THE MOON VIEWING PARTY – An Illustrated Fable in a Handmade Book

O moon, why must you inspire my neighbor to chirp all night on a flute! — Koyo

The huge orange Harvest moon rose over the old majestic forest.  An owl softly hooted at the top of a tall Cypress tree and then silently spread his wings and glided over the shimmering pampas grass, which swayed slightly in the light breeze.  Frogs thrummed out their frog songs in chorus in the quiet night.

 Across the creek, there was a sudden ruckus with flashlights and laughter.  The frogs stopped singing.  A crowd of young people climbed over the fence and walked right by the hand-carved sign that said “Park Closed After Sunset” to have a party under the full moon. A neighbor close by seeing the lights in the closed park called the police, but the police were short staffed that night and didn’t send a car. 

It was a long time after midnight before all the partiers left and under the cover of darkness it seemed that the forest returned to normal.  The frogs started to hum softly at first and then went into full crescendo.  The owl swooped by hunting for his dinner on silent wings.  The raccoon continued to search for prey. 

With the arrival of dawn the next morning, it quickly became apparent that damage had been done by the intrusion of people the night before.   A field of wild Chrysanthemums had been trampled on where the partying moon viewers had put their blankets and lawn chairs.  The ground was littered with drink cups, chip bags, candy wrappers and beer cans.  White plastic grocery bags were blowing around. 

A large raccoon approached the area and saw the trash and was disgusted.  Suddenly he heard frantic squeaking and scratching.  Two mice had woken up and went to leave their nest, but were terrified to realize that they were trapped in their home by a plastic drink cup.  The mice tried to escape, but the cup was weighed down under a heavy pile of trash.  The raccoon tracked down where the squeaking was coming from, snarled in anger and started moving the trash.  He was furious that people had been in his forest home and left not caring about the forest or the creatures that lived there.  After the raccoon freed the frightened mice, the mice sat down in exhaustion. 

The raccoon continued snarling, which scared the mice at first, but he just went and snatched up a plastic bag blowing on the ground and started picking up the trash.  After a while, the mice recovered a bit and started to help out by picking up bottle caps. 

A deer on her way to sleep in the deep forest hills stopped and gently used her mouth to pull up the bent flower stems so they could stand up.  A dragonfly skimmed lightly by to put the flower petals back in place with her wings.  A garden spider arrived and wove a web from flower stem to flower stem to give them support until they recovered   It was just too big a job for the forest animals to clean up, but they tried their best. 

A middle-aged woman walked up the pathway calling her daughter’s lost phone from the night before so she could find it.  Out of the corner of her eye she caught a glimpse of a deer and a raccoon scurrying away.  She stopped and couldn’t believe her eyes at what she saw.  Her child had not only broken the law by being there, but had caused all this damage.  It was heartbreaking.   She thought she had raised her daughter better than this.  Sarah felt like she wanted to cry.  Her daughter had done this! 

Sarah went to her car and brought back two huge black trash bags and spent more than an hour picking up all the litter.  The bags were so heavy she had to drag them to the trash cans.  She winced when she saw the sign that said “Take Nothing, Leave Nothing”.  What good were signs if people didn’t listen and there was no enforcement?  She finally found her daughter’s phone and pocketed it, knowing that she was going to give her daughter a stern lecture and there would be other consequences for her daughter’s foolishness.

After all the trash was picked up and the woman left, the animals all came back to peek out and see that their forest home had been cleaned up.  The raccoon took a deep breath, nodded to the mice and took his leave.  The deer went on her way to nap in the thick forest.  The mice went to pick a few wild raspberries for breakfast.  The forest became peaceful again and it almost seemed as if the birds now sung an even sweeter song.   

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