A former volunteer of the Orr Center, Jamie Herzmann wrote Wendyl’s Wonderland based on volunteers who have helped form the Orr Center from its inception. The goal in the beginning was to use this story as an event to help as a fundraiser for the Orr Center in their many different capacities.
If you didn’t know, the Orr Center (former Orr School) is a central part of not just the city of Orr, but also the area. They house a thrift store where families who have lost everything due to a fire can go to rebuild what they lost. A community library. The home of the Lion’s Club Medical Loan Closet. An art gallery. A food pantry. Rooms to rent for storage or business or monthly meetings.
This year, after seven years, Wendyl’s Wonderland is coming alive in the form of an indoor, lighted tour, after dark, where folks like you and I can live through this wonderful story. No worries about the whether, however, as this tour is indoors. The even opens it’s doors on Friday, November 25th, and continues through Friday, December 23rd. It will be open in the evening from 5-9 pm, Thursdays through Saturdays. There is no admission fee, but free will donations are greatly appreciated.
Wendyl’s Wonderland will be accompanied by a gift shop featuring local artisan goods where a portion of each sale will stay at the center to help with the heat. As well as a festival of trees donated by area businesses that will be auctioned off Saturday, December 17th. The thrift store will be open for extended hours on the days Wendyl’s Wonderland will be open.
By Jamie Herzmann
Wendyl was a great furry white monster who lived in the woods near Orrville. Most of the time monsters are to be feared, but not Wendyl. Wendyl was shy and gentle. He was friends with all the birds, the beavers, the moose, and the wolves, and even a timid little fox named Jamison. Wendyl’s fur was thick and soft like a polar bear but be walked on two feet instead of four. He didn’t have a tail or claws, and his eyes were very kind. Wendyl had a huge warm smile and his two bottom teeth always poked out above his top lip. Of all the different foods, the woods had to offer, Wendyl most loved the wild blueberries. He ate so many blueberries that the tips of his fur and his hands were permanently stained blueberry blue! In fact, everything Wendyl touched turned a little bit blue. Wendyl tried to be careful, but you always knew where he went because of the little blue spots that he left behind.
Wendyl was always very warm because of his thick fur so he loved the winter, but he worried about some of his animal friends who didn’t like the cold as much as he did. During one long harsh winter, Wendyl noticed how his bird friends and some of his mouse and squirrel friends shivered in the cold. Wendyl being the helpful monster that he was, decided he needed to help them stay warm but he didn’t quite know how. As the days went by Wendyl thought and his friends shivered.
One day Wendyl was walking through the woods after a particularly snowy morning and he heard a strange noise. It was laughter he was sure, but it didn’t sound like any laughter he had ever heard from his animal friends. Wendyl, being as quiet and cautious as he could be, crept closer to the sound. He peered through the trees and saw two boys building creatures out of the snow! Now, Wendyl had never seen children before but he had heard stories about them from his animal friends. Some of the stories were scary and made Wendyl want to hide under his bed. But most were nice stories about children giving the animals food or helping them when they were hurt. Wendyl noticed that instead of fur the boys had things that sort of looked like fur on their heads and hands. He was sure the things served a purpose (because they looked so silly) but he wasn’t sure what. Wendyl turned his attention to the snow creatures. They were white and fat. They had black eyes, bright orange noses, stick arms and hands and no feet! They also wore the strange like things on their heads and hands. Wendyl decided to go back later in the night to investigate further. He turned around and quietly headed for home popping frozen blueberries in his mouth as he went.
That night after a delicious blueberry dinner Wendyl went back down the path and found the spot where he peered through the trees. The children were gone, but the snow creatures were still there. He noticed one of the stick hands was missing the fur thing the children gave it. Then he saw it on the ground by the snow creature. Slowly, Wendyl bent down and poked it with his finger, then he picked it up. It was lumpy but soft on the inside. He put it on his own hand. It only fit on three of his fingers, but it felt sort of nice and it was very warm. Wendyl took it off and turned it this way and that in his hands.
Then an idea started to form in his mind. He remembered his bird, mouse, and squirrel friends who were shivering in the cold. Wendyl thought, maybe they could climb inside it like a nest. It is soft and warm inside. He started to run back down the path but stopped. Wendyl knew taking things that did not belong to him was wrong. He went back to the snow creature and took the matching thing off the other stick’s hand. He set the thing on the ground with the open part facing up like a sack and poured the rest of his frozen blueberries inside. Wendyl decided it was a fair trade since blueberries were his favorite food! Then, excited to share his idea he ran down the path and took the turn that led to his friend Julie’s tree. Julie was smart, she would know if Wendyl’s idea would work!
