Tuesday, August 17

a Happy Birthday post for Abby

I put Patient the Snail on my face.

And Patient said "Happy Birthday!"

I said "Put a snail on my face! I want to read Patient the Snail has a birthday party!"

And Patient said, "Happy Birthday!"

Wednesday, August 11

Patient the Magical Snail

The morning sun was just beginning to warm her curly brown shell when Patient heard a voice beside her. She opened her eyes and peeked between the flower stalks and green creepers that made up her home. Where had the voice come from? And who did it belong to? It was such a sweet, small voice.

Patient didn’t see anyone in the pansies. She didn’t see anyone in the lilies either. But when she looked behind the lavender bush, a little face popped out and smiled at her. It fluttered into the air for a moment and then the tiny, beautiful creature it belonged to settled in front of Patient and said, “Hello.”

It was the same sweet voice that had woken her. Patient stared at the little creature’s tiny feet, covered in shoes made from sunflower seeds. It wore a dress of flower petals, and an acorn cap on its head. Two shimmering blue wings fluttered at its sides. Patient had never seen anything like it before. It was too soft to be a dragonfly. Not quite soft enough for a butterfly.

“What are you?” Patient asked.

“A fairy,” the creature giggled. “My name is Annika.”

“Oh,” Patient said. It was hard to keep her eyes on Annika. The fairy fluttered all around while she talked, never holding still.

“I’m glad you woke up,” Annika said. “I’ve been waiting for the longest time to talk to you.”


“Yes. I wanted to ask you. Are you magical?”

Nobody had ever asked Patient if she was magical before. She had to think about it. Was she magical? She had a lovely brown shell that kept her dry when it rained and gave her the perfect place to sleep when the moon came out. Her skin was slippery soft, and when she glided slowly from leaf to leaf it left a shimmering trail of silver behind her. With all of these wonderful things she could do, she must be magical.

“Yes,” she told Annika. “I think so.”

“I knew it,” said Annika, clapping her hands together and laughing. Then she buzzed right up to Patient’s ear and whispered, “I need some magic.”

“Why?” asked Patient, turning her head to look at Annika, who had already fluttered to a new spot.

“Because I lost mine. And I can’t get back home without it."

“Oh,” said Patient. Now she was worried. She didn’t know where her magic was, either. “What does it look like?” she asked Annika.

Annika giggled. “Magic doesn’t look like anything, silly. It comes from inside you.”

Patient didn’t understand. How could it come from inside? “You mean like happiness?” she asked.

“Yes!” Annika said. “And love.”

“How did you lose yours?” Patient asked.

For once, Annika’s blue wings stopped fluttering. They drooped to her sides. Annika fell softly onto the dirt and sat down on a pebble near Patient.
“I think it’s because I got scared.”

Patient could understand that. She knew what it was like to be scared. Whenever the shadow of a bird passed overhead she tucked herself tightly into her shell and shivered. And once, a garden snake had slithered close to her home, frightening her so badly that she had cried.

“What did you get scared of?” Patient asked. “A snake?”

“No. Not a snake. I got scared of falling.”

“When I get scared,” Patient said. “I tuck inside my shell. Or I hide under a rock until I’m not afraid anymore.”

Patient was surprised to see a tiny tear, the size of a dew drop, trickle down Annika’s cheek. “If I hide under a rock I’ll never get home,” she said. “I have to fly to get back to Fairyland. But every time I try, I get scared of falling and my magic goes away.”

This was a problem. Patient wondered how she could help her new friend get home. She thought and thought. Finally, just like a dandelion seed floats through the air on a summer day, an idea floated into Patient’s mind. “I will share my magic with you!” she said.

“You will?” asked Annika, jumping up from the pebble.

“Yes!” Patient said. “I will go with you to fairy land. When you start to get scared, I will be brave and my magic will keep us from falling.”

A worried frown crossed Annika’s face. “But you can’t fly.”

“No,” said Patient. “You’ll carry me. My shell looks heavy, but it is as light as a pea pod.”

Annika wasn’t much bigger than Patient, but she bent down and pulled on Patient’s shell. “You’re right! You aren’t heavy at all!”

Holding Patient in her arms, Annika spread her blue wings wide and sailed up into the sky. They raced past a bumblebee, drinking nectar from a patch of clover. “Hello!” Patient called to the bee. She couldn’t help but giggle. She was used to sliding so slowly across the ground. It was fun to go fast.

When they passed under the dark shadow of a tree, Annika began to totter, her wings sputtering, spinning them both lopsided. “I’m going to fall!” she cried.

“No you’re not,” Patient called. “You’re doing great!”

Annika listened to Patient and straightened her wings. The magic was working. “We’re almost there!” she said.

