Ebooks   ➡  Fiction  ➡  Adventure  ➡  General

One Morning at Boxelder Cove




One Morning at Boxelder Cove






James W. Nelson




Copyright 2012 by James W. Nelson

Published by James W. Nelson at Shakespir




To Jessie




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 1



Table of contents



Chapter One Morning at Boxelder Cove

Books by James W. Nelson

Descriptions of Books by James W. Nelson






Chapter—One Morning at Boxelder Cove

Not big, Boxelder Cove covers about two hundred feet by three hundred feet, plus the house where the humans live. Wildlife use its sunny canopy and leafy shade. Vociferous Tamius, the Red Squirrel, knows this sheltered enclave as home.

From about fifteen feet, about one third up nest tree, Tamius faced the brightening eastern sky. In his paws was a black walnut. He gnawed its crinkly shell, producing a sound like rubbing together the sides of a balloon. Chips from the hard-shelled nut flew from both sides of his mouth.

WhooooOuhoooo-Oooo-ooo-oo, came a mourning dove’s call.

Another dove answered from a neighboring yard. The two called back-and-forth. Seconds passed. A robin joined in, ringing its Chieeery-ups. Then joined a song sparrow with its many medleys, then other species, and for several seconds there was a bird chorus. Then came a whooming of wings as the first dove flew toward the calls of the second.

Tamius stopped gnawing. His young mind recorded the zig-zag flight of the dove. Bright white-yellow light appeared in thick buckthorn foliage in the neighboring yard as the first sun rays slipped up from the horizon.

He continued with his breakfast. A tingle jostled the squirrel’s taste buds as he broke into the walnut’s meat. He ate fast. His five-inch tail, fluffed over his back for extra warmth in the slightly chilly late-July dawn, snapped briefly as he partook of the nut until he could not reach more. Then he began gnawing the opposite side.

Not yet fully grown, Tamius was born in a tree cavity without fur during late March along with three siblings. He had craved sweetness since first tasting his mother’s milk. And last year’s walnut was not satisfying that refined sweet tooth. Weaned in the second week of May, he had started right out with sweets. Rising Boxelder sap, the sweetest of all tree saps. Fresh grass shoots. Fat tree buds. And morsels of mushrooms.

Late June had brought his first taste of tangy sweet crab apple. He had been playing tag with his sister and a brother in the short green grass beyond Boxelder Cove in the next yard to the west. A dog had discovered them, causing them to freeze.

For a second they had stared into those grating dog eyes that none had seen before. With a snap the dog caught his brother. That movement released Tamius and his sister. But they ran farther west, the wrong way. They took refuge in the crab apple tree, where they found the most wonderful, though tart, sweetness.

For the next three weeks he and his sister made the somewhat dangerous trip several times across the hundred feet of open grass to raid the tree. And the apples grew, changing from green to green with pink tinges. Sweetness increased too.

They never disturbed more than three or four apples per trip. But that was enough to attract the attention of the owner, who had begun watching. Their last trip, just a week earlier, the man had caught them. They heard a very loud noise, once while they were in the tree, then twice more as they scurried for home. He never saw his sister again.

A twig snapped. Tamius froze, flattening himself against the branch, his black eyes searching. Movement below. Remaining still he watched. It was the little human girl who frequented his territory. Chaacaa, came his small voice, Chaacaa, Chaaaacaaaa. Then he made a soft clucking sound, nothing really serious. The girl stopped walking and glanced around, and then spied Tamius.

On a neighboring branch progressed a white-breasted nuthatch. Uuhhnnn, Uuhhnnnn, came the small bird’s voice. It hugged the bark like a woodpecker and creeped down, sideways, upside-down in its pursuit of insect eggs, ants and beetles.

Chick-a-dee-dee-dee, came the gentle voice of the black-capped chickadee, permanent resident of southern North Dakota, but mostly quiet in the summer. The tiny bird, its feathers a bit dull and rumpled compared to winter, flitted near Tamius, then disappeared into thicker foliage.

These two movements took Tamius’ attention for only a few seconds, then he looked back at the little girl. She didn’t move, and after a few more seconds he accepted her being there. Then he turned the walnut over and over and finally continued gnawing, chips flying. Again he broke through the hard, crinkly black shell. Again he tasted the delicate but lacking sweetness. Again he yearned for something sweeter. He bit off a piece of nutmeat, chewed, swallowed, again, again, quickly, quickly was his way. Everything quickly, as if the winter he had not yet experienced was tomorrow.

Instinct stirred in him that the easy days of spring and early summer were past. On the squirrel calendar winter was next. And now seemed to be the time for eating, growing fat, and storing. For days he had been anxious to start, something, but he wasn’t sure what. And that anxiety had only intensified his unquenchable desire for sweets.

Sweet sweets.

Dashing through the high foliage of the south end of the neighboring yard to the east appeared his remaining brother carrying a cone. Already serious about life, his brother was already, always storing food. His mother too. He saw very little of either anymore, not like the first days outside the nest, when the whole family occasionally played together.

He was rolling the walnut over and over again in his paws, and over and over again. Empty. Suddenly he realized all that remained was the hard shell, with two three-quarter-inch gnawed holes directly across from each other.