Julie the owl lived in a hole at the top of the oldest oak tree in this part of the woods. She saw and heard everything. She flew to Orrville every day to scavenge for food dropped by the townspeople. Of all the animals in the woods, Julie was the most comfortable with people because she spent so much time around them. She even learned their language and taught it to Wendyl and the other animals. Julie saw Wendyl running down the path toward her tree. He was holding a mitten and by the look on his face as he ran up the path, Julie could tell he was excited about it.
“Hi Wendyl”, whooed Julie, “Where did you find that mitten?” Wendyl looked down at the lumpy thing in his hand. Mitten, he thought. He liked the sound of the word, it seemed… friendly and warm. “I found it on a snow creature’s stick hand,” Wendyl replied. “I saw some children creating them in the woods earlier today.” Julie laughed, “Do you mean a snowman?” Wendyl thought for a minute. Snow + Man. Yes, that described the creatures. “I suppose I do,” he said. “One of the snowmen dropped it on the ground. Darmouse has been so cold this winter, I thought she could crawl inside and stay warm. What do you think?” Julie smiled. She might be the smartest wood animal, but Wendyl was the kindest. He was always thinking of others. “I think you have an excellent idea Wendyl. Darmouse will love it! As Wendyl and Julie continued to chat about the mitten, it began to snow.
Back in Orrville the next day, two excited boys woke up early. They were eager to get to the woods and check on their snowmen. They went through all their old winter clothes and found more hats and mittens. They could build more snowmen! Wearing their new winter gear, they put their old hats and mittens in a bag and ran out the door barely hearing their mother shout “Jacob and Logan, watch out for wild animals and come home in two hours!” The boys laughed and talked loudly as they walked, crunching snow on the path toward their snowmen. They were delighted to see that it had snowed again. That meant they could build more snowmen as they had planned! When they arrived in the clearing, they noticed one mitten was missing and the other mitten was filled with blueberries! It was a mystery for sure, but they assumed someone had stumbled upon their snowmen and left the berries for them to use as mouths (their snowmen didn’t have mouths because they forgot the raisins). They thought the other mitten had blown away or was buried in the snow. Besides, they were there to build more snowmen! They put their bag of hats and mittens down and began the work of building. They had to work fast because they could only stay out for two hours this time.
Wendyl had taken the mitten to Darmouse that morning. Just as Julie predicted, Darmouse loved it. She and her babies fit nicely inside, and the best part was no more shivering! Darmouse thanked Wendyl with her winter stash of frozen blueberries (knowing they were his favorites.) Wendyl decided to look for mittens for his other shivering little friends! He said goodbye to Darmouse and her babies, then started walking toward the clearing with the snowmen to get another mitten. This one would be for Paige the squirrel; she had been a little sneezy lately and he didn’t want her to get sick. Wendyl had the frozen blueberries from Darmouse to trade for the last mitten. As Wendyl got closer to the clearing, he heard the boy’s laughter again. He was curious about children, so he decided to watch them for a while. He found a nice big rock behind some pine trees and sat down. As he watched the boys build more snowmen, he absent-mindedly popped blueberries in his mouth.
The children worked hard building, they had enough hats and mittens for four new snowmen. This time they used the berries to make snowman smiles, and they made the snowmen do silly things. One was standing on his head; another one was sitting against a rock. Occasionally, the boys would stop to throw a snowball or make a snow angel. Before long it was time to go home. They had only finished two snowmen, but that meant they could come back again to build the last two. They packed up their things and started walking back to town crunching snow as they went.
Wendyl was happy to see two new snowmen. That meant he could get three mittens! One from each new snowman and the one that he came to get for Paige the squirrel. Wendyl realized that he had eaten most of the berries from Darmouse while he watched the boys playing . He didn’t have enough to fill three mittens; he only had enough left for one. Well, he thought, I’ll just get the one for Paige and come back tomorrow with more berries for the other two. He climbed off his sitting rock and made his way down to the snowmen leaving giant blue footprints in the snow. Wendyl did the same thing as the day before. He took one mitten and put it on the ground with the open side up like a sack. This one he filled with the last of his berries from Darmouse. The other mitten, he took from the snowman’s hand and held it to his heart. He walked around looking at each new snowman deciding he liked what the boys did with the blueberry mouths, the snowmen really did need to smile. He especially liked the one standing on his head. Wendyl couldn’t wait to give Paige the squirrel her mitten, so he turned toward the path to her tree leaving more blue footprints in the snow.
