Tuesday, April 13, 2004 :::
Smarty and Smiley
You toss a rock and then I will, said Smiley. You don't know how, said Smarty. Do too. Don't. Do too. You're a girl, you don't know how to skip rocks; Smarty mimed a weak toss, with the make-believe rock falling from his fingers just in front of Smiley. I can do better than that, watch me, Smiley said as she picked up a rock from the edge of the lake, turning it over and over in her little hand, judging if it was smooth enough to skip well. You're taking too long, said Smarty, as he grabbed the rock from her hand and lobbed in onto the surface of the lake, where it skittered for 6 perfect kisses on the water's surface. You couldn't do that good, said Smarty, taunting her and running off leaving Smiley to chase after shouting she could too.
Smarty didn't run too fast because he really wanted Smiley to keep up. He liked her company and he liked the way she looked up to him. He was foxy red, with a fluffy tail with a white tip. His black nose and little black eyes, set in his whiskered face above his pointed nose, topped with a pair of cute little ears, made him just about the cutest fox kit in the woods. But more than being cute, and more than being fast, he wanted to be the sharpest fox in the Chequamegon National Forest. He wanted to be slick, sly, he wanted to be the best. And since he wasn't sure he was the best unless he was being told he was, he wanted to have Smiley around telling him so.
Smiley, a sleek, dark fisher, with coal eyes and a little pointy nose with its own set of whiskers, was as quick as Smarty and even better at running up trees. She had lost her family and had been adopted by Momma Bear. Momma and Little Bear lived in a huge hollow tree down in the spruce swamp. Little Bear and Momma would snuggle up into a bear bundle and Smiley would curl up right on top, safe and sound. They had lots of games to play down in the swamp; Smiley would burrow under a mossy hummock and wait to jump out at Little Bear when he was wondering where she was. Sometimes she would run up his fur, all the way to the top of his head befoe Little Bear could say: Smiley, where are you? Little Bear and Smiley loved to climb trees. Little Bear would leap up a slender popple, shinny all the way to the top only to have the tree bend over and touch the ground. Then Smiley would run up the tree, and over Little Bear, down to the ground over and over again. It was great fun.
Little Bear and Smiley were walking to the lake one day, with Smiley darting in and out of his legs, when they met Smarty, sitting ever-so-cool on top of a large rock next to the path. Now Little Bear is everybody's friend; he said won't you join us, Smarty? Which is of course, just what Smarty had planned on doing. He was almost as quick as Smiley, even though he thought he was quicker. Little Bear found a patch of berries, juicy and fat, and sat down to eat every one he could find. Smarty and Smiley were racing each other to the top of the rock and back to Little Bear, down to the lake and up the big oak hanging over the water's edge. Little Bear had just finished the last berry when he heard a big splash. In only a leap or two Little Bear was in the water and a wet Smiley climbed up on his broad back. That was fun, she said, hanging onto Little Bear tightly, really fun! Smarty was high in the oak, watching Little Bear and Smiley, flicking his fluffy tail back and forth. I won, he said, I won.
From then on Smarty came by to get Smiley at Momma Bear's and they would play tag or find-the-fox or practice sneaking up on the squirrels up in the trees that would scold them fiercely when they were caught creeping along the branches. Once Smiley had flattened herself against the rough bark and stayed very still, like she did when she played with Little Bear, and made no move at all even when Smarty called her name. She looked so much like the brown bark, with her fur matching the rough wood, her ears looking for all the world like two bud tips, and her little eyes on Smarty looking all around. Smarty leaped off the branch to the ground and then Smiley leaped down right behind him. Smarty couldn't believe his eyes when he turned around and saw Smiley where just a second ago, nobody was. It was great fun.
Smiley thought Little Bear was the best bear around but she thougt Smarty was the smartest because he thought he was! She wanted to be just like him even though she was a fisher and he was a fox. There wasn't anything he did that she didn't want to do just like him. Smarty told Big Deer he was going to gather up all the acorn and hide them; Big Deer just snorted. Smarty claimed to know a better bat cave than the ones Clu and his family were using but didn't want to tell where it was. He told Wooly wolverine that if he walked across the logging road, he would be flattened for sure; Wooly just kept on walking. But everybody just couldn't help but like him. Because he liked everbody.
Momma Bear had looked at the sky when she woke up that morning. She sniffed the air with her big bear nose. She felt the wind in her fur and said to Little Bear and Smiley: we are going to have a big storm today. We will go up to the cave in the mountain side where the water won't reach when the rains flood the creek. Come with me to go to warn the other forest animals. So Little Bear and Smiley were right behind Momma Bear when Smarty joined them.
Just seeing Momma Bear moving like a mountain drew the other forest animals to her. By the time she got to the edge of the creek, all the other animals had gathered around. She made sure everyone could hear by standing on the big rock that Smiley and Smarty played on. Even though the wind blew and the tree branches threshed in the air, Momma spoke loudly enough for everyone to hear. The cave Momma Bear was talking about was easy to find and large enough for everybody, even the enormous grumpy alligator snapping turtle that was just now poking her head out of the creek to hear Momma Bear. She wasn't worried about the storm, of course, she lived on the bottom of the creek and it didn't make any difference to her how deep the water was. The only time the other animals had ever seen her was when she had come out on land to find the right spot to lay her eggs. She volunteered to keep watch and make sure to tell any stragglers that arrived to late to hear Momma Bear how to get to the cave on the mountain side. She sunk under the water that was slowly creeping over its banks. Momma Bear began to trek to the mountain with the forest animals gathered in bunches around her.
Smiley was glad to have a safe place to go and even when Smarty wanted her to leave with him to check his favorite tree so they could watch the water, she said No. Smarty was not happy to be told No when he wanted to do something. He gave Smiley a little nip to let her know he wasn't going to take No and made himself a little red streak heading back to the creek. He wanted to see the water rise and nobody was going to stop him! His favorite climbing tree had an enormous branch that streched out over the water, so old was the tree that the branch was as thick as a tree itself. He could walk out on the branch, safe and secure, never in any danger of falling.
The rain had begun, coming down in sheets, but Smarty wasn't worried. He snuggled under a crossing of leaves and branches on his big branch, and watched the swirling water cover the bank and then the glade and then the forest gound became muddy grey. As far as Smarty could see there was water, and apart from a few ravens who always acted as they knew everything, there wasn't any other animal around. He barked at the ravens just to let them know he wasn't afraid of this terrible storm. All around him the water swirled and raged, rising higher and higher. Smarty looked and the water below him seemed to be coming even closer as he watched. Smarty took his paw and reached down, surprising himself when he touched the water!
