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More Herman Chronicles
By Carole Hinkelman, Nan Rebik, Catherine E. Cashman
Trafford PublishingCopyright © 2014 Carole Hinkelman and Nan Rebik
All rights reserved.
HERMAN GOES JEEPING
Summer had arrived in the mountains. Herman and his family were enjoying life in their home in the woodpile next to the cook shack. One day, Herman, his grandfather George and son Harry went out exploring. They sneaked into the shed where the jeep from the cabin was stored. Climbing around, they discovered that the seats were stuffed with wonderful, soft filling.
The three mice filled their mouths with the soft filling and headed back to the woodpile "This stuff is wonderful!" Hester exclaimed. "Please go and get some more and I will put it in each of our beds."
They had made several trips to the jeep and the hole in the seat was getting bigger and bigger. Just as they came back for even more, the shed door opened and a man came in and started the jeep. The mice hid inside the passenger seat, hoping for the best. The man drove the jeep to the cabin where he picked up his friend.
"It's a really nice day," he said, "let's go jeeping."
The jeep headed up the trail into the canyon. The trail wound through the rocky canyon and up a steep hill. They drove past junk people had left beside the trail. At one point there was an old bed spring and at another there was an abandoned refrigerator lying on its side with the door open. Up and up the trail went until they reached the top of the mountain.
"Look," the man said to his friend, "we are going to get a storm soon. Let's head back."
The mice were listening in the back of the jeep. They had decided the best thing for them to do was to leave the jeep and try to make their way home by themselves.
"Doesn't look good," said George, "we really have to figure out a way to get ourselves back home. Wow, were they high up in the mountains.
"Look," squeaked Harry, "there's a storm coming. We better do something fast otherwise we are going to get caught in it
"Let's get going then," George answered and the mice began their way down the mountain at a steady trot. They were in the mountains where flash floods were common. Only an inch of rain would produce a roaring torrent of water that could sweep them away.
As they scurried down the trail, rain drops began to fall, softly at first and then harder and harder. The abandoned refrigerator was just ahead and the three wet mice scrambled inside for shelter. A small lizard was also hiding in the refrigerator. They eyed each other suspiciously. Water began flowing down the canyon trail. It was filling up the bottom of the refrigerator. The mice and the lizard climbed the wire racks to stay ahead of the flood and to keep dry. Higher and higher they climbed with the water steadily rising behind them.
Herman scrambled into the freezer compartment and called to George and Harry. "I think we are saved! Get up here quick." The mice clambered into the freezer compartment followed closely by the lizard.
Inside, Herman had found two plastic ice cube trays. "We can slide these ice cube trays into the water as it comes to the edge of the shelf and ride the trays like rafts on top of the water."
"It's an idea," George agreed.
"I hope it works," chimed in Harry.
"Me too," said the lizard.
The four of them positioned themselves for take off. The water continued to rise. Soon the water was washing across the edge of the shelf. Harry and the lizard climbed into their ice cube tray and Herman and George pushed them off into the torrent. Quickly, they were gone, splashing and spinning in the rough water. George and Herman climbed into their tray just as the raging flash flood lifted it off the shelf. Away they went. They had no paddles and could not steer. The tray spun in circles and rode the waves up and down. It was the most amazing ride.
Finally, their wild ride was stopped by crashing into a huge boulder, smashing the ice cube tray.
"Where's Harry?" yelled Herman above the roar of the cascading water.
"I don't know," answered George in obvious dismay. "His tray went flying off in a different direction and he's with that lizard." With that, another wave of water rushed over them. Herman and George caught onto a weed growing on the top of the boulder and held on for dear life.
Harry and the lizard were still afloat in the rushing water. Their tray rode a clear path down the side of the mountain, finally landing in a flat spot. The tray had cracked in many spots and it looked as if it were about to fall apart so they jumped out and ran for shelter from the still cascading water.
"Over here," squeaked Harry to the lizard. "There's a flat rock sticking out on the side of the mountain that we can sit on. The water will bypass it and we'll be safe until the storm is over." Both had been frightened by the flood but now had reason to be scared of each other.
Herman and George spotted a tree branch floating in the rushing water. They both jumped onto the branch and held on for dear life. It did not float evenly and both mice were getting dunked and tossed as they used all their strength to keep from falling off.
"I can't hold on much longer," sputtered George as they rounded a corner and were thrown to the top of a pile of branches that had become stuck behind a large flat rock. Slowly and carefully, George and Herman made their way through the branches and up the dry side of the rock. They were exhausted as they pulled themselves up the last few inches. Finally, their noses cleared the edge and there were Harry and the lizard facing off and staring at each other.
"Dad," shouted Harry as he ran to help him onto the top of the rock. He then pulled George up as well.
"The rain is stopping," noted the lizard.
"Yes it is," responded George as he shook himself trying to dry out a little.
