The Doctor Visit
Meanwhile, Morris had arisen early. He didn’t feel like eating much but
had a little porridge with milk because Bartholomew had remarked that he
looked pale. After breakfast he got dressed and began the walk to Dr.
As Grenby had predicted, it was cool, pleasant day. Crocuses were
scattered on both sides of the path. Their delicate white flowers soaked
in the morning sun. The trees and bushes were still at rest but juices
were flowing through their branches and twigs in preparation for a fine
blooming spring. The pond’s clear, blue water reflected the sky. A
gentle breeze moved through the pines. Small groups of sparrows
chattered and played in the treetops. Yes, it was a fine day for a walk.
Unfortunately, Morris noticed none of this.
He was preoccupied with the doctor visit. He had always avoided going to
see Dr. Bridget. The main reason he was going today was because
Bartholomew had asked him to, and he didn’t want to disappoint his old
friend. It took about twenty minutes to get there, and he was tired when
he arrived. He was also worried about what she might say.
Dr. Brigit Badger took care of the animal residents in Ballymore. She
was an herbal specialist and kept a large garden of medicinal plants.
Her patients always said she was very understanding and kind. They
thought very highly of her. Besides Bartholomew, she was the only other
animal in Ballymore who could read and write.
Her cottage was typical for the community. It had stone walls and a
chimney, heavy wooden doors and windows, and a thatched roof. Inside
were a parlour, kitchen, and bedroom. Because the cottage also served as
her medical office, it had two additional rooms. There was an examining
room and a room in which a patient could stay overnight if needed. That
room was rarely used. Animals who didn’t feel well would much rather
stay in their own homes. The animals felt the same as people about that.
Dr. Brigit greeted Morris at the door. Morris didn’t know her well, and
he felt a bit uncomfortable. Besides, she was a doctor.
He told her that his energy level had been down for about a month and
that Bartholomew had suggested he pay her a visit. Dr. Brigit kindly
invited him into her office. She closed the door, and they sat down. She
was middle-aged and slim for a badger. Dr. Brigit didn’t look like a
doctor because she wasn’t wearing the long white coat that people
doctors like to wear. Instead, she had on a pair of bluejeans and a
green shirt. She probably had been working in her garden.
She sensed Morris was nervous and tried to put him at ease by asking him
questions about his furniture making. He was happy to talk about that
for a while and began to feel more comfortable.
“Now, let’s see how I can help you,” she said and began by asking him a
bunch of questions such as:
How are you sleeping?
Does anything hurt?
Have you been losing any fur recently?
Has your taste for food changed?
How is your eyesight?
He answered “Ok”, “No”, “No”, “No”, and “Ok” to the questions. He
repeated that he just felt tired all of the time.
Then, she did a brief physical exam. She looked in his eyes and ears.
She looked in his mouth. She listened to his heart. She looked at his
claws. She tapped on his tummy.
After all the looking, listening, and tapping, she said, “Morris, I
believe your metabolism is slowing down as you are getting older. This
means that you would have less energy. I also suspect that you are not
getting the proper exercise or nutrition for a muskrat your age. Come,
let’s take a walk out to my greenhouse.”
Since it was early March, only a few plants were growing in the garden
behind the cottage. He noticed some fresh rows of dirt, indicating that
planting season had begun. They walked to the back of the garden where a
medium-sized greenhouse was full of green and brown and yellow plants of
many shapes and sizes.
In the greenhouse, she approached a group of tall green plants with
“All of the plants in here are my babies. I give them water, light,
minerals, and love. With each day they miraculously grow into these
beautiful plants and provide their wonderful gifts to us. The leaves
from this plant will increase your metabolism. You should regain your
energy, but it could take a couple of months before you notice an
She picked several leaves from the plants and tore them into small
pieces. After putting the pieces in an envelope, she gave it to Morris.
“Now, soak one piece of leaf in a cup of hot tea every evening. Make
sure you eat fruits and vegetables everyday. Porridge is also very good.
