Read by Anita Rodgers
The seasons were slowly changing on Breakers Island. It was getting warmer. The rivers and ponds swelled with fresh water from the melting snow.
Sara and her two brothers were happy to get out of their underground burrow. Their mother said, “You may go out to hunt for food but stay together. Remember, there is safety in numbers.”
Her brothers, Stan and Steve, ran far ahead of Sara. They didn’t look back. She thought, “That is just like them. They never wait for me. Well, I don’t care. I can dig for earthworms on my own.”
Sara was very beautiful. Her thick fur was black and white. Like all skunks, her fur was striped.
She soon found herself deep in Fire Fall Woods. Sara reached a clearing that was free of snow.
She thought, “This looks like a good spot to dig for earthworms. Oh, how I miss blueberries. I’ll be so glad when spring comes. Mother says she will teach us how to hunt honeybees.”
Sara didn’t know that she would soon be joined by another animal. He, too, was seeking earthworms for dinner.
Oliver, the opossum, didn’t notice Sara when he first came into the clearing. Like most skunks, Sara had poor vision but her senses of smell and hearing were excellent. She caught Oliver’s scent and heard a low growl.
Sara turned and stomped her feet at Oliver. Oliver hissed at Sara. Sara hissed back.
They continued to hiss and growl as they slowly circled each other.
Oliver wondered, “What kind of striped cat is this?” He stopped growling and asked, “Are you a cat from the village of Red Haven?”
Sara looked closely at Oliver. She said, “No, I’m a skunk. My name is Sara. Who and what are you?”
“My name is Oliver. I’m an opossum,” he said proudly.
Suddenly, Sara stepped closer to Oliver. She said, “Listen. Do you hear that sound?”
Oliver stopped to listen. He sniffed the air. In alarm, he said, “It’s a brown bear!”
Sara thought, “Oh, no! Mother warned us about brown bears.”
Oliver said, “Sara, we have to leave right now. Follow me. Run as fast as you can.”
Now Sara smelled the bear’s scent. The bear was heading straight toward them. She ran and followed Oliver into the dark woods. Oliver ran to a large oak tree that had fallen on the ground. He and Sara ran inside the hollow trunk. It was a small hiding space. There was just enough room for the skunk and opossum. Both were so scared they were afraid to move an inch.
They heard the bear coming closer. The bear thought, “They must be nearby. “He walked by their hiding spot. He stood up to try and catch their scent.
Oliver was relieved. He thought, “Good. He has lost our scent and walked past us.”
Then, the bear decided to turn back. He sniffed the log. With a roar, he placed his large paw on the tree trunk and rolled it back and forth.
Oliver tumbled out on the ground directly in front of the bear. He hissed loudly. The bear raised his paw to strike him. Oliver was trying to decide if he should play dead but he knew it was too late. ‘Playing possum’ wouldn’t fool the bear this time.
Sara surprised the bear when she tumbled out between them. He turned his head toward her and she sprayed the bear in the face.
The bear howled as he was blinded by the foul smelling fluid. His eyes watered and he couldn’t see the opossum and skunk. He roared in anger.
Sara knew the bear would be able to see again when his tears washed out his eyes. She yelled, “Oliver, let’s get out of here!” The bear howled in distress as Oliver and Sara escaped.
The bear was far behind them when they finally stopped running. When they reached the clearing, neither said a word. They just sat and looked at each other.
Finally, Oliver spoke. He said, “Sara, that was fast thinking. You really turned the tables on that bear and saved my skin. I owe you one.”
Sara just smiled and said, “That’s what friends are for.”
Oh, no! Mother warned me about brown bears.