"In a little while, there will be no trace of this horrible flash flood except for a couple puddles and stacks of debris," said Herman.
Harry and the lizard were staring at each other again. "Shouldn't I be planning to eat you?" asked the lizard., "Aren't we supposed to be natural enemies?"
"Maybe," answered Harry, "but I did save your life and there is nothing to say we can't declare a truce is there?" They wound their tails together to seal the friendship.
"How far do you think we are from our home in the woodpile?" asked Herman.
"Not far at all," answered George. "Look, over there on the hill, I can see the cabin and the jeep."
Over in the woodpile, Hester and the twins were sitting around the matchbox table, worried about what might have happened to Herman, Harry and George. They had seen the jeep drive up and had expected to see the three mice jump out, heading for cover in the woodpile. Hester knew she had to stay calm for the sake of Minnie and Winnie, but what would happen to them if something had happened to Herman, Harry and George? To keep busy, they continued to stuff the beds with the soft filling, hoping and praying for their safe return.
Outside by the jeep, the two men were busy examining the hole in the upholstery. The owner of the jeep was really angry, saying "Drat those mice! I am going to get an exterminator to come out here and get rid of them, once and for all."
As the three mice and the lizard trudged by the cabin, they heard the threat but they were too tired to discuss it. A mile of rocky terrain is hard work for little creatures.
Finally, Minnie and Winnie who had been posted as lookouts, saw the bedraggled group coming up the path from the cabin.
"They're home!" they squeaked in unison. "Mom, they're home."
Hester scurried out from the woodpile just as Herman, George, Harry and the lizard came around the corner. Although they did not know the lizard, everyone hugged everyone, glad to be safely home. All of them, including the lizard sat on the woodpile and talked about their adventure. Lizzy the lizard was introduced to Hester, Minnie and Winnie. George, the oldest and wisest, told the family they must be very careful because the man from the cabin was thinking about getting an exterminator. They needed to watch for poisons and traps.
Herman and his family showed Lizzy around the woodpile and Lizzy picked out a nice place to make his home, close to the cook shack so he could run up the wall and catch flies whenever he wanted.
Tired but happy to all be together again as a family, the mice went to sleep in their very soft beds and dreamed about ice cube tray rafting and other adventures.
The End.... for nowCHAPTER 2
Lizzy the lizard had been moping around the woodpile for several days.
"What's the matter?" asked Herman.
"I'm homesick," sobbed Lizzy. "It was exciting riding down the canyon in the flash flood but I miss my family and it's too far to walk back up the canyon to get home."
I'm sure we can find a way," Herman answered. "Come with me to my place in the woodpile and we'll see if Hester or George have any ideas."
Lizzy perked up a bit, "They say that two heads are better than one," he said, "so if we add up everyone in your family, plus me, that will be seven heads all thinking at once. Surely we can come up with a plan."
They ran to the woodpile by the cook shack. There was Hester, cooking dinner, and the twins Minnie and Winnie busy setting the table. George and Harry were carefully studying the words on a flyer Harry had found. Lizzy explained his problem and George said, "I think I have the answer right here." He pointed to the flyer they had been reading. There in big print it said "Thanksgiving Horseback Campout". There were directions to get to the donkey farm where everyone would meet and then they would leave late on Wednesday afternoon and travel up the canyon to the lookout point where they would camp for the long weekend.
The following morning, everybody woke up early to prepare for the trek up the mountains to Lizzy's home. Lizzy was really excited. "I can't wait to see my family and introduce them to yours. My mom is a great cook and I know she's going to want you all to stay for dinner. She makes a yummy stink bug casserole for special occasions and I know she's going to cook one for Thanksgiving. I can hardly wait to get home!"
Soon, everybody was ready to depart. Carefully, they scooted from bush to bush, always keeping a lookout for hawks or other birds of prey. Finally, they arrived at the donkey farm. Two of the donkeys had already been loaded. They had pack harnesses with saddlebags on each side and packs on top with blankets and cooking gear. People were bustling around getting horses unloaded from their trailers. The Thanksgiving campout was an annual event and everyone was busy catching up on what their friends had been doing for the past year.
Lizzy and Herman and his family hid under the chicken house where they could see without being seen.
"We need a plan," Lizzy whispered.
"Each donkey has two saddle bags," commented Hester, "I think I could get into one with the twins, George and Harry could get into another, and maybe Herman and Lizzy could each get into a separate bag. That way, we will be separated but still pretty close together in case of trouble."
"Good idea," Herman said, "How do you think we can get into the bags without being caught?"
"Look," Lizzy said pointing with his nose, "The donkeys are tied to a hitching rail. We can climb up the rail and then run up the ropes to their halters and through their manes to the tops of the saddle bags."
"I'll go first then," said Hester bravely, "and you twins come right after me." She climbed up the hitching rail and scampered along the rope to the halter of the first donkey. The donkey's eyes got very big and his ears began to flop back and forth but none of the people noticed.
