(Part I of this series began here, with Part II here, should you prefer your stories in a linear fashion.)
"You held out a long time, my friend."
"Feeling very stark. The kids playing around us in this mild weather isn't helping."
"Look around. We're in good company now. Every tree's a little diminished, but everyone's coping, for the most part."
"By the way, when did they get here?"
"Last week. You were snoozing during all of the leaf gathering and arguing about which 'fork' they should use to build their winter perch."
Yawns. "I have been sleeping more. Too much gray, too many clouds."
"But you overlooked some other new arrivals."
"Nice twigs. Woven and not flung together like some squirrels I know."
"Hey yourself." Yawns. "Keep an eye on all of the coming and going, okay? And wake me in four months."
"We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep."
"You write that?"
"Borrowed from Shakespeare. The Tempest."
"Ugh, don't remind me. I hate winter. And I miss my green."
"It's a good color on you."
"Until March, then."
"Don't kid yourself. April's more like it."
"Okay, then. See you in leaf time."
"By the way, are squirrels sanitary?"
"Not so much."
"That is disgusting."
"Cost of doing business, I'm afraid. But there'll be plenty of snow, sleet and rain ahead to keep us tidy."
"The good and bad news of precipitation in Chicago. Alas, there's nothing more to be done."
"Except rest. And dream."
"I'll be dreaming about a nice wind storm relocating those squirrels across the street."
"I HEARD THAT!"
"Uh oh. The parkway Maple!"
"Now you've done it."