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Brown Bear Mother and Cubs
A small, white, toy polar bear named Sandy. He has a blue ribbon aroun his neck and he's holding a pistachio ice cream cone. He has a small green smudge on his head.
The Surprise, Surprise Party

Chapter One: Martha's Decision

 

     Martha was hurrying down the forest path, humming a little song which she had just made up that afternoon. She looked up towards the sky as best she could. It wasn't easy for a hedgehog. The warm rays of the setting sun, which filtered between the tree branches, felt lovely and warm.

     "Hello, young Martha. Why are you so happy?" inquired Sandy Bear. He was sitting against a tree eating the last bit of an ice cream cone.

     Startled by the deep voice, Martha paused in her tracks. She had been so lost in her thoughts that she hadn't noticed the polar bear. "Oh, hello Sandy. What did you say?"

​     "I simply asked why you are so cheerful. I know it's a lovely day, but you have a bounce in your step which is... ahhh... unusual for a hedgehog, if you don't mind me saying so."

     "I don't mind at all. I'm happy because I've had a wonderful idea that will be fun for all my friends. One friend particularly, but all of my friends in general if you see what I mean."

     Sandy scratched his head, realising too late that his paw was sticky with melted ice cream, leaving a pistachio-green mark on his lovely white fur. "Perhaps if I knew what the 'wonderful idea' was I could 'see what you mean', if you see what I mean."

     She smiled so broadly that her eyes seemed to disappear. "A party. A birthday party. A surprise birthday party. A friend and I were talking and she told me that there is someone in                              the  woods who has never had a surprise birthday party before."

                            "A surprise party? My goodness. That will take a bit of arranging," said the                                           bear, standing up. Who were you going to get to help you?"

                              "I’m on my way to ask Bonnie to help because..."

                                 Shocked, Sandy interrupted her. "Oh no, no, no. That might be a mistake.                                  Don't you remember what happened when Bonnie helped with the Halloween party?" Sandy asked. "The silly bunny hung mistletoe over the punch bowl and kissed everyone who went to get a drink." He shivered at the memory of the little bunny climbing up his back to give him a smooch, tickling him on the way.

     Martha laughed, "Yes. That's right. And do you remember when she dressed up like a bat at the Christmas party and ran around squeaking and scaring everyone," Martha asked.

     "That’s hard to forget,” Sandy smiled. “She's a spirited little rascal," Sandy noted, "but not to be tasked with such a delicate thing as a surprise party. He paused, thinking. "You haven't mentioned who the party is for."

     "Oh, it's for...." Martha stopped herself, thinking. "No, I won't tell you who it's for. That way it can be a surprise for you, too. That's it!" she chuckled lightly, "I won't tell anyone who it's for.

     Sandy looked shocked. "But... what... why..." he spluttered. "How will we know what presents to bring? How will we know what food to prepare? How will we...."

     "Just bring a present and food that would be okay for anyone and everyone."

     Sandy was not convinced. "But how can this work?" He shook his head disapprovingly. "This is most unusual, Martha."

     "Exactly!" she exclaimed, having become very excited by her idea. "It's a surprise surprise party." Her eyes disappeared once again as she smiled. "I had better get busy spreading the news to all of my friends."

     Sandy put a paw out to stop her. "And when and where shall this party be held? We will all need to know at least that much." Then another thought struck Sandy. "Martha, if you tell everyone about the party, then the person whose birthday it is will know that the party is for them. This is all becoming quite silly," he growled in confusion, rubbing his head and spreading more ice cream around.

     "No, they won't find out. That's the one friend I won't invite. We will all gather in the clearing by the stream at... 4 o’clock tomorrow, and I will have Gordy duck fly over to the home of our birthday friend to advise….”

     Sandy was looking hopeful and Martha realised he was hoping she would slip and give something away about the identity of the birthday celebrant.

     “Ah… to tell them they are wanted by me and should come to the clearing."

     Sandy sighed and thoughts rolled around his head about who had a birthday in mid April. “Well, you’ll need someone tall to help with decorations. Shall I meet you in the clearing at 3:00 on the day?”

     “That would be very kind,” smiled Martha. “I’d better get going now. I have to find everyone I’m inviting to the party.” She continued down the path with a bounce in her step which made her wobble like a prickly jelly.

     “Pssst,” a voice said, somewhere behind Sandy. He turned to see who it was….

Chapter Two: Spreading the News

      “A bit of Smudge’s tie?” asked Ke, sitting under a tree with Mister Smudge, Ringo, Gordy and Bonnie.

     “No,” replied Bonnie.

     “That butterfly?” suggested Ringo the racoon.

     “No,” laughed Bonnie. “I didn’t even see him. Isn’t he lovely?”

     “The corners of my eyes,” said Smudge. “Am I right?”

     “You’re wrong, Smudge.” Bonnie looked very pleased with herself.

     “Okay, we give up,” said Gordy. “What do you see that’s red?”

     Bonnie hopped up and down in excitement. “The ladybird that’s been crawling all over our  lunch basket.”

 

   Rocky, Ke, Mister Smudge, Bonnie and Gordy play 'I Spy'.

   

     There was a lot of moaning which broke off as Bonnie loudly announced, “It’s your turn, Smudge.”

     “Oooh!” Smudges’ ears wiggled in delight. “I’ve been waiting for this. A-hem,” he cleared his throat. “I spy something with my little eye and the colour is… taupe.”