Ahead a rainbow stretched across the sky. Annika flew straight through it. On the other side, Patient discovered a world full of beauty and magic. A trickling waterfall tumbled down from a tall green tree, and all around there were colorful flowers, dotted mushrooms, and smooth pebbles. Fairies were everywhere, flying, dancing and singing.

“Annika! You made it home!” the fairies called.

“Yes! Because of Patient.”

The fairies fluttered around Patient, saying hello, touching her smooth shell, smiling and laughing. Patient had never had so many friends before.

Annika set Patient on the ground next to a pink dahlia. “Thank you for sharing your magic with me, Patient. What can I do to repay you?”

Patient looked around at all the pretty fairies, the magical waterfall, and the flowers. “You don’t have to repay me. But this is the most beautiful place I have ever seen. Would it be alright if I stayed here with you for awhile?”

“Oh, Patient,” Annika said with a giggle. “You can stay here forever.”

And that’s just what Patient did.

story by Janessa Ransom

Tuesday, August 10

Patient and the Broom

One day, Patient the Snail was oozing through the wood, when she met an old witch sitting underneath a large tree. The witch was crying great big tears, and petting a large black cat that sat purring in her lap.

“Excuse me, old witch, but why are you crying?” asked Patient the Snail, for as snails go she was very polite.

“Because I lost my bro-hoo-hoo-hoom!” wailed the old witch, crying harder than ever. “Look!” She pointed to the tree above her, where Patient could see the long, slender stick of the witch’s broom caught in the very top branches.

“I see,” said Patient. “What happened?”

“She was flying along and the tree surprised her,” said the Cat. “We hit the branches, and down we came with a bump.” The Cat fixed her great golden eyes on Patient and purred, “Let that be a lesson to you to always watch where you’re going.”

“It’s my favorite broo-hoo-hoom!” cried the witch. “And now it’s lost forever!”

“So many tears over a silly broom,” said the Cat to the witch. “You can always get another one.”

“There will never be another broom like my favorite broo-hoo-hoom,” cried the witch. “I want it back!”

The Cat rolled her big yellow eyes. “Crybaby,” she muttered.

Patient the Snail was a very kind snail, as snails go, and she hated to see anyone who was unhappy. “I can go up and try to get your broom for you, if you like,” she said.

The witch stopped crying long enough to peer at Patient the Snail and say, “Do you think you really could?”

“Well,” said Patient the Snail, “I’m not very fast, and I have no hands to carry the broom, and I am very small, but I can climb to the top of the tree and see what I can do. I may not be able to do very much, but at least I will be able to do something.”

“Oh, thank you!” cried the unhappy witch, and so Patient the Snail began the long journey up the trunk of the tree.

Patient the Snail hurried as fast as she could go, for she didn’t want to keep the old witch waiting, but the tree was so very tall, and she was so very small, that after she reached the first big branch she stopped for a moment to catch her breath.

On the branch was a large gray opossum hanging upside down as she read the newspaper. “Good morning,” said Patient the Snail.

“I don’t know how you can say it’s a good morning with so many horrible things happening in the world,” said the Opossum, looking at her over the top of the newspaper. When she saw that Patient was a Snail, she blinked several times and then put her newspaper aside. “I’ve never seen a snail this high on the tree before. Why are you climbing up the trunk the way you are?”

“I am going to bring back the old witch’s broom,” said Patient the Snail. “Though I am very slow, and though I have no hands, and I am very small, I mean to do my best.”

“That is very noble of you,” said the Opossum, looking at Patient with respect. “The world is a better place when the smallest creatures are kind. Perhaps I can help you. I do not have hands, and I am also very slow, but I am one of the largest creatures on the tree. If you will allow me, I will help you get the broom for the old witch.”

And so Patient climbed on top of the Opossum’s head and settled down right by her large pink ear, and together they climbed up to the middle branches of the tree.

When they arrived at the middle branches, they found a small blue jay, practicing her arias. “Good morning,” said Patient and the Opossum.

“Oh, isn’t it just?” cried the Jay with excitement. “When I woke up I could tell that the air was quite perfect to practice singing in. Listen!” And she burst forth in a beautiful song. When she finished, Patient and the Opossum applauded.

The Jay curtseyed, and then looked at them curiously. “I’ve never seen a Snail and an Opossum travel together before,” she said. “What are you doing?”

“We are going to bring back the old witch’s broom,” said Patient the Snail. “Though we are both very slow, and neither of us has hands. But the Opossum is very large, and we feel that while we may not be able to do much, we still should be able to do something.”

“What a cheerful thought!” said the Jay. “It just goes to show that there are kind creatures in the world, after all. I would like to help you! I do not have any hands, and I am very small as well, but I am one of the fastest animals in the woods. Perhaps I can help you pull down the old witch’s broom.”

