The ant his box – Toon Tellegen (Evelien)


The following story I would like to share with you. Toon Tellegen 1 is one of my favorite writers. His stories contain not only wisdom but also philosophy.

“The Squirrel and the Ant” – because there is a whole book with these kind of stories – I discovered when I was 17 years old. It was during my first year as a monitor on a CM camp. (I spent many years as a supervisor in camps for children with intellectual disabilities)


Every evening, when our children were in bed, we had a “day closing time”. A wonderful moment to end the day, filled with reflections on what happened that day and how it made us feel. That evening our  head monitor read a story from Toon Tellegen, and I got very quiet. thereafter I searched like hell for my own copy of the book (which was not really easy to find). Until a few years back my boyfriend was able to find a copy and bought it for me.

The stories of Toon Tellegen all have an underlying message, and all of them will have different meanings to whomever reads them.

To me, the story below means that I should be able to fully enjoy  beautiful moments in stead of worry. Let go of negative thoughts and events and live for the things, moments, people that give you energy.

What does the story mean to you? I would gladly know!

One evening the squirrel and the ant sat next to each other on the upper branch of the beech. It was warm and quiet and they looked at the peaks of the trees and the stars. They had eaten honey and talked to the sun, the river bank, letters and suspicions. “I’m going to keep this evening,” said the ant. ‘Are you okay with that?’

The squirrel looked surprised at him. The ant took out a small black box. “Here’s the birthday of the redwing,” he said. ‘The birthday of the redwing?’ Asked the squirrel.

“Yes,” the ant said and he took the birthday out of the box. And again they ate sweet chestnut cake with elderberry cream, and they danced yet again while the nightingale sang and the firefly shined on and off, and they saw the redwings beak glittering again with pleasure. It was the most beautiful birthday they could remember.

The ant put him back in the box.

“I’ll put tonight into the box too” the ant said. “Together with all the other memories” He closed the box and greeted the squirrel and went home.

The squirrel was sitting on the branch for a long time and thought about the box. How would that night be in there precisely? Would it not crumble or bleach? Would the taste of honey be present? And would you always get it back in if you took it out? Could it not fall or break, or roll away? What else would there be in the box? Adventures that the ant had experienced? Mornings in the grass on the banks of the river, when the waves shone? Letters from distant animals? And would the box ever be full so that nothing could else could get in? And would there be other boxes for sad days also? His head dizzyed. He went home and stepped into bed.

The ant had long been sleeping in his house under the bush. The box was above his head, on a shelf. But he did not close it tight enough. In the middle of the night it suddenly opened and an old anniversary flew out into the room with great speed. And suddenly the ant and the elephant danced in the moonlight under the limetree. “But I was sleeping!” Exclaimed the ant. “Oh that does not matter,” the elephant said and he whirled the ant around. He waved his ears and his trunk and said, “What do we dance well?” And “O pardon” as he stepped on the toes of the ant. And he said that the ant was also allowed to step on his toes. The glowworm glowed in the rose bush and the squirrel sat on the lower branch of the linden and waved to the ant.

Suddenly the birthday flew into the box again and the ant was wide awake. He rubbed his eyes and looked around. The moon shone in and fell on the box on the shelf. The ant pushed the lid firmly. After, he kept his ear close to the box and heard music and rustling and scribbling of waves. And he even thought he heard the taste of honey, but he was not sure if that could happen really…

He frowned his forehead and walked back into bed.