     “What sort of colour is that?” grumbled Ke. “How can we guess if we don’t even know what colour we should be looking for?”

     “Taupe? Is that a colour?” asked Bonnie.

     “Yeah,” added Ringo. I’ve never heard of that colour. Are you sure taupe isn’t a kind of bird? I’m sure someone once pointed out a red-bellied taupe in a pine tree on a forest walk.”

     “Is it the one with red in it?” asked Gordy.

     Smudge leaned forward and motioned for the others to draw close. He whispered, “Nobody knows. It’s a mysterious colour from the dawn of time, and no modern eye which may have seen it, has understood the significance. It may have been the colour used to paint pictures on the cave walls of our ancestors billions of years ago, but there are no colour photos of it. Many scholars have questioned if it still exists today.”

     Bonnie crossed her arms and spoke sharply. “Then how do you expect us to guess that? If it might not exist and you don’t know… and we’re not going to crawl around caves and we.…” she spluttered. “Oh, let’s play something else. Trope is a silly colour.”

     “It’s ‘taupe’,” said Smudge. “We may all be seeing something which is taupe right now without even realising it. Isn’t that wonderful?” he asked, his voice filled with awe.

     “Here comes Martha,” said Ke, happy for the distraction. The others looked up and greeted her with a chorus of ‘hellos’.

     “I’m so glad to find you here,” said Martha. I won’t have to go to all of your houses.”

     “You definitely shouldn’t bother with my house,” said Smudge, “because I won’t be home.”

     “Thanks Smudge,” said Martha, smiling sweetly at her tall friend.

     “Oh my,” she said, suddenly noticing Bonnie’s baloon, Ke’s pinwheel, Gordie’s hat and the fancy drinks being enjoyed by Ringo and Smudge. “Have you been down to the beach stands?”

     “Yes,” replied Smudge. We wanted to get….”

     But Bonnie was speaking at the same time and Smudge knew when he was beaten. “We wanted to get some exercise and then we took a look at the stands,” she said. “We went to the lighthouse after, and Orville showed us his collection of shells and let us have a few.”

“They’re lovely,” said Martha, rolling one over with her paw. “Maybe I’ll go down to the beach sometime this week and.… Oh! Goodness. I’m getting sidetracked: I wanted to invite you all to attend a surprise, surprise party tomorrow.”

     “Oh,” cried Smudge, clasping his paws together. “I love surprise, surprise parties!”

     “Smudge,” said Gordy, “Do you even know what a surprise, surprise party is?”

     “Of course I do. We have them all the time in our family. Mother can never remember when our birthdays are, so any time we have a surprise party it’s a surprise surprise party because we don’t know who it’s going to be for.”

     Martha felt a slight disappointment since she thought she had invented the idea of a surprise, surprise party. But then she realised it just made it easier to explain and no matter what, they would all have fun. “It’s going to take place at 4 o’clock in the clearing by the stream. Will that give you enough time to prepare some snacks and find gifts?”

     “Of course, Martha,” said Ke. “I’ll make some honey and nut muffins. I’d never miss a party.”

The others were equally enthusiastic, Gordy promising to make seed cake, Ringo offering to make a variety of sandwiches and Bonnie suggesting she provide a carrot cake.

     “You can get any fruit or vegetables you may need from my garden,” Smudge said. “I’ll ask Grandpa to help me use the press in the shed to make carrot and apple juice. We’ll need something to drink with all that yummy food.”

     “Don’t forget the gift,” Martha reminded them. “It will have to be something that anyone would like.”

     “I already have a gift,” said Smudge.

     “I’m sure we all have things that would make lovely gifts,” Bonnie added. “What we need is someone big and strong to help us get everything to the clearing. Smudge and Ke, could you come around to our houses with your carts and gather the gifts and food?”

     “Oh yes!,” said Ke, happy to be referred to as ‘big and strong’. “I’ll collect the gifts and Smudge can take care of the food and drinks since his cart is sturdier than mine.”

     Smudge smiled happily. “I’ll be there with bells on.”

     “Smudge,” said Ringo. “Could you please not wear the bells this time? The last time you did that, my little brother thought the circus had come to town and he was very disappointed.”

     “No bells,” said Smudge. “I promise.”

     “I have to tell Bucky and Frederick about the party next,” said Martha.

     “That’s okay,” said Bonnie. I’ll be having dinner at Bucky’s house today so I’ll fill him in on the details.”

     “And I’ll let Frederick know about it since he lives near me,” said Ringo.

     “I’ll fly down to the lighthouse and tell Orville,” offered Gordy.  

     “Well then,” said Martha. “If you can tell the rest of your neighbours about the party, I think I’ll go home and finish making my decoration plans. I want everything to be perfect.”

     “I could help with decorations if you want,” offered Bonnie.

     “Uhhm, I already have a volunteer to help with decorations but it was very kind of you to offer,” smiled Martha. “Tell you what, you could decorate the edges of some paper plates. You’re very good at that.”

     “Oh yes! That will be great fun.” Bonnie hopped around making her balloon bob up and down.

     “Can I make anything?” asked Ringo.

     “Could you make a banner with… well, I don’t need to tell you. You know how to design a birthday banner,” she giggled.

     “I certainly do. I’ll make that tonight and get the sandwiches ready tomorrow.”

     “Wonderful,” smiled Martha. ”This is going to be the best party ever.”

Chapter Three: Surprise!

Part three to be uploaded on April 10th 2024.

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