove cooed worriedly from a nearby birch tree.

Ella Eagle soared overhead watching the commotion from high above.

Olivia and Farley stepped into the clearing around the big maple tree.

“What...?” she questioned bewildered and bemused.

“We don’t know...!” flapped Mama Owl.

“We don’t know...!” fluttered Papa Owl.

“Don’t know what?” puzzled Olivia.

“Not what,” hooted Oscar, “Where!”

“Where, what?” queried Olivia.

Grumpy Bear growled and huffed again. He did not like the forest to be in such an uproar. Grumpy did not like trouble. The forest folk looked on with concern.

“Why are you running around the bottom of your tree?” asked Olivia to the upset Oscar.

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“Yes, tell us what is wrong!” grumbled Grumpy Bear.

“When will you owls tell us what’s wrong?” called Callie Crow.

“And where is Who?” cooed the mourning doves.

Everyone turned and looked at the doves. Yes, they wondered in unison, where was little Baby Who? Suddenly, everyone understood why Oscar was running around and hooting, “where” instead of “who”, like owls are supposed to do.

The forest folk looked around.

“Where is Who?” they asked one another.

“Who is Who?” asked Farley Field-Mouse, who was a new visitor to the big maple tree in the forest.

“Who is Mama and Papa Owl’s baby, and Oscar’s little brother”, grunted Grumpy Bear, “and Baby Who is missing!”

Where could Who be?

Meanwhile, back on Maple Tree Lane, Olivia’s household was also in an uproar. Mommy and Daddy and the two house cats were in a dither. Something was making scary noises in the chimney. Daddy and Mommy were relieved that it was summer time and the wood stove sat cold.

Mommy told Daddy to find out what was going on and to hurry, the cats were spooked, and I think Mommy and Daddy were pretty alarmed too, don’t you?

“Go find Olivia”, called Mommy, “she’ll know what to do”.

“Oh dear”, said Daddy nervously eyeing the stove pipe, “Olivia took off to the woods just a few minutes ago”. Daddy really did not want to get involved in this kafuffle. Mommy and Daddy stood back from the stove thinking about what they should do next. Oh dear, what should they do? And, where was their very clever daughter just when they needed her?

(You and I know where Olivia went, so let’s go there now.)

At the big maple tree in the forest, Olivia and Grumpy finally managed to restore a nervous order and they calmed Oscar enough to get some answers.

“Mama and Papa had just arrived with a late lunch” exclaimed Oscar, “and I had come in from sitting on a branch”, and he sobbed fearfully, “and…and…my little brother was gone!”

Well, you can just imagine the kafuffle as the owl family looked everywhere in in the big hole in the tree, and on the ground around their tree. It was no use. Baby Who was nowhere to be found. No one could make any sense of the alarmed owl family who were beside themselves in fear.

“Has anyone seen young Baby Who this morning?” growled Grumpy Bear. The forest folk shook their heads and murmured that they had not.

Ella Eagle swooped down and perched on the top of an old dead fir tree. She fixed her large golden eyes on the crowd below. “I saw who you are talking about” she called down from her perch.

“Then, what do you know about Who?” asked Olivia.

“Well”, said the large, majestic bird, “I know where Who went, I know when Who went, I know why Who went, and I know what Who was doing. I just didn’t know who Who was.

“Well, where, and what, and when, and why then?” exclaimed the frantic parents and the worried crowd.

“Your little Who Owl decided that he wanted to visit this little human girl here”, called the enormous eagle pointing to Olivia, “and so he left the nest when no one was looking. The little owl headed out beyond the two high hills, and found his way over the meadow, past the frog pond and through the field behind Olivia’s house. I think that he may be there now.”

None of the forest folk was brave enough to go near the humans that lived on Maple Tree Lane, so they just all stood and stared in disbelief.

At this time, the wild dogs Freddy and Felicity Fox, Cody Coyote, and Wendy Wolf arrived back at the clearing at the big maple tree in the forest. They were panting and out of breath.

“Olivia, there’s trouble on Maple Tree Lane. You need to get home now!” they yipped, howled and woofed.

“Hmm…I wonder...” mused the little girl, looking thoughtfully up at Ella Eagle.

“Hmm…I wonder...”mused the forest folk, who all got the same idea at the same time.

Olivia and Farley Field-Mouse turned and ran lickety-split through the forest with the wild dogs beside them. Ella Eagle took flight and followed the group on the ground.

Soon they reached the edge of the forest and ran through the meadow. The wild dogs stopped to wait at the pond. The bullfrogs harrumphed loudly. Yes, there was trouble on Maple Tree Lane and the trouble was at Olivia’s house. What was the trouble? Olivia hurried through the field with Farley holding on for dear life.

