Almost two weeks into her journey, she finally hit warmth.
It was a different kind of warmth from what she had known in the Hundred Acre Wood; it was much stickier, and weighed her wings down more than she thought was good.
In fact she seemed to be losing altitude.
Kessie was a bright little bird and not afraid of adventure, but she found that as she dropped lower and lower, her worries rose higher and higher and it seemed she would have to make some decisions soon.
What was she supposed to do in the south?
Where was she supposed to go?
Was there some kind of home for birds to spend the winter months, or was she supposed to fend for herself until spring arrived?
She had never had to take care of herself before.
She was just starting to really panic, when suddenly she heard a whooshing sound beneath her, and a deep, female voice calling "Yoo-hoo! Hello there!"
Kessie stopped abruptly and flapped her wings hard to keep from falling as she looked back for the source of the voice.
What she saw was another bird – an older bird – with brown feathers and a white belly, and eyes that sparkled in the warm sunlight.
"Yoo-hoo!" she called again, "Well hi there little missy! And where might you be headed?"
She had pulled up alongside Kessie now, and was keeping time with her as she talked. Kessie was unsure what to do or how to respond – she didn't really know how to talk to strangers, since they didn't get many in the Hundred Acre Wood; but this new bird seemed friendly enough, so she decided to take a chance.
"Um, excuse me Ma'am, but I –"
"Oh, no, let me guess; you're flying down south for the winter. That right sugar?" She smiled cheekily at Kessie, already knowing what the answer would be.
Kessie nodded, smiling slightly at how the other bird was able to finish her thought.
"That's right, but, I don't really –"
"You don't really know where to go or what to do, since this is your first trip south?"
Kessie dipped her head in embarrassment, but nodded anyways. She had tried not to seem new or out of place, but apparently she was more transparent than she realized.
"Yeah, it's my first big flight, and… I don't really know where to go, so –"
"Well why didn't you say something' Dearie? I know just what you need; I've got a little place about a mile from here that I think you'll find fits your every need! There're quite a few young birds like yourself out and about this time of year, and they don't have a place to go either! So I help 'em out! Whaddaya say, you want a nice warm place to sleep, with lots of fine feathered friends and yummy things to eat?"
Kessie had been hanging on every word the brown bird had been saying, and when the invitation had come, she found herself nodding vigorously before she had even given her decision much thought.
As she followed the older bird down towards the trees however, she took a moment to ponder what had happened, and smiled sheepishly at the thought of how Rabbie would have reacted to her impulsiveness. He would have snatched her out of the air (if he could reach), given her a solid scolding on acting hastily and talking to strangers, and then would have proceeded to shoo this talkative new bird away with a broom for making impromptu invitations without proper protocol.
They flew over the tops of the trees for a while, and Kessie noted just how wet the air seemed to be in this place, and how hot it seemed to be getting; back home they were probably in the middle of a blizzard.
The brown bird she had met, who introduced herself as Henny, had been chatting unceasingly since Kessie had joined her. She told the little blue-jay all about the forest they were over, near some place called 'floor-ee-da', and was explaining in detail about the types of plants and bugs in said forest and how exceptional they were to all other forests for miles around.
Kessie was only catching half of what Henny was saying, partly because of the wind rushing through her feathers and partly because she was distracted with her own thoughts; but suddenly Henny was gone from her line of view, and she was struck by a surge of panic.
She whipped her head around violently to see where the older bird had gone, and saw a blur of brown disappear into the canopy. She was soon to follow.
Once she was under the leaf cover, she was astonished by what she found.
There was a massive tree, dozens of feet from the forest floor, filled with bird houses.
There were dozens and dozens of houses of every shape and size, some with single rooms and others that looked like mansions. Some were ornate with different colors and had intricate molding on the edges, and others were more makeshift with twigs sticking out from the openings at odd angles.
Kessie landed on a branch nearby and stared, not sure what to think.
"Welcome to your new home, hun!" Henny sat on a branch near one of the largest mansions, extending her wing out wide towards it.
The little blue-jay hopped along the branch to get closer and peered inside. It was full of little straw beds and tiny blankets, and the walls were decorated with all sorts of paraphernalia. It looked like several birds lived there already.
Henny pushed Kessie forward lightly, saying "Now don't you worry hunny, we got lots of other wonderful girls staying here – you'll love them! – and all of us are ready and willing to help you out and get you adjusted to your new home!"
She really wasn't ready to call this house a home just yet, but nonetheless she gave Henny a smile and hopped inside, looking around for the best place to settle down.
She was more than ready for a good long nap.
And once Henny had fetched her some extra straw and a couple of blankets, she fell into a deep sleep before she could think to thank her new friend.
Okay, long overdue chapter.
But it's out now! So this story is really just getting started - it's going to have a lot going on, and although the first part is going to be pretty much one continuous amount of time, it's going to start getting more spread out. Eventually it's going to have some time jumps and include some other episodes of New Adventures, so just wait! There *will* be other Pooh characters showing up eventually! :3