As fall approaches, the days have been dry and cool. While snow sometimes occurs higher up, it's not that common. Neither is to have a nice warm day this late in the season. Samantha, after spending time helping many of her distant neighbors, figures she and her younglings should take advantage of such a nice day. So she packed up several baskets of food and led Acera and Nalae out to meadow a few miles away, full of yellow goldenrod like flowers, one of the last to bloom.
Acera chitters away at Nalae, Samantha and anything that moves. She loves picnics. "Where can we set up ma? Here? Or maybe over by that tree?"
Samantha hmms, looking around. "Over closer to the tree would probably be best, though not right under it so we get leaves falling on us."
Acera grins at Nalae, "C'mon! Let's get the blankets set out!"
Nalae grins and nods at Acera, and bounds along with her to arrange the blanket.
The meadow is abuzz with life. The goldenrods, one of the last flowers to bloom before 'winter', is a last bonanza for a riot of insects. Bees, beetles and flies are flashing around their brilliant colors as they collect nectar and pollen.
Samantha starts setting out the various baskets, arranging them in some pattern that only she seems to understand.
Acera also points to the tiny, squirrel like rodents collecting seeds from the trees to Nalae, and whispers something about "ma" into the little marenati's ear, giggling loudly.
Acera says, "Good to hear. Lasagna. ;)"
Nalae giggles softly, and nudges Acera. :)
Samantha glares at Acera for a moment, then goes back to what she was doing.
Acera giggles even louder as her mom gives her that ole dirty look and snugs Nalae, "C'mon, we better help ma. That way we get to play sooner."
Nalae grins and nods, padding back over to join Samantha.
Acera gives her mom a snug in apology and chitters, "Whatcha want us to do ma?"
Samantha chirrrs. "Well, most of it is finished now. The last two baskets there are the biggest and heaviest ones; if you could just set them on the corners so they'll help hold the blanket down, we'll be all set."
Nalae nods softly and pads over to heft one of the baskets..
Acera nods and oofs as she picks up the larger basket and eventually waddles over to one corner and puts it down.
Samantha sits down on the blanket, near one of the baskets. She spreads her skirt out carefully as she sits.
Acera grins at her mom and chitters, "So, you wanna play tag with us?"
Nalae takes longer than Acera to move her basket to a corner -- she has a bit more difficulty holding it up. She wasn't really built for lifting heavy objects; more for having a small enough mass to stay in the air for a decent length of time.
Samantha chuckles. "Maybe in a couple of minutes."
Acera notes Nalae's problems and goes over to help her sis. Being a swimmer, mass isn't a problem, as long as it's kept sleek.
Acera grins at Samantha, "Sure ma. ;)"
Nalae grins at Acera gratefully, finally settling the basket on its corner.
Acera grins at Nalae, "So whatcha wanna do? Chase bugs? Play tag? Eat? ;)"
Nalae hrms.. "Dunno... what d'you feel like?"
Acera hmms, "All of em really. ;)"
Nalae laughs.. "Jus' don't do 'em all at once.. ya wouldn' wanna be playin' tag while eatin' bugs..."
Acera giggles and nods, "Let's play tag. Onna ground you're not as fast. ;)"
Nalae laughs. "Well.. there _is_ a tree.." And she winks at Acera mischievously.
Acera hmmfs, "Trees out of bounds. ;)"
Samantha chuckles. "Anyway, I made sure we had some food for each of us here."
Acera hmmms, "Maybe eat first? Huh Nalae?"
Nalae giggles.. "Okay.." Even though she knows she'll be even slower, with a full belly. ;)
Acera grins, knowing Nalae will be slower with a full belly, she bounces over to get some food.
Nalae pads along, and settles onto the blanket, stretching a little.
Samantha pops open the basket closest to her, which seems to be mostly nuts.
Acera grins and tosses a couple of nuts to her mothers "little relatives" who are casing out the picnic.
Samantha shakes her head, chuckling again.
