In this series of nature stories (ages 3-103) the action is seen through the eyes of the main
mammal, bird, or other creature on stage. But no animal will ever speak like a human.
Here is Book 2
Book 1 One Morning at Boxelder Cove (Tamius the Red Squirrel)
One Morning at Juneberry Row
James W. Nelson
Copyright 2013 by James W. Nelson
Published by James W. Nelson at Smashwords
Table of Contents
ChapterOne Morning at Juneberry Row
Juneberry Row is a really small place. About eighty-five feet long and maybe twenty-five feet at the widest part. It’s a tangle of twelve to fifteen-feet-tall Juneberry, Chokecherry, and Buckthorn trees, Poison Ivy, Stinging Nettle, Cocklebur, and wild Grape vines; in fact it’s a bramble patch, fitting for Brer Rabbit himself. In this case, though, it’s the home of Sybil, the Cottontail rabbit.
Sybil, born in the previous summer’s last batch, was two months old. In late October in the northland, winter was next. She didn’t know about winter and just ate what she always ate: a few tender blades of grass, a few of the choicest weed tops, and a sprig or two of clover, but for that delicacy she was having to go farther and farther from the home nest, so most days she just ate what was available close by. She didn’t eat extra to put on weight for the coming winter like a bear would, she didn’t store food like Red Squirrels, and also didn’t hibernate underground like gophers. Basically, she lived one day at a time (like the grasshopper in Aesop’s Fables) and dealt with each day as it arrived.
About midday something unusual began happening. First a cloud covered the sun, then the whole sky became cloudy. Sybil thought nothing about that, and of course a rabbit doesn’t think, they only react. Anyway, she had seen cloudy weather before. This cloudy weather was a little different, though, and chillier. Before long a few white snowflakes began falling, and then quite a few more. Not a snowstorm but a gentle snow fall. A human would have stopped what he or she was doing, and would have stood watching—and probably appreciating—the beginning of the season’s winter wonderland.
Of course Sybil knew nothing about such things. The snow kept falling and got even thicker. Before long the ground was covered and the snow was sticking to everything. What an hour earlier had been a bountiful autumn table was no more. Sybil would need to learn new eating habits, and had no one to teach her, as that isn’t how Cottontail rabbits operate. Once you’re out of the home nest you’re on your own.
She settled down where she was, near the home nest. Even though she no longer slept there, she liked staying in the general vicinity. Maybe it was memory. Maybe she remembered her mother, her three brothers and one sister. Maybe she remembered suckling and those first excursions out of the nest. Maybe she even remembered playing with her brothers and sister, until that day when their mother didn’t come back, and, one at a time, her siblings left too and never came back. Her father, well, she never did meet him.
Right then she wasn’t hungry. So she just stayed still, her eyes bright and watching for any unusual movement. Cottontails are good at spotting distant movement.
She hadn’t noticed before (or maybe she did) but a trail passed real close to her home nest. Many times she had crossed it, even walked on it for short distances, but of course didn’t know what it represented so never followed it. Cottontails—unlike squirrels—aren’t known for their curiosity. If they happen to find something bountiful, very likely they just fall into it. Fate, you know?
Time passed, a couple hours at least.
She began getting hungry.
Another Cottontail appeared traveling on the trail that now lay under the snow. She had seen other Cottontails pass on the trail before, but had never thought anything of it, so she stayed still. The other Cottontail passed and kept going, leaving tracks in that white stuff.
She followed. She didn’t think about it, she didn’t decide to, she just did it. The other Cottontail didn’t hurry, just moved over the snow at a steady pace. Sybil kept following, and she began sensing that she was getting farther and farther away from her home territory. Her senses—her instinct—began telling her to stop. But she didn’t.
The other Cottontail stopped, laid back its ears and hunched lower. Sybil stopped too, just froze in place. In the distance, about 100 feet away appeared something she had never seen, a very large creature walking on two legs, which caused an explosion of small birds. Sybil, of course, had never seen a human. The human had just came out of a house (another thing she had never seen) walked a ways, did something, then disappeared back into the house. After a moment or two the other Cottontail moved on and the small birds began coming back.