Try to walk for half an hour each day if you can. I’m sure you’ll begin
to feel better within a couple of months, but I would still like to see
you again then.”
She paused. “Do you have any questions, or can I offer you a cup of tea
now?” she asked.
“No, thank you. I must be getting home,” he answered. “Thank you very
much for your help and advice. I’ll do my best to follow it.”
“You’re welcome,” said Dr. Brigit kindly.
She took his paw in hers. “I hope that you feel better, and I believe
you will. Sometimes I feel poorly also, but I can’t avoid seeing a
doctor as easily as you can. Each morning I have to look in the mirror.”
“Remember that I can help and that I want to help. Please don’t hesitate
“Yes, Dr. Brigit. Thank you, again,” he said.
The doctor’s visit had gone very well, he thought, but it would be best
to leave now. That way, nothing bad had a chance of happening. He
thought she was a nice doctor and was glad he had come. More than
likely, he would return in two months as she had asked. As he walked
home, he noticed how beautiful the pond looked. Little had changed but
his perspective, and that made all the difference. He was feeling better
As Morris was walking home, Bartholomew flew back across the pond to the
muskrat’s cottage and landed on his weatherbeaten dock. Morris wasn’t
there. He correctly assumed that he was still visiting the doctor.
He looked out over the pond and noticed that the wind had shifted to the
south and was becoming stronger. He also saw that some clouds were
beginning to build in the western sky. Obviously, some unpleasantness
was coming. The weather changes frequently in Ballymore, and it was
March. A strong storm would not be unusual.
Bartholomew was used to flying in wind and rain, although, he much
preferred to observe them from the warmth of his cottage. Stormy weather
created the perfect time to settle into his favorite chair by the fire
with a good book. Currently, he was reading a book on sailing ships and
found them fascinating. This evening he would continue with it. Just
then, Morris came ambling through the trees and interrupted his sailing
thoughts. Bartholomew noticed that Morris had a little spring in his
step. The owl was pleased and amused at the same time.
“Good morning. How was your appointment?”
“Hello, Bart. Despite my worries, the visit went very well. Dr. Brigit
said she thinks I have a low metabolism and gave me some herbs for it.
She said it might take about two months to notice improvement. She’s a
nice doctor. I like her.”
“Now that’s news I like to hear. I’m happy for you,” responded
Bartholomew. “Yes, I agree, Dr. Brigit is very nice.”
“Thank you. I feel better already.”
Morris laughed and then looked over at the western sky. He also noticed
“It looks like a storm coming.”
“Yes, Grenby’s forecast for tomorrow is black-black. It could last one
or two days,” said Bartholomew. “We will see.”
“I was thinking about another issue I would like to discuss with you,”
he continued. “You are an excellent furniture maker and have a lot of
valuable knowledge. I’m sure there is someone in Ballymore who would
love to learn furniture making from you. Have you ever considered taking
on an apprentice?”
“Yes, I have, but I’ve been too busy to follow up on it. Now, kite
season is here, and there will be even more work,” said Morris.
“Everybody loves to play with a kite.”
“Yes, and the kite contest will also be here soon. However, kites are a
lot easier to build than most furniture. This would be a perfect time to
bring on an apprentice,” suggested Bartholomew.
“Yes, it would. I sure could use the help,” answered Morris. “But I
don’t know anyone who might be interested.”
“Let me ask around.”
“Would you? Thank you very much. I appreciate that,” said Morris.
Morris was very happy that Bartholomew would look for an apprentice for
him. He was shy and uncomfortable about asking himself.
Suddenly, Branna Bluebird landed between them on the dock. The Bluebird
family provided the main communication system in Ballymore. They
delivered verbal messages during the day as long as the weather was
acceptable for flying.
