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Tatiana Schatten

Impending Doom

Not based on true events

At times you hear the saying “It is a small world after all,” when there is a meeting of long separated friends or acquaintances, or “The world is not big enough for the both of us,” as an utterance of defiance and loathing between enemies. Yet, for one miniature critter, the world was far to big for only her. She was a worker ant of a species which I have not been yet able to decipher, perhaps a Little Black Ant. She made multiple errands for her queen and the colony in a land where giants roamed and insensitive titanic feet stomped. This tiny insect was able to evade such dangers masterfully, but when she came upon a chemical trail left by one of her fellow workers, she believed her end was finally nigh. For, where did it wind but across a busy city street, roaring with the engines of the traffic, and overflowing with the sound of honking horns? For a moment, our dutiful ant hesitated, divided between the thought of the upcoming doom and the urge to follow the worker’s path. The latter urge, though, soon overpowered the former fear, and without any more deliberation, she scurried from the sidewalk and began her perilous journey. After all, it was but two lanes of passing vehicles. To ease her fears, the ant began to focus solely  upon the trail which she pursued and not the dangers which lay before her. With her antennae twitching convulsively , the ant came to the edge of the first lane. Whoosh! A humongous wheel zoomed directly before the tips of her feelers, and in shock and terror the she stood stalk still like a black statue. Her mind mind no longer could function under the immense strain of frightened surprise, and all she could ponder was the way across this deadly place. Another wheel flew by and in panicked desperation , she bolted forward, her six legs working like pistons and her antennae trembling violently. Again, another wheel roared past, but to her great surprise, it was behind her, and so was the next which immediately followed. The tiny ant had crossed the first of the wheel-ways, and was long as no vehicle changed lanes she was momentarily safe. Then, after a pause, she ventured forward to the boundary  of the next wheel-way, and there awaited the passing of a pair of wheels before risking a crossing. A wonderful relief overpowered her when this first leg of her travels had been completed, for she had now crossed the first lane! There the worker ant stood between rumbling giants , in relative calm, to rest. But it was not to last long, for, hardly had she claimed her nerves, the ant noticed a devastating fact: the chemical trail had disappeared! The ant which she had been following had succumbed to the very fate which she hoped to escape! Once more, all thoughts were driven scurrying from her mind, all sensibilities which were hers fled, and with rash steps , she rushed headlong into the next lane. Hardly had she gone two inches when she heard an ominous noise, and glancing down the lane to behold a roarer speeding directly towards her, its wheel directly in line with her black body. In a moment, it was upon the worker ant, and she crouched and accepted doom. The dark shadow of the rubber giant loomed over her, and all passed in a second. There was a crunch beneath it and then it was gone. Yes, it was gone and left the little ant behind it alive and well. Yes indeed! One of the treads, with all fortune, had passed directly o’er her cowering figure, and left her alive, though terribly shaken by the near encounter with death. The noise had been naught but pebbles being crushed under the weight of the vehicle, and not an innocent brave insect worker who would pursue duty to death. This time, she had escaped alive, but the ant was not one to tempt fate. With a swift ant-speed, she ran from the deadly place, across to the next wheel-way while another vehicle passed over and she rushed across the last stretch of the roadway onto the sidewalk, and into a clump of tall grass. There the ant fell flat on her shiny face and thanked the Lord that she was yet alive.

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Notice: Earthworm Wanted

Not based on true events

I have been an excellent hunter ever since I was a little wiggler. Yes, I found many a tasty meal while I tunnelled and roved beneath the soil, feeling my way with two tiny tentacles upon my upper lip. I ate both worms and insects, beetles and bugs as I journeyed through flightless passages and dim corridors of my own making. I could not see all that well as I slid through the earth, not only because of the poor light, but also because of my poor vision. And it was exactly because of this poor vision that I became the victim of a thief. Yes! Something very precious was stolen from me, while it was yet in my grasp: an earthworm of enormous breadth and length. I discovered it when I had only just escaped from a maze of tangled root, to my great astonishment, for neither  of my tentacles had detected even one trace of its chemical presence. I craned my head down when I was finally aware of its thick form before me in the tunnel, and without a second’s delay I snatched it. My jaws could barely encompass its roundness. The worm was so ginormous! Indeed! I had hit upon a giant treat! With all my strength, I attempted to haul it further into my soily tunnel only to feel a greater pull coming from its opposite end. What could it be? Whatever it was pulling away I would not wait to discover. With renewed energy I struggled against it, edging my way backward, but immediately felt another a violent tug on the worm, and I was dragged forward once more. Whatever was intent upon that worm’s opposite end in this subterranean tug-of-war was evidently full of power and might, but I was determined not to give into its assailance. This worm was my  breakfast, not the thief’s. With an immense stubbornness which even I now wonder at, I wedged myself in the passage and there resolved to remain. By this time, my teeth ached with the great strain that was upon them and my muscles were tensed in the fullest. Finally, I gave into my foe, and mentally abandoning the meal for loss, I released my grip ever so slightly. Plink! The worm shot from my mouth like a whip and was immediately dragged down the tunnel  and  swallowed by fate. And so, there I lay, no fat annelid in my jaws but only pain. Even now, months afterwards, I yet long for a worm equal in measurements as that one. That is why I wrote this, in hopes that if you come across such a worm, you may contact me if you do not want it for yourself, and I will gladly eat it for you. Please, for breakfast’s sake!