Sybil stayed where she was.
A few more minutes passed. Nothing moving anywhere, except the small birds. First they would all fly away like an explosion. A few seconds to a minute would pass, then they’d all return.
Something over there must be good.
So, one step at a time, and a hop or two, Sybil moved on also.
Shortly, she saw the other Cottontail, maybe fifty or sixty small birds fluttering about, some on the hanging feeders (another strange thing she knew nothing about,) many more fluttering about on the ground, and two big Fox Squirrels…Eating? Sybil stopped again and just watched. It sure looked like all the other animals were happy, about something.
She moved on, and shortly reached the outside edge of the activity. One of the squirrels stopped eating and looked at her. In the unspoken language of the animal circle of communication, a concentrated look from one creature to another is known as the stare. (To a human watching, a humorous thing.) Sybil stopped, just froze in place. The squirrel stared for another few seconds, then began eating again. Sybil made a few more calculated, slow, steps (no hops.) The other cottontail looked up and ‘stared’ for about three seconds, then continued eating.
She finally reached the bounty on the ground: Black sunflower seeds and yellow corn kernels. Neither food had she ever tasted, but, as she would later discover, as the winter wore on, she would begin learning there were many other foods she had never tasted that she would be glad to find and eat, including her own first waste discharge after a meal, which greatly added to the nutrition of that meal.
(The author does not know when that fact of rabbit wisdom begins. Is it pure instinct, or does the mother rabbit somehow teach it to her new babies?)
Most of the small birds suddenly exploded in a mad and crazy flight. The other rabbit and both squirrels looked up and one jumped a bit. Sybil just froze in place. One small bird, a Redpoll which had ignored the mad explosion, continued pecking away at its meal, totally unaware and vulnerable. From nowhere came a Northern Shrike who quickly dispatched the Redpoll, and began its own meal right there on the snowy ground. After a moment the shrike took its meal and flew away. Sybil took little note of what had happened, as the shrike was much smaller than herself. Nothing for her to fear, but a mouse? Yes, a mouse would have to fear that particularly deadly songbird.
The day wore on. As the other birds and animals reached their fill they quietly disappeared. Sybil was last to go, and retreated on the same trail she had come in on. The snow had continued all day, so the trail was now covered, but, through instinct, she knew where the trail was under the snow, and made her way home with no problem.
Animals are lucky that way. They just know.
Winter moved on and March arrived. Sybil, of course, had not much awareness of time passing. The sun would come up, she would move away from wherever she had spent the night, and finally move to that spot where there was always something to eat. It had snowed again the night before, so this morning nothing at the feeding area was in sight. She knew where food usually was, though, so, with just a little digging, she began to find some.
Then she noticed one of the big Fox Squirrels sitting high on a fence post, eating away on a whole cob of the yellow corn. She watched, and finally noticed bits of the corn being dropped. She didn’t know that the smarty-pants squirrel ate only the small germ of the corn kernel—the most nutritious part—then discarded the rest by simply dropping it.
Cottontails weren’t so picky, so Sybil ate what the squirrel wasted.
The black seeds with shells were really good, and made her feel full faster. But all the other animals liked the black seeds best too. Plus they had to wait for the birds in the feeders above to kick the seeds to the ground. And sometimes the human would appear, then all the animals would run and the birds fly.
Sybil, from her hiding place under a nearby evergreen bush, couldn’t comprehend that the human brought the food. Even though she watched him fill the feeders, and sometimes heard him speak to the Downy Woodpeckers that flew close to him, her intellect went just so far. She was just a Cottontail, after all.
As winter moved closer to spring, some of the other Cottontails became frisky, and would chase each other, and would face each other and jump straight in the air, and then chase again. One day one gave Sybil that ‘stare’ and didn’t stop after a few seconds. For Sybil this was new. At first she just stared back, then instinct began kicking in. She moved back. The other rabbit moved toward her. She jumped. The other rabbit jumped higher. She jumped again. The other rabbit jumped still higher—
Sybil turned and zoomed away.
