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Tatiana Schatten

Signs Of Spring Prt. 1

Spring is a time of firsts and yet it is also a time for lasts. The last blizzard, the last Common Raven, the last Pine Grosbeak, the last House Finch; these final winter wonders are not always so noticeable as the coming of things bright and new. I am sure many are quite glad to behold the melting of the last snows, and the first flutterings of butterflies, moths, and even flies. I witnessed my heralds  of the arthropod world as far back as March 20 when I specifically went searching for early life. I, at the time, only saw a few spiders, some flies, a froghopper or two, and a few Cloptila moths. Of these moths last named you may still catch sight. They are very minute grey-winged beings which stand with their fore-body in an upright position, hoisted above their perch with stilt-like front legs. I always search for these moths for they are some of the first harbingers of spring. 

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A Friend in Silence

Based on true events 

Silence is golden. During the silence, your thoughts organize themselves; your perception deepens; your spirit is put to peace as if by some lullaby. It was in this ever-penetrating silence that I was walking one day near some woods full of trees many years old. I could hear the occasional twitter of a bird or rustle of a leaf, but  it did not break the quietude. As I passed the deep edges of the noiseless wood, some unexplainable urge compelled me to raise my head from my thoughts and gaze towards the outskirts of the trees. It was almost magical, as if some faerie child had whispered in my ear: “ Awake! Awake! There is one who you must meet.” I obeyed the  command, and there beheld, walking sombrely along the trees, a magnificent grey-coated mule deer. It caught sight of my form now stilled in the snow, and halted. For a moment in time, we gazed at one another in the hush of the world, and pondered secret thoughts. Finally, the deer ambled away and entered the twisted forest cautiously, giving me a suspicious glance more than once as it left. Hardly had its black-tipped tail disappeared into the thicket when I prepared to depart, believing that I had beheld what I had been meant to behold. But nay! How foolish I was! I had but slightly turned away when another deer appeared in the other’s tracks and followed its companion, only to be followed itself by a third and fourth deer.  But all soon vanished into the bushes, giving me but a glimpse of their world and life. Those must be the last, thought I, yet in awe, and my cup of pleasure seemed too full to permit another drop. Yet again I was wrong. From the  woods, regal, taller than any of its predecessors, came lastly a lithe deer with a coat like butter in its creamy hue. It spotted me, but unlike the others, it did not rush on its way after a glance, but stood and observed me with the softest of gazes. The quiet of those few minutes deepened; never had I seen such a noble, otherworldly creature, and most likely never will again. I believe it was frightened of my presence, though I stood as still as a tree, yet it seemed also to be rather curious as to why I was so steadily watching it, why I did not simply pass by, or perhaps why I did not fly at to frighten it away. Finally, after many golden minutes, the deer appeared satisfied that I was no enemy, and with a catering trot and a swish of its black-tipped tail, it was gone. But even as I pursued my way home, it lingered, as clear as a crystal pool, in my mind. I could think of nought else, I could do nought else but rest my thoughts upon the scene I had beheld. Of the last deer I bore a special fondness, for though we said nothing or did nothing but watch each other, I felt that I had made a friend and that was enough for me.

