The grey squirrel rustles beneath the thick carpet of red and gold leaves swishing his bushy tail as he looks for nuts. Sitting on his hind legs balancing a large walnut in his mouth he watches the falling leaves. He knew the snow would fall soon and he had little time left to gather more nuts. Diving under the leaves, the grey squirrel scurries toward the tree in the back corner of the yard. With the nut clutched tightly in his mouth, he jumps onto the bark, climbing up to the hole at the very top of the tree. Scurrying inside the grey squirrel takes a deep breath dropping the nut in his mouth among all the other nuts he has gathered. “It has been a good year,” he thought looking at the all the different kinds of nuts. Walnuts, hazelnuts, and acorns were separated into piles. Acorns were his favorite. “Surely, I won’t starve this winter,” he thought, smugly sitting down to count them all.
Having finished counting his nuts, the grey squirrel turns, scurries down the tree, jumping the last foot onto the ground. Without stopping, he dives under the patches of red and gold leaves to look for more nuts. He didn’t need more nuts. He wanted more nuts. In fact, he is a selfish squirrel, and didn’t give any other squirrels in the yard a chance to collect nuts for themselves. Every time another squirrel came close to him he would chatter in a high pitched, rat a tat tat, like a mini machine gun, chasing them back to their trees.
The bushy tailed grey squirrel continues to collect nuts until they are none left on the tree branches or on the ground. He knows, he has all the food he will need for the winter, content, he goes into his hole high up in the tree to settle in for the long cold winter. Looking around, he finds a comfortable spot among his nuts, curls his tail around him, and goes to sleep. Time passes; the grey squirrel eats, sleeps, eats, and sleeps. When he is awake he goes to the hole and watches the crystal flakes fall steadily past his hole until the red and gold leaves are blanketed with a soft fluffy snow. The grey squirrel grows fat from eating and sleeping so much.
Curled into a little ball of fur, the grey squirrel continues his lazy habit of eating and sleeping most of the winter. The sound of scratching wakes him. Alarmed, he sticks his head out of his hole. A neighbor squirrel was clinging by the opening. Chattering angrily, he asks what the other squirrel wants. “I am hungry,” says the neighbor squirrel, “I could not find enough nuts to keep in my hole for the winter, and I don’t have anything to eat. Looking at him the squirrel chatters back, “I worked hard to collect my nuts. I am not going to share with anyone.” The grey squirrel chatters at his neighbor scaring him away. “Humph!” he thinks, “My neighbor is lazy. It isn’t my fault that he doesn’t have enough to eat. “These are my nuts.” He reaches over, cracks open a walnut nibbling its tasty insides. His tummy full, he snuggles among his nuts and falls asleep.
The winter months pass quietly. Once in awhile the grey squirrel ventures out into the snow which is very deep. The icy winds blow into his furry coat which sends him scurrying back inside. The squirrel foolishly continues to gorge himself with nuts until one day he notices that he has eaten all of his nuts. With all of his nuts gone there is nothing to stop the cold wind from blowing into the grey squirrel’s hole. He looks around for a place where he can cuddle up and be warm. He finds none.
After several days of shivering in the corner of his hole the grey squirrel knows he must go out and find some food, so he doesn’t starve. Creeping to the front of his hole the squirrel scurries down the tree trunk jumping into the deep snow running across the blanket of snow. He climbs up his neighbor’s tree scratching at his hole.
Hearing a noise his neighbor scurries to the hole to see who is there. When the neighbor sees the grey squirrel he asks what he wants. “I have eaten all my nuts. I am hungry and cold,” the grey squirrel explains. The neighbor looks at the grey squirrel and laughs, “I went out in the cold and found a few nuts beneath the snow. I don’t have any to spare. Go home and leave me alone.”
The grey squirrel lowers his tail, backs down the tree, scurrying back to his tree across the yard. Shivering, he climbs into his hole, scurries into the corner, wraps his tail around his body in an attempt to stay warm. Tiny tears well up in his eyes. He is not only hungry, but lonely, too.
Several days pass. The neighbor feels bad for being mean to the grey squirrel. Picking up a nut he hurries over to the grey squirrel’s tree. He scratches his door. The grey squirrel hears the noises outside his hole, but he was shivering, and to cold to go see who it is. A few moments pass. When there is no answer, the neighbor squirrel pops his head into the hole dropping the nut onto the grey squirrel’s floor. The nut rolls across the floor burrowing into the grey squirrel’s soft fur. The neighbor chatters that he has only one nut to share, but he went to the other neighbors asking if they had any nuts they could spare.
Wide eyed the squirrel watches as his neighbors, one by one came to his hole and drop nuts in. Many of his neighbors didn’t have nuts to spare, but they brought dried berries for the grey squirrel to eat and leaves to help keep him warm. The grey squirrel didn’t know what to say. He was touched by their kindness, and invites his neighbors in out of the cold.
Everyone was chattering at once. Standing around him, in his crowded little hole, the grey squirrel realizes he has many friends. He sees how selfish he has been and tells his friends he is very sorry for being so greedy. Reaching into the pile of nuts brought by his new friends the grey squirrel cracks open an acorn, his favorite, passing it around for everyone to share.