Autumn was coming as autumn always did. Moomintroll could smell it in the scent of leaves changing and feel it in the fingers of chilly winter air starting to find its way in to Moominvalley. He could also see it whenever he looked at Snufkin.
Snufkin always got restless this time of year. His eyes would wander towards the mountain or the sea, his feet would start a-tapping or move restlessly and the music that came from his harmonica would sound like it was trapped and trying to get free. Moomin knew that it wasn't long before Snufkin's longings to wander would drive him off on his winter travels.
Now, this wasn't a bad thing. Snufkin always brought back marvellous stories of the things he'd seen and the people he met, and he never forgot to bring presents for Moomintroll either, but winter had had crept in early this year and so had Snufkin's wanderlust.
"You can't go just yet. It's months till we hibernate," Moomintroll protested. "Think of all the fun we could have - jumping in leaf piles and exploring that valley over the next hill which we always say we'll do in spring but then the next thing you know it's autumn and we're getting ready for our winter nap with it still unexplored. Stay just another week."
Snufkin looked at Moomintroll sadly. "I'd like to stay, I really would, but when the light shifts just so, I feel other places calling me and I start missing the friends I've made along the way and the new friends I haven't met yet."
"Then let me go with you." Moomintroll tried to look fierce, but that's very hard when you're a Moomin. Moominmamma managed it sometimes, though I don't know how she did it. "A short trip. Up a small mountain and back before the first snowfall. You can leave again after I'm asleep."
"If we did that," Snufkin said, "Perhaps not a mountain. The snows start early up there and we might get stuck. Let's take a boat, just you and me. There are several rivers I've been meaning to explore. You go ask Moominmamma for provisions, and I'll get the boat ready."
You might think Snufkin thought that Moominmamma would say no, as mammas sometimes did or had hoped to slip away on his own while Moomintroll was distracted but you'd be wrong. He'd tramped up and down long roads on his own many times and having Moomintroll along would be something new. He thought of all the wonders he could show Moomintroll along the way and how much fun it would be to watch someone else see these things for the very first time. It would be almost as good as seeing it for the first time himself.
Soon, Moomintroll was back with a huge picnic basket full of food. It would have been awkward to carry, had they been going by foot, but it was much welcomed in a boat. "I checked with the others, but they were all busy. It's just you and me."
Snufkin was relieved to hear this. He hadn't even thought of Moomintroll inviting the others, though of course he would have. Moomintroll was like that. The bags and the basket were packed in the boat. It was a new boat, one they had built last spring and they'd spent the summer on the water. Her name was the Rambler and she had proven both reliable and seaworthy. This would be the longest trip they had taken in her.