When she was working, Branna maintained a very formal attitude. Before
speaking, she smoothed her feathers and stood straight up. She was very
professional. Some might say that she took her responsibilities and
herself too seriously. In any event, she did an excellent job as did the
She began, “I have a public message for Bartholomew Owl from Grenby
Groundhog. The weather forecast for tomorrow remains the same. Rain is
likely to begin sometime in the morning. End of message. Does
Bartholomew Owl wish to respond?”
“Thank you, Branna. There will be no response,” answered Bartholomew.
“Now that you have completed your message delivery, how are you and the
“We are all fine. Thank you. I’m sorry, Bartholomew, but I can’t stay
and chat because I have another message to deliver.”
“All right, then. Take care,” said Bartholomew smiling.
“Goodbye, Branna,” said Morris.
She left immediately and was soon out of sight.
“I also need to be leaving,” said Bartholomew. “I wish you a good day
and night, and don’t forget to drink your tea.”
“Take care and thank you again,” said Morris laughing.
It was quite considerate and somewhat surprising that Grenby sent a
weather update to Bartholomew. Grenby was really a good fellow if you
got to know him. Unfortunately, few knew him well because he kept to
Bartholomew had an idea that someone in the Beaver family might be
interested in an apprenticeship under Morris. He flew to the beavers’
home, which was just southeast of Morris’s place.
The Beaver family included Burton and Beatrice and their children Birch,
Belva, and Birk. They had a nice stone cottage, which was very well
kept. They were very industrious and had built the stone and wooden
parts of many of the cottages in Ballymore. Their own cottage was of the
standard design except that it had a second entrance, underwater from
the pond. That entrance was probably used more than the above ground
The beavers were all at home and received him cordially. They invited
him to sit at their dining table, and soon a pot of hot tea was set down
Bartholomew spoke to Burton, “I came to let you know that Morris Muskrat
is seeking an apprentice to learn furniture building. Because your
family works with wood, I thought I would mention the opportunity to you
Without hesitation, Birk, the youngest of the three children, jumped up
and pleaded, “Can I, Papa? I would love to learn furniture building, and
it would go well with the work we already do. Can I, Papa?”
Burton Beaver was a cautious animal, and not surprisingly, he responded,
“The opportunity does sound interesting, but let’s talk it over as a
“Thank you for letting us know about this, Bart, and we’ll make a
decision soon,” he continued.
Bartholomew said, “If you decide to apply for the position. Please go
and talk with Morris. I know he would like to choose someone soon.”
Bartholomew was pleased that Birk was interested in the apprenticeship.
Birk was a conscientious young beaver, and he had always liked him. He
stayed a bit longer to talk and finish his tea. Then, he said goodbye
and began the flight home.
The sky had turned grey with ominous clouds, and the wind was stronger
now. Trees began to sway and whitecaps formed on the pond. Luckily, the
wind was mostly at his back, so he had no difficulty flying.
When he got home, he was a little tired and thought a warm lunch was in
order. Then, perhaps some reading or a nap would be nice. In the past
when a storm was coming, he usually needed to put in extra time making
sure everyone was prepared and safe. He thought that he had better rest
now, while he had the opportunity. After lunch he retired to his
comfortable rocking chair. Gazing into the flames from the fireplace, he
found himself reflecting on the past.
He was born in Ballymore over twenty years ago. His parents had passed
away several years ago. He never married. That was, probably, because he
had come in contact with so few owls in his lifetime. Now, he felt he
was too set in his ways to be married. Maybe! Maybe not!
Bartholomew was more of an introvert than an extrovert, but he did enjoy
helping the residents. His extensive library ensured he could find
solutions to many kinds of problems if he didn’t already know the
answer. This life suited him well. As a result of his counseling, he was
much respected and had many friends. His best friends were Dr. Brigit,
Stoddard & Sean Swan, and Morris.
He knew he was getting older and would need to find an apprentice
eventually but not yet. Everything in its own time. No need to rush. No
need to rush.
Bartholomew spent most of the afternoon reading and eventually nodded
off to sleep.