Teddy waited, sitting on a high rock until morning before going home. His parents were just stirring when he arrived. The berry juice from the night before had dried and looked like blood. Teddy knew that it did from looking into the waters in an irrigation ditch. He would let it be. Perhaps that would keep his parents at bay.
“Good morning,” Teddy said.
“You look like you had a good meal last night,” his father said.
“It was good.”
“We heard last night of a javelina that was hit by the big moving boxes of the people. It is a bit away, but we are going to go see if it is true. Do you want to come?” Teddy’s mother asked.
“No, I’m still full. I didn’t sleep much last night. I think I will stay here and sleep. I find it is better to try to find food at night, when it is cooler and more creatures are not hiding from the Sun,” Teddy said.
“Suit yourself. Goodbye.”
Teddy’s parents trotted away at a fast pace toward the big road that had the big trucks. It was only a couple miles, but they would be gone all day, especially if they got to the javelina before the vultures had picked it clean. That was good. Teddy was tired and he did want to sleep. He went to the rock he had sat upon the evening before and lay down in a shadow. Soon he was asleep.
The Sun climbed high into the sky and Teddy shifted his position to remain in shadow. He dozed quietly through the day. In the afternoon, one of the lizards who had been at the field the night before arrived. It sat and watched Teddy sleep for a few moments. Teddy appeared to be asleep but was fully awake and watched the lizard through just barely open eyelids. Teddy had no intention of eating the lizard but still wanted to maintain his authority as top of the local food chain. In a startlingly fast move he pinned the lizard with his paw. The force was just enough to keep the lizard from getting away without causing any harm.
“Why do you come here to disturb me when I’m sleeping?” Teddy asked, feigning anger.
“I wanted to let you know that the farmers have taken the ripe berries today, but the carrots are almost ready,” squeaked the frightened lizard.
“And you think this is important enough to wake me?”
“I thought you might like to know. It is easier to get to the carrots if you go South first then cut across to the field. Otherwise there is a big reservoir that you have to get across, or go around.”
“I can swim, but I guess I should thank you. It takes forever to get dry with this fur. So I will eat carrots tonight. Is that all?”
“The tortoise wanted me to tell you that he wants to talk to you. He will be there tonight, or if you want to go now he will be sunning on the North side of the reservoir.”
“Perhaps in a while. Thank you for telling me. I don’t know when the others will be back, so you might want to disappear before they do. I will see you tonight if you are there.”
“Goodbye,” the lizard said and scurried off, keeping to the shadows of the rocks as he picked his way down from Teddy’s perch. The Sun was perhaps an hour from the mountains and the day had reached its hottest. Teddy would wait a little while before he went to find the tortoise. The heat of the rocks and especially the roads was uncomfortable on his feet. He would wait and sleep a little more.
Teddy woke with a shiver just after the Sun had dipped below the edge of the mountain. The temperature dropped rapidly and the heat that had been beating on him from above had stopped and now was radiating up from the rocks where it had been storing up all day. He rose and stretched and looked toward the field where the berries had been. The dirt was all turned and the ground was lumpy. The berries were gone. Teddy looked further South and saw the reservoir the lizard had mentioned and the field beyond. The field was green and looked almost shaggy from this distance. He wondered what the carrots would be like.
Looking to the West, Teddy could see his parents far off, ambling back toward the den. The moved slowly as if they were tired and very full. That would be good. He could slip out and be gone before they arrived. He began the walk to the carrot field. The road was still hot, but not as bad as it would have been earlier in the day. He went by way of the berry field, just to see. He was saddened to see that the berries were gone, but at the same time was interested in the carrots.
The tortoise was waiting for him on the edge of the reservoir as the lizard had said. As Teddy approached, the tortoise plopped into the water.
“Come in. The water is warm,” the tortoise said.
“But, I’ll be wet all night,” Teddy replied.
“So. What is the problem with that? You can get back into the water any time.”
“Then I’ll be wet again.”
“Exactly, but you’ll be warm. The water here stays warm all night. I sometimes spend the whole night in and out of here, back and forth to the field.”
“Perhaps later. The lizard said you wanted to talk to me.”
“Yes. I do. But, I’m going to the carrots now. You can come for a swim or you can go around. What I have to tell you can wait.”
Teddy looked down at the water. It did look inviting. If it stayed warm all night what would be the harm? He walked down the bank and put his front paws into the water. It was warm. He waded in and soon sunk in far enough that he had to swim. It felt good. He swam to where the tortoise was exiting the water on the far side. The reptile had moved surprisingly fast in the water.
“You’re right. The water is nice,” Teddy said as he exited the reservoir.
“See. Listening to those who are older and wiser than you is not always a bad thing. Even if you do have an independent streak.”
“So what are these carrots?” Teddy asked.
“Over here. Pull one up. Grab the top and pull. The good part is underground.” The tortoise walked over to the edge of the field and gripped the green top of a carrot and pulled. The long orange root pulled out and he began to eat. The crunch of the crisp flesh of the root surprised Teddy. He was used to the soft squish of the berries.
Teddy followed suit and pulled up a carrot. He shook it to get most of the dirt off then took a bite. It was crunchy and almost sweet, but in a different way than the berries. It was good, and somehow the hint of dirt that he despised in the prairie dogs tasted good here. Teddy was not sure what to think about this other than he liked this new food.