Patient the Snail and the Opossum told the Jay that they would very much enjoy her help, and so she climbed on the back of the Opossum next to Patient the Snail, and together the three of them climbed to the very top-most branches.

When they arrived there, they found a young red squirrel chewing on a nut, and sitting on the long wooden pole of the witch’s broom. “Hello,” said the Squirrel. “Have you come to take this broom away? I was eating my breakfast when suddenly this broom crashed through my house. I tried to remove it, but it’s caught. Look!” And the Squirrel pushed on the broom, but it was stuck in the branches and couldn’t come free.

“We have come to save the broom, if we can,” said Patient the Snail. “There’s an old, sad witch at the bottom of the tree, and she misses her broom. We’d like to return it to her.”

“I don’t see how you will be able to,” said the Squirrel rudely, since her mouth was full of the nut she was eating. “It’s stuck.”

Patient the Snail looked at the broom. It was indeed stuck among the branches. “Perhaps we can get it free if we all work together. Squirrel, you have hands, so you can lift the broom away from the branches. Opossum, you are very large, so you can push the broom out of the treetops. And Jay, you are very fast, so you can fly back and forth and free the straw from the branches that have caught it.”

The animals cheered Patient for being so clever, and did as she instructed. The Squirrel lifted the end of the broom, and the Jay flew to where the straw part of the broom was caught by the tiny twigs of the tree. And then the Opossum gave the broom a mighty push, and with a great whoosh the broom flew out of the tree, and carried all four of them gently down to the witch who was waiting below.

The witch, when they saw she had saved her broom, did a hurly-burly dance for joy and sang, “My beautiful, beautiful broo-hoo-hoom!” She looked so happy that the animals laughed along with her, and even the Cat looked less sour than usual.

When at last she had shown how happy she was, the witch said, “I want to give a present to the one who saved my broom. Who pushed the broom out of the tree?”

“The Opossum did,” said Patient the Snail.

The old witch reached into her pointed witch’s cap and pulled out a pair of reading glasses, which the Opossum accepted with great dignity.

“But the Opossum wouldn’t have been able to push the broom from the tree if the Squirrel hadn’t lifted it up first,” said the Jay.

“Well, it’s only fair that the Squirrel receive a gift as well,” said the witch, and she reached again into her hat and pulled out a sack of nuts and gave it to the Squirrel.

“Without the Jay’s speed, though, we would never have gotten the broom out of the branches,” said the Squirrel after she had thanked the witch for her gift.

“Well, then, we must give the Jay a gift,” said the witch, smiling, and pulled from her hat a beautiful purple scarf, which she wrapped around the Jay’s throat.

“This will keep my voice warm so that I may sing even during the winter,” said the Jay.

“But what about Patient’s gift?” asked the Opossum.

“Yes! Patient deserves a gift!” said the Jay and the Squirrel.

“But I didn’t do anything,” said Patient the Snail. “I didn’t lift the broom, or push the broom, or free it from the branches. Why should I get a gift?”

“You were the most important of all,” said the old witch. “For without your bravery, the Opossum would not have lifted the broom, and the Jay would not have freed the straws, and the Squirrel would not have pushed the broom. You saw what should be done and you did it, which is more than many can say. And therefore, you will have the best gift of all.” The witch reached into her hat and pulled out a tiny book, with a dark green cover and gold edges, and handed it to Patient the Snail.

“This is a very special book,” said the old witch. “In it is all the adventures you will ever have, and all the animals you will ever meet. You can take it out and read about things you will do someday, or read about things that you have done before, or read about the things that you are doing right now. Try it, and see!”

And so Patient the Snail opened the little book to about the middle, and to her surprise she read the very story that I have just told you. And when she was done she closed the book, said goodbye to her new friends, and set off once more into the woods, for she could tell from the book that she had many more adventures ahead of her.

story by Danny Nelson

Monday, August 9

The Inheritance of Shells

Everyone had a shell but Patient, and they weren’t sharing. This, said Grandfather Armand, was the nature of things. Snails were greedy creatures, and did not like to share. He was eating a long strand of red licorice. Patient was waiting for him to finish and leave her a bite. But Grandfather Armand was a very slow eater.

Patient was a young snail, and like all very young snails, she was born without a shell. Her skin was as pulpy and slimy as a banana peel, and it left her vulnerable to all kinds of terrors. Sun, for one. Salt, for another.

This meant, according to Mama Cynda, that she could never glide down to the dew gathering place alone. Young humans were fond of sprinkling salt on young snails. Boys especially, those nasty things, loved to watch salted snails curl and writhe on the sidewalk. Without a protective shell, salt would burn right through to a snail’s core. And if the boys didn’t get her, Mama Cynda nodded, the sun surely would.

But Patient didn’t care so much about salt or sun. What she cared about were parties. And the one thing you needed to go to a party was a shell. “Why,” said Grandfather Armand, “a snail without a shell might as well be invisible at a party.”