Nalae grins, and opens another basket, peering inside curiously.
The tiny little squirrel-like critters are quite happy to snap up the treats, and bound off, chittering their thanks. Acera grins and giggles a bit, "So whatcha got for us folks that don't eat lawns? ;)"
Samantha smirks. "Fish in that basket you're next to, and bird's meat in the other one closer to Nalae."
Nalae neats! And rummages into the basket for a few moments before pulling a few pieces of meat out of the basket.
Acera hmms and moves over to the basket by Nalae and pulls out a roasted half fowl and thtptpts at the birds in the trees chirping (seemingly at her) and chomps away.
Acera hmmms and looks at all the bugs working over the goldenrod flowers and chitters, "Ma, why do so many things like eating flowers?"
Nalae looks over to where Acera's looking..
Samantha hmms. "Well, a flower is where the seeds or fruit grow, so it tends to be sweeter than the rest of the plant."
Nalae ohs softly..
Acera blinks and gulps some more of the bird before asking, "So, does that make the plant mad?"
Samantha shakes her head. "Plants don't have much in the way of feelings. Besides, a lot of plants need those little insects to spread their seeds around. The male plant and the female plant often never actually touch each other, the insects act as a go-between."
Nalae blinks slowly. Male and female plants?
Acera finds this a bit confusing also, though she's heard her mom talk about it before and just nods.
Acera chomps away and fills up quickly, periodically sneaking one of her mom's high quality nuts and tossing it to the mini-squirrels that are dodging the edges of this little picnic.
Samantha smiles, and crunches on another nut, cracking the shell with her teeth. "So there are a lot of things that eat flowers just because they're about the simplest thing that animals can actually live on."
Nalae eats a little more food, but tries not to fill up too much, wanting to be able to maybe catch Acera at least once or twice, during their game of tag... ;)
Acera has of course totally forgotten her food strategy, but with a mink's metabolism, the food will be gone quickly. She nods at mom, "Well, I do think some of em smell nice. 'cept skunk cabbage. :P"
Samantha chuckles. "Skunk cabbage is trying to keep away the larger animals that might eat it, and attract some of the insects that think it smells like rotting meat."
Acera ewwwwws and looks at Nalae, "I'll stick to fresh or cooked, thanks. :P So ma, have you heard from any of our neighbors lately? Or your sis lately?"
Samantha says, "The neighbors are fine, for the most part. My sister's been having some troubles with her back of late, and hasn't been up and about much."
Acera nods and snugs Nalae, "So, can we go play ma? You wanna join in?"
Samantha nods, and stands up slowly. "Do try to take it easy on this poor old body, will you?"
Nalae grins at Samantha, standing as well.
Acera chuckles, "You're not old ma. Ya just use that as an excuse. We'll play tag. You're it Nalae." and touches her sis on the shoulder and scampers away, laughing in that trilling fashion she has. ;)
Samantha smirks. "Ah, but I am old. Age and treachery will overcome youth and skill, as my mother used to say."
Nalae eeps, and bounds off after Acera, laughing!
Acera chitters, "Ma, you gotta run. Nalae's it. If she touches ya, YOU'RE it. ;)"
Samantha watches Nalae running off, and ducks around the other way behind the tree.
Nalae hurries after Acera, giggling.
Acera is on all fours and bouncing along rather well, she angles around one side of the tree, careful about the picnic area.
Samantha hears Acera coming around, and slips back.
Nalae runs along after Acera, hopelessly slower than her sister.. Turning, she heads back towards the picnic area, where she'd seen Samantha last...
Acera blinks and doubles back, not wanting to tire Nalae out too much.
Samantha sees Nalae coming, and ducks behind the tree again.
Nalae slows, as she reaches the blanket and peers about, trying to work out where Samantha went..
Acera comes sneaking up behind Nalae.
Samantha stands perfectly still, just listening for Nalae's approach.
Nalae pads over towards the tree... Acera'd said it was off-limits, but maybe she could see better from higher up... see where Samantha went...
