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Once upon a time there was a beautiful forest. It was inhabited by many fair creatures. There were the clever foxes, their fur as red as fire, the stags looking over their green realm with honey brown eyes or the grey wolves never alone, always hunting in a pack.

Among the trees lived the orange- brown squirrels, jumping from branch to branch, the sparrows dancing above the trees in their colourful feather dresses, shining yellow and green. And there were the cats hiding in the shade of the woods, spying upwards, ready to catch squirrels and birds.

By the old caves close to the mountains lived a family of bears not even the wolves dared to venture towards to. The bears were only friends with the wise badgers who lived underground, their ceiling were the roots of the forest trees. And by the silver river, a lifegiving vein, running through the vegetation, there lived the beavers, always restless, always building.

The forest was a place of life and in one of the oldest trees lived the most beautiful creature of the forest. Her feather dress was as white as snow, sprinkled with dots as black as night and eyes as yellow as the sun. It was the Snowy Owl and the lemmings of the forest feared her sharp claws. But also, other animals such as the mice of the forest ground and the squirrels of the trees fled in horror when they saw her shadow.

The wolves, the foxes, the stags and the cats called her the ghost of the forest for her white dress and silent wings. Whenever they saw her fly and hunt, they fell quiet and admired the beauty of the deadly white bird.

In summer, the owl was visible to everyone. Like a snowflake in the heat, she glided through the trees and focused on her prey with yellow eyes. But during the colder months of the year, she truly lived up to her reputation. Within the winter whiteness she was a ghost, only visible when she sprinkled the snow with the red blood of her victims. Wherever she flew lemmings would disappear and drops of blood froze in the snow.

However, her extravagance and beauty didn’t make her a lot of friends. Everyone admired her but everyone feared her ghostly presence too. So, the Snowy Owl was most often on her own except for winter when all her friends joined her. When the winds of winter hurried down from the north, when grey and white clouds filled up the sky, all her friends came to visit her. They were the snowflakes, in their crystal dresses, who first flew through the sky with absolute silence like her, and then covered the world in white.

The Snowy Owl loved the snowflakes, her friends, for their whiteness and the wonder they brought to the world. Everything froze over, everything went to sleep to wake in a new year. And especially the Snowy Owl loved it when all the snowflakes flew with her. They tickled her on her long feathers when she glided through the frosty air. They brushed over her face gently, when she looked up and only saw her white friends fall like stars from the heavens. They were as ghostly as she was, making the world fall silent with wonder and magic.

But over the years not that many winds from the north blew the snowflakes south and covered the forest in a white blanket. There was a time when the Snowy Owl was joined by millions of her friends during the coldest times of the year but now there were only hundreds left. And one winter when it had rained a lot and the trees and flowers were confused by the missing coldness that would put them in a deep sleep, the entire forest was restless.

The clever foxes asked the Snowy Owl where all her friends had disappeared to but she did not know. She flew up, high into the sky and with her yellow eyes, she tried to make them out in the distance, in the far north, but there were no clouds visible. High up in the sky she looked upon a grey and brown world. She could feel the restlessness beneath her. The forest, animals and trees alike, wanted to go to sleep. But they were missing their blanket of pure white snow.

The Snowy Owl called for her friends, where did you go, why haven’t you come, but there was no answer for the winds were not cold anymore. The time of snow and snowflakes was gone. The Snowy Owl returned to her forest and the foxes, standing out like fire among the brown trees, awaited her answer. She explained to them, what she had seen, and they carried her message through the forest.

And for the rest of winter, when it was always raining, when grey and muddy colours took over everything that was once white, the trees and flowers slowly went insane without their annual sleep. The forest was out of balance.

But soon spring returned and the hottest summer the animals could remember took over. And once again, autumn came and eagerly the animals of the forest waited for snow to fall and bring them peace and quiet.

The Snowy Owl sat atop the highest tree on its highest branch, waiting for all her friends to join her, for a cold dance of wonder. Just like they had done so many times before. But the winds of winter did not come and her old friends did not join her.

Once again, the trees and flowers grew restless, they screamed silently for the snowflakes to make them fall asleep but they did not answer their call. All other animals could feel it too. Their forest was once again completely out of balance.

And every day, the Snowy Owl looked with her yellow eyes with hope towards the north, waiting for her friends to arrive. But they never joined her again.

And so, the Snowy Owl glided through the forest all by herself, making the animals and trees remember the silence of winter and they took hope and rest from her quiet flight. The Snowy Owl danced through the sky on her own, like a lonely snowflake, the last of her kind, in a grey and brown world.

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