Be careful," said Walter Bear. "You're awfully small to carry such a big bucket." "No I'm not," said Jesse Rabbit. Jesse lifted one side of the heavy sap bucket. His cousin Emily lifted the other side.
They set out through the woods, carrying the bucket between them. Jesse tiptoed so he wouldn't spill the sap. "Hurry up," said Emily. "You're walking too slow." "No I'm not," said Jesse. He tried to tiptoe faster.
Jesse Rabbit loved the end of winter, and he especially loved watching the older animals tap the maple trees to collect the syrup. They did this by drilling small holes in the trees, and then they put buckets underneath to catch the sweet sap.
"I wish I were older," thought Jesse. "Then I'd be tall enough to tap the trees, strong enough to carry a bucket by myself, and fast enough to keep up with Emily." Jesse found a sap bucket hanging high on the side of a maple tree.
He stood on his tiptoes, but his nose barely brushed the bottom of the bucket. He hopped as high as he could. Even then, his nose barely reached the top of the bucket.
Jesse sighed. "I'm not even big enough to check the sap," he said. He felt very discouraged. Jesse sat down beside the tree. The snow was almost melted, and the ground was soggy beneath his fur. But in the middle of the melted snow, Jesse saw something -- the bright bloom of spring's first flowers!
"Come quick!" Jesse yelled. "Come see what I found!" The other animals raced into the woods to see. "I must have walked right past those flowers," said Walter. "But I'm so tall, I didn't see them down there." "And I always hop so fast," said Emily. "I probably just zoomed right past the flowers!"
"But I'm small," said Jesse, "and I take my time. So I found the first flowers of spring!" Jesse and Emily carried the sap bucket to the clearing in the woods. The other animals were laughing and singing and dancing.
They were celebrating the sugaring off of the sap, which is when the sap is turned into delicious maple syrup. Everyone was eager for spring.
Jesse loved the sugaring-off party. He loved the warm fire under the pot of sap. He loved the sweet smell that drifted through the air as Louise Bear boiled the sap into thick syrup. He loved eating syrup-drenched pancakes, hot doughnuts, and crispy pickles. Best of all, he loved the candy they made by drizzling sweet syrup on snow!
"I just wish I were older," said Jesse. "Then I'd be tall enough to reach Louise's big spoon. I'd be strong enough to stir the syrup. I'd be fast enough to flip the pancakes." Jesse frowned. There must be some way for him to help. "I know!" he said. "I'll check the other sap buckets. I'll see if they're full."
Jesse Rabbit set out through the woods.
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