The water couldn't be that high, thought Smarty. But it was. There was nothing for it but to leap to a higher branch that wasn't as big or safe or secure. And it even moved back and forth in the storm. Smarty wasn't worried, he never was. Up high, he didn't have leaves to hide under and he was cold. The rain was pouring just as hard as before. Now Smarty had seen enough of the storm. He didn't have anybody to laugh at his antics or admire his silliness. He was cold and wet and thoroughly unhappy. But here he was stuck on a branch dipping up and down like a roller coaster, making him shift his weight with every sway. His wet fur weighed him down, making him slower. So when the wind gusted with a fury, Smarty was tumbled off his branch into the angry water.
Water ran up his nose and down his throat. His little barks couldn't even be heard. It looked like the end of Smarty. His little paws couldn't make any headway in the raging wind-blown water. He was under the water and couldn't get any air. He was a goner. He felt himself sink to the bottom. He felt the mossy rock tilt under him, solid against the current. His paws caught in the tangle of moss and leaves on the rock, anchoring him from floating away. Smiley was about to be history when all of a sudden he could breath again. He wasn't under water; he was breathing air! And his rock moved!
Ms Allie Turtle was in no mood. She never is anyway but this time she was really put out. She didn't have any patience ever and here was another bother. But she had told Momma Bear she would look out for any stragglers and here for sure was a straggler that didn't get to hear Momma Bear tell everyone how to be safe. She was like a huge raft, she swirled in the current. The storm raged all around and here on top of Ms Allie Turtle, the safest spot in the entire storm, except for Momma Bear's cave, was Smarty.
Smarty opened one eye, watching the water pour off his rock, wondering what he was doing on top of a floating rock when Ms Allie cranned her neck around to get a good look at the bother she saved. Seeing Ms Allie's face, full of wrinkles and crevices in which sticks or what looked like sticks, stuck out, with those small black eyes piercing him with a severe look, struck Smarty dumb for the first time that he could remember. He didn't say a thing. Not one word. Which is just the way Ms Allie Turtle wanted it because she was in no mood at all.
She hadn't planned on being a taxi, she had just promised to be on the alert and to forward the plan to any stragglers who hadn't heard. She could have been lying snug on the bottom of the creek in her immensely quiet world but here she was being a lifeboat. The fierce winds fell down, the lashing rain had quit. Now Ms Allie could make more progress to the edge of the water which was now far into the forest. Smarty had recovered enough to sit up but he wasn't the same Smarty. Not a single thought of what he was going to do next was in his head. Instead, there was a calm empty spot. He didn't need to say anything. He was waiting instead.
Ms Allie Turtle had reached a hummock of land that rose out of the water and used one of her big clawed feet to anchor herself. For the last time she turned her look on Smarty that said all of the things Smarty needed to have said to him, and watched as he gave a little jump onto the hummock. Even before Smarty could shake himself, Ms Allie Turtle had sunk beneath the water, her duty over. But Smarty could still feel those eyes. They said things that for the first time he listened to. He heard in his head things he already knew but had not listened to. How to obey, how to hear what other people had to say instead of being the first to say anything. He curled up snugly, fluffing his tail before laying it over himself, and listened to the birds beginning to call as the forest opened up in sunshine.
::: posted by kathleen sisco at 11:56 AM
Friday, October 17, 2003 :::
THE MANITOU OF POND LAKE
This is one of the first stories I told. I have it on tape and listened to it before I came to the library to put in on my website. Daniel Bass was only 4 and Birdie wasn't born yet. I am sitting in my chair, one of two in the other room at the service station building in which we have lived for several years. Randy is yet to die and our dog Tango is sleeping on the floor beside us. He may even be listening for me to mention the word "walk", and Hebert is probably an sphinx on Randy's desk with his orange eyes on the birds outside the window at 8783 Frank Drive, Minocqua, WI. When we were still alive, or thought we were.
In the deep northwoods, where the pines pierce the sky, where the orchestra of fluttering pople leaves is tuning up for the Winter March, lies a round lake. Like an eye in the earth, lined with lashes of dark dead stands, shadowed fullsomely with leather leaf and labrador tea, browed with crowded, wavering birch. Clouds skimming the thin fall sky darken the surface for only a blink of an eye before the sun returns. Across the water from the flooded deadwood, the surface of the lake meets the blunt edge of mud and sticks. The dam the beavers are reinforcing for the coming winter.
The beaver family has the kits from the previous summer and the babies born this year. The older kits and the parents are working hard to make sure the dam can withstand the heavy push against the compacted wall of mud and sticks that rise from the lake bottom. They have been cutting and storing the tree limbs of tender bark by forcing the limbs into the soft mud of the lake bottom. This food store will have to last through the winter, until the ice goes out in the spring or the beaver family will starve. Not even a bear can claw through the 6 feet of frozen mud, sticks, lilly pads, twigs that will house the family. Within the beaver lodge, rising up out of the water like a huge beauty spot on the chin, it will have enough room for all the family and be warm enough to keep a man alive, if he was fortunate enough to find the underwater entrance and follow the tunnel up into the lodge.
Such hard work is for the older beavers and the young kits have found the lake is full of more than beavers. A small island, dotting the center of the lake like an iris, has a tall pine with an osprey nest. Mrs Osprey has watched the beaver kits float in their coat of hollow hairs, learning to close their nostrils and dive. She knew about the family of otters living under the lake edge in a snug den. Sleek and slinky, the otter family uncoiled in the water like a wound-up spring. They had no need to store food and they ate the fish and mussels in the water. They would even be out and about in the winter. Beaver kits and otter kids found each other and explored the lake together.
A favorite game was choo-choo. The otter kids lined up like a train and the beaver kits, a little slower, were at the end just like the caboose. Mrs Osprey, high up in her tree, would watch the otter train steaming along, thinking how much fun it seemed, while keeping a sharp look-out for any fish that would dash away from the paddling youngsters. And once, when they played tag, she swooped out of the sky and tweaked the tail of one of the beaver youngsters. It was so much fun she couldn't resist playing also.
Mom and Pop beaver kept right on working, knowing the kits couldn't get into trouble on Pond lake, especially with Mrs Osprey keeping an eye on them. And they didn't really, if you don't count the time they waited until Mrs Deer and her fawn were sipping water and they all poked their heads out of the water at the same time! Or even when the otters made a mud slide and everybody had to swim as far away as possible and the otters hid under lilly pads and the beaver kits couldn't guess where they were. Until Mrs Osprey gave the game away by diving and dropping a stone over the lilly pads. But, after most of the leaves had fallen, and a chill was in the air, they all went as far as possible, down to the end of the lake where the rising water had turned the trees into woody spears and the leatherleaf grew thickly.
