Shelby Goes Downhill

It was about two months after Christmas and there was still quite a bit of snow on the ground. Shelby and Darby loved to play in it, running about in circles and jumping on top of each other, spraying the white powdery flakes all around. But it was even more fun with other fellow frolickers. By early afternoon Shelby was wide awake and said to Darby, “Let’s go and find some friends to play in the snow!”
Darby was most agreeable; she loved being included in her brother’s adventures. He was so good at finding interesting new things to do. “I’ll go find Marvin and you see if you can wake up Molly and Polly,” she replied eagerly. Shelby thought that was a clever idea and it meant they would all be together sooner. The sun was bright as the five friends trotted off towards the meadow, with Shelby leading the way. They played tag for a little while and then flopped back to catch their breath.
Shelby sat up suddenly. “Hey, listen! I hear something!” he said and tipped his head to one side with one ear straight up. “It’s over there! Let’s go see!” They knew from experience that Shelby would go no matter what, so they set off together. The sounds led them through a small patch of trees and when they came to its edge they were at the top of a long hill where a group of children chattered merrily. Some of them were at the bottom and others at the top.
While the forest youngsters watched, two of the children positioned a long flat thing with a curled-up front and climbed aboard, shoving off with a big push. They went flying down the hill screaming with delight. At the same time, two others were making their way up dragging a differently shaped item behind them. It was perfectly flat, and sat on two runners, and a rope was attached to one end. The children soon did what the others had done, pushing off with great abandon and soaring perfectly down to the bottom. A few seconds later, Shelby and Marvin crept a bit closer.
Darby and the raccoon kids were right behind them. The children had gathered at the bottom and started throwing snowballs at each other. One of them had left a round red plastic disc at the top of the hill. Soon all the forest friends were lined up along the brow watching the scene below.
Off to one side a bigger boy had taken a sizable clump of snow and was rolling it on the snowy ground. Shelby’s eyes popped as he saw the shape grow into a large white ball. Soon the ball was half as high as the boy pushing it! Abruptly, he left it and began another. Two of the other children had gone to a fresh patch to start a ball of their own. Then they rolled it over and the big boy lifted it up and placed it on top of the first one.
“What are they doing?” Darby wanted to know. “They must be building something!” “Oh, look now, here comes another one!” said Molly as the children placed a third, much smaller ball on the top, which made the whole thing as tall as the biggest boy!
The children seemed to wander off after that. Shelby turned to say something to Marvin and noticed he had climbed onto the red plastic disc. Marvin explained, “My feet were cold and at least this isn’t covered in snow!” So Shelby joined him and sat down to relax for a few minutes.
Molly, Polly, and Darby went scampering off to the nearest fir tree to play tag in the feathery branches. “Let’s go and play tag too!” said Marvin suddenly, jumping over the edge of the red disc. Shelby felt it move and then start to slide. In a blur it was at the very edge of the hill and gathering speed! It slipped over the brink and raced down, down, down with the frightened flying squirrel hanging on for dear life.
“Shelby!!” screamed Darby. “Watch out!!” But there was nothing anyone could do. The red disc was headed straight for the big piled-up snowballs. There was a squishy crash and snow flew everywhere as Shelby ended his wild ride. Everything toppled over and the red disc spun off on its own. Shelby lay dazed on the ground. The children came running and one of them yelled out, “Our snowman! He’s ruined!!” They gathered around poor little Shelby, who was sitting up and trying to clear his head.
“You poor little guy!” one of the little girls said quietly, which made Shelby turn and look at her. By then Darby had raced down the hill to help her brother. The other three followed close behind. “We better move out of the way,” said the very wise little girl, “or he’ll be too afraid.” So they backed away and watched as Darby rushed up to Shelby and helped him get onto his feet.
The children could see that he was going to be alright, so they raised a cheer as a shaken little squirrel crept away from the demolished snowman. He felt much better very soon, so at the top of the hill he turned and looked down. The children were climbing up too, bringing the disc, the sled and toboggan. The little girl who had spoken put the toboggan down and pointed to it and at the animals to ask it anyone wanted to ride down with her. Marvin and Shelby decided quickly that it would be fun now that there was nothing at the bottom to crash into.
Away they whizzed while Darby held her breath and Molly and Polly ran back and forth to show how worried they were. Honestly, boys have no sense! they thought. But before they could blink, the little girl had towed the toboggan back up the hill with Shelby and Marvin grinning from ear to ear!
It was such a wonderful afternoon, the rest of it spent with all of them taking turns on the front of the toboggan. And they were all so tired that night they slept right through, missing the night hunt altogether. Marvin finally appeared under the squirrel tree half way through the next morning. Molly and Polly slept so long they missed lunch! Mother was rather upset and wouldn’t let either Darby or Shelby out of her sight for the next several days.

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