So it was clear: Patient had to have a shell. The problem was, shells were family heirlooms, passed down through generations of snails. The only way to get a shell was if someone in your family died and left you their shell. Which, to be honest, didn’t sound great to Patient. She didn’t want Grandfather Armand to die, even if he did keep all the licorice to himself.

“Why not try Miss Sally?” said Dada Marcel. “I’ll glide with you.”

Miss Sally was a long shot, everyone knew. Despite her extensive inventory of custom order shells--sold by the seashore--her taste was questionable. Miss Sally preferred pretty things, shimmering rainbow abalones and peach chambered nautiluses and fan shaped mollusks. But for snails, the bigger and older and grimier the shell, the better it was. A well-aged shell meant your family had been around for decades.

When they arrived, Miss Sally was excited. Why, Patient was such a precious young slug.

“Who are you calling a slug?” said Dada Marcel.

Miss Sally was sorry. She was a person, and people have a hard time telling the difference between young snails and slugs. Patient tried on a few shells, but none of them fit right. They made her back sore and stiff. So she and Dada Marcel went home.

At home, Grandfather Armand was still eating his licorice. Patient was so tired of waiting—for a bite of licorice, for her shell, for the chance to go to a party—that she went to bed early.

In the morning, she had had time getting out of bed. Her back was still sore. She wished she had never gone to see Miss Sally.

When she glided up to the breakfast stone, Mama Cynda gasped. “Where did you get that?” she said.

“What?” said Patient.

“Glory be,” said Grandfather Armand. “I’ve never seen such a thing.”

For Patient had grown her very own shell in the night. It was sleek and glossy and brown, like a chestnut, with splashes of white diamond curving around the spiral. Patient was so happy she sailed around the breakfast stone.

That night, she went to a party. All the other snails in their rough and barnacled shells stared at her glossy new shell. When they asked where she got it, she just smiled. She knew the best things in life come to those who wait.

story by Steve Woodward

Friday, August 6

A Snail Named Patient Goes to the Baseball Game

I took my friend, Patient the Snail, to a baseball game with me. Just the two of us guys going to pass some old fashioned baseball time. At a big stadium, with lots of people and rows and rows of blue seats.

Patient wanted some nachos, so we got some nachos and then headed down to our seats. We had great seats, right behind first base, and the field looked so green. I told Patient that I wanted to jump the little fence and run on the field. I told him I wanted to skip through the green outfield and then slide around on the dirt of the infield. I told him I wanted to feel the hot damp grass on my cheek and smell the heavy grass smell. I told him I wanted so slide so hard on the coarse dirt that it got all the way into my shoes. I could hardly stand it just sitting there when so many beautiful fun things were just waiting for me if I ran onto the field.

But my good buddy Patient the Snail, as all good buddies often do, gave me some good advice. He sat munching on his nachos and he told me that sometimes it just isn’t your turn to slide on dirt and run around on rich green grass. He told me that, in those times, its just as much fun to munch on some quality nachos with a friend and watch people slide on dirt and run on grass.

And you know what, he was right. We sat there the entire game. We munched on our nachos and even ordered cool lemonade that a nice man brought right to our seat. I was totally happy sitting there in the shade with my good friend Patient. Once even a baseball player ran and dove for a ball in the green outfield grass. He caught the ball and then, before he got up, I saw him stick his face in the grass and take a big whiff of the heavy grass smell, just like I would have done.

story by Aaron Allen

Wednesday, August 4

Patient Eats the Alphabet (part five)

Abby was beginning to get hot. Patient spied an umbrella tree where she and Abby could get some shade. They laid down under the tree for a rest and Patient couldn’t help but take a bite. Abby giggled again. “You are so funny,” she told Patient.

Umbrella tree starts with U.

Growing down through the umbrella tree were some vines that Patient wanted to swing on. Abby was too big to swing on the vines, so she helped Patient swing for a minute then Patient ate her way through the vine so she could get down.

Vine starts with V.

Patient landed in Abby’s lap with a “kerplop,” where Abby was sitting on a big green watermelon. Patient could hardly believe her luck, and Abby could not wait to dig into the watermelon. Abby remembered how juicy watermelons are. They cut off the end and each took a big piece of watermelon. “Better take the rest home for my papa bear,” said Abby.

Watermelon starts with W.

Patient and Abby then criss-crossed the garden, back and forth, up and down, trying to find something that started with X. After a long time, Patient remembered that many of the plants she had already eaten had  xylem.

Xylem starts with X. Abby giggled at the sound of “Xylem.” She said it over and over again.

While traversing the garden looking for a plant starting with X, Patient had noticed a yucca plant growing on Mr. Burton’s deck. It was very nice looking. She asked Abby to carry her up on the deck so she could get a nibble from the yucca plant. She only took one bite.