The sun was setting and the red glow tinted the marsh. It was easy to feel like you were all alone, even with everybody with you. Hiding in the leatherleaf was lots more scary than hiding under a lillypad. Little Girl beaver wouldn't go up past the fallen tree that lay in the water but Little Boy sure did. He tucked himself down under the limb of the waterlogged trunk and thought he looked just like a part of the limb. You have to be quiet while you are hiding. Shusssh, don't say a word. He heard the sound of something heavy on the limb above but he didn't see anything. Some sand popped onto his nose but there wasn't anything there! And then-something pulled his wiskers and nothing was there! That was too much for Little Boy and he jumped over the log, into the water, making such a racket that he had everyone around him asking what was the matter? Of course, no one believed him that something had pulled his wiskers. They just teased him. The sun had just a small cloud lit, and they choo-chooed back home. Everyone agreed to return the next evening, partly because the game was more fun in the leatherleaf and partly because it was kind of scary.
The next evening was chillier, and just as the sun was setting, the moon rose, so full it seemed it was leaning into the lake. Everybody noticed Little Boy didn't jump into the shoreline like before, and when they had all hidden, gotten very quiet, Little Boy too, there was a sound like a moan, like a breathy long-drawn out o-u-u-uugg-ou-o-u. They all heard it and Little Boy felt a hand -grabbing!! They all splashing out and came together and this time Little Boy's story was believed! How scary, what could it be? The coolness had settled into a mist that twisted among the cattails. Everything looked differend-and spooky. The train of otters and beavers moving in the bright moonlight passed Mrs Osprey's nest tree before the kids and kits felt safe. But, being home made everything seem right and of course nothing was there, probably just an owl, how silly to think anything else. So they agreed to meet again and go the the marsh the next night and the moon was so bright anyway!!
The moon was bright, dipping into the lake, seeming to share it's light with the water. On the edge of the lake, the dead trees loomed, casting shadows. Fog settled on the water and crept into the leatherleaf, twisting into misty loops. Nobody wanted to hide this time and they all held hands waiting to see if the sound would be made, if something else would happen. Little Boy beaver saw the mist make a tendril, he watched it creep forward, looping itself around Little Girl beaver's leg; he raised his tail to splash a warning and Oh No, he had a misty loop wrapped around his tail, and it was tugging at him! There wasn't any train then as they all swam as quickly as they could, raising the biggest fuss splashing and yelling, that Mrs Osprey asked what was wrong as they came to rest on her island. They all wanted to talk at once and Mrs Osprey listened and heard the story in bits and parts. Mrs Osprey said that she would think about what to do and that she would keep an eye on the children and nothing would harm them.
That evening Little Girl told Mom and Dad about the scary evenings even though Little Boy didn't want her too. Sometimes you have to ask for help and the best place for that is Mom and Dad. If there was anything in Pond lake that was dangerous for his kits, Dad beaver wanted to know. Mom wasn't about to let her children go to the bog without her so the whole family, and wouldn't you know it, all the otter family too, went the next night to the misty bog.
The fog had spread out and the leatherleaf was almost invisible. It felt heavy, it felt like it was a blanket, and it felt like it was moving! The beavers and the otters clung together as the mist looped and twisted around them, twining up legs and over tails. It was tugging and grabbing, hanging on. The moonlight was so bright it was easy to see as it thickened and bulged into a shape on the shore. It was hard to breath, their teeth chattered.
Above, in front of the moon, Mrs Osprey spread her wings. She fluttered, holding herself in front of the moon, casting a shadow down on the surface of the lake, over the frightened families held in the grip of the mist and the creature forming on the shore. From the bottom of the lake, around the beavers and the otters, rocks and sticks began to swirl. Logs left the bottom and whirled into the ring forming around the animals. Sand, pebbles and boulders joined the watery ring rising up into the sky. The logs, stumps, lilly pads, all clumped together with the water pulling out into fingers, forming a hand. The hand reached the shore, grasping the misty creature who writhed and pulsed, wrapping misty whisps around the hand. More pebbles, muck from the bottom, swirled up and filled the hand of the Manitou, coating the creature with dark earth, pinning it to the shore, holding it and changing it. In the bright moonlight, the Manitou's hand released the creature, now turned to wood, shaped with root-like ropes of bog, twisted and turned on itself. Knotted into an immense meld of earth and wood, rocks and sand, plants and twigs.
Mrs Osprey's shadow had brought the Manitou of Pond Lake to life. When everyone had gathered on her island she told of how she recalled the legend of the creature who came to life in the moonlight, who crept and twined, holding onto whatever it found. And how the Manitou could be called to conquer the creature-the mass of roots and rocks now part of the lake. The beavers and the otters hadn't known about the Manitou, only Mrs Osprey, and she kept her knowledge until she needed it to save the animals of Pond Lake.
::: posted by kathleen sisco at 8:23 AM
Saturday, September 27, 2003 :::
CLU AND CLUMMY, CHEQUAMEGON FRIENDS
Fall was in the air. The summer of mosquitoes and bugs and beetles was fading fast. Clu, the little brown bat, had been sailing through the soft air of the fall evening. Artfully he swooped and dipped between the leaves that twisted and twirled from the maples shot with red, orange and yellow. Big bronze beech leaves raked downward. Aspen leaves made yellow puddles in the air. Yellow-green walnut leaves shivered to the forest floor. Vivid red oak leaves flagged the busy traffic safely tied to their branches in the giant trees high above the spiked bramble bushes dressed in coats of many colors.
The rain of leaves was easy for Clu to dodge. His wonderful sound system told him of every obstacle in the way. His high-pitched squeeks returned to him whenever they encounted an object and made Clu a detailed little map as he flew. So effective was his radar he could often swoop up one bug while knowing where a second and a third were on his map. Right then his sound echo identified a moth, and Clu zeroed in on it, cupping the insect in his membrane that streached between his tail and his wing. Dipping his head into his cupped membrane he munched on the fat moth and thought how this is just like having dinner served on a plate! Clu was tickled to think of how every meal he ate was "fast food"!