Acera is about to pounce Nalae, but thinks better of it, and just hides in the deep weeds and flowers near the tree.
Samantha hmmms at the sound of claws in the tree trunk.
Nalae climbs up to the first branch, and peers about, searching for either Acera or Samantha...
Acera is sneaking along in the grass, so the only thing Nalae can see that low is the weeds moving a bit.
Samantha is on the other side of the tree, therefore unlikely to be seen unless Nalae moves around the tree through the branches.
Nalae peers out towards the horizon, scanning for the two. After a few moments, she climbs up to the next higher branch, which extends from the other side of the tree.
The whitening fur of Acera's back can just be made out as she slinks towards where she last saw Nalae, ready to pounce.
Samantha scoots around the tree as she sees Nalae coming around.
Nalae, unfortunately, has already moved to the other side of the tree...
Acera gets impatient, and sticks her head up above the grass to see what's up?
Nalae frowns a little, unable to see where either Acera or Samantha have run off to. "Ma? Acera?" Her voice is rather too quiet to carry very far..
Acera ahs as she hears Nalae in the tree and scoots towards it, making a bit of a rustling noise as she goes.
Samantha knocks on the tree, almost directly below Nalae, then scoots around to the side.
Acera is getting close, and is losing her cover as she approaches the base of the tree.
Nalae blinks. The rustling noise she misses, but nobody who's spent as much time in trees as Nalae has would miss that knock on the trunk.. She hops off of the branch, landing lightly on the ground beneath. She carefully begins to pad around the side of the tree, searching for whoever knocked at it...
Samantha scoots around away from Nalae, and knocks on the tree again.
Acera leaps out at the movement, and tags....Samantha?
Samantha turns to look at Acera, smiling. "I wasn't aware that you were 'it'."
Acera grins, "I'm not. I was gonna tag Nalae and make myself it. ;)"
Nalae blinks! This time she misses the noise of the knock (since it's more the vibration of the tree that she notices), but hears Acera leap through the undergrowth.. bounding around the tree yet again, she grins and pounces at Samantha! (Mostly because Samantha's about half a foot closer. ;) )
Samantha blinks as she's pounced. "Well, I guess that takes care of that."
Acera whoops, "Sorry ma. I guess you're it. ;)"
Nalae giggles, and scampers backwards, grinning. "You're it!"
Acera also quickly backs away from her mom, giggling.
Samantha nods. "I do seem to be." She takes advantage of this, leaping straight at Acera.
Nalae takes the opportunity to turn and bound off directly away from Acera and Samantha, giggling.
Acera eeps and tumbles and rolls out of the way, barely, and gets to her feet to scamper away.
Samantha catches herself, brings her legs forward, then leaps at Acera again.
Acera is momentarily startled at her "old" mother leaping around, then *zips* off as fast as her four little paws can take her.
Samantha hmmphs as she doesn't make it, then stands up and brushes herself off.
Acera makes it a little ways then sits down as she tries to catch her breath. Running and laughing don't mix. ;)
Nalae bounds off until she reaches what she considers to be a safe distance, then turns and watches the other two, grinning.
Samantha turns around, looking out for where Nalae has gone as well.
Nalae bounds further away as Samantha looks at her. Never can be too careful.. ;)
Acera, to whom 'careful' is always loosely defined, decides to zip by her mother from behind while she's looking the other way. ;)
Samantha must have a better sense of hearing than she would seem to, as she takes a couple of steps backwards suddenly as Acera gets close, then spins around as she gets within reach.
Acera skids as she tries to change direction, but just rolls into a tumble towards Samantha. You can tell she's still giggling during this.
Samantha says, "I believe that makes you 'it'."
Acera thtptpts at her mom and nods, "You cheated. ;)"
Nalae giggles softly, watching from afar.
Samantha says, "You tried to do something clever that didn't work."
