Home Editorials Tatiana Schatten
Prince Albert Voice
Based on true events
Life is never quite so beautiful until one protects the life of another. Such was the discovery of a young man who wished to do this very thing. But little skill did he have to treat his fellow men, or the surrounding mammals and birds, and these cases he always presented to a knowledgeable doctor, who was also a veterinarian. He, in turn, would take them and heal them on charity. But what was the young man to do, this Mr. Grey who now beheld much grey on the horizon if he could not help anyone or anything himself. Over this he brooded while seated upon the concrete stairs of his medical friend, and indeed , there was grey on the horizon, but it was swiftly receding, for the rain-laden clouds which caused it were drifting away after a downpour. Then, the eye of Mr. Grey, turning from these, alighted upon an indigo puddle at his feet. There, in its centre, was a waterlogged ant, as shiny as a bead of glass. Knowing that it would easily drown without his help, the man stooped and fetched it gently from the water with his finger. But there it rested, unmoved, for lo! It seemed already dead. Mr. Grey’s momentarily flying spirits fell again at the sight of it, and though he had no hope for the creature’s life, he decide that he would at least dry it before setting it in a secluded area of lawn. Therefore, he blew upon it like west wind, and bit by bit it dried, and its limbs, as they were freed, waved in his breath. Suddenly, he halted and looked ever so closely at the tips of these limbs. Were they really moving? Yes, indeed, they were twitching, however spasmodically. A new-found hope arose within Mr. Grey’s breast, and with the gentlest touch, he moved one of the limbs back and forth, and blew upon it by intervals, to get the blood of the ant flowing again. For many long and arduous minutes, he continued this until the ant trembled, and knowing that insects breath better upright, he most carefully stood it on his palm, in the sun, and continued his insect CPR. And was he successful? His letter to the doctor, his friend, speaks for itself:
Taking lessons from an American Crow seems rather far-fetched. Yet, I realize more and more that it is quite possible to be a pupil of a bird. I have begun to try to imitate the crow calls in the very sight of the birds to see their reaction. Many times they give me a wary eye and fly off, but at times they will repeat their sounds and wait for me to imitate them. The lessons can be long and tedious, and often I can not reproduce the taught sounds afterwards. Usually, these lessons are widely spaced in time, and rare, as well as being supervised with a separate teacher each class. But once, a breeding pair came and made their nest high up in a tree by our house, and the seemingly irresponsible male ( I am quite sure he was male, for the female was far more frightened of me) condescended to drill me through my crow language paces. It began when I saw him in the green space behind our yard, dipping his head and lifting his wings to let out a hollow “cow, cow” noise. Since he was in a perfect location for a lesson, I paced carefully through the blooming garden and stopped near him, and repeated the noise as best I could. The tone was difficult to replicate exactly, and thankfully my teacher did not fly away, but gazed upon me with a questioning countenance. Then, when my recitation was over, he slowly turned from me, and again gave the call, and watched me as I repeated. Some sounds were low, some were high, some short, some long, but always the same monosyllable of “cow, cow”. But he evidently wanted to know more of my abilities and gives a bill rattle crossed with a regular caw. Now, that was too difficult, and after a while he returned to the spotted bovine nomenclature, and even asked for a few caws, all the while scrutinizing me as I learned my lessons, and waiting for me to finish before beginning the next assignment. He even took some food in his bill and went to a tree nearer and adjacent to me where he continued the lesson between eating. Finally, when I was growing tired of the lesson, and was contemplating deserting the green, leafy schoolroom, he shot into the air with caws that sounded rather amused and flew away. I think he was telling all the world about his role as teacher. Poor thing. Yes, poor thing, for I believe he needed to be taught a thing or two himself, for when his mate was incubating eggs, he hardly fed her more than twice a day and would not respond to her calls. Perhaps he was too far away, but his mate became quite distressed during his absence. He seemed to come less and less, and finally, when their nest eggs failed to hatch, rarely made his appearance. Now, his mate is mostly on her own, eating the scraps we give her and hovering about the nest. Well, perhaps they could try making a new one, for they have yet time.
