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Tatiana Schatten

Rivers, Part 1

Based on true events

“Rivers are roads for lazy people.” Such is the definition of  “ River” in the Herbal Dictionary for Plants. If this was so or was not so, few plants were able to tell, for few ever returned from a trek down a river. But one little character did do so, a character as sharp in mind and body as a pin. And this quaint personage was a pine needle shaken from an immense and wonderful Jack Pine which was the lone native plant on a quiet urban street. At first the needle settled quite cozily beside a pathway nearby and there lay for many days. He soon grew weary, for the Tea Roses which hedged the path were so prickly that they hardly deigned to start a pleasant conversation, and the Dandelions only sent out little umbrellas on the wind when addressed. These were for the insects to use. A House Mouse scurried by, but he was nibbling pine needles, and quite certainly not befriending them. And so the Jack Pine needle had to wait there to be parched by the sun. The process of parching, though, did not last long, for hardly had the needle lightened one shade when a cloud sped over the sun and blocked its rays. Then another, and another, each combining its scowling grey with the other, and colliding and joining and transforming. Finally, the sun had not a crack  to peep through, and the clouds, which had seemed glowering when separated, now brightened to a sheep white and down came a torrent of rain. It only lasted a minute or two, but hardly had a few seconds passed when the needle noticed in terror that a great flood of water was surging up the path directly towards it, rushing, and gurgling, and tumbling at a speed higher than a Jack Pine itself. With a terrified squeak, the pine needle found itself swept away on a road of running water. Yes, it was on a river suited to its size, and as the Dictionary for Plants had described it, it was a good road for lazy people. For no effort was needed to proceed forward, because anything upon its surface is simply thrust along by sheer force. The river journey of the needle was quite smooth to begin with, but then there came an area in which the waterway grew shallower, and the needle found itself darting forward like a mad bull. There were dips in the surge, very small dips, but very large for the needle who went bounding along them like a waterlogged seesaw.

To be continued...

A Villain and Victim

Based on true events

To be the villain and the victim in one fell swoop of a second would be overwhelming whether for moth, midge or spider. Yet both spider and moth experienced it, both on a cold day, in a contest of life under grey clouds. The moth was the first to play the victim, for, being wearied of the cold stone siding of an immense house, he fluttered frenziedly off with glistening wings. But he was destined to not go far, and soon the villain appeared and figuratively took centre stage. For, in the restless fluttering that the moth had begun, he had forgotten to watch where he was flying, and went whizz! right into the arachnid’s web. The spider lost no time, for survival in such circumstances hangs on a thread, and he, like many a creature, was hungry. The moth flicked his wings desperately, but the spider was already upon him and throwing a silk net about him. Life seemed to have come to an end for the victim, had not the tables turned. So much did they spin, in fact, that soon the victim transformed into the villain, for the moth thrust his wings so frenziedly about that hardly had the spider swung one net of silk upon him when he passed the boundaries of the web, and escaped, leaving the spider, a most miserable victim, until another meal came its way. Ah, such is life!

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A Reflection of Reflections

Not based on true events

Carol was a silvery-grey squirrel with a luxurious bushy tail. Carol’s family members were all silvery-grey squirrels with the same type of bottle-brush tail. And, of course, the same could be said of all her relations and acquaintances but one. And that one was white, and was so well known in his area of forest that none took surprise at beholding him. No, not even Carol. She, in fact,boasted to her brother once that no colour, or absence of such, could surprise her. No, not even if the colour was blue with pink spots. But, I am afraid  she was  wrong on that point, even though squirrels are rarely wrong. For, even the day after this declaration, she received a surprise, no, not a surprise, but a full and complete shock. She was making her rounds of her territory, climbing up boughs, scurrying from tree to tree, chasing trespassers and nibbling upon any cone or nut which came her way. But, suddenly, Carol thought no more of that, for she had come to a lone cottage, and in that cottage was a window, and in that window she peered, only to leap many times her height in the air in startlement, and nearly rolled off the roof in consequence. Thankfully, though, she caught herself, and crept up the rough sweet-smelling wooden slates to take another look, and what was there but a black squirrel doing the same as she! They touched noses through the glass, but Carol then shook her head violently in utter disbelief. No! It could not be ! It was but a trick  of the reflection! But even as she did so, she noticed that the other squirrel did not mirror the action.  Immediately, her temper got the best of her wonder, and with a vicious charge, she burst at the window. Black or not, it was an intruder, thought she. Not much of one evidently, for hardly had Carol neared the pane when the other squirrel dashed in frenzied terror from it, leaping onto the floor within and bounding underneath  the covers of a bed where it hid for a long, long time. Carol watched its disappearance with evident satisfaction, and after a disdainful snort at cowardice, traipsed off. For, though she was quite surprised at the novel hue, at least she was not overcome by it.