Empty. And his sweet tooth definitely not satisfied.

With no ceremony he dropped the empty shell. It landed among other ground litter of nut shells, corncobs, and stripped evergreen cones. The little girl knelt and retrieved it. Tamius recorded the movement but did not care. Long ago he had accepted the little girl as being a regular citizen of his territory. So he began preening. He licked his front paws, then his back ones, then scratched behind both ears. He rubbed, jerked, and stretched, for first order after eating was cleaning up.

Finished. Without a glance at the little girl, he moved quickly along his eating perch, a five-inch horizontal limb, to the ten-inch main trunk, then climbed upward quickly, quickly toward the top, toward the very edge of stability.

From the top of nest tree, he could see all of Boxelder Cove and beyond. He saw other lawns in the distance, and houses of all colors. A vegetable garden was north. And beyond that a wheat field stretched farther than he could see. Just beyond the garden hovered a hunting kestral, fluttering at twenty-five feet. Suddenly a red-winged blackbird flew up and attacked.

Closer, the sweeping hopscotch flight of a red-headed woodpecker led his gaze to the huge old cottonwood on the very edge of his outlying territory to the northeast. The woodpecker landed on a gray-white, barkless limb and began pecking, its red and black plumage gleaming in the new sunrise.

The buzzing chortle of a Baltimore oriole came from a higher branch where its pouchlike nest hung, at least forty feet from the ground. Black and orange splashed as the oriole flew off.

Srkriee! Srkriee! The blue jay! Tamius barked softly, prepared to fly into a tantrum if necessary. For jays were the midden-robbers. The blue jays, three of them, thrashed and screeched high in the cottonwood, and ranted and raved there for a moment. Then they flew northwest toward where black, slow-moving specks and distant cawing meant crows to chase.

The cottonwood, the biggest tree in all the area of Boxelder Cove, always presented plenty of action to watch. But, as moments earlier, something felt much more important than anything else. Food. Sweet food. And the urge to begin storing for that bleak period in the future that he could not even comprehend.

Headfirst he skittered down, leaped to a near branch, then another. Staying about twenty feet above the ground he bounded through his grove. Finally he jumped to a bordering brush pile. There he disturbed a group of cavorting, chiding, crumbs of brown. A family of seven House Wrens were on their first outing from their nest.

On the ground he paused. Ahead lay a hundred feet of open lawn.

A chancy journey. But, remembering the sweetness of crab apple, he launched himself. He ran and took long hops as he tried to see farther distances, where danger might lurk. After a few seconds he reached a small tree, and jumped three feet to its trunk and peeked around.

Nothing moving ahead, or anywhere.

To the ground again, scurrying, quickly, quickly to the next tree. Leap. Grasp bark. Tail stiff at ninety degrees. Peek. Nothing moving. Back to the ground. Run. Hurry. To the next tree. Up it. Quickly.

At ten feet above the ground he stopped and ogled all around. Dogs and cats were about outside the invisible boundary of Boxelder Cove. And other little girls, and boys. And unknown squirrels. And who knew what else?

Ahead stood the delectable crab apple tree. Fifteen grand feet tall and wider yet. And the apples were getting red.

Down to the ground he went. He streaked across the grass, up the apple tree, out onto an open, smooth-barked limb, then to a smaller branch and a cluster of fruit. Chomp. A luscious bite. The apple slipped and fell. But, no matter. There were plenty more.

With sharp, chisel-shaped teeth he snipped the stem of another. Moments passed as he dispensed it. Stomach satisfied. Now to harvest. Snip. Snip. Snip…. In two minutes he chose and snipped ten more perfect apples and let them fall.

Enough for then.

He scrambled to the ground, grasped one in his jaws and set off across the perilous open ground fast as the bulky extra weight would allow him. Still early morning. With luck he could have all the apples tucked safely in tree crotches for drying, and then be snug in the grass ball of his summer nest before the sun was even above the trees. But during his sixth return trip he spotted movement south, and froze. The apple in his jaws he held his head high, looking, searching. At the same instant came a shuffling in the grass behind him.

He was about to dart again when that something south seemed abruptly closer. Then he heard breathing. Then he perceived that steady glint of dog eyes. He forgot the shuffling behind him, dropped the apple and plunged, feet flying, just as the dog was upon him with a salivary snap of jaws, and just as that very loud noise that he had heard before came. A bullet tore the ground beside him. The gun blast almost sprouted wings to his feet.

Tenths of seconds passed. Tamius dashed across the invisible line between lawns. But a new danger loomed ahead.

The little girl from his home territory. He skidded, and turned so sharply that he nearly fell. Then he skedaddled even faster as the little girl stepped between him and his pursuers. He hurtled the brush pile and leaped to the first hanging branch. And safety.

At twenty-five feet he stopped, and flattened himself against the limb. He heard no sound. After a few seconds he peeked. The little girl stood there. His pursuers were nowhere in sight. But something had to receive the emotion welling up inside him.

