Anna Becser: Rufus, the fox cub

“Look to your left, and then to your right, I have arrived. Leaves underneath, run from my leaps” sang Rufus, the fox cub, jumping through the fallen leaves, yellows and reds. “Thud-Thud” he cried, while he stepped on two of them, in the forest that was awaiting the winter. “Thud-Thud” he leaped over to another two.

“Mum, how come the leaves fall so quickly? Doesn’t that hurt the trees?” he asked wondering, watching the falling leaves, swirling in the wind, and looking up at the trees in amazement.

“Rufus, my darling. The trees take off their colourful dresses, loose their leaves, with the help of the wind. The lots and lots of leaves pile up and make a carpet, which warms the tree roots and help the small animals hide from the cold.

“Wow, that sounds so interesting. The trees are very smart to do this” said Rufus with excitement. “Yes, they are” agreed his mother.

It was almost dark, when Rufus and his mum reached their den. They cleaned the blackish dust off their paws, and then went inside. In the foxhole, Papa Fox was playing with the smaller siblings of Rufus. In the afternoon, outside, they played catch and hide-and-seek, but inside, they were not running around anymore, they only passed a ball around and sang riddles.

The little ones hovered around Mama Fox, the second she entered. Rufus greeted his father by jumping around him, and nicking at his tail. As night fell and the fox cubs grew tired, the den became more and more quiet. The little ones were nodding off, but not quite asleep yet. Mama Fox sang to them: “Sleep my babies, sleep tight, all the games and puddles, will sleep with you through the night.”

Rufus was listening to the song, and he thought about the games and the puddles from that day. He thought about all those leaves falling, that he stepped on, and all the puddles he jumped into. He thought that tomorrow, he will show this game to his siblings, because chasing the leaves together is more fun. Maybe, he will show it to his friends as well, and then there will be a lot of them, and the whole forest will echo their “thuds.”

Mama Fox stepped over to Rufus, seeing that he was not snoozing the way someone does when they’re fast asleep.

“Rufus, why can’t you sleep?” asked his mum, tucking him in. Rufus thought for a second, arranging his blanket on him.

“Mummy” he finally called out, in a faint and sleepy voice.

“Yes, darling?” murmured Mama Fox.

“I realised something” cried out Rufus.

Mama Fox placed her paw over his mouth and asked him to whisper.

“I just realised, that when I was playing the thudding game, I was also helping the trees. I caught the leaves and stepped on them so they won’t move from their place. That way, they will make a carpet, and they will warm the trees… I tucked the trees in the way you just tucked me” whispered Rufus proudly, then he yawned, and drifted to sleep.

Do you like to play with the fallen leaves in autumn?

What colours can the leaves in autumn be? Haw many can you list?