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Johnny Wren

Based on true events

Many know of the famous, poetical Jenny Wren, but few are aware of the story of the prosaic Johnny Wren. Really, he would have not had this tale published if I had not unfolded before him my dire plight of being unable to think up a good story. But, once he heard of my need, he was all but willing to sacrifice of wedge of his pride to save me from literary destruction. He is like that, the kindly soul. Well, this tale begins with his courtship of Jenny Wren, and their subsequent marriage. My, how Johnny would serenade her as she inspected nest box after nest box for the perfect home. But she was soon to discover that Johnny’s voice was better than his carpentry skills. For, when she had exhausted her efforts to haul twigs and twine into the nest box of her choosing, Johnny would embrace the task wholeheartedly, but his efforts spanned no further. Evidently, he was either unaware or unpractised in the art of nest-building. What else, indeed, would explain the phenomenon of him trying to squeeze a twig lengthwise into the narrow hole instead of inserting the stick end first? Jenny would watch in evident dismay as he attempted this feat, only to succeed in breaking the twig in two, after which it would fall from his bill and tumble to the ground beneath. But the zeal of Johnny was unabated, and with a trilling, cheerful song, he would follow the stick and select another which was nearby, and taking it into his bill, would rise to the occasion and the nest box to labour again...and again...an again. But his aid was useless to his wife, for every twig he had he broke, like the first, against the opening of the nest box. Finally, Jenny could bear watching no more and hid her pretty head under her silky wing, listening to her husbands jubilant song interspersed with the snap!snap! of the destruction of the twigs. There, she waited for Johnny to halt his so-called nest building and alert her to begin her work once more. But before that moment arrived, something rather unusual occurred: the snapping of sticks came to an end, and Jenny removed here wing from her face to peer curiously at the nest box above. There was her husband, poking a twig into the aperture instead against. She was more than a little astonished and cocked her head at Johnny who returned the gesture with a wide grin, as far as birds can grin that is. Then, in victorious jubilation, he burst forth into vivacious song like a waterfall and fell to the ground in doing so. There, Jenny eagerly joined him and together they hopped in a happy circle, Johnny singing and Jenny chattering. And so, after that triumph, the nest was soon completed and a beautiful nest it was. Thus ends the tale of Johnny Wren, and if you ever see him and his wife, give them my regards, and many happy wishes for the their future. 

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The King of Falcons, Part 2

Not based on true events

Therefore, in the morning air, the Gyrfalcon took to the sky with strong rapid wing-beats. The King watched as it vanished into the horizon with foreboding in his heart, and a prayer for its safe return. But hour upon hour slid by like a ponderous snail, yet the bird did not appear. By noon, the King was certain that some terrible misfortune had befallen it and he paced the floor of his empty courtroom to ease his unease. By the time evening arrived, he was certain that the falcon was nought but dead. A tear then came to his eye as the sun sunk into a sanguine sea, and he thought of the falcon falling with a bloody wing as the sun now was doing. Then a rage fell over him, and he purposed to severely punish any man who had dared aim a bow at his falcon, and he arose from his throne in the ire of his heart to declare that very proclamation when something in the last rays of the now hidden sun caught his eye. It neared and neared until the King could descry its graceful and familiar form. It was his loyal Gyrfalcon returning with heavy wings and prey in its beak and claws, enough to feed the King and the courtiers and all of the village. Rarely had the falcon ever circled the clouds upon the same day that it had set out, but this was that day and the famine was ended. 

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