Now that the sun had set, the air was cooling fast. Clu's fine body covering of light brown hair was enough to keep him warm for now but not enough to keep him warm through the long winter ahead in the Chequamegon National Forest. Clu and his family were summer residents of the Northwoods. And now, with the fast disappearing leaf canopy, he and his family were within days of being part of a mass migration to sounthern caves where they would spend the long winter days undisturbed. Once in the caves, their respiration rate would drop and their soft fur would take on the appearance of sparkling gems, the result of condensation. Their body mass would enable them to live, tucked up nicely, hanging like a christmas ornament, until returning warm weather awakened them. If something disturbed the colony, and the bats had to take wing, using energy that was ment for the long hibernation, the bats would not have sufficient food stores to complete the long fast and would die from starvation before spring. There once were millions of bats and now there were merely thousands.
Sifting through the night air was a natural as breathing to Clu. His kind had been on Earth since the time of the earliest mammal. Fossils of long-ago bats were almost identical to Clu and his family. In hundreds of millions of years the bats had not changed size or shape. Only the delicate apparatus for sensing the returning echoes had altered. Some of the bats had curled noses, splayed noses, leaf-shaped noses and every other funny shape you could imagine. Their ears were large, small and inbetween. Each particular kind of bat becoming a specialist with refinements to their echoing anatomy. But their skelatons were true to a never-changing pattern. Their wrists were at the top of the folded "wings", the membrane extending from the body of the bat past the wrist bones, over to the end of the enlongated "finger" and then dropping from the enlongated "finger" to curve back close to the body, then extend to and encompass the tail. Both sides were the same pattern, complete a "cloak" giving Clu his ability to sail the air unendingly. True creatures of the air, and the only mammals who are, the bats never chose to become earthbound and lose the ir grace as air-sailors. Clu thoght how lucky I am, throwing himself into a turn and dive for the fun of it.
It would have been fun, too, if he hadn't been knocked out of the air just like he was a bug being scooped up by a bat! Wham! Luckily he landed in a pile of soft leaves. Mostly. While he was still trying to get himself organized, he realized he was on top of something a lot softer than leaves. And this something had a cute little nose right between two dark luminous eyes. And was wearing a fur coat a lot thicker than Clu's. Whoops! it said. I thought you bats were great about getting out of the way!
Now Clu knew that when you didn't get things right, sometimes you didn't say what you ment. Sometimes you were just too embarassed. Just like this little flying squirrel who had crashed into Clu who was just minding his own business.
Wisely Clu didn't say anything, mostly because he was out of breath. The little flying squirrel, who introduced himself as Clummy, and don't get any ideas about the name, had reconsidered his own rash talk and was now apoligizing. Guess I couldn't see where I was going...............No, it was just that a leaf threw me off. Even we flying squirrels make a mistake every now and then. And so on. Lots of excuses. Too many Clu knew. Something was wrong here, and being helpful, Clu said he was glad to meet Clummy and why didn't they climb up the tree together? Clummy scampered up the big oad just as quick as you please, and Clu slowly made progress grasping the rough bark with his fingers at the "wrist joint" and inching his way up the tree. He could have taken off long before the reached the branch Clummy was sitting on but that would have been rude and he did want to find out what the problem was with Clummy. Maybe he could help.
A few minutes later the flying squirrel and the little brown bat were fast friends. Isn't it nice to be able to make friends just by bumping into somebody? Clu had discovered that flying squirrels sleep for long streaches in the deep of the winter cold. They often snuggle up in big groups to keep warm. How they use their tails as a rudder to steer, their extra skin streached out with their little feet at the corners looking for all the world like a furry square. Clummy proudly claimed to have sailed over 50 yards but even before he said all this he dropped his head and with a raspy squeak admitted he couldn't even fall off a tree without hitting a bat!!
I just can't fly, he said. I'm hopeless! Clu, even though he had never taught a squirrel to fly knew just what was needed! So, he gave Clummy a big bat hug, just wrapped him up in his wonderful wings, and wispered that he knew a secret guaranteed to get Clummy flying and that everything was going to be a right as rain. First he had Clummy do just what he did. And I gesss you know bats do things differently! They hang from whatever is above them, and they hang upside down! Clu, looking very confident, and hanging easily upside down from the branch Clummy was sitting on, had Clummy inch out, coming down the side of the branch, until he was beside Clu, hanging on by his sharp little toenails, all four feet clinging on the underside of the branch. Not a normal position for a flying squirrel and one where it was hard for Clummy to see anything but the wood in front of his face. Clu unfurled his membrane-wings, told Clummy to streach out his feet and TURN LOOSE. Which he sure did. And he popped right-side up just like Clu knew he would and sailed like he was born to it, which he was. And together, side by side, the Chequamegon friends enjoyed the last days of fall in the Chequamegon National Forest.
::: posted by kathleen sisco at 11:49 AM
Monday, September 15, 2003 :::
WOODSON AND PIPER
Woodson could barely see over his stomach. He could barely lift his chubby little arms. He chewed slowly on the tender grains he had just plopped into his mouth. He streched out his legs and turned over so his ever-so-big tummy was flattened against the earth, enjoying the feeling of the sun on his back. He knew the winter was not far away and he would soon be sleeping curled up in his soft grass nest. His tummy felt full but Woodson thought that he just might be able to eat some of those delicious hazlenuts that grew past the garden next to the woodpile. Groaning mightlily, he sat up, bent one leg and knelt on the other to stand. He reviewed his hill with satisfaction. He sat on a rise of soft dirt he had spent the summer excavating from his tunnel. He had dug another exit so that he would always be prepared when he had to dash into his hole when the hungry hawks and owls flew over. Woodchucks had to be ever alert. They had to have sharp hearing and..........................what was that???
Woodson turned his head in the direction of the the hazlenut bush, and there it was again.............that sound. It wasn't anything like a hawk. But Woodson gave the alarm and all the other fat woodchucks, alerted by Woodson, dipped into their holes in a second. And now Woodson was alone on the dirt mound about to dash down his own hole. But he stopped to think...........what was that sound? Not a hawk, for sure. Maybe an owl? No, you never saw an owl until it was too late. He shuddered, thinking about Uncle Tom who wasn't fast enough down his hole, and besides owls only flew at night. Maybe it was a fox.........or even a wolverine. Just thinking about that made Woodson so very glad he had dug his new exit hole because those wolverines made the dirt fly when they were after a fat woodchuck. That sound had a funny breathy, long-drawn-out .............and all of a sudden Woodson knew what it was...........he'd heard it often enough lately. It was just exactly what he heard when he had to get up and his tummy was so full he made a pouffy sound trying to get his breath. Can you imagine? It must be another woodchuck and maybe he needed help!! Woodson wasn't about to desert a fellow woodchuck in need. Why you never know, it might be Woodson who needed help next time.
