Archive for January, 2019

When my son was a toddler, part of our bedtime routine involved choosing a letter of the alphabet and me weaving a story around that letter. The story had to be about some animal, bird or any living breathing species that started with the letter of the night. I tried to include some life lessons into each story. It was a superbly entertaining game trying to find species that matched the letter my son chose, and ensuring that somehow before I got to the end of a story, there was also a useful message. Years went by, and when much older, my son encouraged me to compile the stories into a book format. Thus was born Alphabet Animals. The complete book is available at Books and Company in Picton, or online thru Lulu and also thru Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Just punch in “Alphabet Animals Hilary” and you should find it. I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed making them up! Walk tall, think proud, have fun and let imagination be your guide.


Adam was getting bored. He wondered why nobody ever listened to him? He had good ideas.

“So what if I’m small! That doesn’t mean I don’t have big ideas!” he muttered. “I’m tired of being called a little runt!”

But like it or not, he was the little runt. When he was born, all the other brown ants marveled at his tiny size. There were about 100 other baby ants born the same day he was, and not one was smaller than Adam. They all grew very quickly but for some reason, Adam hardly grew at all. When they played outside the anthill, never too far mind you because they knew that trouble was a short hop away if they could not scurry back into the anthill, Adam was always one or two steps behind everybody else. I mean giant steps, not ant steps. Adam had heard stories about the giants but never seen one. It was told that the ground shook whenever they were near. And they used monster machines that chopped up anything in their path. The one good thing those monster machines did, is harvest the grass so that it was easy for the ants to carry food back to the anthill. But the noise of these monster machines so shook the earth, that some of the ant elders found they would lose parts of their shells from the rattling and pounding. They would also lose their hearing, but that did not seem to bother the ants as they grew old. They would then rely more on their touch, and ant legs were very sensitive. These risks were overlooked, because the fresh grass they were able to stockpile after the giants rolled their machines around, made the ants so full and healthy that they eventually worked their days around the risks presented by the monster machines.

One day, when Adam and his buddies were playing outside the anthill, a kind of tag game where you could only use your back legs to tag somebody, Adam decided he had had enough of lagging behind the group. He was going to go on a hike and show them all! He’d go on a long journey (50 feet in giant measure, a massive distance in ant measure) and come back with stories that would finally convince everybody he was not a runt.

“Then they will respect me and treat me like the other kids and not like a baby” he shouted out!

So off he went, heading for the big forest. When he had got about five giant feet away, he turned to look back at the anthill. He could barely make out its shape. Only the tip was visible, poking out from the tall grass like some volcanic sand hill.

“Oh boy, I wonder if I should be doing this? What if I get lost? Maybe I won’t find my way back?”

These and many other questions swirled around inside his head; making him so dizzy he had to sit down.

“That’s all I needed, just a few minutes to collect my thoughts” he said. “I can do this. I know I can do this!” And off he set again.

He was in very high grass just by the edge of the forest, a place teeming with new sounds and sights. Big, blue butterflies twirled around in the sky above. And when he turned around to see where the anthill was he could not make out its shape any more. But he knew more or less where it was, so Adam felt confident about sitting in this wondrous new place and enjoying the beauty all around him. Huge trees towered over him, and far, far above in the high branches he could make out the shapes of birds. He knew that those were very dangerous to ants, and whenever they were around, he had been taught that ants were to find immediate shelter. A thicket covered Adam so he was safe from these flying feathered creatures.

An old green cricket went bounding by and nodded his head at the little ant. “You’re new to this area aren’t you kid?” asked the old cricket. “I live just on the other side of that big pear tree” pointed Adam. “Well you’re quite the brave big ant venturing so far from home” replied the cricket.

Adam smiled and waved as he passed by, feeling so much like a big boy. There he was, all alone and far from home, nobody to yell at him or tell him how tiny he was. Wait until he told everybody a big old cricket had even greeted him and called him a big ant!

It felt so good to be there, that Adam became so relaxed he fell asleep. He dreamed of piles of fresh green grass and ripe pears bursting with flavour. Adam must have been sleeping for a solid twenty minutes, which is a very long time in ant time, when a loud and clanky metallic noise jolted him awake. His eyes popped wide open, and all four feet tensed at once. He was jumping right off the ground. The horrible rumbling sound was coming closer and closer. There was only one thing that made such a loud racket. The monster machine! It was coming from near the anthill! “Oh no!” screamed Adam! Adam backed into the forest; he knew that big trees and thickets also offered the best protection when the monster machine was around. The noise was now so deafening that he covered his ears with all four legs and closed his eyes.