Something Cottontails are known for is speed and agility. Sybil left like a bullet, the other Cottontail no more then two feet behind. They zoomed over the crusted snow at speeds up to thirty-four miles per hour, around a bush, around a tree, and on and on. The other rabbit just chased her and chased her and chased her and finally caught her, and did something, and then left her alone. The something the other rabbit did was far beyond Sybil’s comprehension. Not a lot of romance is spent between bunnies. They do not mate for life as some higher species like Canada Geese and Timber Wolves.
Winter became spring, and soon the middle of May. Sybil’s four kittens (or kits) shortly would be two weeks old.
She stood up on her haunches. Her forepaws hung in front of her almost as if she were praying. But she was scrutinizing her immediate neighborhood of small grassy sandy hills outside of Juneberry Row for predators, other Cottontails, or the human who sometimes walked by on the trail. In the far distance large trees rose, but she never went there, in fact she never ventured far from her home nest where she was born and where her own family was born, among a pile of thorny buckthorn branches and fallen leaves.
In the other direction was a shiny fence. She never went there either because quite often the human was there. At least twice she had heard a loud, frightening, sound, from that direction, a sound that made her just freeze stock still for a long time.
Plenty to eat right there at Juneberry Row. No reason to even go near that fence. Strange, though, Sybil couldn’t put her finger (or paw, or claw) on it, but the past winter she didn’t feel exactly afraid of the human. She would watch from hiding, but didn’t feel afraid. But the fence was somehow different. Whenever the human was inside that fence she felt different, not really afraid, yet tense.
She dropped back down to all four feet, then sat down on her butt and with her left back leg scratched in back of her left front leg, then licked herself all over, licked her paw then washed behind both ears, wherever she could reach. At last ready for the morning she moved away from the semi-safety of Juneberry row into a patch of lush grass and clover. The long cold winter had seen the main menu as the bark on young trees, so the return of green growth was appreciated.
When the four kittens arrived she fed them and licked them to clean them and took care of them correctly from the start, as if she had done it a hundred times before.
But that’s how Mother Nature works; the animals just know what to do, and do it.
Enough grass already. She moved and came upon last year’s Pocket Gopher mound of dirt where weeds of all sorts were sprouting, and a few red clovers. She made short work of most of them, but some just bit off, just enough for a taste, to know if she liked it. Just clipped off and left to lie, one of those things Cottontails do that so infuriates humans. But the bounty of spring was like that. Plenty to eat everywhere, so even rabbits become wasteful.
For no known reason she began feeling a bit frisky. She jumped straight in the air, then jumped around and around, then straight in the air again…and came down facing that shiny fence in the distance. Something was there that absolutely needed investigating, but, as said before, rabbits are not known for their curiosity. So, why did she start toward that shiny fence? We will never know. But through grass tunnels and weeds she went…until she came to very short grass, unknown to her a boundary, an eight-foot-wide strip of grass that the human kept mowed.
She stopped. Tension grew. She still felt hidden and safe—but she had come all this way…just to stop because of that familiar feeling of tenseness? Slowly she stepped onto the short grass. Nothing happened. She went a little further, and stopped. Scents of unknown lush greens reached her. Lettuce, radishes, onions, already sprouted and growing. And many plants of the cabbage family. She moved on…and reached the fence—
Something moved far off to her right. She froze.
The ground in front of her exploded with dirt chunks; at the same instant came that very loud sound that had so frightened her before.
Her feet became wings as she leaped and turned in midair and zoomed back toward the safety of the weeds and grass—but a second explosion tore up the ground right below her, which increased her speed, maybe even surpassing that clocked speed of thirty-four miles-per-hour.
She reached her nest and kittens and lay down beside them. In seconds they all were awake and suckling. In the first eight months of her life Sybil had experienced just about everything a Cottontail could.
The kittens were half grown now and soon would clamor to leave the nest. But Cottontails don’t clamor; mostly they just go quietly about their business. When the young are big and strong enough, and during their play, eventually they reach the outer world and start exploring, sort of…and then leaving.
When the day of departure comes they will leave the safety of the nest, probably never to be seen again…or not, as Cottontails don’t claim a territory, except in mating. The girl Cottontails usually keep intruders at bay only during nesting and family time. A Cottontail could be born, live, and die, on the same piece of ground, about an acre and a half for a male and even less for a female. Exploration is mostly left to other animals. Cottontails are home-bodies.