Woodson sort of hurried; you don't hurry too much when you've got a winter layer of fat you are carrying around but he did put some speed into his waddle. At the edge of the garden, next to the hazlenut tree which Woodson noticed had only a few of those delicious hazlenuts (those darn squirrels!), he heard the sound again. Wheeeezzzeeeeeeeeee. It was close but try as he might, Woodson couldn't see another furry woodchuck. He climbed up on the scatted pieces of wood that had fallen in disarray from the neatly stacked woodpile. It was a funny place for a woodchuck to be, in a woodpile. He climbed over several maple logs and a skinny length of dark wood that for a second seemed to be moving..........and oh my gosh!! it was.................moving!! Woodson moved faster that he would have thought possible and actually jumped over to a small opening between two oaks logs. He little heart was tunking away. And right before his very eyes he found the rest of the shinny black log!! It was a snake..............and what a snake! Just as big as a log, with slick black scales, curling out of a space between the logs, and in a flattened head was a pair of yellow eyes and a mouth that opened and for a minute Woodson thought he was a goner!! And then there was that sound.................Wheeezzzzzzzzzzzzzeeeeeeeeeeeee.
Woodson could tell the sound was not what a snake would make if it was getting ready to eat you. It sounded definately like someone in pain! Woodson took a deep breath and said, "Hello, do you need some help?" The yellow eyes blinked once and then again, the tongue flicked in and out, and the snake said "Well, I appreciate the thought but I'm quite sure there's nothing you can do. It's just one of those things." Woodson, now quite relaxed and more than a little puzzled as to how a snake than can slither here and yon, into places where even woodchucks couldn't go, could manage to be stuck in a woodpile. But, of course, it wouldn't be polite to ask. While Woodson was mulling these thoughts over, the snake spoke again. I am in sort of a fix, she said. I won't be able to leave for a while. This woodpile has some very fat rats and I am stuck here because I have eaten one and have a big bubble right in my middle and now I can't get through this opening in the logs. I will have to stay here until my dinner digests. Nice of you to try to help though.............My name is Piper.
Woodson introduced himself. He hadn't made friends with a snake before, especially one with beautiful black scales. He told Piper how he lived on the other side of the garden. He had often come to the hazlenut bush for the delicious nuts, he said. Did Piper live far away? And was he surprised when he discovered that Piper lived in the woodpile! How is that, Woodson said, that you live in the woodpile and I don't know it? Piper laughed, she was already feeling better, and told Woodson that king snakes like herself often made homes in woodpiles where there were lots of mice and sometimes rats. She liked the dark spaces and curling up into a tight spiral to sleep the long winter nights away. Thats exactly what I do, said Woodson, only I live in a tunnel and sleep on a bed of grass. I have to eat and eat so that I can curl up and sleep deeply until Spring. And that's just what I do, said Piper. I am getting ready for my winter sleep also. I also guard my woodpile, Piper said. You would not think it to see me, but I am very brave because I can be bitten by a poisonous snake and live. I even eat them!! Woodson was amazed because here was someone who lived right next door and he didn't know it and was a hibernator just like him and wonder of wonders!! could be bitten by a poisonous snake and live just like Woodson could. AMAZING!! What a small world!!
I am feeling better already, said Piper. But I am just a tiny bit worried. Woodson could see his new friend didn't want to appear to be afraid, but he knew everybody is afraid some time. I wonder, Piper said, if, since you are already here, I wouldn't ask you ordinarily but ....................do you think you might stay just a little bit longer? And maybe keep an eye out? You woodchucks are the best spotting danger. Woodson smiled. He was glad he could help. He told Piper he would be right back and climbed down from the woodpile. He gathered up as many of the hazlenuts he could hold and brought them back to his hollow spot under the logs. He munched the hazlenuts until the sun set and Piper got to feeling better. Piper was glad to have a whole group of woodchucks for company and would be happy to make sure the garden edges, including Woodson and his friend's homes, were kept free of poisonous snakes. They talked about how they were neighbors and didn't even know it because Piper was usually out after dark and Woodson was usually snug in his burrow after dark. And how they had so many things in common even though they looked so different and lived so different. And how they could use the differences like Woodson's sharp lookout skills and Piper's bravery to help each other. And to think they didn't even know it until they met each other; friends living next to each other in the Chequamegon National Forest.
::: posted by kathleen sisco at 10:22 AM
Friday, June 13, 2003 :::
a THIS STORY IS DEDICATED TO THE FIREFIGHTERS OF THE TALL TREES: SMOKE JUMPERS WHOSE JOB IS THE SAME IN RUSSIA AS IT IS IN THE UNITED STATES. FOR ALL THOSE WHOSE MEMORIES ARE FOREVER IN THE CLEAR STREAMS WE PADDLE AND WHOSE DEDICATION SAVES FOR US THOSE TALL PINES WHERE STORIES ARE BORN AND SPRITS SET FREE.
Tango and The Hodag
Many years ago, when deep in the Northwoods of Wisconsin, sunlight fell on the tops of the tall pines and only rays slipped past the branches of pines, hemlock, spurce and fir to lighten a leaf here and there on the dim forest floor of needles and moss, the Hodag slumbered snug in his den under a gnarly snag of roots and rocks and earth. He was hungry and tired even though he had been sleeping more and more. He was the last Hodag and he was lonely.
He couldn't remember the last time he had eaten; and especially since he only wanted to dine on WHITE BULLDOGS and they were as scarce as hen's teeth and everyone knows hens don't have teeth. Since WHITE BULLDOGS weren't going to come to the Hodag, the Hodag must go to them. And so he set out from his den deep under the roots of the lightening-struck pine in the shadowy forest putting one clawed paw silently in front of the other on the carpet of quiet green, keeping his big black eyes wide open, and only scrunching them shut when he passed into a sunbeam because the sun hurt his eyes.
From his hilltop view, Mr Gene Shepard noted the size and height of the immense pine forest that spread out before him. They seemed endless even though the lumber companies, including the one Mr Shepard worked for, had been cutting the huge pines every winter for the last 10 years. Teams of oxen and then horses and now steam engines blowing forward on new steel tracks, had pulled the logs from the deep woods to the frozen ponds. There, in the spring, the dam holding the log-filled pond would be released and the woods would roar with the fury of the logs rushing down stream, jetting through the currents and jamming into hugh rafts in the still water. Mr Shepard knew the cutting and hauling of the logs was only part of the dangerous job of getting the logs to market. Men would have to risk their lives in dynamiting the jams to free the logs more than once on the trip down river to the big mills. Logging was a dangerous business and Mr Shepard's job was to find the best new areas to log.
