A Bernadette Smart Adventure
In March, the sunshine kisses the frozen ground and begins to soften the ice into mud. The days lengthen, the time shifts, and the sun sets later. Bernadette Smart, Mayor of Animal Town, pulls on her jacket and ties back her hair. It’s time for canvassing her constituents.
She swings her leg over her bicycle and pedals hard to the south. Her first visit is to the wild ducks and geese who live on the river. Some of her council members feel that the wild animals aren’t worth her time. They never vote anyway, so why bother with them? But Bernadette has a heart for those citizens of her town. And how better to make them responsible, voting citizens than to show them that their Mayor cares for them? At the park, she dismounts her bike and stands it responsibly against a tree. Her shoes become muddy as she treads carefully down to the bank. She reaches into her pockets and pulls out bread scraps. Her friends hear her and come running – er, waddling – to see her. They tell her the news (the nests being built, the migraters coming back) and their complaints (erosion on the bank just past the subdivision, the old tires in the river.) She nods and commiserates, promising to look into the issues.
Her next stop is at the Field of the Seven Horses. They come trotting toward her, and she carefully distributes one sugar cube to each animal. Callie – a tan mare with bleach blonde hair, as if she’s a native Californian – nuzzles her and requests a nose rub. These are carefree horses with few complaints. They’re well fed and not worked hard. In fact, Callie would like to have more to do, and Mayor Smart promises to look into a riding program she can get the mare involved in. Old Blackburn, a wizened black gelding with gray around his muzzle, grumbles that he’s heard the horses are going to have to share their pasture with goats soon. Goats! he snorts. Bernadette tries to convince him that the company would be good for him, but Blackburn will not listen. She pats his flank, assuring him that he’s complained about that rumor for the last two years and nothing has come of it. He snorts again and saunters in the other direction. With one more nose rub for Callie, Bernadette takes her leave.
Just a little bit north and around a bend is a small goat farm, and Bernadette loves visiting, even though she’d never tell Blackburn. The goats, though impossible to talk to, run around, climbing onto concrete blocks, bounding in and out of old tires, and balancing on seesaws. They are fun-loving and mischievous. She’s had to speak sternly to them more than once about property lines and staying inside their boundaries. They’ve been doing better lately, and no one has called to complain in the last month or two, so she leaves off scolding them today. After watching them for a while and acknowledging their friendly baas, she moves on.
Her last visit for the day is with the barn cats just across the street from her home. There’s a new litter of kittens, and the Mayor checks in to be sure Minnie, the young mother, has everything she needs. She reminds Minnie to keep her children out of trouble – there have been fights among neighborhood cats, and that’s no good for Animal Town. Keeping the peace is an important part of Mayor Smart’s job.
Finally, Bernadette returns home, parks her bike in the shed, and goes inside to make notes about her visits. She is confident it will be a productive spring in Animal Town.