Summer is in full swing in the forest. Hot, lazy days are a bit more bearable inside the leafy green canopy that surrounds the home of Samantha Beiter and her "children". Acera has, of course, been cooling off a lot in the river, and Nalae has occasionally joined her, despite her continued misgivings. This particular afternoon Acera has been playing with some of the cattails, an odd plant that grows in the marshy edges of the river where the sun does make it through.
Nalae watches Acera curiously from the bank of the river, stretched out and resting against the trunk of a nearby tree.
Acera is struggling with one of the long, tubular fronds with the brown fuzzy top. She's having very little luck getting it to break free.
Nalae blinks at Acera. "Whatcha doing?"
Acera grrrs at the plant, "Tryin ta break one of these cat's tail things free."
Nalae says, "How come?"
Acera yeeps as it finally snaps free and she goes end over end.
Nalae giggles quietly. "Whatcha gonna do with that, now that ya got it?"
Acera chitters happily and grins at Nalae, "Watch what it does. ;)"
Nalae tilts her head to one side, watching.
The little mink bounces happily into the river with her trophy and lays it flat on the river. It floats very well.
Acera says, "See?"
Nalae giggles and comments, "It swims better'n I do!"
Acera nodnods, "And I've seen people make floors with this stuff. If we can get enough, we can make a floating floor for ya!"
Nalae says, "You'd need lots an' lots of it, though.."
Acera grabs her single bamboo like cattail and hauls it back to shore, "You wanna help me? Ma says we can't take too many of em, but we can take about 15. Should be wide enough for ya."
Acera shows Nalae the cattail, which is about two inches in diameter and nearly 6 feet long.
Nalae smiles softly. "Okay.." She glances along the river and selects another fairly large cattail..
Acera chitters a mile a minute, as usual, giving Nalae all sorts of advice and ideas as they struggle with their next "victim". This cattail also seems to be willing to put up a big fight.
Nalae struggles along with Acera, trying to uproot the cattail. "These things are really stuck inta the river good!"
Acera nodnods, "Ma won't let me use a knife yet. You have anything sharp?"
Nalae hms. "My teeth.."
Acera ewws, "I tried that. This stuff is like chewing sand. Maybe a sharp rock?"
Nalae nods slowly. "Maybe, yeah..."
Acera hmmms and starts searching for a broken rock with jagged edges in the shallows of the river.
Nalae waits as Acera searches, continuing the futilely tug at the resisting plant.
A small *sploosh* is the only indication that the little mink has started her search under the water.
Nalae experimentally tries to dig her claws into the plant's stem..
The plants tough surface does give way to Nalae's claws, but as she works through the stem, she notes they're already not cutting as well as they did at first.
Acera slips out of the river next to Nalae with unintentional stealth and chitters behind Nalae, "I think these may work. Hey, watcha tryin? You almost got that one!"
Nalae jumps slightly at the sudden noise behind her. Twisting, she looks just a bit relieved to see that it's only Acera. "Um, I was just trying my claws.."
Acera chitters, "Really? I'd have thought that stuff would dull your claws too. Neat. Oh, in addition to the rocks, I found this!" and holds out a rather upset little frog who's trying to get away. She chitters, "You want half?"
Nalae blinks down at the frog and wrinkles her nose. "Eew.. it's all slimy.."
Acera blinks, "Well yeah, he's wet. The legs are good if ya take the skin off."
Nalae looks doubtful. "If you say so.."
The miserable little frog is really wiggling now, trying to escape from the little mink.
Acera finally notes Nalae's reluctance and tosses the frog back into the river, "Ah, I'll skip it. Ma's making chicken anyhow tonight. C'mon, let's hurry up and make your floating floor. ;)"
Nalae nods, and continues to saw her claws through the stalk of the cattail..
Acera helps by pulling on the stalk as Nalae claws through, but it's clear she's slowing down as her claws get gummed up and dulled.
Nalae frowns a bit, pulling her claws from the stalk and peering down at them. "I don' think I can keep cuttin' through.. my claws are gettin' all gunky.."
