The first time that I met Abe the Azeban, it was as if waking from a dream. It was August and Skipper and I had gone camping up on Wolf Pond Mountain so as to better watch the Perseid Showers. Abe and Skipper were sitting by the morning campfire talking. It wasn’t unusual to find Skipper talking with a racoon when we were camping in the Adirondacks.
Skipper introduced Abe, and as he did the racoon suddenly changed into a tweenage boy. “This is Abe the Azeban,” Skipper said. The boy extended a hand and said, “Nice to meet you, sir.” I raised myself up on my left shoulder, warily shook his hand with my right, and looked curiously about the camp. I crawled out of my sleeping bag, stood up, stretched and yawned.
I took a sip from my canteen and reached into my kit for some granola. Abe turned back into a racoon. “So, what were you two guys talking about?” I asked them. Skipper said, “We were talking about a star that fell from the sky during the Persieds last night. Abe wonders if we found it.”
“Huh?” I said. “Abe is looking for a fallen star. He collects them.” Skipper explained. “Oh, sorry. We didn’t find it,” I said. I offered some granola to Skipper and Abe, but they both declined. “That’s what I told him,” Skipper said. “I also told him that I would help him look for it, if he wanted.”
I had never thought of trying to find a fallen star myself, but, if Skippy wanted to go with Abe to look for one, that was okay with me. “Sure Skip, you go ahead,” I told him. “I’ll probably just go down to the brook and do some fishing. Take my compass to help you navigate your way around.” I affixed my compass to Skipper’s collar, and he and Abe merrilly trotted off down the mountain towards Wolf Pond.
“What’s that?” Abe asked Skipper. “It’s a compass. You use it to orient yourself in the woods. See that red arrow, it always points to the north.” Skipper showed Abe. “How does it work?” Abe asked. “The magnetic pull of the north pole causes the arrow to always point in that direction,” Skipper explained.
“Let me see,” said Abe. He turned into a boy, and he slowly turned the compass around in his hand, watching the needle maintain its point to the north. “Wow!” he exclaimed. “Stars have magnetic fields, just like the north pole,” he said. “Maybe the compass will help us find the fallen star. May I carry it?” “Sure,” Skipper said, “Let’s see if it helps. I think that it must be really hard to find a fallen star in the Adirondacks.”
“Oh, it is,” said Abe. “I hunt for days and days when I see a star fall. I haven’t collected very many…only a couple. There are usually lots of falling stars during the Perseid Shower, but not too many fall in the Adirondacks. I think that maybe more fall in Montana. The sky is bigger in Montana,” he explained.
The companions danced their way northward down the mountain, guided by the compass. As they passed an old oak, a squirrel twittered down to them, “Is that you, Abe? What’s up?” “Hi Sid,” said Abe, and he told the squirrel that he and Skippy were searching for a fallen star. Sid said, “I haven’t seen one. Mind if I tag along?” “Sure,” said Abe.
As the trio got nearer to Wolf Pond, the compass needle began to spin round and round. “The star!” exclaimed Abe. “It must be nearby.” The trio began to search around, stirring and scratching up fallen leaves and pine needles, nosing among the forest understory. Then suddenly the compass needle steadied at the base of a fir tree. “Up there,” Skipper pointed.
As Abe and Skipper watched in anticipation, Sid scampered up the tree, climbing to the very top and yelling down, “I found it. I’ll throw it down to you, Abe. Here, catch the falling star.” Abe stood below the squirrel, and he caught the star as it tumbled through the boughs. “I’ve caught it,” he sang.
Skippy and Sid marvelled at Abe’s treasure. “What will you do now?” Skipper asked. “I’ll put it in my pocket,” Abe said, “and save it for a rainy day.” They all smiled gleefully.