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THE CHIPMUNK

    Once a chipmunk looked down when it should have looked up. 
    The chipmunk had paused on a giant stump to count the nuts, seeds, berries, and buds it held in the bulging pouches of its two cheeks. All that remained of an ancient fir, the stump measured many feet across and must have once seemed the base for a pillar of heaven. Ages before the chipmunk was born, the massive tree must have already been here, already spreading its long branches in the salt air of the coast.
    In the chipmunk’s view, one stump was very much like another. More important was keeping the contents of the two pouches in its cheeks straight.  When the chipmunk got back to its burrow, it would have to be sure that nuts were put with nuts, seeds with seeds, berries with berries, and buds with buds. If berries got mixed up with seeds or buds with nuts, there could be no end of difficulties. Keep your mind on the little things, the chipmunk was convinced, and the rest will take care of itself.  
    High above, gossamer clouds glowed in the deepening blue of the afternoon. Shadows would soon climb through the trees and twilight reach down to offer them its own riches in return. Then, as the forest embraced the sky in a blackness as magical as it was deep, meteors might be seen crossing the face of the moon while constellations wheeled around Polaris. And beyond these, supernovas might glitter like jewels in a net cast out to the limits of wonder.
    But the chipmunk had other matters on its mind. “I’d better head for my burrow with these nuts, seeds, berries, and buds before it gets any darker,” it was thinking. “Safe and snug, I’ll have the whole night to put every little thing in its place.”