Something for bedtime.

Something sad happened in my daughter’s life today, so my afternoon and evening have belonged to her. In a few minutes, at her invitation, I’m going to join her in her room, snuggling in her bed to watch Money Heist, which I’ve already seen and will gladly watch again.

I will snuggle with her and think of all the times I snuggled with my mother. I will think of how that shared comfort is one of life’s irreplaceable treasures.

So, no writing tonight.

I’ll leave you, instead, with one of my favorite bedtime stories that my mother read to me from the time I was very small. I should mention, for the uninitiated, that she was not conventional, my mother, and our bedtime reading didn’t always match popular titles of the time. My favorite bedtime books were from the Industrial and Social History Series written by Katharine Elizabeth Dopp. I liked them all (we had a full set – which I still have, today), but the one I could hear over and over again without every tiring of it was The Tree-Dwellers. I would fall asleep at night dreaming that I was Sharptooth.

Note: All of Dr. Dopp’s books from this series are in the public domain. The excerpt below is from the Gutenberg.org site.

THE TREE-DWELLERS

I.

A Story of Long Ago

This is a story of long ago.

It will tell you of the first people we know anything about.

It will tell you how they lived before they had fire.

It will tell you how they worked before they had tools.

Many wild beasts lived then.

They were fierce and strong.

All the people feared them.

The cave-bear could strike with his big paws.

The tiger could tear with his sharp teeth.

The rhinoceros could trample one under his feet.

Each animal knew how to do one thing well.

But the people could do a great many things.

They could remember, too, what had happened before.

They learned to profit by their mistakes.

You will learn how they became brave and strong.

You will learn how they used their bodies and minds.

They began the work we are doing to-day.

They took the first steps.

People who lived after them were able to do a little more.

The next people could do still more.

Many people have lived and worked since then.

The work they have done helps us to-day.

We have something to do, too.

We can do our part better if we know what others have done.

We can do it better if we learn to use our hands.

We can do it better if we learn to use our minds.

That is why we have this little book.

II.

Sharptooth

Sharptooth was a Tree-dweller.

She lived a long, long time ago.

She did not have any home.

Nobody had a home then.

People wandered from place to place.

They had no shelter except the trees.

Each night Sharptooth slept in the branches.

Each day she hunted for something to eat.

Sometimes she was very hungry.

She had hard work to find enough food.

She could not go to a store to buy it.

There were no stores then.

She could not buy food of a farmer.

There were no farmers then.

All the plants were growing wild.

All the animals were wild, too.

Sharptooth was afraid of them.

That is why she climbed the trees.

III.

The Wooded Hills

The Tree-dwellers needed a place where they could be safe from the wild animals.

So they lived among the tall trees.

They needed to be near fresh water.

So they lived by trees along the river.

They needed to be where they could find roots and berries.

see caption

“The wooded hills”

Down in the river valley most of the forests were dense.

The sun could not shine through the thick leaves of the trees.

There was not enough sunlight to make the roots and berries grow.

There were not many nuts and acorns on the trees.

So the Tree-dwellers could not live there.

Out on the grassy plains there were no trees.

The Tree-dwellers could not live there.

Near the head of the river valley there were hills and uplands.

The forests there were not so dense.

The sun could shine through the open spaces.

Many roots and berries grew there.

On the wooded hills near the head of the valley was a good place for the Tree-dwellers to live.

They could be safe in the tall trees.

They could get fresh water from the river.

They could find nuts and acorns on the trees.

They could find roots and berries in the open spaces.

IV.

Sharptooth’s Excursions

Sharptooth knew every spot on the wooded hills.

But she seldom went to a strange place.

see caption

“She walked out upon a strong spreading branch”

One day, though, she took a long journey.

This is the way that it came about.

She found plenty of roots and ripe blue berries.

She ate until she was satisfied.

Then she began to play among the trees.

She walked out upon a strong spreading branch.

Then she grasped a tough branch just over her head.

She swung herself into a neighboring tree.

Then she walked out on another branch.

She swung herself into another tree.

She traveled in this way for a long time.

At last she came to a dense forest.

How dark and damp it seemed!

How still it was!

She stopped her play.

She began to feel tired and hungry; so she rested a while, and then searched for food.

She found few signs of roots or berries.

There were many trees, but nuts were scarce.

So she ate the bark from the tender twigs.

But she was not satisfied.

She missed the roots and berries.

She missed the bright sunshine.

She missed familiar sights and sounds.

So she soon went back to the wooded hills.

Another day Sharptooth went to the edge of a grassy plain.

see caption

“Sharptooth hid in the tall green grass”

There were many wild animals feeding there.

She hid in the tall green grass and watched the wild cattle from her hiding-place.

She saw mammoths eating the tender grass.

There were smaller animals not far away.

A lion was creeping up through the grass.

Sharptooth saw him pounce upon the beasts.

The frightened creatures ran for their lives.

Sharptooth wished that she had not ventured so far.

She watched for a chance to get away.

As soon as she dared she crept to the trees.

Then she hurried back to the wooded hills.

She never forgot what she saw that day.

see caption

A lion.


This post is 34/56 in a self-directed challenge to write (or at least post) something (SOMETHING) every day – a birthday gift to me from me, because writing gives me a place to put the clutter that lives in my head.

3 thoughts on “Something for bedtime.

  1. Something about this very tiny (if you consider your words) or very long (with the excerpt) post feels absolutely, heart-breakingly true. Like in the dearth of words you were able to share you captured motherhood, the drive to keep your promises, the needs of these people we’ve created, the importance of doing a tiny bit of one (the drive) and as much as we can of the other (satisfy the need of the ones we’ve created.) I Hope the movie was a comfort.

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