(Ed. note: "Acorn" is the cubname of Chicory.)
It was only a little after midday, but Acorn was awake. It was much too beautiful and sunny out for a ten-turns-old wolfrider cub to stay asleep! Especially since it had rained on and off most of the day yesterday and almost all through last night. She tossed on her clothes in a matter of moments and tumbled out of her family's den to snoop around for something fun to do. She supposed she could find Sparkle down at the river to play with, but her older niece was usually too preoccupied with her gold and rocks and gems, and not quite so interested in the creatures inhabiting the area.
Glancing back inside the den, Acorn saw her father Blacksnake still asleep in the furs and grinned to herself. She was onto her father — if she woke him, he'd have something for her to do, for sure! Of course, he'd somehow manage to make it something useful or educational like he always did, and although it was always something fun he thought of, Acorn was feeling a bit frisky and rebellious today. Easysinger was gone with one of the hunting parties; she'd left two days ago and wouldn't be back for several more. Her older brother Windburn was no doubt around somewhere — probably asleep as well — and he was almost always willing to make time for his cub-sister when he wasn't busy with something else, but he was also much too responsible for his own good. He'd probably just end up suggesting something very similar to what Blacksnake would have anyway. Besides, Acorn thought it might just be too mean to wake him up if he was asleep.
The more Acorn thought about it, the more the sweet scent of summer on the wind tickled her nose, the more she wanted to run off and do something alone today. She knew that would be all right with the adults, so long as she didn't get too far away. So she scampered down from the Dentrees and let her legs carry her at a run into the nearby forest. She caught a glimpse of her uncle Suddendusk out of the corner of her eye as he looked her way, marking her direction as she left. **Stay well within sending range,** he reminded her. **Your sending range.**
**I will,** Acorn promised.
As the trees surrounding the Holt closed in around Acorn, the wonderful sunlight dimmed somewhat. She frowned a little, thoughtfully. It was, after all, the whole point of being out and about just now, and the thought of spending such a bright day in the shade irritated her a bit. Digging the toe of one shoe into the soft forest floor a bit, Acorn pondered for a moment, then decisively nodded to herself and headed in the direction of a meadow she knew of nearby.
As she broke out of the tree cover and into the brightly-lit meadow, a welcoming stand of tall grass enveloped her. It was still mostly green and sweet-smelling, but starting to burn brownish-gold at the tops. Growling playfully, Acorn dropped to a cub's hunting squat and started hopping after grasshoppers, catching them and eating them one by one. One of the grasshoppers she caught got away from her when she held it up close to examine its tiny, buggy face, and it spat out a few drops of red liquid at her face. Startled, she threw it away with a little shriek, then laughed as she wiped off her cheek.
Once she'd eaten her crunchy fill, and was quite out of breath from all the hopping and pouncing, she lowered herself to her belly and wiggled through the grass like a snake, eyes wide and alert for anything interesting she might find around herself. She soon stopped at one of the many shallow mud puddles that had gathered overnight in the barer patches between the grass, and stuck one fingertip into the flat sheet of brown water on the mud's surface, contemplating the resulting tiny ripples.
Feeling a bit tired, and with the sun warming her back, Acorn folded her arms in front of her and rested her chin on them, watching the sunlight play off the little mud puddle. She was content to stay like that for quite some time, and just as she was beginning to doze off for a pleasant summer nap, nestled and hidden in the grass as she was, a small colorful spot of movement caught her eye. Acorn watched, trying not to breathe too loudly, as a butterfly settled down on the muddy surface and started ambling clumsily around on its tiny legs. At first Acorn wondered if it was in some kind of trouble, or perhaps just old and dying as she'd seen butterflies before, but it was soon joined by at least a dozen more like it, all stumbling around on the surface of the mud!
Her curiosity now going full strength, Acorn looked closer to see if she could figure out what they were up to. On closer inspection, she saw the butterflies sticking their little straw-tongue-mouth-things into the muddy water and actually drinking it!
This was new to her. Acorn considered what she knew about butterflies. As far as she had ever known, they only drank the sweet nectar from inside flower cups — a trick she was glad to have learned from them, she mused in the back of her mind. Yet here they were drinking mud! Slowly, so slowly, so that she wouldn't startle the butterflies before her, Acorn edged her fingertip to the mud puddle and dipped it again, then touched it to her tongue. Really, she didn't see what they saw in it, though she had to admit that the mud didn't actually taste bad, just not like food. Oh well. Maybe they got tired of sugary-sweet nectar all the time? Acorn supposed you'd have to be a butterfly yourself to understand why they did it. She wondered if anyone else had ever seen them do this, or if she was special and was the first to see it, or maybe these particular ones were special butterflies...
At some point, while still watching the butterflies' odd behaviour, Acorn forgot to stay awake, and got that summer nap in the sweet meadow grass after all.