After their mother tucked them into bed that night, Jacob and Logan talked about their day. They remembered the mitten filled with blueberries and wondered who could have left them. Jacob, the older boy, thought their father left them. Logan, who had a big imagination, thought a monster did. They talked a little bit about how they would build the last two snowmen as they began to fall asleep. Both boys dreamed about monsters!
By the time Wendyl got to Paige, the squirrel’s hole in the bottom of a great pine tree, it was dark and Paige was asleep. Wendyl didn’t want to wake her so he left the mitten outside with a note in the snow. Too Paj. A bed too kep u wrm, Luv Wendyl. Then Wendyl started for home to make sure he had enough blueberries for two more mittens. He decided he would give mittens to Tiffin the chickadee and Wilson chipmunk. They both lived on the top of Paige’s pine tree.
Jacob and Logan woke up early the next morning. They talked all through breakfast about the monster dreams they had the night before. Jacob dreamed the monster was mean and had sharp teeth and claws like a wolf! He watched too many scary movies. Logan was sure the monster was nice. Why else would he leave blueberries for their snowmen? In Logan’s dream the monster was friendly and he needed the mittens to stay warm so he left blueberries as a thank you. He wasn’t sure why the monster would only take one. They were really having fun with this mitten mystery and they wanted to get back to the clearing to finish the last two snowmen. As soon as breakfast was over, they suited up for the cold weather and ran out the door before their mom could say anything about when to be home!
When they finally reached the clearing, they stopped abruptly. Giant footprints led up and around their snowmen. The weird thing about these prints (aside from the size) was that they were blue. The boys didn’t know what animal could leave giant blue footprints. They were three times as big as their own footprints in the snow! Remembering their monster dreams, they thought about running away. But then they noticed the new mitten on the ground it was also filled with blueberries. “Monster!” They both shouted at the same time. As the boys continue to whisper and wonder about the footprints, the blueberries, and the missing mittens, they heard snow crunching. They quickly ran to hide behind some trees. Their eyes grew huge and their mouths formed big Os as they saw what was coming down the path. It was a great monster! His fur was white with blue tips. His feet were huge and his hands were blue! They watched silently as he walked along popping frozen blueberries into his mouth the same way they would eat popcorn.
When he reached the snowman sitting on the rock, he took one mitten off and put it on the ground then filled it with blueberries. He smiled a great big smile (his two bottom teeth poked out above his top lip) and took the other mitten from the snowman’s stick hand. Holding the mitten close to his heart in both hands, he turned to the snowman’s stick hand. He turned to the upside-down snowman but stopped in his tracks surprised to see two boys standing wide eye right behind him! Wendyl stared at the children. The children stared at Wendyl. “Are you the monster who takes the mittens and leaves blueberries in the other?” Jacob finally asked in a shaky voice. Jacob knew it was a silly question because he just watched Wendyl do exactly what he was asking, but he couldn’t think of anything else to say. Wendyl wasn’t sure if he was in trouble. He shuffled his feet. He wrung his hands. Finally, he nodded his head yes. The boys felt bad for Wendyl, they could see he thought he was in trouble and they knew how that felt. “It’s ok, but why?” Wendyl looked up happy to know he wasn’t in trouble. “My little friends Darmouse and Paige the squirrel are so cold this winter. I found the first mitten on the ground here by your snowman and I traded my blueberries for it so I could give it to Darmouse and she could stay warm. Paige the squirrel also loved her warm mitten, so I came back to trade more of my blueberries so my friends Tiffin and Wilson could stay warm too.” The boys looked at each other. Then they looked at Wendyl. “That’s a great idea!” They shouted together. A big toothy smile spread across Wendyl’s face (two bottom teeth poking out). His smile made the boys smile. “My name is Wendyl” he said as he held the blueberries out for the boys to take. “Wendyl the Mitten Monster” said Logan, “we are pleased to meet you!” Logan reached out to shake Wendyl’s hand. When he pulled his hand away, he noticed it was stained blue!