Acera grins at Samantha, "True. But you said you were old and slow. So you kinda cheated too. See ya. ;)" and bounds off to where she can see Nalae resting in the weeds. ;)
Samantha smirks, and sits down to take a few deep breaths. She may not have really slowed down much, but the stamina isn't what it used to be.
Nalae eeps, and turns and bounds away from Acera!
Acera races after Nalae minkedly (She's not a dog after all ;), keeping her sister in view as she closes the gap.
During this, some of the "little relatives" have snuck into Samantha's hamper full of nuts.
Nalae tries a few special evasive maneuvers, abruptly turning, ducking behind clumps of weeds, and bounding around shrubs, in hopes of losing Acera, or at least widening the gap a little...
Acera is doing a pretty good job of keeping up with Nalae's maneuvers, but the gap is shrinking at a slower rate. And she's not as good at running on land as she is at swimming.
Nalae abruptly hurries around a bush, and turns to run back towards the tree...
Samantha takes advantage of the distraction to head back to the picnic blanket.
One rather frumpy old squirrel is picking through the better nuts as Samantha heads towards the basket.
Acera is following close behind, but her breath is come out in huffs.
Samantha looks down at the squirrel in the basket, and clears her throat.
Nalae reaches the tree, and quickly scales up towards the upper branches...
The squirrel starts a little, holding two or three of the best nuts, looks up at Samantha and scolds the giant squirrel with a loud series of chitters before lumbering off at her own pace.
Acera pants, "Hey! No fair! Tree is off limits!"
Nalae giggles down at Acera. "Come an' stop me!"
Samantha grumbles, and picks up a couple of the nuts to make sure they're not all gone. Fortunately, she brought lots.
Acera blinks, "You do this, and next time we play tag inna river!" and sticks her tongue out at Nalae.
Nalae laughs, and leaps back down from the tree, grasping hold of Acera as she tumbles to the ground.
Acera oofs and rolls with Nalae, heading towards the blanket and Samantha.
Nalae giggles up at Acera. "An' the next time... we play tag in the air!" She's begun to pant a bit, herself.
Acera grins, "Only if ma can grow me some wings!" and snugs her sister.
Nalae grins back at Acera. And imagines just how thrilled Acera would be, if Samantha could do that...
Samantha chuckles. "That would take a lot of work."
Acera hmmfs, "I can wait. ;)"
Samantha nods. "Good. Because it would be easier for you to do it yourself than to have someone else do it for you."
Acera looks confused, "Huh?"
Nalae blinks, looking between the two.
Samantha says, "With magic, it's almost always easier to affect yourself than someone else."
Acera ohs, and didn't realize she'd have to wait THAT long. The disappointment is clear on her face.
Samantha says, "But I'm sure we can come up with something."
Nalae gives Acera a soft snug. And refrains from saying anything.
Acera nods, and figures to just bug the chirpy'taurs again. Maybe they can help. She chitters, "Well, I'm hungry again. AND thirsty. How bout you Nalae?"
Nalae pauses, then nods. "Yeah, me too.." Especially since she didn't eat her fill, before.
The uppity old squirrel sits on a branch not far above Samantha's head and makes a show out of cracking open the nuts she stole from her.
Samantha hmmms, thinking now.
Acera dives into the basket of bird meat again and chitters, "C'mon Nalae. You must be hungry too. And what have we got to drink ma?"
Samantha shakes her head, brought out of her reverie. "Some water, some fruit juice, and some iced tea."
A couple of empty nutshells land on the blanket in front of Samantha while Acera pours some water for her and Nalae.
Samantha hmmms, looking up. "My 'little relatives' don't seem to be quite as concerned with cleanliness as I am."
Acera giggles and snugs Nalae as the squirrel chitters down at them all while finishing the nuts she stole.
The three spend the rest of the afternoon talking and playing, and learning two. Acera gets another wistful look on her face when a chirpy'taur rockets through the sky in the distance. And Nalae chases the little squirrel for Samantha, just to let her know she can't get away with everything. Finally, the three pack up and head home, tired, but happy.