High in an oak tree, a squirrel plucked an acorn off a twig. The twig shook and let out a sharp cry. “How dare you!” shouted the tree. Its voice was the wind passing through the leaves. The sound was breathy and full of power.

“I’m sorry?” said the squirrel.

“That was my acorn!” whistled the tree.

“Mine now,” said the squirrel.

“And what gives you the right,” thundered the tree, “to eat of my body? I gave you no permission.”

The squirrel dug a firm tooth into the skin of the acorn. “It’s lunchtime.”

“Give it back!” roared the tree.

“No,” said the squirrel.

“Now!” The leaves fluttered, shimmering in the summer light, the wind dry, the tree creaking. The squirrel remained on the branch and continued to eat the acorn. “Now!” repeated the tree.

The squirrel did not reply. He continued to munch on the oak nut, and ignored the tree. When he was done with it he dropped the pieces he would not eat and scampered up the trunk for more. “Where are you going?” the tree shouted after him. “Stop it! Stop it at once!”

“No,” said the squirrel.

Such exchanges are common in nature. Squirrels are terrible conversationalists and trees have no defense.

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