Chaacaa, came his voice. Chaacaa, Chaacaa, Chaaacaachaacaa! Then he made a series of low-pitched clucks, groans, and growls as he huffed and puffed. His small feet began to thump with each syllable. He tail began to snap and quiver. His reverberating noise pitched higher and sharper, and extended longer and longer. Then he lost all control and the many voices inside him exploded in a bout of chattering squeals and chirps and barks.

A sound came from the little girl. Her eyes and facial expression changed. Tamius could not understand nor tolerate any but his own clamor, and of course he could not comprehend human laughter, so he continued his raucous prattle until the frightening memory of his ordeal faded, and the many voices and emotions within him quieted.

Another voice came from the little girl’s house. Then the little girl waved and said, “Goodbye, little squirrel,” and hurried to her house. Tamius, of course, didn’t know what she said so he barked once more and snapped his tail. Then he launched up the tree, onto a limb, and leaped to another.

His bristled tail guided and balanced him as he leaped again and again until he reached nest tree. Then he scampered up it to his home, a round affair of mostly grass and a few dry leaves about the size of a basketball.

At the nest’s entrance which faced east, in the cool and shady-yet-sunny canopy, he hesitated briefly. From far out in the wheat field came a meadowlark’s song. Below him a cottontail rabbit hopped from early morning feeding on white clover and dandelions. It stopped and scratched leisurely behind its ear with its back foot, then disappeared into honeysuckle foliage. The cool of sunrise was past. Morning creatures were returning to day beds. The buzz of pollinating insects began permeating the quickly heating, still air. A short-lived gust of wind loosened remaining cottonwood fluff. Down it floated like snowfall, each fluff carrying one seed.

In a crotch about two feet away, three of the crab apples were already beginning to heat. The first step to drying. A sweetness craving engulfed Tamius for about one second, but then passed. He had tasted the sweetness of crab apples enough to last him for several days.

A movement on the edge of his territory caused another hesitation. High in the lime-green, sunlit foliage appeared another squirrel he did not know. The exact same color as he, maybe slightly smaller, the unknown squirrel snapped its tail and moved, not really quickly but smoothly off the limb and down the trunk.

Tamius knew this was a girl squirrel and not his missing sister. Had he not been so tired he might have chased her. He might even have chased her clear away from his territory of Boxelder Cove. And then again, maybe not. And he didn’t feel too enthused about doing anything at all right then.

Maybe in September or October he would chase her. Maybe not until the cold of winter. But sooner or later he would discover his interest in this wandering girl squirrel. He might even find her enticing. Sooner or later, but not now.

He gave one barely-audible bark after her, and then disappeared into his nest for some well-earned sleep.




Tamiasciurus hudsonicus (the Red Squirrel) is the hero in this story. He has many relatives in the Squirrel Family, including Beavers, Woodchucks, Pocket Gophers, Prairie Dogs and Chipmunks. Red Squirrels are the noisy ones; they bark and chatter sometimes just for the—seemingly—thrill of it. If they have a choice they will live among evergreens, where they can feast on cones; they also will eat seeds, nuts, fruit, insects, mushrooms, and, yes, occasionally eggs. Three to six young are born in the spring and are mature by fall. At 11-14 inches (including tail) he is about half the size as his relative the Gray Squirrel. In the US there are two species in this genus:

Tamiasciurus hudsonicus (Red Squirrel) Canada, much of northern US, Rocky Mountains

T.douglasii(Douglas Squirrel, or Chickaree) West Coast, British Columbia to northern California

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 ranges are approximate.

Worldwide there are 49 genera and 267 species in the Sciuridae (the Squirrel Family.)



Next book in the nature series:

One Morning at Juneberry Row,” with Sybil the Cottontail Rabbit






“[*There is a sacredness in tears….They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition and of unspeakable love.” *][
**]― *][*Washington Irving



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

(Needed: volunteers)

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)

Boat Sailors

(Vietnam War action by fleet submarines)

The Bellwether

(The mother of all disasters)

The Light at the End of the tunnel

(A supernatural thriller)

New World Order Rising Book 1

(The Abduction)

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)

A Collection of Short Contemporary Stories

(Stories about people just like you)




Dying to Live (memoirs)

(The life & times of Jimmy Nelson)



Digital Only


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)




Short Stories

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)



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:

[* https://jameswnelsonblog.wordpress.com/2015/07/30/books-by-james-w-nelson-samples-synopses-reviews/*]



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.




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


Author’s notes


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.Shakespir.com/profile/view/SubRon15 Author page at Shakespir



http://subron7.hubpages.com/ HubPages

https://twitter.com/jameswnelson Twitter

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.

By me:
“The longer I write, the more often I find myself going deeper into dark places, but I question whether that is truly courage.”



One Morning at Boxelder Cove

Tamius, the red squirrel, with three siblings, was born the previous spring. During his growing and learning phase he has lost a brother and his one sister, due to their adventurous playing and searches for food. But danger and sudden death is how a wild thing learns about survival. 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.

  • ISBN: 9781311338785
  • Author: James W. Nelson
  • Published: 2015-11-12 19:40:07
  • Words: 4405
One Morning at Boxelder Cove One Morning at Boxelder Cove