All of the residents of Woodlands are terribly excited as May Day is approaching fast. Miss Bell has been teaching the young children about the tradition behind this great event and how by coming together, they can increase the fruitfulness of the trees.
Miss Bell has spent the last two days teaching her students the May Pole dance. It started off badly but now they are able to weave in and out without tripping over each other. Miss Bell even has hopes of attaching ribbons to the Pole this year. Ribbons have not been used for several generations due to their ability to garrotte but Miss Bell feels that her class has worked so hard they deserve the chance to do it properly. Although, even she is not brave enough to rehearse with ribbons and will make the final decision on the day.
The older lads are learning to Morris Dance under the watchful eye of Edward Squirrel. Edward has never actually done it himself but has YouTube various routines and his enthusiasm is paying off. The Galleys and Capers are going well but the boys took the Squashed Beetle too literally and the formation broke up whilst the group went on a spontaneous beetle hunt. They have now all returned and are happily hopping from left to right with a double hop in between. Edward can be heard several tree lengths away shouting “it’s all in the ankle.” The boys seem to be paying heed to his advice and are doing splendidly.
Madame de Halloumi is once again in charge of creative design and is being assisted by Willow and Timble Squirrels. They are busy filling the meeting room with the joys of spring. Fresh flower arrangements sit on each table and the floor is being covered with green leaves. These have been delivered by express courier – Harry the hedgehog, having rolled in a ball and speared them on his spikes. Harry is now in deep conversation with Madame de Halloumi whilst the squirrels are busy tearing and scattering the leaves to make a wonderful carpet.
May Day arrives and Miss Bell puts her charges through their paces. They shine with professionalism and Miss Bell puts her misgivings aside and, with the help of Mayor Badger, they attach the ribbons to the May Pole. The children excitedly play hide the caterpillar – a wonderful Woodlands game where you catch a caterpillar and then hid it. Then go and hide yourself and wait for the caterpillar to find you.
The parents and rest of Woodlands are arriving at the central May Pole venue and Mayor Badger takes to the podium to welcome all. He talks of the celebration of the Three Milking’s – a tradition that has been lost, mainly due to the all-inclusive and non-discriminatory nature of Woodlands and the lack of young maidens wanting to be milked.
He talks of his hopes for a good summer and productive harvest, and finally, he breaks the news that he has been chosen for the diplomatic core and this will be his last season as mayor. There is stunned silence. Then a slight ripple of applause, and then a thunderous outpouring of appreciation as it is widely agreed that Mayor Badger has been the best thing to happen in their shire for many generations. The ovation stops and Mayor Badger presents the children of the Woodlands and the May Pole Dance.
Miss Bell leads her pupils to their ribbons and makes sure that each is in first position. Left paw forward and weight on right leg – of course Magdalena, the grass snake, can’t do this so is swivelled prettily around her ribbon with her weight equally balanced. Miss Bell blows her whistle and they are off. Skip, skip, skipperty skip, jump, jump, hop. In and out they weave along, hop, hop, hop.
All is going rather well and children and ribbons are frolicking along. The children are beaming with pleasure. But then, Drew Squirrel stumbles slightly and has to wave his tail backwards to keep his balance. Unfortunately, he is trying to emulate his older brother Thomas, so has used Thomas’s gel on his tail. This has now stuck to Magdalena’s ribbon which she is wound around and this has caused a slight bottle neck. Titus, young beaver cub, tries to stop really quickly and thumps down his tail as an emergency break. This accidently lands on the mole twins and knocks them unconscious. Libertina and Laka, two of the bunny blossom siblings, are busy smiling and waving with their free paws but both somehow manage to bypass the main pile up and continue to skip merrily around. This, although incredibly professional, as the show must go on, only adds to the problem as the ribbons, now ensnaring Magdalena, squeeze tighter and start to lift her into the air. The Bunny Blossom Siblings, not really grasping the seriousness of the situation, have decided to go a bit faster as they think the gasps of terror from the audience are cheers of joy – please remember that a shrews squeak of terror sounds very similar to a rabbits squeal of delight.
The young snake is now being whizzed around like an air to ground missile preparing to launch. The front row of the audience are already fleeing in terror.
Just then, the Pickles Brothers, the Woodlands answer to the Roux Brothers, but hares. Walk out of the meeting room where they have been preparing the feast. Seeing the enormity of the situation, they run, knives in paws and cut the ribbons held by the bunnies. The girls fall to the ground but only their pride is hurt. Harvey, the oldest and most handsome of the triplets, gently catches Magdalena and carefully untangles her. As she looks into his striking brown eyes, she feels a sudden giddiness and swoons in his manly arms. A huge cheer erupts from the audience and Mayor Badger beckons the heroes to the podium. Harvey takes centre stage and as the applause dies down. He says it was an honour to be of service to this great Woodlands and then goes on to say that it was nothing compared with the complexity of cooking wonderful food, using the freshest ingredients to tempt and satisfy all who will sample the banquet later.
He goes on to talk about their new restaurant called Essexy Fish. So-called after Essexy Forest where the most exotic fungus grows, and their grandfather, the Honourable professor fish. Cheers again from the crowd as they realise what wonderful champions these young bucks are.
Edward Squirrel perceives his chance and soon has his lads Morris Dancing to entertain. Nurse Mary Badger is attending to the wounded along with the barn dancing field mice who have a lovely knack with bandages.
The rest of the entertainment passes without a glitch and soon the Woodland dwellers are making their way to the meeting hall for the fine feast. There they will enjoy turkey tail fungus, water parsnip with witches butter and oak apple candies, all prepared by those very humble and talented Pickles boys.