Yucca plant starts with Y. But“Yucca sounds like yuck!” Abby said. “That’s so silly!”

Patient had made it through the entire alphabet except for the letter Z. But, Mr. Burton did not have any zinnias or zucchini in his garden. Patient didn’t know what to do. She could not find a Z plant.

Just then, Abby’s mom came to get her and brought Mr. Burton a grocery bag full of zucchini to eat. Abby dropped Patient into the bag and Patient ate zucchini until she was so full she thought she’d explode. Abby had some too. She asked her mommy if they could make a zucchini chocolate cake. “Of course,” said Mommy. “Yum,” said Abby.

Zucchini starts with Z.

Abby picked Patient up out of the bag of zucchini. They couldn’t believe how lucky they were to have found something beginning with each letter of the alphabet. Patient was happy, and Abby giggled again. After that day in Mr. Burton’s yard, Abby could say her ABCs all the way through without stopping because she remembered that Patient had eaten the alphabet. She could remember each thing Patient had eaten. Even the nasty tasting things.

story by Abby's Grandpa (Larry Jenkins)

Tuesday, August 3

Patient Eats the Alphabet (part four)

After enjoying the magnolia tree, Abby and Patient swung over to the nectarine tree in Mr. Burton’s small orchard. My, those nectarines were big and juicy. Patient could only eat part of one. Abby helped Patient finish the nectarine. She thought it was really good and told Patient she needed to remember to tell her Mommy how good it was.

Nectarine starts with N.

Patient and Abby then climbed down to the ground, where Patient stumbled across some green onion. She took just a small bite before she realized eating onion would make her cry. Abby didn’t want to cry, so she didn’t eat any onion. And, boy did it smell strong. “Pew,” said Abby. “I don’t like onion.”

Onion starts with O.

Hoping to get the taste of the onion out of her mouth, Patient asked Abby to grab a pod of peas, which Patient ate quickly.

Pea starts with P, and sounds like it too.

With the onion taste finally gone from her mouth, Patient and Abby raced to the rhubarb patch, but they got hung up in some quack grass that was growing between the rows. Patient ate some of it to help Mr. Burton with his weeding. Abby also helped by pulling some, but she didn’t eat any quack grass. “That’s for ducks,” said Abby. Patient said “quack.”

Quack grass starts with Q.

After making their way through the quack grass, Patient saw the giant rhubarb patch. It had such large leaves. Patient ate a whole stalk of rhubarb. Abby cut some rhubarb so her mommy could make a rhubarb pie for Grandma Great.

Rhubarb starts with R.

Patient said it was time again for a treat. Patient saw a big juicy strawberry growing along the side of the garden. She ate it, stem and all. Abby picked and ate three strawberries, and then she picked some for her mommy to go in the rhubarb pie.

Strawberry starts with S.

Around the corner from the strawberry patch was a tomato plant where big tomatoes were growing. Patient and Abby both tried a bite of a large red tomato. Patient really liked it. Abby said it was okay, but she didn’t want another bite. Abby thought it might taste better on a hamburger. “Let’s go to McDonald’s,” said Abby, just teasing Patient. “Or a French restaurant for escargot.”

Tomato starts with T.

story by Grandpa Larry

Monday, August 2

Patient Eats the Alphabet (part three)

Patient and Abby took their time in the flower patch looking at all of the beautiful flowers. Patient’s favorite flower was a tall pink iris. Patient liked it so much she ate it too. Abby said she wanted to take an iris home to her mommy. It smelled pretty, but Abby didn’t think it would taste very good.

Iris starts with I.

Abby suggested they try something that people eat. Next to Mr. Burton’s house were some jalapeno pepper plants. Patient told Abby that people eat jalapenos, but Patient didn’t know they were hot. Patient and Abby each took a small nibble, and Abby ran quickly for a drink. “Whoa, that’s hot,” said Abby.

Jalapeno starts with J.

After strolling through the flower patch more, Patient climbed back on top of the hedge to see what she could see. Patient saw a kumquat tree. She’d never eaten a kumquat before. She ate one and liked it a lot. Abby just watched and giggled. “Kumquat is a funny word,” Abby said.

Kumquat starts with K.

Patient washed the kumquat down by eating a leaf from the kumquat tree. Abby didn’t want to eat a leaf, but took one home to show her papa bear and to ask if she could start a leaf collection.

Leaf starts with L.

Abby saw that next to the kumquat tree was a beautiful magnolia tree with hundreds of blossoms. They were so beautiful! Patient agreed that they were beautiful and decided to see if they tasted as good as they looked.