ChapterSome fun facts:
The Northern Shrike (Lanius excubitor) family Laniidae, a predatory songbird about the size of a robin, nests in the far northern reaches of Canada & comes down to the northern states in winter.
The Redpoll (Carduelis flammea) is a relative of the Goldfinch, in the family Fringillidae.
Sylvilagus floridanus, zoological name for the Eastern Cottontail, is the heroine in this story.
Cottontails are found nearly everywhere in the US. They are small, 11-17 inches and 2-4 pounds, but don’t let their small size fool you. They have long claws on all four feet, and can do damage to a predator, or you. Nearly all species have the white “cotton-tail.” For nests they will take over some other animal’s vacant burrow or make a nest in brush heaps. (The Pygmy Cottontail is the only one who digs their own burrow.) Their litters average 4-5 blind and nearly furless babies, big enough to venture out in about two weeks, leave their mother in about two months, and are mature in six months. There can be several litters per year. They eat mostly herbaceous plants, but in winter also bark and twigs. Don’t look for cottontails to say much; they don’t, except, rarely, in fear or pain. There are five other species of cottontail in this genus in the US.
The family Leporidae (rabbits & hares) contains 44 species worldwide and 9 other genera.
S. audubonii (Desert Cottontail) southwestern US
S. bachmani (Brush Cottontail) Oregon to California
S. aquaticus (Swamp Cottontail) Texas to Georgia
S. palustris (Marsh Cottontail) North Carolina to tip of Florida
S. [brachylagus] idahoensis (Pygmy Cottontail) dry uplands of some western states
The first word in a zoological name is the genus and always capitalized.
The second word in a zoological name is the species and “not” capitalized.
The word in brackets [for Pygmy Cottontail] means there is an alternate word for species.
The ranges are approximate. Depending on food, temperature, time of year, ranges, for the boy Cottontails especially, can range up to 6 acres, even to forty, but those are extremes.
“There is a sacredness in tears….They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition and of unspeakable love.”
― Washington Irving
Chapter Books by James W. Nelson
Winter in July
(The doomsday clock is ticking…it will reach midnight)
(A place, or maybe just a state of mind,
for if you go there, and partake, you will be changed…forever)
Pharmacological Research Gone Berserk
Daughters Book 1
(The heartbreak of human trafficking)
Daughters Book 2
(Emma gets payback)
Daughters Book 3
(The Lure of Pornography)
Daughters Book 4
(The Little Girl From Down the Street)
Daughters Book 5
(Sorority Animal House)
(Vietnam War action by fleet submarines)
(The mother of all disasters)
The Light at the End of the tunnel
(A supernatural thriller)
New World Order Rising Book 1
New World Order Rising Book 2
(The New Civil War)
New World Order Rising Book 3
(The Next Generation Fights On)
The Short Stories
Strange & Weird Stories
(The unknown: as close as beside you) (13 short stories)
A Collection of Short Contemporary Stories
(Stories about people just like you) (13 short stories)
Dying to Live (memoirs)
(The life & times of Jimmy Nelson)
One Morning Nature Series
(For children, 3-103)
Book 1 One Morning at Boxelder Cove (Tamius, the Red Squirrel)
Book 2 One Morning at Juneberry Row (Sybil, the Cottontail Rabbit)
To the Nineteenth Century (fantasy, time-travel)
He had it Coming (crime, mystery)
Waiting to Die (the new pandemic)
Into Tilovia (war, romance, adventure)
The Commons (environment, time-travel)
30 Seconds to the Ground (a skydive gone wrong)
Chapter Descriptions of Books by James W. Nelson
From the author: In my fiction I do not try to create super-heroes, but rather bring alive common and regular people who try to find love, survive, and react to circumstances as best they can, and, usually, try to do the right thing. The books are more than one genre, from war to sex and violence to romance to humor to horror to fantasy to science fiction to adventure, I write in third-person with viewpoints by men, women, and children.