Acera ewwwws, "Yuck. Ok, let's try the rocks then. You wanna hold the cattail?"
Nalae holds the cattail up and glances over to Acera. "You found some rocks, then?"
Acera nods and points to the four jagged stones dripping on the log next to the river.
Nalae ahas and grins! "Okay!"
Acera gets two rocks and chitters, "You pull on the top part, k?"
Nalae nods slowly, tugging at the upper part of the cattail, holding the stalk taut for Acera.
Acera puts the edge of one rock behind the cut, and starts pounding the jagged edge into the other side of the cut. With Nalae pulling on it, the cut she started is finished in under a minute.
Nalae shakes her head softly, blinking. "This's gonna take a while, ta get all the reeds we'd need..."
Acera nods, "We only need...13 more? We'll have em cut in an hour. I think."
Nalae nods, frowning a little. "Okay.."
After a good hour and a half, two tired, sweaty and sore little mustelids are taking a break. Acera is floating at the edge of the cattail stand as she hmmfs, "Wish ma woulda trusted me with the axe."
Nalae pants quietly, sitting at the edge of the river. "Maybe she'd come an' help us cut'm.. y'know? She could use the axe..
Acera hmmms, "Well, we got 15 of em. But they are too long. Hey. If we get em together, maw can cut it in half and we BOTH can have one!"
Nalae smiles and nods softly, thinking about that.
Acera finally crawls out of the water and up to her pack, and pulls out a bundle of string and chitters, "Well, c'mon. We can put it together now, see if it works. Ma can cut it in half later if we want."
Nalae nodnods, and pads over to help Acera tie the cattails together at the ends.
Acera starts trying to lash the 7 foot long cattails together with the string her mother gave her.
Nalae helps Acera, showing her how to wrap the string around the cattails to hold them together the most securely. "This's how we used to make our lean-tos..."
Acera watches intently and smiles, "Wow. That'll really keep this together."
Nalae smiles back at Acera, and giggles softly. "It'd be bad if it came apart while I was standin' on it..."
Acera giggles, "Yeah, I guess so. C'mon, let's get it done before dinner."
Nalae nods and hurries up, quickly lashing the cattails together, obviously having had some practice at this sort of thing. "It shouldn' take too long.."
The raft (floating floor) is done in about a half hour. Would have taken about 10 minutes less, but Acera insisted on helping, and it took a bit to teach her (and to undo some of her mistakes ;). But finally, a 30 inch wide, 7 foot long raft is resting on the bank. A bit muddy, and looking funny with the fuzzy cattail tops at the ends, but done nonetheless.
Nalae grins! "Do we have time to test it?"
Acera grins, "We have ta test it. Ma won't let us after dinner, she'll say it's too late. ;)"
Acera grabs the end closest to the water and lifts, "C'mon Nalae. Help me pull it in."
Nalae grins and pushes at the other end of the raft, helping Acera move the thing to the river.
With a triumphant *sploosh* the craft slides into the water, and floats quite well. Acera holds onto it and beams proudly.
Nalae grins, and cautiously steps onto the raft, slowly transferring her weight over onto it.
The little craft is fairly stable under Nalae's small weight. It does rock a bit, but feels pretty stable when sitting down. Acera cheers and hmms, "Maybe both of us can fit on it?"
Nalae grins at Acera widely and scoots over to sit at one side. "Give it a try!"
The tiny raft wobbles a LOT when Acera scrambles on, but when the hyperactive mink finally settles down, the two sisters are able to sit on the raft with no problem, letting their feet dangle.
Nalae grins at Acera and watches the scenery drift by as the raft flows along the river.
After only 10 minutes of drifting, Samantha's call of "Nalae! Acera! Dinner!" breaks up their reverie, and the quickly pull the raft to a safe place on shore and scamper towards home, and dinner. After talking with Samantha, they decide to leave the raft in one piece instead of cutting it, and both talk about what they want to do tomorrow on the river before they drift off to sleep next to each other.