From the ridge where he stood with his dog Tango, Mr Shepherd was glad to have such a summer day to be out in the woods. The bright sunshine was warm, the breeze that stirred the tops of the tall trees just cooling enough to keep the flies away. Some areas of the woods, particularly up by the big lake where logging had taken out all the big pines, were full of mosquitoes now. But, here, in the thick pines, Mr Shepherd had only to walk forward to be in the dense shade. There were natural trails in the forest, easy to follow, made years before any white man had come to log the woods.
He put his notebook back in his pocket after noting the height of the trees. He wanted areas where the pines were straight and tall without any lower branches. Not too far from water and not too hilly. It didn't matter if the ground was soft because all the actual logging would be done after the ground had frozen solid in the winter. This part of his job was a pleasure for Mr Shepherd, and for his dog too, since Tango had gone off on his own and was now barking at something down the trail in the shadowed forest. Mr Shepherd knew Tango would catch up on his own, so he walked on, marking the size of the trees.
Tango had chased a frog that had jumped from a lily pad into the water, and he had jumped right in after him only to find he had jumped almost on top of one of the huge muskies. Now these muskies have teeth, lots of teeth, sharp teeth, but luckily for Tango, they don't eat bulldogs. But he was sure surprised to find the water moving underneath him! Almost like he was on top of a log scooting downriver! He didn't stay a passenger for long though; he found he was swimming when his would-be-boat disappeared. He dog-paddled to the sandy edge of the creek and started to shake. He started at his ears, tossing them left and right, and just shook right on down, through his jowls and shoulders and ending up at his tail. He tossed water everywhere.
And who should be espying this activity but our Hodag. Seeing that big dog just kind of turned his mind. He couldn't see past that big WHITE chest and those four WHITE paws. With all that swirling and twirling going on, all he could see was WHITE. Hunger makes a fellow do some poor thinking and our Hodag wasn't thinking when he launched himself straight at that WHITE bulldog. Now a Hodag can't really take off in a jump at something. They are built low to the ground and sort of like a train engine. Squat. Solid. All muscle. So what he really did was close his eyes and plow straight forward. And what happened is sort of like a train wreck. All that forward momentum carried the Hodag right into Tango and they both carried on right back into the creek.
What a sight! You couldn't tell what was what. And Tango for sure didn't know what had happened but because he was a bulldog and as tough as nails, he just gave as good as he got. Those two wrestled across the creek and back again. First the Hodag had a mouthful of Tango's hide and then he didn't. Tango slipped and dodged all the while trying to grab a hold of the Hodag. Every time he thought he had a bite, he couldn't hold on. His teeth just couldn't sink into the creature's skin. They left broken shrubs and uprooted bushes in their wake. The creek couldn't hold them. They chased each other around and over the fallen logs and boulders. Their tussle just plain wore each other out.
After a bit, they weren't doing any chasing. The Hodag just lay with his legs sprawled out, just barely able to open and close his mouth like a bite in slow motion. Tango was having trouble breathing because he had a mouthfull of the Hodag's tail which was the only part that fit in his mouth and for all the chomping he was doing, he wasn't making any progress at all. WOW, this skin is like iron, thought Tango, pausing to get his breath. The Hodag had opened one eye just a peek, and saw GOOD HEAVENS!! that his bulldog wasn't white after all. He started losing his appetite real quick. And sort of flexed his leg to see if he could start inching backwards. The Hodag was planning on a retreat because he was a gentle soul who would never start a fight or look for trouble, he just wanted lunch. Tango, who had gotten his second wind, was up trying to drag the Hodag and his tail back to the creek.
Whoa there fella, said the Hodag. I guess I made a mistake. No harm, guess I'll be moving along. You sure do put up a good fight. I'll be leaving now. You sure taught me a lesson-think before I leap. If you could just move your teeth from my tail-----and with that the Hodag lined up all his huge teeth in a row together and streached his mouth wide. He had been practicing his smile to use if ever he saw another Hodag. Now Tango was just a friendly as the Hodag and couldn't resist a smile when he saw one so he smiled back, all teeth too. Well, these two just got to talking and they went from fighting to being friends just like that.
Resting in a mossy hollow, away from the sun, shady under the big pines, the Hodag found himself talking and talking. About how he was the last of the Hodags, how he slept for weeks at a time in his den, about how he missed the other Hodags. And how the deep shady forest was being cut down and how one day he would wake up in the middle of a stumpy field full of sunshine and he just knew it would be the death of him. And how he was hungry but he just couldn't eat ANYTHING but WHITE BULLDOGS. He even turned his big, black eyes on Tango again. What can I do, he said sighing?
Tango wasn't as picky as the Hodag and ate lots of different things. How about some fish, he asked, thinking about the big musky that he had met earlier that day. Uck, the Hodag said. And Can't stand the brown hair about deer and Wouldn't have it about skunks and on and on. Well, I can understand how you are hungry, thought Tango to himself when the Hodag had rejected just about everything he could think of. Looking at the Hodag with all those sharp white teeth, Tango had an inspiration. And inspiration is when your brain gets lightening-struck.
How about, he paused and picked a mint leaf from the edge of the patch nearby and idly put it in his mouth, how about ...........chewing thoughtfully, he handed a mint leaf to the Hodag, well.............maybe a ............. A what ? said the Hodag chewing on his own mint leaf and looking happy for the first time all day. Well, I was thinking about maybe something different.................like some .............................blueberries. Blueberries? said the Hodag. I've never tried blueberries. I've seen lots of blueberries, just never thought........................do you really think blueberries might be good? Well, said Tango, we can go and see. I know where..............Just a minute, said the Hodag. I know these woods inside and out. I know every blueberry patch there is to know. Just follow me.
Blueberries grow on sandy open glades. The bad thing about blueberries, as far as the Hodag was concerned was that they grow in the sunshine. I guess that why he had never tried blueberries. The sun hurt his eyes so he only saw them and had never tried to eat them. It was a good thing Tango was along. When they found the blueberry patch, the Hodag stayed in the shade and Tango pulled up the plants with the biggest, juiciest berries and carried them to the Hodag who, quite delicately, used his tongue to pop the berries into his mouth. And once he started, he didn't quit. He found out he liked blueberries, he loved blueberries. They were delicious. He just ate and ate. For hours.
