A Cottage For Sam
The building of Sam Snapping Turtle’s cottage commenced the day after
the butterfly picnic. The weather was cool, and there was more than a
hint of autumn in the air. An early morning mist was on the pond. That
was a sure sign of the changing seasons. Burton Beaver sniffed the fresh
air as he left his cottage to go and meet with Sam. He loved fall. It
was so refreshing. It was refreshing as long as you weren’t trapped in
the woods by fog, that is. The beaver entered the water and swam down
the cove to where Sam lived.
Sam was waiting for him at the farthest end. Devon Duck and Sedgewick
Squirrel would be joining them, also.
“Good morning. How are you?” said Burton.
“Good morning. I’m fine, thank you.”
“It’s a beautiful day to begin building a cottage,” said Burton. “Have
you thought about the style you would like?”
“A little. I only need a small cottage, and the only special feature I
can think of is an underwater entrance.”
“Ah, similar to our cottage but smaller,” said Burton.
“Yes, that would be great. Thank you.”
“Then, we will start immediately. The first step is to assemble the
building materials. The squirrels will gather pine needles, straw, and
reeds for the roof. My family will find wood from fallen trees. Perhaps
you can help the ducks with the stones,” explained Burton.
“Yes. How can I help?”
“A short distance down the creek, a lot of stones have accumulated near
the bank,” said Burton. “We use the raft and take what we need for
cottages or other projects. Of course, the ducks pull the raft. Your
extra strength would be a great help, especially if the current is
“I’m ready whenever you need me,” answered Sam. “I very much want to
help build my cottage.”
As they were talking, Devon and Sedgewick arrived. Burton told them
about the style and size of the cottage that was to be built. It was
pretty routine except for the underwater entrance.
Devon said, “We can be here tomorrow morning at 8 bongs with the raft to
get the stones. It will probably take most of the day to bring them
here. Sam, your help will be important since the creek is running
“I’ll be ready,” said Sam.
The meeting ended with everyone agreeing that the material gathering
should start immediately.
The next morning, the ducks brought the raft. They had modified one of
their harnesses for Sam, and he was eager to try it. It took a couple of
minutes for him to hook up, and some adjustment was needed. It seemed
his beak was even larger than the ducks had guessed. The ducks and
Burton boarded the raft, and Sam easily pulled it into the pond. That
was a rare treat for the ducks as normally they were the chauffeurs.
It was time to head down the creek. No pulling would be needed, but
there would be a lot of steering required. Sam remained harnessed in
front, but all five ducks hooked up to the back of the raft. Sam pulled
it towards the creek. As they approached, the raft was caught by the
current and began to speed up. The ducks had to paddle backward and Sam
backed up against the front of the raft. They had it under control but
just barely. The raft careened downstream as the water swirled around.
When they reached the location of the stones, Devon yelled, “We’re going
to have to beach it on the left shore now!” The ducks steered the raft
in that direction as best they could. Sam dove under the water to avoid
being squashed between the rocks and raft. With a loud splash, it
crashed onto the rocky shoreline. Nothing and no one was damaged or
Devon said, “Well, it wasn’t an elegant landing, but we made it.”
Now, they had to refloat the raft. That required a lot of pushing and
pulling and yanking and tugging. Finally, they got it back in the water
and anchored. Then, they began the loading process. Burton knew what was
needed and selected the best stones. As the raft took on the stones, it
lowered in the water. Eventually, Burton decided that they had enough
stones for that trip. Everyone hooked up to their harness, and they
slowly headed up stream. It only took five minutes to rush downstream
but over an hour to return. It would not have been possible without Sam.
The first load was finally delivered to the building site. It would take
two more trips to get the needed stones. By evening they were finally
done. It had been a tiring but successful day. Morris Muskrat stopped by
around 7 bongs and kindly invited them to dinner.
After dinner everyone returned to their homes for a well-earned sleep.
Sam lay down in the nest he had created and looked at the piles of
stones, wood, and straw. Soon, the piles would be transformed into a
cottage. It was something he was having a hard time believing. After all
of these years, it seemed like magic. He was learning an age-old lesson.
When you help others, you frequently get back more than you give.
Material gathering was the most difficult part of the construction.
Next, the foundation and underwater entrance were dug. Then,
construction proceeded rapidly. By the second week in October, the
cottage was finished. Bartholomew arranged a dedication ceremony and
sent out invitations to everyone.
On 14 October most of Ballymore gathered at the end of the cove, in
front of Sam’s beautiful new home. Morris Muskrat and Birk Beaver had
made and delivered furniture. Everything was cleaned and polished. The
front door and the woodwork had a rich mahogany like glow. It was very
homey. Sam could have slept in the cottage the night before but decided
to wait until the dedication.
Bartholomew stood before the group and began.
“Welcome, everybody. The main purpose of this get together is to
formally welcome Sam Snapping Turtle to the Ballymore community. Sam,
would you please come up.”
Sam had been standing in the back. He came forward and stood beside
Bartholomew. Everyone applauded, and he was a little embarrassed by the
“As you know, Sam made his presence known to us in a most dramatic way.
He saved Craig and Colin Chipmunk from drowning just last month.”
Everyone applauded again and Sam smiled.
“Today, we dedicate his new cottage, which was just completed yesterday.
We want to thank the many animals who made this possible. Sam, we have
one more surprise for you. Will the frogs please come forward.”
Farley, Fionna, and Faith came to the front. They carried three
cloth-covered paintings and three tripods. The tripods were set in a
neat row near Sam, and a painting was placed on each one.
“This past June, at the Midsummer’s Eve festival, the frogs did the
initial sketches for these three paintings. We didn’t know Sam then, but
he was there, also. Sam, as a token of our appreciation, we would like
to present these paintings to you for your new home. Would you please do
the honour of unveiling them.”
Sam was overcome by all of this. He wiped his eyes, walked to the
painting on the left and pulled off the cloth. It was a painting of the
stern of the HMS Ballymore, the dock, and a number of the residents.
He next unveiled the centre painting. It pictured the centre section of
the boat with its beautiful, black hull and large, dark red sails. Above
the boat were the bumblebees in formation. On the dock were many more
residents. The details and colours were amazing.
The final painting was of the bow of the boat. In front were the
remaining residents who had attended the commissioning ceremony.
Standing on the very right was Sam. The frogs had painted him in even
though he was not there on the dock.
When Sam saw himself in the picture, he broke down completely. He sobbed
and shook and sobbed some more. Bartholomew walked over to him and put
his wing around him. Everyone clapped and cheered. Bartholomew finally
put his wings up and asked for quiet.
Sam turned around and faced them. Fionna gave him a handkerchief. He
wiped his eyes and looked at the group again.
He spoke softly and slowly. “I came to Ballymore hoping to make some new
friends and find a nice place to live. You have overwhelmed me with your
kindnesses. I thank you so very much. I love you all.”
Everyone cheered again.
“I will never forget this day.”
He looked over at himself in the painting and almost sobbed again.
Everyone surrounded him to wish him well.
After a short while Bartholomew rescued Sam.
“Thank you everyone. You are all invited inside for some tea and
cookies. Please be patient and take turns.”
Everyone was very impressed by the cottage and the cookies made by
So Sam got his new cottage and three memorable paintings. I’m sure you
will agree that he received even more than that from his new friends.