Based on true events
I believe that he was never so frightened in his life. To be displaced from the cool lake water, to be removed from his beloved sunlight, to be taken from his freedom in the clear water was not at all pleasing to him. Yes, there were predatory fish and crustaceans and birds in and on that lake, all of them quite hungry for him or causing him peril, but he was still free to roam. But then came a great torrent which took him from his placid swimming, and sucked him into a hot cage, and for an hour he remained there in fear as the condensation which was once its beloved water collected upon the plastic sides of the container. Where, indeed, was he going? And how hot it was becoming! The water and the sand beneath were rocking to a rhythm, and I daresay he would have been sea sick, if that was at all possible. Finally, the movement shifted as his cage was lifted up, and taken into a cool house, and there remained for some time. Here, he could collect his scattered wits, and he began to snoop in the sand at the bottom of the container, conversing with his friends, bumping into tiny plants and even nibbling at this and that when he felt so inclined. But his adventure was not over. Before he knew it, he was scooped up without ceremony, along with the silt which was about him, and plopped on some smooth surface so bright that he believed himself to be transparent. It was so piercing. Up above, though, he did not behold, as he rushed to and fro in this new world, was the eye of a microscope, and the owner of the microscope was observing him with the utmost pleasure, crying out in delight: “There’s something here that looks like a Paramecium, and my, it’s zipping about like a hen without it’s head!” And, thankfully, after a little while, he was replaced in the water, and after that he became used to his new surroundings and lived happily ever after.
Not based on true events
Finally, the depth of the water increased once more and formed a placid pool from which the pine needle hoped never to escape, for it had very much disliked the roller-coaster ride to which it had just been subjected. But that pleasant hope was not to be, for who comes along but a playful child who immediately caught sight of it peacefully floating in the pool. Without merciful warning, the needle felt itself plucked from the surface by chubby fingers and plopped downstream where lake once more turned into a stream. And that was the worst part. For this time, the strem zigzagged here and there like an insane serpent, and hardly had the needle been thrust one way when it was pulled the other. Then, around a terrible bend, there came the hill. Yes, a towering hill. Before the pine needle could gasp for a last breath, it shot down, down the raging river. Stones carried by the rapids rumbled and crashed about it, almost on top of it at times, but the nightmare was yet to come, for, before the needle knew what was occurring, it found itself plunging down, down into darkness on an airborne waterfall. It had fallen into a manhole, and was not seen again for a very, very long time. A few months passed, as did the storm, of course, and we find ourselves with the owner of the prickly roses. She was holding an envelope, an envelope which smelled of lavender and violets. This she opened and discovered within a letter, but not only a letter. Resting upon the very bottom of the envelope was a pine needle, the very pine needle with which this tale is concerned. She gave a curt laugh upon sight of it, believing that it had been set within for some strange sort of a joke, and sashaying to the front door of her home, she threw it into the yard beyond. And so, the Jack Pine Needle returned, and found that the roses were not too prickly to listen decently to its adventures after all.
Not based on true events
He was an old, old snake of ancient lineage, but he still had his rattle, but he had lost his sting. Yes, he had lost his sting, for there was not a single tooth remaining in his leathery mouth. And his name, accordingly, was Old Toothless, and he was a Prairie Rattlesnake who lived near the great sand dunes of southern Saskatchewan. These desert places he considered his bed, and lay upon the most sheltered of them to soak in the sun. Should someone or something venture near him, he had but to shake his rattle as if to a song, and that intruder would rush pell-mell away, with Old Toothless laughing and watching them. Yes, that rattle did the trick, and its song could be heard far and wide during the day, and it became famous far and near. But as time wore on, it sounded less and less, for, the truth be told, the rattler was becoming blind with age, and did not notice nearby threats so easily. But he could notice a fly at the end of his nose, and did. Unfortunately, though, it was not a fly, but a nervous Yellow Jacket taking a meal on a goldenrod flower which was bowed down before the snake. Old Toothless was unaware that it was indeed a flower and a wasp that he was beholding, and believed it was some overly-bold being come to sniff nose to nose and that was exceedingly vexing. Therefore, because of the close proximity of the thing, he shook his tail more furiously than he was usually wont. He awaited a reaction, but none came, and the yellow creature only bobbed its head, and wiggled its nose, which was actually the feeding wasp. Maybe the the thing is deaf, thought Old Toothless, halting his rattle momentarily. But the thought only exasperated him more, and he rattled like one insane. Still, his opponent took no notice, but bobbed merrily in the wind, and even had the audacity to brush his face with its soft fur. That was the last straw for Old Toothless, and forgetting about the origins of his name, he struck and got a mouthful of goldenrod - and wasp. But not for long, for, after a moment of confusion, he spat out wasp and blossom with a yelp and a yell. He then rushed almost blindly across the sand, through the grass, and to his hole, narrowly missing a cacti on the way. Poor thing. He remained there long afterwards, nursing his sore mouth, but, trust me, in a month or two he will return, and his rattle will be heard once more.