For more detailed descriptions, synopses, reviews, please go to:
Winter in July (65,500 words) (The doomsday clock is ticking…it will reach midnight) (nuclear war drama) In 2019, many more nations than the superpowers have nuclear weapons and dependable delivery systems. Kirby Yates, 40, helps his town prepare for the ultimate war, which nobody believes will ever happen.
Callipygia (66,100 words) (love, sex, violence, sexual violence) (A place, or maybe just a state of mind, for if you go there, and partake, you will become changed…forever. Stephanie Daniels, 29, journalist, goes on the undercover assignment of her life, and finally finds true love, with another woman.
Pharmacological Research Gone Berserk (82,500 words) (Needed: volunteers) (medical mystery drama) Shea McTory, 31, homeless, volunteers to be locked up six months for a human nutrition research study, learns to deal with nine other volunteers—one a psychopath—and—the good part—meets the love of his life.
Daughters Book 1 (40,200 words) (The heartbreak of human trafficking) (abduction, crime, prostitution, love of a father) Emotion and love in the house where Emma, 18, grew up was rare. When she was abducted into prostitution she was hardly missed, until the one person who truly cared about her finds out.
Daughters Book 2 (45,000 words) (Emma gets payback) After six months of living with her foster father, Bailey Forbes, Emma and new best friend, Alexis, leave the safety of Abundance, Montana, and venture 200 miles farther west to the campus of University of Montana, Wyman, where her past will come back to haunt her.
Daughters Book 3 (59,200 words) (The Lure of Pornography)
Emma, in her second year of college (studying psychology & criminal justice) goes undercover into the dark world of pornography.
Daughters Book 4 (49,000 words (The Little Girl From Down the Street)
Emma is home for a visit and a little rest, but a local nine-year-old girl in trouble. Her mother is suffering from the early effects of Alzheimer’s. Her boyfriend and his son have turned to the healthy daughter.
Daughters Book 5 (42,000 words) Sorority Animal House
Emma is graduated with degrees in social work and criminal justice, working toward a black belt in Taekwondo, and has partnered with a young lady attorney. They will specialize in helping victims of human trafficking.
(A young woman “Little” says “No!” to the sorority’s brutal initiation rites, starts to leave, would have been stopped and forced, but her big sister “Big” has a change of heart and comes to her rescue.)
Boat Sailors (65,000 words) (Vietnam War action by fleet submarines) Fresh from the farm, Brice Moser, 17, will leave his loved ones behind, pay his dues in bootcamp, then Class A Weapons School where he’ll experience more life in 9 weeks then the whole 17 years before, become a Torpedoman’s Mate, Seaman Apprentice, and soon will discover his rating covers much more than torpedoes.
The Bellwether (229,000 words) (The mother of all disasters) (economic & environmental meltdown) (love, sex, violence, drama, adventure) Aaron Hodges, 32, has one month to take his future colonists 300 miles to northern Minnesota wilderness…not by truck but overland across farmland and forest by horse and wagon, but first he has to convince them to want to go.
The Light at the End of the Tunnel (68,600 words) (A supernatural thriller) (one theory of reincarnation) (capital punishment, horror, crime, drama, foster care) (if the state kills a worst-of-the-worst criminal, does he really die?)The prison chaplain, 35, recruits nurse Nicole Waters, 30, to help him find and stop the reborn worst-of-the-worst criminal, Les Paul, now rampaging through foster home after foster home.
New World Order Rising Book 1 (52,200 words) (The Abduction) Carter Banks, 47, recruits his childhood friend (ex-army special ops) to help track the abductors of his daughter, Chantal, 24, and granddaughter, Dodie, 6, and gets a hair-raising short course on the true goals of the Illuminati, composed of elite politicians, CEOs, and generals, in their quest to eliminate 85% of the world’s population and create a one-world government: The New World Order.
New World Order Rising Book 2 (56,000 words) (The New Civil War) Carter and his load of young girls rescued from the Satanist Illuminati (while avoiding the black-uniformed police) takes two weeks getting home from Kansas, to his sister’s farm, discovers she is militia leader of southeastern North Dakota, and learns North Dakota is the front line of resistance, among a group of states west of Interstate 29. Seven-year-old Jocelyn by proxy takes the place of the missing six-year-old Dodie, and brings new life to the heartbroken Carter and Chantal.
