Bernie

Bernie was a funny bunny, but Bernie didn’t think so. He took himself very seriously.

Bernie lived in a town at the bottom of a big rocky mountain, and most of the other bunnies liked Bernie a lot, even if they did laugh at him once in a while. And the birds liked Bernie too, even though he had once tried to keep them out of the bunnies’ garden.

The garden was the center of the bunny town, and Bernie’s bunny hole wasn’t far from it. Mayor Michael’s hole was right next to the garden, and he was the leader of the bunnies. Everybody went to him when they had problems.

The garden had plenty of yummy plants in it, and the bunnies hardly ever ran low on food, but Bernie was bothered that the birds were always stopping by and eating out of the garden that the bunnies worked so hard on. Bernie decided that he would stretch a canopy of prickly greenbrier plants over the garden to keep the birds out.

Well, Bernie’s plan turned out to be a disaster. The birds flew right through the canopy of prickles and didn’t even notice what Bernie had done. But Mayor Michael noticed. When he came out of his hole, he screamed, “Bernie Bunny! What are you trying to do, starve all the bunnies? Get all those stickers and thorns out of this bunny town!” But the Mayor wasn’t really mad. Pretty soon he started laughing, and the other bunnies who’d come when they heard him yelling laughed too. They liked Bernie, but he was a little funny sometimes.

Bernie didn’t think it was very funny. “I’m an important bunny,” Bernie said to himself, “and I should be doing important things.”

One day Bernie saw something that made him freeze in terror. It looked like the shadow of a mountain lion passing by. Bernie turned and looked, but didn’t see the mountain lion. In fact, none of the bunnies had ever seen one, and they didn’t believe it when Bernie tried to warn them. Some of the bunnies even laughed at Bernie, and that just made him furious.

Bernie decided he was going to protect the world from mountain lions, and he came up with a plan to do it. First, he moved out of town and into a rocky hole part way up the rocky mountain. Then he started pushing some of the rocks and stones around in a very curious way.

Bernie’s plan was to line up the rocks on the mountain so that when a mountain lion came by Bernie would just have to move one little stone and a great avalanche of boulders would come toppling down on top of the mountain lion.

There was no garden near Bernie’s new rocky home, but he convinced some of the birds to bring him food by scaring them about the mountain lion. “I’m protecting us all from mountain lions,” Bernie said. “Mountain lions like to eat birds even more than they like to eat bunnies.”

There were no other bunny friends near Bernie’s new hole, but they could come visit him if they hopped along just the right path. Bernie had to show them exactly how to go. It was like a maze. And it was dangerous. If you put your feet on the wrong rock, a whole pile of rocks could go sliding down the mountain.

When Aunt Agatha, a very elderly bunny, tried to visit Bernie, she hurt her ankle. And when Peter and Bugsy, a couple of very old fashioned bunnies, made the trip up to Bernie’s house, they accidentally knocked a few rocks down that smashed through the bunnies’ garden and damaged an old oak tree that stood right over one of the bunny holes.

Mayor Michael came up to have a talk with Bernie. “Why are you living up here pushing rocks around all day?” he asked. “It’s dangerous, and a lot of the bunnies are starting to say they don’t like you anymore.”

“I’m protecting everyone from the mountain lions,” Bernie said.

“What mountain lions?” asked the Mayor. “We haven’t seen any mountain lions. I am going to forbid the other bunnies to come up here and visit you, and I would like you to move back to town.”

But Bernie insisted on staying up among the rocks. He knew there were mountain lions, and he wasn’t going to let a mountain lion eat him or any other bunny, even if the Mayor was too foolish to recognize the danger.

Bernie lived by himself for a long time, and it got a little lonely with only the birds to talk to. But he worked hard on his stones, positioning them just right so that he would be ready when a mountain lion came.

Bernie was sitting still one morning when he saw something very large move out from behind a boulder. He knew it was a mountain lion, but he was too terrified to move. He froze, but his thoughts were racing. “I only need to hop over to that one little rock, kick it aside, and that mountain lion will be crushed,” Bernie thought. But he didn’t move. Quickly he thought some more. “Won’t I be crushed, too?” he thought. “And won’t the whole bunny town down below be destroyed by giant rocks?”

Bernie moved quickly, hopping at lightning speed, but he didn’t go toward that one little rock. He went into his hole and hid. “Mountain lions can’t fit in bunny holes,” he thought. “Maybe that’s why we live in holes in the first place. And if lots of bunnies live together, they can all watch for mountain lions and give the signal to hide in the holes.”

The next morning Bernie started carefully undoing his pile of rocks that had been meant for crushing mountain lions. The next week Bernie moved back to town, and all of the other bunnies were delighted to see him. They all had a good laugh together.

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