The sun was turning the sky red and orange before the Hodag said stop, that he had had enough. Tango, tired out from toting berry bushes, was glad to take a rest in the shade beside the Hodag. I am so glad I mistook you for a WHITE BULLDOG, Tango, said the Hodag. It was the best mistake I ever made. Just think, blueberries are the best thing to eat and I never knew it! And now I can eat blueberries when the sun goes down. From now on I will have enough to eat. Thanks to you Tango. And he put his huge white teeth together and pulled the corners of his mouth back in his Hodag smile.
Tango did the same and even wagged his tail, something the Hodag wasn't able to do with all the heavy white spines on it. I suppose, said Tango, that I will see you sometime around? thinking about what the Hodag had said about fearing the forest would be cut someday when he woke up. The Hodag turned his enormous head up and watched the shadows deepen. I am a creature of the deep woods, Tango, he said. All of my Hodags are gone except for me. Thanks to you, I will be able to go in search of deeper woods. Forests that are still tall and shadowy. I will have food wherever I go now. And he turned back and Tango saw his deep black eyes glisten with tears. Goodby. And the Hodag faded into the woods as if he had never had been.
Mr Shepherd had made camp and was setting his coffee aside for the morning when Tango walked in and laid his head in his lap. Well, I guess you had a good run, didn't you Tango? Mr Shepherd said as he scratched behind Tango's ears. Tango curled up at Mr Shepherd's feet and slept and somewhere out in the dark forest, the last Hodag slept too, safe and warm and not hungry.
::: posted by kathleen sisco at 2:56 PM
Wednesday, April 02, 2003 :::
The TRUE Story of SMOKEY BEAR
Inside the cabin, the man was pushing papers back from the edge of his desk. Lots and lots of papers. Some had crept over the edge and fallen to the floor. They were stacked up in a chair by the side of the desk. On top of the stack was a ranger's hat. Deep green, sharp and every bit as full of pride as the man who wore it. Both the man and the hat had been assigned to the cabin for a long time. Many jobs had been completed but this one was causing the man to do some extra thinking. This job was to bring to the people who came to visit the forests a way to take the forest home with them. So they could think about the forest as part of their lives. The ranger had finished his other reports and knew it was time to take a break. He packed his drawing pad into a bag and added some lunch and finished by tacking a note to his door---Back Soon.
His appaloosa horse nickered happily as and the ranger left the cabin and rode into the forest. Once into the deep green of the spruce and pine, the forest magic seemed to settle and make sounds softer, and the bird calls fell like notes from the tinkling branches of the overstory. The wind strummed ever so gently, brushing through the clouds. The appaloosa rocked and the ranger listened. How he loved the symphony he was hearing. A clatter of iron-shod hoves over pebbles in the creek, an uprushing of breath as the app cleared the small bank and a settling as the sun made a warm wrap around his shoulders. Such days let him feel God in every mote in the air, in every needle of pine, and in every animal's breath.
The easy pace would eventually bring him to the edge of the river, full and bubbling, rolling over itsself in it's pleasure. Where the river twisted out of the forest with it's edge of deep green, it broke apart and sank between clumps of reed-grass, its little rivlets edging spring flowers that leaned over gracelfully to catch a glimpse of their pink cheeks in the soft flow. This was the picture in the ranger's mind as he let the app lead the way to the river.
The bear, back in the forest, was also enjoying the day as only a bear can. He was planning on eating some of the fat trout that were lurking under the hanging bank. He knew he would have to find a shallower spot away from the deeper pools. So he headed downstream until the water shallowed and plopped himself down where he looked like a big rock, or at least he planned to look like a big rock. He held himself quite still and because he could just taste the trout, he was very patient. Very, very patient.
The ranger had reached the spot he planned to fish and got his waders and fishing vest ready. Patiently he tied on a red tip fly. He made a practice cast upstream. The red tip fly fell temptingly into a pool. It swirled and was caught in the current. The ranger lifted his line and recast. He had all the time in the world; he was patient. Very, very patient.
He was almost sorry when his red tip fly disappeared and the line was pulled strongly. He played the fish as it maneuvered around a big boulder. He walked into the deeper water and felt the bottom of the creek fall away and he slipped under the surface of the water. Only his arms were out of the water and they held his fly rod and his line as he held onto the running trout. He stepped up into shallower water in time to see his hat float away downstream in the current. Finding sandy bottom, the ranger drew in the line and brought the thrashing trout to the bank. The jewel-aminal lay flashing sunlight on a patch of moss. Next to it the ranger sat on a rock and poured water from his waders into the river. He lay his wet vest on the rock beside him. He wrapped the trout in moss, laying it in a cool shallow dip beside the river. He gathered his rod and line and reshod in wet waders he stepped into the river and made anoter cast with the red tip fly. The day was as good as it could get he thought smiling.
At the edge of the bank a small weasel was looking at the fishing vest. He crept under it and managed to hang part of the pocket over his head. Tugging the vest after him he stepped into the water where the current pulled the vest away. The ranger, working another fish, saw the vest making its way downstream and jumped to catch it. And he would have only his foot hung on a tree branch on the bottom and he threw out both his hands to balance himself and now the fly rod and the fat trout at the end of it also sailed away to join the vest and the hat. Sitting on the rock, again emptying his waders, only this time in disgust, the ranger laid the moss-wrapped fish inside saddle bag and he and the app started off downstream in search of his vest and hat and fly rod.
Downstream the bear was still patient. He just knew the trout would show up if he was patient. The water made little purrs of contentment as it rolled over the stones. The water gurgled. The bear picked up his ears, this sound coming downstream was different. It was a fish, making more noise than he had heard before. The trout was splashing, making it easy for bear to pick him up in one bite. But right behind the fish was a long stick, coming right for bear! Bear moved to the side and OH NO, the stick came along with him. Bear backed up and the stick came to him. Bear turned downstream and made big leaping jumps but GUESS WHAT? the stick was right behind him. Well, bear forgot that there was a waterfall and over he went and even if it was a small one, he still tumbled over and over before he came up for air. He thrashed with his arms and finally got himself upright only when he stuck his head up what came over the water fall but that stick and right behind it was a big leaf or something, he couldn't tell. Bear crawled up to the shore and shook all over and when his shake got to his middle it stopped. Because somehow bear had gotten a fishing vest on in his tumble over the falls. Bear looked at his new vest and didn't know what to think. It was kind of pretty with all the diferent colors of fur and hair and foil. Maybe he liked it. Just then the current brought the big leaf to the shore where bear was standing. The leaf wasn't as frightening as that stick which has also appeared. Bear backed down into the water, slowly puttingdistance between himself and the stick and the current pulled the big leaf along with him. Once bear got to deep water, he took a breath and ducked under and swam away. He intended to get away from that stick for good. The water became shallower and he lifted up his head only now the big leaf was on his head. He stood up and what a funny sight he must have made. A great, big bear with a fishing vest and a big hat.
