It was a beautiful autumn day. Banana was, as always, crouched under the bird feeders. Today, she was waiting for those really ravenous, radically red cardinals. Cheese had been tracking the sunbeam all morning, and he was now sunbathing in it. He was being nice and sharing it with Joey, who was visiting for a while. Some things are hard to share (like your favorite toys, your bed, your food bowl), but sunbeams are usually big enough for two or three beings to lie in; in fact, Cheese was expecting Gale and her book to come in and curl up in the sunbeam at any moment. Cheese was staring at this…smudge on his paw…and…his eyes…were slowly….closing….when all of a sudden, he heard a big gust of wind. Shortly after that, he heard Banana.
She slipped on the throw rug just inside the door, regained her “dignity”, and then scurried underneath the sofa.
“Hurry!” Banana panted. “We’ll all be safe under here!” Banana was shivering with fright, and covered her eyes with her paws.
Cheese and Joey just stared at her.
“Quick! There’s no time to lose!” Banana took one paw from an eye, and motioned toward the cats, then towards the sofa. “The sky is falling, and we’re all in danger! Even the squirrels! Good thing they don’t know about this safe sofa, or we would have quite a crowd in here…” Banana suddenly became quiet as the thought of SQUIRRELS…in her HOUSE…passed through her mind.
Cheese used this moment of silence to really look at Banana. She didn’t appear to be hurt, but maybe something hit her head? He and Joey got up, stretched, and then wandered out to the patio doors, to see if there really was something dangerous happening outside. It also crossed his mind that, if Banana were correct and the sky WAS falling, that a squirrel MIGHT land right…next…to…his…mouth……
Cheese was drooling as he peered outside. Another gust of wind blew through the trees, and a large number of yellow, orange, and red leaves rushed past. There was another, smaller breeze, and the leaves swirled through the air. They landed, rustling, on the patio outside. Joey jumped into the leaf pile made moments before. His head popped out when Cheese started to laugh.
“Banana!” Cheese shouted. Banana’s head popped out from under the sofa.
“Banana! You are so silly!” Cheese laughed. “The sky is NOT falling. You thought the exact same thing last year. Remember?” Banana tipped her head to the side, and looked at him skeptically.
“The leaves are falling. From the trees. It happens every year. That’s why our people call it FALL. Because the leaves…fall.”
Banana still looked unconvinced. She had trouble remembering when she last ate, let alone remember something so long ago!
Cheese went on, patiently explaining. He loved knowing things that Banana didn’t. “Like I told you last year, when you were such a young cat: leaves fall from the trees in the fall. It’s a scientific fact…” Cheese raised a paw. “The days are getting shorter, and the nights are getting longer. The leaves love to dance in the dark…we know this because we can see them moving at night, making shadows in the house that we love to chase. Remember last week, when you bumped into the wall when you were chasing one?” Cheese giggled, and Banana scowled at him from under the sofa. “OK…anyway—the leaves dance in the trees at night. As the nights get longer, they dance longer. Banana, pay attention! This is the most important part!” Cheese raised up on his hind legs and waved his front paws in the air.
“And so, Banana, the scientific reason leaves fall from the trees every year is because they get so tired from dancing all night long!” Cheese finished with a flourish and bowed when Joey and Banana burst into applause.