“What am I closing my eyes for?” he shouted. “I am a big ant!” And so he forced his eyes open. What he saw made his whole body shake with fear. A huge giant was stomping by, a mere few feet in front of the thicket. And pulling the giant along, was a monster machine spitting out grass and sticks like a machine gun! The force of the wind hurricane like; it made the shrubs sway back and forth. Adam felt very lucky indeed, to be sitting a few feet inside the forest. The thick tangle of shrubs stopped the spinning and shooting sticks from getting to him. When the noise had died to a little rumble, Adam knew he just had to get home. What would he find?

Adam sprinted along the edge of the forest as fast as he could, heading for the anthill. And when he got within a few feet of his home, he froze in his tracks. “Oh no! This cannot be!” cried Adam. Where before, the anthill had reached high above the grass like a sandy mountain, there was now a crater carved flat across the top! Hundreds upon hundreds of ants were scurrying about in all directions. There was the dreaded panic in the air! The monster machine had run directly over top of the anthill chopping off everything above the ground! Ants were crying. Ants were dying. Worse still, the monster machine was coming back! So Adam ran. He ran and ran and ran! He did not stop running until he was totally out of breath and his legs could not move further. Adam collapsed to the ground and passed out totally exhausted.

“Hey kid, what are you doing lying here in the middle of the field?” shouted a big black ant. Adam opened his eyes with a start, and jumped to his feet. “Who are you?” he said. “Question is, who are you?” replied the black ant. “My name is Adam,” responded Adam. “So Adam, what are you doing here by our anthill? And where is your family?” questioned the black ant. “They were killed when the big monster machine ran over our anthill” cried Adam.

But his voice only cracked a little as he spoke. He decided he was not going to show these black ants that he was scared. He had to be strong. There was nobody familiar to save him here, it was up to him. The black ant asked him which way his anthill was. When Adam looked around, he had no idea where he was. When he escaped from the monster machine, he had run so fast and for so long, that he was now at least 200 giant feet away from his old home. And even if he were to find it again, which was most unlikely, what was there left to find? By now the monster machine would have run over the anthill again, and anybody who had been alive when he returned from his expedition would have been scattered by the hurricane winds that blew from the machine. No, he was going to have to make it on his own.

“Well, listen kid. There’s no room for strangers here. And besides, you’re a brown ant. We’re all black!” said the black ant. “I don’t care if you’re purple ants” replied Adam. “I just need a place to rest for a while. Then I’ll be moving on”. This seemed to satisfy the black ants, and they told him to follow them to their hill.

When they were about to enter the main hole, a few younger black ants ran over to see what the bigger adults were bringing back.

“Hey, who’s the weird coloured guy?” asked the first young ant. “I’m not weird colour!” shouted back Adam “You’re the weird colour.”

That did not sit well with the young black ant, and he pushed Adam backwards. But the loss of his home and his solo journey had emboldened Adam. He pushed back, and he pushed hard. The young black ant went tumbling backwards and even knocked down one of his buddies as he fell over.

“Don’t push me around!” yelled Adam. “I’m not a runt and you can’t treat me like one.” The adult black ant that had asked Adam all the questions looked at the young black and said with just a hint of reproach, “I think you better get used to this guy. He might be around here for a while.” The black ant shrugged his shoulders as if to indicate that like it or not, they would find it difficult to rid themselves of this stubborn brown ant, at least in the short term. And with that, they all filed into the hole.

Adam spent the next few days resting and getting to know his new black friends, especially the one who had first pushed him. They became tight amigos and after about a week the young black approached Adam and said “Listen, Adam. I’ve asked my Dad and he says you can stay with us for as long as you want” “Do you want to? We’d like to have you with us.”

What a change of heart that was! Adam thought about it for only a split second and realized he could be very comfy here. It surely would be better than wandering in the big forest all by himself. And so Adam stayed at the new anthill. Nobody ever pushed him around again or made mention of his different colour. He was just Adam, the new guy! Over time he even became a very respected elder in the new ant colony. Remember, the colour of your skin is irrelevant. Believe in yourself.

Read Full Post »