Magnolia starts with M.

story by Grandpa Larry

Saturday, July 31

Patient Eats the Alphabet (part two)

Patient and Abby explored Mr. Burton’s garden high and low, under bushes and around water spouts, looking for Patient’s next meal. Patient bumped into a big purple eggplant and devoured it quickly. Abby didn’t want any eggplant. She didn’t think it would taste like an omelet, and it didn’t look like anything the Easter Bunny left for her.

Eggplant starts with E.

Behind the eggplant was a giant fern, so Patient ate one stalk. Abby said people didn’t eat ferns. “You’re so silly, Patient. You’ll eat anything!”

Fern starts with F.

After eating the fern, Patient wanted something a little sweeter and thought Abby might too. Next to the banana squash was a gooseberry patch. They scurried to the gooseberry patch, where Patient ate four gooseberries. Abby likes berries and also enjoyed the gooseberries. She probably ate too many.

Gooseberry starts with G. “Oh, my stomach,” said Abby.

Patient needed another break. She’d never eaten this much in just one day. She wanted to see Mr. Burton’s flowers. But separating the berry patch from the flower garden was a large hedge. Patient ate a path through the hedge big enough for Abby and Patient to pass. Abby said, “Patient, you are a genius.”

Hedge starts with H.

story by Grandpa Larry

read part one (A - D)

Friday, July 30

Patient Eats the Alphabet (part one)

Patient the snail was small. But, she wanted to grow and she was very smart. She even knew the alphabet.

One morning when she was playing with her best friend Abby, she had a fabulous idea—she could teach Abby the alphabet by eating one thing for each letter of the alphabet. Maybe that would also help her grow.


Patient lived in Mr. Burton’s yard. He had a big vegetable garden, some fruit and ornamental trees, and lots of flowers. Patient told Abby that if they looked hard enough they could find something Patient could eat in Mr. Burton’s yard that started with each letter of the alphabet

Patient started along the ditch bank where she knew Mr. Burton grew some asparagus. She ate two stalks.

Asparagus starts with A, she told Abby. Abby said “A.”

Patient asked Abby if she was from Canada. Abby said “huh?”
“Never mind,” said Patient.

Patient next ate a large banana squash. She offered Abby a bite, but Abby said it didn’t look like a banana. She also thought it may taste better if it were cooked. “Yuck,” said Abby.

Banana squash starts with B.

As she finished the banana squash, Patient saw a beautiful cucumber and ate it, leaving just one bite for Abby. Abby really liked the cucumber, with a little salt. “Maybe my mommy will let me eat more of one,” Abby thought.

Cucumber starts with C.

“See,” said Abby, “I do like some things.“

After eating the cucumber, Patient needed a break. She took a nap. Abby took a nap with her. When they awoke they strolled to the other side of the yard and passed several dandelions. Patient ate two. Abby said “No thanks, my dad said those are weeds.”
“Yes they are,” said Patient, “but awfully tasty weeds.”

Dandelion starts with D.

This, and the rest of the coming alphabet, brought to you by Larry Jenkins (aka, Grandpa) 

Thursday, July 29

Patient and the Sun Search

One morning Patient woke up and felt something important was missing. She couldn’t quite put her one, slightly slimy foot on it. “Is it my antenna?” she asked herself. No, she could feel both antennea on top of her head. “Is it my bed?” No, her bed was just where she had left it last night, underneath her and cozy. Maybe it was her clock. She looked over for her clock and suddenly gasped! The clock was still there, but she could barely see it because it was so dark.

“The sun!” she squealed. “Where’s the sun?” She jumped out of bed and almost stepped on her one roller-skate, it was so dark. “I must ask the others if they’ve seen the sun…maybe they put it somewhere and forgot about it.” She fumbled to her door, leading with her antennae so she wouldn’t bump into anything surprising.

“So this must be what it was like for Edward before we built those windows for him,” she said sadly. “And this is what it will be for all of us if we don’t find the sun.”

She managed to go out the door without hitting herself with them and she only stumbled once or twice going down the front steps, and by the time she got to the Emperor Penguins, she was getting rather good at moving around without the sun. Still, she’d miss the sun; Patient enjoyed a good sunbathing now and then--with snail-appropriate SPF sunscreen, of course.

“Penguini! Penguini!” She knocked on his window until he opened it, rubbing his eye sleepily.

“What is it, Patient?” he said rather crossly. “I was asleep.”

“How can you sleep at a time like this?” Patient snapped back. “The sun is missing!”

“Well, that is something!” Penguini exclaimed. “I like the sun an awful lot—it’s so bright and cheerful. I’ll help you find it, Patient.” He ducked behind the curtain and then popped out of the window, fully dressed and tooth-brushed. “Ready!” he said. “I’m sorry I was cross with you, Patient.”

“It’s okay,” she said. “I’m just glad you’re going to help me look for the sun, though.”