Ella Eagle landed on a nearby pole to watch the event.

A minute later Olivia arrived at her house. Farley jumped off her shoulder and scurried into his snug little home under the blue shed behind Olivia’s house.

Olivia stopped and listened carefully. Yes, there were scuffling noises and a sound that seemed like someone was asking a question. The sound was muffled, like it was coming from the inside of somewhere in the house, but where?

Olivia entered the house. Yes, there definitely was trouble in the blue house on Maple Tree Lane. The two house cats were sitting in the kitchen looking pretty worried. Mommy and Daddy were in the living room and they looked pretty worried too. The scuffling, muffled noises were coming from the living room in her house. The scuffling, muffled sounds were coming from the stove pipe on the old wood stove. Oh my, what a kafuffle.

“We’re so glad you’re here”, said the worried mother to her brave little girl.

“Yes, we’re glad you’re here”, said the daddy. “We’ve got trouble here on Maple Tree Lane!

(Do you think you know what might be happening?)

There was something or someone in the old wood stove.

Just then, the family heard a little plop and then a little ka-poof. Again, they heard a muffled little noise that sounded like someone was asking a question.

“Daddy, would you please open the door to the stove?” asked the polite little girl. “I think I know what the trouble is.”

“Well, all right”, answered the not-too-sure daddy, but he did, and when he opened the door, what do you think popped out of that old stove, sooty and dusty and all out of sorts?

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Yes, you’re right. It was not a what, but a who. Young little Who Owl popped out of that old wood stove and landed on the living room floor, fluffing and shaking dust and soot all over the room.

“Where am I?” he asked himself, but then he saw Olivia and smiled. “Hi Olivia, I came to visit you”, said the ruffled little owl. “You haven’t been over to my nest in the big maple tree for a long time”.

“Well, I never...” exclaimed Olivia’s parents. The two housecats peeked around the corner, but came no closer to the dirty, noisy ball of fluff in the living room.

I daresay that not very many human parents ever get to see what Olivia’s mommy and daddy saw that day.

Olivia bent down, and baby Who Owl stepped into her waiting hands.

“Your family is very worried about you”, stated the practical and calm little girl. “I have to get you home.”

Meanwhile, the neighbours on Maple Tree Lane could hear the scream of an eagle and the whoosh of her huge wings as she took off from the big pole and headed for the forest.

The bullfrogs began their throaty harrumphing once more. Olivia knew that the frogs were sending the message to the forest and that the trouble on Maple Tree Lane was all cleared up. Good news would soon be coming to the big maple tree in the forest.

Olivia’s parents looked at the dirty baby owl with surprize. They gazed at their amazing little girl in wonder.

“Well”, said her daddy, “I guess you know who this little fellow is and where he belongs. You’d better get him back to his family.”

“Just a minute”, Mommy said, while she got her hair blower from the bathroom. “We’d better get you cleaned up a bit.” Mommy set the hair blower on the coolest and lowest setting and carefully blew all the dust and soot off of little Who while Olivia smoothed his ruffled feathers.

Daddy got Who a fresh drink of water and when this was all done, Daddy tucked the young little owl into a pocket in Olivia’s forest green backpack.

“I’ll be home before dark”, Olivia assured her astonished, but very proud parents, and off she went with little Who Owl.

The wild dogs had been waiting by the pond. They accompanied the little girl with the silky brown ponytail and the tired baby owl through the forest and home to the big maple tree and to his family and friends.

Mama, Papa and Oscar waited excitedly and there was never a happier little family to see their little wayward owlet returned to the nest.

“Don’t ever do that again”, gently scolded the much relived Mama Owl. “You gave us such a fright!”

“No”, said Olivia, “don’t ever do that again. I’ll just have to come and visit more often.”

Well, the day was wearing away and the late afternoon shadows were growing longer.

Freddy and Felicity Fox, Wendy Wolf and Cody Coyote escorted Olivia past the two big hills in the distance and through the forest. They joyfully bounded through the meadow where the grasshoppers were now quiet and the daisies readied themselves for sleep. They quickly arrived at the big pond where the frogs rested in silence. Freddy, Felicity, Wendy and Cody bid goodbye to the little girl who continued on over the field and to her house. Farley Field-Mouse waved from the shed as Olivia entered her house.

It was suppertime and Olivia was hungry and happily tired from her two busy adventures of the day. Her parents, along with the two relieved housecats, welcomed her into her cozy blue house.

All was well at the big maple tree in the forest.

All was well on Maple Tree Lane.

The End

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