At least, he looked funny and kind of right and well, maybe like a forest symbol that people would remember. That's what the ranger thought as he looked down on the bear wearing a hat and a vest amid the tumbling water and forest trees. He took out his drawing pad and quickly sketched the bear looking so guardian-like and solid. He was sorry to see his vest go but he doubted he would be able to get it back. He finished his sketch when the bear looked up and tipped the hat off his head. The bear then ambled downstream as if it was in his mind to finish what he had started and the ranger waited until he was gone and searched the pool by the waterfall and found his flyrod that had somehow been through the fall unharmed and even the hat was still there.
I guess, he thought, that the fish got off the hook. The red tip fly was still there so the ranger cast over to the edge of the deep pool. He thought about the bear and how the bear was a symbol of the deep woods. How the spruces and the firs edged miles and miles of land the bear needed to survive. The meadows the bear grazed. The ramp in the forest floor the bears ate early in the spring. The berries the bears lived on in summer, and the trout the bears fattened up on to survive the winter curled up under the deep snow. How like the flowers emerged from the forest floor and bloomed and how the trees greened from bare brown wood, the bear awakened from the sleep of winter to renew himself in his forest of wonders.
Back in the cabin, the ranger took his sketch pad and looked at the bear he had drawn at the waterfall pool. He propped the sketch up next to the hat he wore so proudly and worked on the idea that he had been thinking about on his ride back from the river. His drawing when done showed a bear looking serious but friendly. And maybe a little proud. On the bear's head was the hat that symbolized his commitment to the forest and his care for it. At the bottom of the drawing he had written: ONLY YOU CAN PREVENT FOREST FIRES. He wasn't sure of a name for the bear but he knew he would think of something.
::: posted by kathleen sisco at 1:30 PM
Monday, March 31, 2003 :::
HOW LUCKY GOT HIS NAME
Lucky was Little Bear very best friend. Maybe because both of them were always asking questions and always wanting to know WHY which is when Momma Bear usually said why don't you ask Lucky? They had been friends ever since Lucky landed on Little Bear' furry rear end. Now that is another story in itself. This is the story of how Lucky got his name.
Lucky was a raven. Of course, when birds are babies they look anything but cute. In fact, you could say only a momma could love a face like that. They are all mouth and always hungry. It takes both Mom and Dad to feed those babies. And when they get big enough to fly, they still want Mom and Dad to feed them.
Lucky was the last baby raven in his nest. His brothers and sisters had tumbled out of the nest and surprised themselves by flapping their wings hard enough to fly. And once they got the idea, they left Lucky even though he called and called. Doesn't sound like he was so lucky, does it? Mom and Dad came to the big pine close to the nest tree and called Lucky but he wanted to be fed so he opened his mouth wide and waited for Mom and Dad to fill it. Poor Lucky, he waited and waited. No Mom and Dad. It was a long cold night by himself way up high in the nest pine.
The next morning Lucky didn't hear Mom and Dad calling but a huge roaring noice that filled the woods. The foxes and squirrels and deer left and Lucky was all alone with the roar that just got louder and louder. The tree started to shake and there was no storm. The branches swayed from side to side and there was no wind. Below on the ground beneath the nest pine was a big red rock that wasn't there yesterday. There were the animals called men that were walking around carrying things. An awful buzzing began and the tree vibrated so much that Lucky's nest started falling apart. From below the sound of the men's shouting sounded out: TIMBER!
The next thing Lucky knew he was sort of still in his nest but it was in the air and he was sort of flying with his wings out and the nest and he and the whole tree was crashing to the ground. KERTHUMP! Everything was in a jumble and tossed about so Lucky wasn't sure of anything except he wasn't high up in his nest pine anymore. He was so upset all he could do was huddle in a lump next to an old mossy stump whose roots curled up around three big boulders. He made his feathers sleek against his body and held his head low. He was afraid. It doesn't sound like he was Lucky does he?
A big hand reached clear around Lucky and closed softly, just enough to hold him securely. Lucky was so scared he opened his mouth and panted. Well, a big gruff voice said, It looks like this is your Lucky day. Lucky just blinked. He was wrapped in a coat with a warm plaid lining and put into one of the trucks that Lucky had thought had looked like a rock. He wasn't quite afraid by now. The rumbling of the truck and the splashing of the water when the truck crossed a ford in a creek were all new sounds to Lucky. The truck stopped, the door slammed and Lucky was snuggled up agains a big chest. Then quiet and stillness.
Lucky managed to get his head outside the wrap. He looked around and saw something that looked like food. To ravens and bears almost everything looks like food. Only this really was. One more step and .....Here now, the gruff voice said. That's my sandwich. And he pulled off part of the peanut butter and jelly sandwich and put the piece on the table next to Lucky. Lucky got the peanut butter all inside but couldn't get it off the roof of his mouth. He turned upside down and even tired to use a stick to poke at his gummed-up mouth. The man who looked like a bear so Lucky decided to call him Mr Bear opened his mouth and laughed. In between laughs he ate the rest of the sandwich. Now does it sound like Lucky was Lucky?
Mr Bear fed Lucky some berries and even a piece of venison jerky that Lucky took to the window and poked into a corner. Mr Bear could see Lucky was over his shock of being in the tree fall. He watched Lucky as he walked and hopped up to the top of the door. He could see Lucky's wings were not injured. He gathered up his thermos and jacket that he had put around Lucky and went to the door. He waited just a minute and opened the door. Lucky jumped out and up onto the woodpile at the side of the cabin. Mr Bear went to his truck and brought some more food for Lucky and strewed it over the ground. Just in case you are still hungry, he said to Lucky. Does it sound like Lucky was Lucky?
Lucky flew a little, to a hemlock tree and hid in the branches. Then he flew up to the top of a red pine and looked for Mom and Dad. Before too long another raven flew over and called and Lucky flew up and followed. Ravens without families roost together in big groups. Even though Lucky missed Mom and Dad he would have lots of company from now on. And he would know where to go to get a peanut butter and jelly sandwich------now don't you think Lucky was Lucky?
::: posted by kathleen sisco at 2:44 PM