They looked for the sun everywhere they thought it might hide: in a cave by the river, high in the branches of a cottonwood tree, behind a haystack, but they couldn’t find it anywhere.

“It’s no use, Patient,” said Penguini. “If the sun were hiding any of these places, it would shine so bright that we’d find it right away.”

Patient thought maybe he was right, but she couldn’t give up. Suddenly she had an idea. “We couldn’t see the light of the sun if it were under the ground!” she exclaimed. “Let’s go ask Roger and Edward—they live under the ground.”

They came to Roger’s hole in the group and stomped as hard as they could on the ground. (That’s what you have to do when you don’t have a front door.) When Roger came up, he looked just as grumpy as Penguini had been.

“What’s this all about?” he asked. “I was peacefully sleeping when…”

“The sun, the sun, Roger!” they shouted excitedly. “We can’t find the sun anywhere.”

Roger’s eyes got wide. “Is that why it’s so dark out here?“

“We thought maybe the sun was underground—can you help us look?”

“Yes, but I bet Edward and all the ants can help more—I just have one little burrow, but they have whole cities underground where the sun might be.”

So they all set out to find Edward the ant.

“Edward, Edward!” they cried at his brand-new window.

“Yes?” he asked, immediately coming to the window.

They were surprised. “We didn’t wake you up?” asked Patient cautiously.

“No,” said Edward. “I always wake up before the sun rises.”

“The sun…rises?” Penguini repeated.

“Yes, just over those mountains,” and he pointed to where, yes, even now there was something white and
bright and beautiful coming through the canyon.

“This happens…often?” asked Roger, fiddling his paws.

“Oh, every morning,” said Edward. “Now what was it that you needed?”

But no one felt like telling him that they thought the sun had gone missing, so they all quietly walked back to their homes, thinking about how silly they had all been. In fact, by the time Patient got back to her little home, she could see quite well enough to climb up the steps easily, get in the door painlessly, avoid the roller-skate and climb back into bed. As she began to doze off, she looked over to make sure it wasn’t her clock that was missing, after all. It wasn’t missing, but it displayed a shockingly small number.

“How funny,” she thought just before falling asleep. “I wonder if everyone else’s clock is broken, too. I must ask them in the morning.”

Story by Mary Hedengren

Wednesday, July 28

Patient and the Pink Cupcake

Patient likes to wake up as soon as the sun peaks over the morning hill. Zip-zip-zoom! She starts her engine and zips around the room, getting dressed and  racing outside to meet the glorious day. 

I wonder what adventures I’ll have today!  She thought as she dashed out the door without her jacket. When she got outside into the fresh morning air, she saw a beautiful pink glow off in the distance. Patient loved anything pink. What could it be? It’s beautiful!

She zip-zip-zoomed toward the pink light, and when she got closer, she saw a sparkling sign over a window. “Tink’s Pink Bakery,” she said, reading the sign out loud. Wow. She zoomed up to the window, where she found a perfectly snail-shaped opening. This must mean I can go in!

The smell of vanilla and cinnamon-spice filled the air. Every shelf on every wall was stacked with purple cakes, red licorice, yellow-frosted sugar cookies, and gingerbread men in formal frosting-wear.  But all of that paled when Patient finally saw where the pink glow was coming from.

It was there, on a table in the center of the room – a pink cupcake, with cherry blossom frosting and pink sugaring dust.  Patient couldn’t take her eyes away. She inched closer, she could smell the sweet frosting. If only she could just taste the tiniest crumb!  I’ll just get a little bit closer, she thought, when she saw a note tucked gently next to the cupcake.  It has my name on it! What could it say?

Dear Patient,
This cupcake was made especially for you. You are a lovely little snail.
Tink the Baker

Patient carefully folded the note into her pocket, and with a zip-zip-zip -zoom, she dove headfirst in to the pink butter cream frosting.

The End

Story by Kristen Eliason

Tuesday, July 27

Patient's Busy Day

When Patient the Snail woke up one summer morning, she could tell it was going to be a wonderful day. How did she know? First, the breeze felt misty, so she knew it had rained during the night. Patient loved the rain! Second, the light around her was warm and cloudy. Patient loved to be outside when the sun was not too bright. Third, and best of all, Patient knew that rainy days were a great time to visit her friend, Izzy the Inchworm, because Izzy also loved to come out after it rained!

Patient uncurled and stretched. She thought about her big plan for the day. Far in the distance, at the very edge of the yard where she lived, Patient could see the top of a daisy bobbing above the grass. The daisy would make a yummy snack. After snack, she could go all the way to the big stone in the corner of the yard, and visit Izzy. There was always a puddle by the stone after it rained, and Izzy and Patient loved to play in it together. After that, it would be time to think about supper and bed. What a good plan!