New World Order Rising Book 3 (66, 500 words) (The Next Generation Fights on)
Ten years pass. Seventeen-year-old Jocelyn is now staunch at Carter’s side as his aid and lieutenant. Sixteen-year-old Dodie escapes her abductors, returns to ND to reclaim her birthright, joins in the fight, and is not too pleased about Jocelyn’s position with her mom and grandpa.
Dying to Live (60,000 words) (The life & times of Jimmy Nelson) (my memoir)
My true account of growing up on a storybook farm, experiencing a killer tornado, surviving teenage confusion, an adventurous four-year ride on a submarine, a skydive, not maturing into your regular adult, discovering the world is not a bowl of cherries, a crash to the bottom, and, finally, accepting that the only person responsible for me, is me. But first I had to descend into the deep depths of the emotional chasm.
James W. Nelson was born in a little farmhouse on the prairie in eastern North Dakota in 1944. Some doctors made house calls back in those days. He remembers kerosene lamps, bathing in a large galvanized tub, and their phone number was a long ring followed by four short ones, and everybody in the neighborhood could rubberneck. (Imagine that today!)
James has been telling stories most of his life. Some of his first memories happened during recess in a one-room country schoolhouse near Walcott, ND. His little friends, eyes wide, would gather round and listen to his every hastily-imagined word. It was a beginning. Fascinated by the world beginning to open, he remembers listening to the teacher read to all twelve kids in the eight grades.
He was living in that same house on the land originally homesteaded by his great grandfather, when a savage tornado hit in 1955 and destroyed everything. They rebuilt and his family remained until the early nineteen-seventies when diversified farming began changing to industrial agribusiness (not necessarily a good thing.) He spent four years in the US Navy during the Vietnam War (USS Carbonero and USS Archerfish, both submarines.)
After the navy he worked many jobs and finally has settled on a few acres exactly two and one half miles straight west of the original farmstead, ironically likely the very spot where the 1955 tornado first struck, which sometimes gives him a spooky feeling.
A little more Biography:
He lives among goldfinches, chickadees, nuthatches, blue jays, crows, cottontails, squirrels, deer, mink, badgers, coyotes, wallflowers, spiderworts, sunflowers, goldenrod, big and little bluestem, switchgrass, needle & thread grass, June berries, chokecherries, oaks, willows, boxelders and cottonwoods, in the outback of eastern North Dakota.
Thanks for reading for reading my book. If you enjoyed it, won’t you please take a moment to leave me a review at your favorite retailer?
James W. Nelson
In my fiction I do not try to create super-heroes, but rather bring alive common and regular people who try to find love, survive, and react to circumstances as best they can, and, usually, try to do the right thing. The books are more than one genre, from war to sex and violence to romance to humor to horror to fantasy to science fiction to adventure, I write in third-person with viewpoints by men, women, and children.
[email protected] Email
https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SubRon15 Author Page at Smashwords
Feel free to contact me.
Occasionally I list a book as free for a day, sometimes more . Look for those announcements on my blog, Twitter, and Facebook.
“Everyone has talent. What’s rare is the courage to follow it to the dark places where it leads.” by Erica Jong
Author of the 1973 novel “Fear of Flying,” Erica Jong turned 72, March 26, 2014.
“The longer I write, the more often I find myself going deeper into dark places, but I question whether that is truly courage.”
Juneberry Row is a really small place. About eighty-five feet long and maybe twenty-five feet at the widest part. It’s a tangle of twelve to fifteen-feet-tall Juneberry, Chokecherry, and Buckthorn trees, Poison Ivy, Stinging Nettle, Cocklebur, and wild Grape vines; in fact it’s a bramble patch, fitting for Brer Rabbit himself. In this case, though, it’s the home of Sybil, the Cottontail rabbit. In this series of nature stories (ages 3-103) the action is seen through the eyes of the main mammal, bird, or other creature on stage. But no animal will ever speak like a human. Here is Book 2 Book 1 One Morning at Boxelder Cove (Tamius the Red Squirrel)