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I forgot to tell you.

Two little snowshoe hares sat on an old log. They watched their mother nibbling grass a few feet away.

"Do you see?" whispered Oscar. "Do you see how white Mama's fur is becoming?"

His brother, Timothy, nodded. "Yes, she must be getting old. You and I will have to take care of Mama now."

Oscar and Timothy gathered bark and dried grass for their mother to eat. They watched her when she drank from the -7 stream. They followed her wherever she went.

At last, their mother asked them, "What is going on? You should be playing. Why are you two acting this way?"

Oscar looked at Timothy. Timothy looked at Oscar. How could they tell their mother she was growing old?

"What is it?" she asked them again.

Oscar blinked his eyes. "We noticed ..." he said softly.

"Yes," Mama said. "What did you boys notice?"

"Your hair is turning white," said Timothy.

Mama looked at her fur. "Yes, so it is. It's that time again."

"You mean you know you are growing old?" asked Oscar.

Mama laughed. "You think that I am getting white hair because I am growing old?"

Oscar and Timothy wiggled their little brown noses.

"That is not why my fur is turning white," she told them.

Mama looked at them and smiled. "You boys have never seen winter before. There is something I forgot to tell you."

"What?" they asked.

"I forgot to tell you that snowshoe hares turn white in the winter," Mama explained.

"You mean Timothy and I will turn white, too?" Oscar asked.

"Yes," said Mama.

Oscar and Timothy looked at their fur. Already, long, white hairs were growing in.

"Why are we turning white, Mama?" they asked.

"So we can hide from foxes and owls," she whispered.

"But we always hide from foxes and owls," said Oscar.

"Yes, but in the wintertime, the ground is covered with snow--" Mama began.

"--And if we're white like the snow, foxes and owls can't see us," finished Timothy.

"That's right," Mama said. "It's easier for us to hide if we are as white as the snow."

Mama nuzzled Oscar and Timothy and said, "Don't worry about losing your pretty brown coats. When spring returns, you will have new ones. Now go and play."

But Oscar and Timothy were too excited to play. They hopped back to the old log. There, they brushed their fur and chattered about the coming winter--and all the fun they would have.

Illustrated by Valeri Gorbachev
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Author:Romanek, Loretta
Publication:Humpty Dumpty's Magazine
Article Type:Short story
Date:Nov 1, 2012
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