Although it had been awhile since Sula had given birth to her own offspring, Rita recalled the many years when little raccoon cubs scuttled through bushy undergrowth, and chased each other up tree trunks. Brave, and sometimes frightened cubs who would make it halfway up tall trees then bawl for Sula to rescue them when they were unsure of the way down.
The day would soon arrive when the many-hued tree leaves would tumble downward, piling up upon the earth for Raleigh and Sula to gallop through playfully, for Rita to collect and press inside of old books; while Joe rythmically swings his axe in preparation for the winter to come. There is still time enough for raccoons to gorge themselves on apples, their chests stained with sticky juice; flannel shirt fronts and old sweaters spotted with fresh pressed cider. Enough apples, to be shared.
Yellow days chased by azure nights patiently await the replacement of periwinkle afternoons spiced with the tangerine, amber, and carmine of deciduous trees. Caroling birds are now concerned with long journeys, chirping frogs grow quieter and quieter. Some flowers fade away, while others are at their zenith; still being visited by fuzzy bumblebees. Sula and Raleigh travel farther and farther in order to consume the calories needed for their long stay in the trunk of the old, old maple. Rita's garden is preserved in assorted jars. Chipmunks yodel less and less, Joe's woodpile gets taller and taller. Sula and Raleigh's striped tails become bushy with stored fat. They are often seen napping on stout branches halfway up the old, old maple. Geese honk their farewells, promising to return. Winter squash bakes in the oven. The split wood will pile no higher.
The winter months slip away. The snow ever deeper. Rita and Joe a little sleepier. Sula and Raleigh cuddling a bit closer. The Vernal Equinox comes and goes and still the wind howls through wildly dancing wind chimes. A day in early April foretells the coming of Spring. Sula peeks out of her tree hole, climbs out, then down to the ground below. A puddle gathers from the many drip drops, eagerly she laps the cold, cold water. This day, of all days, just has to be experienced and enjoyed from beginning to end. It was a perfect day that led into a dazzling night of starlight.