Once upon a time, many, many years ago, a man decided to plant a tree. He chose a beautiful meadow near the town, dug a hole and planted a small tree in it. He took care of it and went to check on it every day. The tree grew beautifully and grew stronger. The man was happy about it, so he planted another, and then another. After a while, there were so many trees in the place that it grew into a small forest. The forest was the house for many animals. Birds, squirrels and badgers, for example. All the people of the town were happy to have such a beautiful piece of nature near the town. And they loved going to the forest. But one day, the animals almost lost the forest.
It was early in the morning when Ester the squirrel went for a walk in the woods. She was jumping from tree to tree, eating a nut here and there, when suddenly she came across a tall metal thing. She fell to the ground and looked at it, shaken. It was a tall pole and at the end of it was a metal plate with arrows painted on it. Esther the squirrel kept looking and noticed that there were more of these strange things in the forest.
She didn’t know what it was or why it was in the way here in the forest. So she called a badger to help her. The badger looked at it from all sides and then figured it out. “Ester, those are signs! People put them here. They show which way the road leads,” the badger explained to the squirrel.
“What road? What does that mean? Through the woods here? A road? That’s not possible. I won’t allow it!” Ester the squirrel was horrified. She called all the animals from the forest and together they pulled the signs out of the ground and hid them. In the afternoon, workers in big machines came to the place where the signs were. They looked around. But because they didn’t see any signs anywhere, they didn’t know where to start working and building a new road. So they left.
Ester the squirrel was very happy. She was happy that she had saved the forest. But her joy didn’t last long. The next morning, the signs were back in place. People had put new ones up. But the squirrel was not to be discouraged, and again, with the help of the animals, she pulled them all out and hid them. In the afternoon, the workers again didn’t know where to start their work. And so it went on for a few days.
After a while, the squirrel had had enough and wanted the people to understand that they must not build a road there. They and the animals wondered how to do it. Finally, Ester the squirrel figured something out and shouted, “I’ve got it! Let’s paint our own signs. We’ll paint them with the animals that live here in the forest. Whole families of animals. We’ll put them in place of theirs with arrows. When people see the signs with the animals all over the forest, they must realise that we live here and that the road can’t go this way.”
And so they all got to work. They made signs and painted animals on them. They put them all over the forest. Every step of the way. When the workers arrived in the afternoon with the big machines, they couldn’t believe their eyes. There wasn’t a single sign with an arrow where to build a road. On the contrary. Everywhere they looked there were signs with pictures of animals. The workers walked through the forest and looked at them all.
Then one of them said: “We can’t build here. The forest is home to all the animals painted here. They wanted to show us somehow. They must have been the ones hiding our sign marks. We can’t destroy their home. Or this piece of nature here. We’re packing up and leaving.”
Ester the squirrel watched everything from a distance. As the people were leaving, one worker turned back to the woods one last time and saw the little squirrel rejoicing. He smiled and waved to her. At first the squirrel was sickened to be seen by the man. But then she waved back and was even happier, because even among people there are those who love animals and nature. They understand.