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A Prize for Paws

Based on true events

Tabs the cat was always out upon the prowl and the hunt, exploring the ways and wanderings of the city, and, when hungry, devouring any small being which crossed his path. But his meals were always minuscule, none larger than a mouse or vole, and Tabs was beginning to hope for a change. His wish would have come true, perhaps, if he had been less idle and lazy, and the sun on that day less spell-binding in its glory, and the weather less hospitable for remaining still in one place. And this is exactly what Tabs was doing, sitting in a most elegant upright position in a yard his luxurious tail curled about him and his face bent downward so that the sun could beat upon his neck. He was in a treeless yard where the rays of warmth could most easily reach his plush body, and in feeling them, he let his eyes close in pleasure. But hardly had Tabs retained his sight when he heard the most intriguing  sound. It was like the whistle of a bird, yet unlike such a noise in some unidentifiable respect. It  seemed to come from nearby, and as would occur with all cats, the curiosity of Tabs was immediately plucked like a string plucked on a violin. His eyes opened  and what did he see? Yes, indeed, he nearly had his wish fulfilled, for there, on the rough pavement of a driveway situated by the next yard, crouching like a large beige rock, was a Richardson’s Ground Squirrel. It was almost half of Tab’s own size and would have been an irresistible treat, if the sun had not beckoned the cat to remain still for one moment more. In that moment, the rodent’s head turned to the puss and in its extreme horror and surprise, gave another poignant whistle and turned tail and shot up the driveway with the dry scampering of feet on pavement and disappeared before Tabs could even arise. The cat was foiled in the gaining of his dream by none other than the bright sun, and he never forgot how nearly he had been  in receiving the wonderful prize of a meal. No, not even in his old age, and never again did he permit the sun to get the best of him. Indeed, he had lost a great prize for paws.

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The Bear And the Butterfly

Not based on true events

It was a most sweltering day in south-east  Asia, a day which could fry fish or stew herbs. The butterflies had all they could bear, fluttering about, nearly melting in the dismal heat. Yet, it would not do for them to miss all of their accustomed amusement simply because of the temperature. No indeed! In fact, one, an Orange Tip by name, was searching for just right opportunity for amusement. Finally, the source of the up-coming mischief was spotted. There, beneath the shade of a tree beyond and below, was a Sun Bear, a-snoring up a storm. Without further ado, the butterfly flew over to the small, long-clawed bear, and with a graceful, feather-light sweep, it alighted upon the bear’s moist nose. Then,extending its proboscis, it tickled that of the bears. What, I ask, could come of this? What else  but a sneeze bigger than the bear itself! In a twinkling, the butterfly was swept off with the power of the gust below it and carried far from its place of prank, and was forced to rest  awhile after the dizzying experience. But that did not halt the fluttering creature in its escapade, and it soon returned to its place upon the bears nose to torment the again sleeping mammal. This time it was not a sneeze, but a 10 inch long tongue that sent the butterfly again tumbling away, but unperturbed, the insect simply returned and re-alighted. Finally, the bear had borne enough, and with a shake of its head ( which rid it of the pest) it awoke and determined that the bothersome butterfly would not have another opportunity to make a seat out of its snout. So, with remarkable agility, the bear climbed high up into the tree under whose shadow it had lain, and rested in a crude nest it had previously built in its boughs. Then, it waited. One minute passed and no butterfly came, another minute passed, yet no butterfly, and a third minute passed and again no butterfly appeared. Now, perhaps it was now safe to sleep, hidden from those shiny, compound eyes and orange-juice tipped wings, and once more the bear permitted its guard to fall and its eye-lids to droop, and a snore to escape its lips. A pleasant dream ensued in which the bear believed itself to be devouring a sweet bees nest, but right in the middle of the reverie, it felt a tickle upon its leathery nose, and what else could follow but “ Achoooo!”The butterfly had conquered again!

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Signs Of Spring Prt. 2

In the first part, I recounted my first encounters with the insect civilization; now I will tell of beings, some of whom eat insects.  I speak of the birds, and though most which I recount here do not include insects in their common diet, they are the harbingers of those who indulge in such fare. Of all the feathered folk, there is one who is the very icon of spring and warmth.  I speak of the American Robin who’s cheerful red breasts brighten the grey spring worn. Strangely enough, I did not behold one until I had seen other migrants less a personification of the season. The first I heard its loon-like cackle was on March 20 of this year, yet I could not find its cheery self. I have nicknamed the robin “The Loon of the Land” because of this crazy, whinnying call, and it was of the utmost frustration not to see the singer. Now and again afterwards, its sound came to my ear while Dark-eyed Juncos began to explore our yard, and the call of Canada Geese was in the air, both birds incoming from their southern wanderings. Finally, many days after, seventeen to be exact, I caught sight of a robin: a cocky male. But imagine: I saw it not in Prince Albert, but in Saskatoon! Will they ever let me glimpse them in this city? Meanwhile and afterwards, I was noting the steady incline in the junco numbers every or every few days. It was a fascinating phenomena to witness one junco turn into two, then three, then finally ten. Almost just as fascinating was the first road trip of spring. I had expected to see only a few birds here and there, but had no suspicion of the wonderful variety and numbers of those I spotted. A flock of Dark-eyed Juncos past before the vehicle, hawks soared overhead ( evidently Buteo hawks because of their fan-shaped tails) and pairs of Canada Geese dabbling in slews and walking gracefully upon the golden fields. But the most surprising species of all was the elegant  pair of American White Pelicans, soaring upon their gigantic black-tipped wings to the earth, and the most eye-catching Mallard keeping a goose company. Rain or shine, flowers or flurries, if these wonderful creatures never returned in the spring, this season would never feel as special for me as it does. Now, I may gaze past the window towards the garden, and amidst the melting patches of snow, behold life and hope in the Dark-eyed Juncos, the Purple Finches and American Goldfinches, and the sole domestic violet which has managed to grow in this uncertain weather and uncertain times. Indeed, these are signs of spring in all its glory.

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Wednesday August 4, 2021