It was a cool, early fall evening. The animals in the forest were preparing for a long, hard winter. That is, all except for one particular animal, Frisky, the black bear.
Now, Frisky did not make any preparation for the coming cold, winter weather. While all the other animals were gathering up food, Frisky romped around the forest, playing.
"Oh, I love to play," said Frisky, one early fall day as he passed by Mrs. Squirrel's home. "Would you like to come and play with me?"
"Frisky," said Mrs. Squirrel, as she was running around gathering nuts. "You should be getting ready for the winter. I hear it's going to come early this year and it is going to be along, cold one."
"Nonsense!" Frisky said, as he bumbled along through the trees. Next, he stumbled upon Mr. Chipmunk.
"Hey there Frisky!" said Mr. Chipmunk, with a pouch full of nuts. "Are you ready for the winter? I hear it's going to be …"
"Don't tell me," Frisky interrupted. "It's going to be along, cold winter."
"That's right," Mr. Chipmunk said. "I hear this is going to be the worst one yet."
"I don't believe it," said Frisky. "I got all ready nice and early last year. Winter came late and it was very mild. This winter will probably be the same. I'm not wasting my time getting ready for nothing. I want to play."
"Frisky, don't be so foolish," yelled Mr. Chipmunk. "I'm getting prepared. What if this cold snap lasts until winter? What are you going to do?"
"Are you sure you don't want to play with me?" asked Frisky, totally ignoring the desperate pleas of his friend.
"Frisky," said Mr. Chipmunk, as he shook his head sadly. "You're a fool."
Frisky trudged along through the bush. He came to a nice spot to sit, down by the stream.
"Gee," Frisky said to himself. "No-one wants to play with me. I just don't understand what the big rush is all about. Winter will be a long time coming, yet."
Frisky spent the rest of the autumn romping around the forest playing. Around the first of December, he went into his cold den to hibernate.
Sometime around the middle of January, Frisky could stand the cold and his hunger, no longer. He had to find some food, and fast, or he would die.
"How stupid could I have been?" he whispered to himself as he crawled out of his den.
The wind was howling. The snow was very deep. Indeed, this was the worst winter Frisky had ever seen. Frisky ventured on.
His first stop was at the home of Mr. Chipmunk, who lived in an old oak tree that had fallen down sometime during the summer.
"Mr. Chipmunk! Mr. Chipmunk!" Frisky yelled. "It's me, Frisky. I'm hungry. Please come out and help me."
It was no use. Frisky could tell by the sound of Mr. Chipmunk's snoring that he was deep in his winter sleep, and nothing was going to wake him up.
Slowly, Frisky trudged through the deep snow toward Mrs. Squirrel's home, a hollowed out pine tree.
"Mrs. Squirrel! Mrs. Squirrel!" Frisky called. "Please wakeup. It's me, Frisky. I need help."
After a few minutes, Mrs. Squirrel poked her head out of her hole.
"Frisky," said Mrs. Squirrel. "What are you doing out here? It is much too cold. Go back home."
"I'm hungry and cold," Frisky cried. "I didn't prepare for the winter."
"Oh Frisky," Mrs. Squirrel cried. "I'm not going to stand here and say, `I told you so', because I think you have learned your lesson."
"From now on," Frisky said with tears pouring down his cheeks. "I will always prepare for winter, that is, if I can just make it through this one."
"Out behind this tree," Mrs. Squirrel said. "There are some dried berries and some nuts. Mr. Chipmunk and I stocked them there for you when we realized that you weren't going to prepare for the winter."
Frisky couldn't believe his ears.
"You and Mr. Chipmunk did this for me?" he cried. "Why?"
"We did it because we care about you, Frisky," Mrs. Squirrel told him. "I want you to eat the food nice and slow. If you eat it too fast, you may get sick."
Frisky went around to the back of the tree and uncovered the nuts and berries. He popped them into his mouth, one at a time, slowly, savouring each bite. Soon, warmth and energy started to return to his body.
After his much needed meal, he went to the front of the tree to say thank you to Mrs. Squirrel.
"You are quite welcome," came Mrs. Squirrel's reply. "Oh, by the way, we have stashed some more food for you in your den, behind that big rock in the corner. That should get you through until the spring."
Frisky waved to his generous friend and in no time at all he was back in his den. Just as Mrs. Squirrel had told him, there, behind the rock were hundreds of nuts and dried berries. Frisky was very grateful to his two friends. Without their help he would not have survived that cold winter.
Pretty soon, Frisky was so content and full that he settled down for the rest of his long winters nap.