Patient started on her way. The dirt was nice and wet, which made it easy for her to slip along the path. Patient was so happy, she made up a ‘rainy day’ song to hum as she went.

“Patient, Patient!”

She stopped, surprised.

“Patient, is that you?” a voice called from over a hedge of grass.

Patient knew who that was! “Here I am, Edward,” she answered. Two antennae poked through the hedge, followed by the face of a little ant.

“Oh, I’m so glad to find you!” Edward smiled. His antennae kept twitching the whole time he talked, and his legs did a little dance. Edward liked to keep moving, even when he was standing still. “Can you come with me to the Colony? We need your help!”

Patient thought a minute. The Colony where Edward lived was a whole fallen tree branch past the daisy. If she went with him, she might be gone for a long time. Then she thought about Izzy, and her big plan for the day. Edward danced around her, and back again, while he waited for an answer.

“Of course I will help you, if I can,” answered Patient at last.

“Thank you, thank you!” said Edward. “I knew you would come!”

So they started on their way. Edward could move a lot faster than Patient, but that didn’t bother either of them. He would run ahead, and then run back to tell Patient everything he saw on the path. Each time he returned, he told Patient a little more about the problem at the Colony.

Edward began by explaining about the Big Meeting at the Colony, where the ants decided they were tired of living in the dark, and wanted to build a house above ground instead. Then Edward ran ahead. While he was gone, Patient looked up at the soft clouds, and hummed her rainy day song to herself.

Edward dashed back. “There’s a mulberry just past this curve. We’ll have to go around it. So, the whole Colony has been working on our new house. This morning it was finished, and we all moved in.”

“How exciting!” Patient said. She was very curious about what happened next, but Edward had already raced away.

When he returned, he said, “We’re almost at the daisy. Would you like to stop and rest now?”

That sounded wonderful to Patient, who was very hungry. She ate two whole petals and a leaf! Then, off they went again.

Edward ran ahead, and saw two roly-poly’s and a ladybug on the path. He started to chat with them, and forgot about Patient for a long time. That’s ok, she thought to herself while she made her way carefully around the fallen branch, I will find out the rest of the story when Edward comes back. She was very good at being patient!

Patient stopped to say good afternoon to a blue butterfly, who was in too much of a hurry to answer, and flew away. When Patient finally caught up with Edward, the ladybug was just flying away home. They could hear shouts and calls coming from ahead.

“Oh my goodness,” said Edward. “We’re already here, and I still didn’t tell you our problem! Well, now you’ll see for yourself.”

Together, they went into the clearing. Patient could see a gray mound with tall, smooth walls. Coming in and out of a small door was a line of ants, each of them holding the top of an acorn shell. Whenever the sun broke through the clouds for a moment, the ants would lift their acorns to the sun, and then hurry back into the house again.

“What a beautiful building!” Patient said. “But Edward, what is everyone doing?”

Edward sighed. “It is a beautiful house.” He looked up again at those gray walls. “But we wanted to move above ground so we could have light where we live, and everything inside is still dark!” Edward looked sadly at Patient. “We are trying to catch the light outside and bring it in, but it’s still dark in our house all the time.”

“That is a problem,” Patient agreed. She looked for a long time at the ants’ new home, at the long line of workers rushing back and forth, and at their acorn shells lifted to the sky. “Edward,” she said at last, “I think your new home is not done yet.”

“What do you mean?” Edward looked puzzled. “It has everything our old anthill had, except it’s on top of the ground, not under.”

“Exactly!” Patient smiled. “And homes on top of the ground need windows!”

“What are windows?” asked Edward.

“Windows are holes that you cut into walls to let the light come in,” Patient explained.

Edward’s eyes brightened. His antennae wiggled all around. “What a great idea!” he exclaimed. “Patient, you are a very smart snail!”

Edward told the ants all about windows, and when they opened the first one in their new house, everyone cheered and threw acorn tops into the air to celebrate. Patient’s idea had worked! Then all the ants threw a real house-warming party, and Patient was the guest of honor. They gave her a sweet clover flower to eat, which was one of her favorite treats.

 Now Patient was starting to get tired, so she knew it was time to head back. Edward walked with her, but this time he did not run ahead quite so far, or quite as often as before. Edward was getting tired, too! Once, when he ran ahead, he waited for Patient at the top of a little hill. When Patient caught up, Edward smiled and pointed down – there was a small puddle, with Izzy the Inchworm laughing and splashing in the mud!

All three friends were surprised to see each other, and they played in the puddle together for a long time. At last, it really was almost time for bed. Izzy said goodnight, and started inching sleepily to her hole. Edward yawned, and started walking back to his new home with beautiful windows to look out of at night.

And Patient, who was already home wherever she went, curled happily into her shell at the edge of the mud puddle. This really had been a wonderful, busy day!

Story by Virginia Smith