"Hurry," Hester squeaked and the twins quickly followed her. They got under the flap of the saddlebag and worked their way right down to the bottom.
"Harry," Herman squeaked, "you go next." Harry ran to the next donkey and got himself safely into a saddle bag.
"This is working quite well," Lizzy said, "You next George."
Grandpa George started for the same donkey that Hester and the twins had climbed onto but, as he reached the halter, the donkey shook its head and George flew off and back onto the ground.
Herman and Lizzy ran for George. "Dad, are you OK?" asked Herman.
"I'm fine," answered George, "just a little bruised."
"Hurry," Lizzy called "or we'll be caught."
Herman quickly ran up one end of the hitching rail and George ran up the other. They made their way to different donkeys and, finally, into the saddle bags.
Lizzy sauntered slowly across the rail. That's what lizards normally do. They saunter and stop and look around and then move again. Fortunately, no one was paying any attention and soon, he too had found his way into a saddle bag.
"Head 'em up and move 'em out," shouted the leader of the group as he mounted his horse and headed for the gate. The lady from the donkey farm got on Jeremy, the Irish Cart Horse. One of the other riders handed her the lead ropes for the donkeys and she too, fell into line. Single file, the horses and riders carefully started the trek up the canyon, unaware of the travelers in the saddle bags.
As the caravan was climbing. Lizzy began to recognize landmarks that let him know he was approaching home. The caravan stopped to set up its campsite. Lizzy climbed out of the saddlebag and gave the OK to Herman and his family. The mice quickly scampered out and followed Lizzy who easily recognized the path to his home.
He found his mother and father sunning themselves on a rock and let out a squeal of delight when he saw them. At the sound, his father, Dizzy turned. "Lizzy, my son," he called out, "where have you been? We thought you drowned in the flood." His parents jumped up, slithering around him lizard style and hugging him with love.
Herman and his family had followed Lizzy and saw the tender reunion. Lizzy's mom, Millie, looked up and saw the mouse family. "Who are they, Lizzy?" she asked.
"Mom," answered Lizzy, "these are my friends Herman, Hester, Minnie, Winnie, Harry and George. When the flood came, we were all hiding from the rain in an old refrigerator and ended up escaping by floating down the canyon in ice cube trays. They have welcomed me into their family and I have lived all these months in the woodpile near their home."
"How did you get back?" asked Dizzy.
"We came with the horse caravan," answered Lizzy, "The whole mouse family helped with the plan and so, here we are."
"We're so glad to have you home again," Millie said with tears in her eyes."
"Are we having the usual Thanksgiving dinner?" asked Lizzy, "I told my friends that you made stink bug casserole every year and I have invited them to stay and eat with us. I hope that's OK."
"Of course," Millie said, "this will be the most wonderful Thanksgiving ever,"
"Is there somewhere we could stay for the night?" asked Hester.
Minnie led her to a small dry cave where two boulders had rested together. "Will this be OK?" She asked.
"It's perfect," answered Hester. She and the twins began to bustle around gathering leaves and grasses to make little beds for everyone.
Meanwhile, the guys had gathered on the top of a sunny, flat rock to enjoy the warmth and to talk. Lizzy went on and on about the exciting trip in the flash flood. Lizzy's brother and sister Spot and Scales, had joined them, listening intently to every word.
Millie shared with Hester her recipe for stink bug casserole. Hester thought it sounded good but frankly, it wasn't exactly mouse cuisine. She shared her thoughts with Millie who smiled and said, "I can arrange some tidbits that will be more to your family's taste. For now, let's get started on setting the table." Hester and Millie, accompanied by Minnie, Winnie, and Scales began to arrange the table. The guys sat outside waiting for the dinner call talking about the flood and how frightening an experience it had been.
Soon Millie called that the food was ready and the unlikely group of friends started inside for Thanksgiving dinner. Since George was a guest and the oldest one there, he was invited to say Grace. "Harumph," he started out, "Today is truly a day of Thanksgiving for all of us. We have survived a terrible catastrophe and have given each other a helping hand when needed. Along the way, we have made new friends and we are grateful to share this bountiful dinner together."
Excerpted from More Herman Chronicles by Carole Hinkelman, Nan Rebik, Catherine E. Cashman. Copyright © 2014 Carole Hinkelman and Nan Rebik. Excerpted by permission of Trafford Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I own the paperback copy, which is not yet available for review. As a mother and library student, I applaud the return of Herman and family. The stories are well-written and humorous, with a keen eye for family dynamics. The stories of the extended mouse family deal with real-life concerns human families, such as caring for injured familly members, moving house, making friends feel welcome, and sharing special meals. SoCal author Nan Rebik also touches on local concerns such as earthquakes and wildfires. I really enjoyed these high desert tales, particularly those with the Donkey Lady. I'm eagerly awaiting the next installation!