by Scott Somerville (with slight editions and additions by Christy)
based on some true events (and others not so true)
Now attend and pay attention all over again, best beloved.
Once upon a time at Storybook Farm, that same Storybook Farm where the air is full of butterflies and hummingbirds and the smell of cappuccino, and where all the grandchildren love each other, the kittens were learning to climb trees. The tortoise kitten was named Hansel, and the gray one was called Gretel, only it turned out that Gretel was a boy, and then they had to be named over again. But that came later. One day, the kittens climbed the apple tree beside the little chicken coop and got stuck. Then they climbed from the tree onto the roof of the chicken coop, and were even stucker. And then the kittens got down, so that was all right.
Now, beneath that chicken coop lived a little, fat, velvety groundhog whose name was The Little Groundhog. All through early summer, he lived on clover and alfalfa and fresh mint, and gazed up at the apple tree with eyes full of longing and wonder, waiting for the apples to be ripe. And then, on the Fourth of July, on Independence Day, a great storm hurtled out of nowhere, and crashed through Storybook Farm, and the apple tree toppled. Half of it landed on the roof (of the little chicken coop, best beloved; not the other one!). Half of the apple tree landed on the ground. Our little groundhog gazed at it with eyes full of longing and wonder. He started eating apples.
He ate every apple on the ground, even though they were very small and very green. He ate every apple off the ground, even though he had to lift his nose up high. He ate every apple he could reach, even though he had to stand on his furry tiptoes. Soon the bottom half of the apple tree was bare, but the top was still bearing fruitful apples, and he gazed up with eyes filled with longing and wonder.
He thought about the kittens and the tree. Kittens can climb trees, be they never so vertical. Groundhogs can’t, unless the trees are almost horizontal. The little groundhog put one bold paw upon the bark, and went where no groundhog has gone before. He started up the trunk and was able to reach an apple. He gazed at it with eyes full of longing and wonder. And ate it up.
Day after day, higher and higher the little groundhog climbed, eating every apple within reach. And there, just above him, was the roof of the chicken coop, covered with apples… red apples … ripe apples. In late summer, the little groundhog reached the roof, and there he wallowed in apples, until he could hardly waddle off. He lived on the roof, and he lived on the apples, for several days.
But then the farmer who lived at Storybook Farm came with his chainsaw and cut down the tree, and pulled it off the chicken coop, and all the apples rolled to the ground, and the little groundhog was stuck. Stuck on the roof. Stucker than the kittens had been!
And there he stayed until the fairy who lives at the bottom of the pond came up to see him. (The pond for swimming, beloved–not the one for fishing. You know her house by the bubbles, but don’t go round looking. It’s not polite.) And the groundhog looked at the fairy with eyes full of longing and wonder, and said, “Please, fairy, help me down!”
And the fairy said, “I am a very small fairy. I cannot lift a groundhog. Especially–pardon me–one who is so very full of apples. All that I can do is give magical gifts to God’s creatures.”
The little groundhog said, “Then give me a magical gift! Give me powers and I will fly off this roof!”
“What would you do with your powers if I gave them to you?” asked the fairy.
“Ahhhh…” said the little groundhog (and his eyes grew round with longing and wonder). “I would fly up into the apple trees and pick apples. I would fly over the electric fence into the garden and eat tomatoes! I would fly into the root cellar and eat potatoes all winter long!”
“What?” Said the pond fairy, a little sharply. “You mean that you would only use your powers for food?”
“What else is there?” Asked the little groundhog, puzzled.
“What kind of fairy would I be, if I gave you powers that you would only use for food?”
“A … A good fairy?” he said, with eyes full of longing and wonder.
“I am a good fairy,” she said, “and I will grant you your wish–almost. I will give you power that may be used for food, but I will see to it that you use your powers mostly for good.”
And ever since then, whenever a kitten is stuck up a tree, or a hawk targets a little bunny rabbit, or the mailman is about to deliver junk mail… Sky Pig is there!