A squirrel family lived happily in the Lycée Lakanal park. They considered themselves as its guardians because they were the first inhabitants and the emblem of the high school. Its coat of arms depicted a red squirrel on a black field. Thus, squirrels were highly respected but they still had to be careful because wicked pupils sometimes chased them.
One day, when the family woke up an unusual silence made the mother feel uneasy. She knew that it wasn’t holidays so where were the human beings? Still, it was quite pleasant to have such a quiet morning and everybody carried on with their usual activities.
After lunch the family saw some parakeets flying over their heads before making themselves comfortable in the nearby trees. “Have you heard the news? The humans are afraid of a disease and are all hiding in their homes”. The squirrel family didn’t trust the parakeets because they always made jokes. They didn’t pay attention and went to bed as usual.
The next day, squirrels from neighbouring parks came. They told the family that they had easily travelled through the town and had seen neither cars nor walkers: humans seemed to have disappeared off the face of the earth. “It’s great news!” the father joyfully exclaimed. Since the honeymoon with his wife a long time ago, he had not had the opportunity to go on holidays. His boys weren’t actually thrilled: they wanted to stay and play with their friends in the deserted park. But the parents eventually prevailed. They had always wanted to visit the Arboretum since a friend of theirs, a great traveller, had described its beautiful trees.
The family began its journey on a sunny morning; they climbed up the trees of the gardens and had a lot of fun swinging among them even though they kept a watchful eye on dogs and cats who were still there. At one point, they lost their way but a robin pointed them in the right direction.
When they arrived, they discovered a place full of flowers, roses, carnations, daisies, pansies of every colour; it was lovely! And the trees were really spectacular: the cedar of Lebanon, the American tulip tree, the bald cypress were two hundred years old giants. Head in the sky, they seemed to meditate. In striking contrast with them, the antic catalpa looked like an enormous octopus with its trunk and its branches lying on the ground.
The young squirrels were running everywhere, playing hide and seek, their parents walking slowly under the trees hand in hand. They met a kind old squirrel who invited them to a small party organized for his tenth birthday under the weeping blue atlas cedar. Butterflies had organized a show and choreographed a wonderful dance. They made a succession of tableaux vivants in the air. Then Goldfinches formed a choir divided into four groups of six birds. They sang beautiful old melodies, sometimes forgotten, but at the end of the concert, they chose some very popular songs so that everyone could sing along.
Everyone was cheering, laughing and chatting when suddenly, two eyes appeared in the shadow and a fox with sharp claws jumped in!
He was a teenager left alone for a day by his parents who were visiting friends. He was bored to death until he had heard the music of the party. He had crawled under a nearby bush. Attacking the neighbours was forbidden, but this was a bit different, wasn’t it? And it was only for fun.
The squirrels were terrified and ran away as fast as they could. When they found themselves out of the Arboretum, they were so panic-stricken that they couldn’t find their way. Luckily, the robin helped them once again.
They were back home very late, exhausted and still frightened. At dinner, the father solemnly declared that they would never leave the boundaries of their beloved park again. Everyone agreed and his wife added: “foxes are definitely more dangerous than humans!”
Years later, the father, now a grandfather, was admiring a carnation with his granddaughter when she said: “Dad thinks that the flowers of the Arboretum are more beautiful”. He eventually discovered that not only his sons but also his wife still dreamed about the wonderful day. So, for his birthday, he gathered his family and confessed his own dreams. Then, addressing his grandchildren he concluded: “let us hope that humans go in another quarantine so that one day you can visit this paradise!”