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The Best of the Bargain

Not based on true events 

She crept along the Caribbean underbrush, her long nose swaying from side to side as she went, detecting any scent, faint or strong, which hovered over the ground. The world was plunged in darkness as her shrew-like form skittered along the sweet-smelling soil. She was of the race of Hispaniolan Solenodons, and like the few others of her race, was searching now for food. Her dinner is alike, yet not alike to ours. She, like us, nibbled at fruit she passed, and loved her greens. Yet, she also took  part in a feast of spider, and worm, lizard and fly, which few of us would dare to consume. The solenodon felt quite safe and contented during this nocturnal foraging, for she heard no predators, beheld no predators, and smelled no predators. But that did not mean that here were none watching her from afar. High above, beneath the shadowy canopy of leaves, flew an immense bird on silent wings. Its form was only a dismal grey in the moonlight, though in truth its  hue was white and brown. Its eyes were roving here and there, scanning the land below it for a potential meal, and with with these keen orbs, it detected her movement far below and began to lower itself in a noiseless swoop. Then, with precision worthy of a missile, it pounced suddenly upon its prey. In that moment, the solenodon felt its attacker’s sharp talons grasping her middle, and in her immense pain and distress, surprise and horror, she let forth a resounding call. But the owl who gripped her was not to be her end, for it had gravely  miscalculated its odds of an attack on this large insectivore. Soon, to its astonishment, it found itself  not now the attacker but the attacked. The solenodon struggled like a mad thing, and could not be raised from the ground, so great was her weight. Soon, the owls legs were hatched with numerous scratches and wounds, and it received always more as the battle continued. Finally, it had had enough. With a desperate jerk, the owl pulled its talons from the solenodon, and launched into the air. But it did not escape without a last parting bite from the enraged victim. I am rather sorry to say that the owl felt quite ill afterwards and while it hid in a slight misery, the solenodon scuffled from the field of war with nought but a few piercings in her sides. In all honesty, in the game of survival, I believe she received the best of the bargain.

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Introduction and Alteration

The introducing of a new species is an immense hazard to natural plants and wildlife. At times, there has been a viable excuse for such a dangerous action, but at others, there was none but sentimentality. Too frequently it has been done involuntarily and voluntarily throughout the ages and often with destructive effects.

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Based on true events

“ Aha! Aha!” sounded the five Black-billed Magpies far above in the Manitoba Maples. “ Aha! Aha!” rang over the neighbourhood, jubilant yet criticizing and severe. It declared to all the world that the cat beneath their raucous cacophonic group had committed a terrible act against them. A normal puss they would have been overlooked, or ignored or paid little heed to, for there was no point in mobing an unoffending creature, but when it has perpetrated an act such as that, well! “ Aha! Aha!” heard the tabby as orange as orange could be, named Hi out of fondness. His tail was twitching in exasperation as he made his way through the urban green-space with the magpies hopping from branch to branch or swooping from tree to tree above him. Oh, what an accusatory note those avenging magpies called, their wish none other than to right the wrong which had been done against them. Suddenly, Hi had endured enough. Like an oversized squirrel, he shot up a tree in which one of the exotic-looking birds perched in the hopes of snatching it and intimidating the others. But his intended victim was too smart and swift. Swish! It launched itself to a safer vantage point while its companions burst into a louder scolding in their surprise. They knew that the cat could not now reach even one of them. In frustration, Hi perched himself between the two branches which shot from the trunk, his tail ferociously swatting invisible flies. At first the magpies came closer, eagerly awaiting the cat's next move and preparing themselves for a counter attack. But Hi only sat pensively, his eyes wide in annoyance, gazing about, his tail like a whip. For a while all the magpies were in patient attention, gazing down with shining eyes. But the longer Hi remained still, the more the determination of the magpies to bother this criminal of their laws ebbed. First one flitted away, then another until only three remained, settled stubbornly in their positions, their excitement now at its lowest. Now with a couple less followers, the cat decided to brave the way down the trunk he had ascended. Looking down, he surveyed from side to side, searching for the safest rout. The birds above pretended not to notice his actions and did not stir. Finally, Hi made the leap. Clinging firmly onto the rough tree bark, he thrust his hind legs in the air and with a flourish, he flipped about and found himself right side up, gripping the trunk like a woodpecker. With that done, he shimmied swiftly down the tree, but not without the notice of the avengers of the wrong he had committed. The remaining magpies again began to rebuke him with their squawking: “ Aha! Aha!”, following him at a safe distance with no intent of permitting him to leave their keen sight as he trotted along the forest floor. One even made a swoop at his offensive figure and together the symphony of severity, and the cat to which it was dedicated, made their way through the woods and out of sight, the “ Aha!” calls in the end hardly discernible from the rustle of twig and leaf. 

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Wednesday August 4, 2021