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Tatiana Schatten

A New Friend Prt.3

Not based on true events

Many years passed, and the seed which had once been a seedling had transformed into a magnificent Manitoba Maple tree. Mrs. Stacy had long ago taken it from its pot which had its home, and planted it outside her bedroom window. There, she knitted and listened to the maple’s mysterious talk: the whispers of leaves in a gentle breeze, and its heart-breaking moans in a roaring gale. At times, it would invite a friend into her window, sometimes a caterpillar, some times a Lacewing, and she always welcomed them with open arms before shooing them outside again. This was usually easily done, except if the visitor happened to be a wasp or bee. These, Mrs. Stacy was first forced to trap  in a container after a vigorous chase before sending them on their way. The Manitoba Maple indeed was a fine companion for the venerable Mrs. Stacy, constantly showering her with warm verdant light and pleasant leaf-songs. But one day it all ended. It was about  one o’clock  in the morning, the time when Mrs. Stacy was snuggled into deep and pleasant dreams. But this time, the slumber was all but pleasant, for she felt stifled and in her mind she beheld her beloved tree wreathed in smoke. She awoke with the horror of it only to come into new horror. The flames were not a figment of her imagination, but were dancing like evil things all about her. Outside Mrs. Stacy heard the cries of her neighbours who had been roused by the smell of smoke. “ Mrs. Stacy! Mrs. Stacy!” they called, “ Get out of there!” But Mrs. Stacy could not escape, for the door was in ashes with its conquerors dancing, blood-thirsty, upon its remains. There was but one chance and one chance only: the window. With a leap, Mrs. Stacy left the bed and rushed to  the window which was yet standing firm in the flames. Without hardly seeing or understanding what she was doing, Mrs. Stacy opened the window and looked forth. There, before her was her beloved maple beckoning with gnarled branches to jump into its grasp and be saved. Mrs. Stacy’s head felt like a feather, her eyes were blinded by fumes, her legs weakened, but she took the jump, yes, she took the jump, just as a greedy tongue of fire lashed out at her. For a moment, she was suspended into the air like a bird in green leaves, and then she plummeted, her grasp only pulling forth twigs. But the maple was true to its beckoning, and she caught one of the sturdier branches just as the ground came near. Then, swinging down to the remainder of the distance, she looked back to thank her lovely tree. But she could not, for it was wreathed  in flame. Aghast by the  sight, Mrs. Stacy stood like a statue and was only saved from perishing by one of her neighbours who dragged her into the street. And there she watched as those beloved leaves withered, and those sturdy branches snapped in the cruel fire. Her eyes grew blurry and dim, and she looked up to the Plant Doctor who stood by her. She lost a friend forever, and she would be so lonely once more. “ But no,” she thought with tears when the doctors kindly gaze showed itself to her, “ I have now found another friend.” And indeed she had, and they were wed in a week’s time, but the Mrs. Stacy, though forgetting her widowhood, never forgot the wonderful tree which she had lost, from seed to sapling, in life and in death, those wings had borne her from her miserable solitude and sent her on her joyous way int friendship.

A New Friend Prt.2

Not based on true events

It had been a week since Mrs. Stacy had taken her Manitoba Maple seed and planted it in its pot. That pot now stood, as prim as prim as could be, upon her bay window sill, where the sun could caress the greeness of the seedling within. And yes, the young plant was green! For the seed had already burst and a thin, white elegant stem was poking from it, and two infant leaves, as thin as a snakes tounge, had sprouted from its stem. “They are like wings,” reflected Mrs. Stacy one day as she watched it from her nearby rocking chair, “ wings to fly forth and keep me company.” It sounded ridiculous to speak of a plant as if it were a friend and companion, but sometimes Mrs. Stacy truly benefited from its presence. In fact, even when it burst from its case, Mrs. Stacy had been continualy feeding it music, and looked for its reaction a day or two later. To most of the popular songs, the seedling was averse, and even leaned away from the player as if bent by a cruel wind. Eventually, Mrs. Stacy did find music which suited its tastes, this was soft music with little or no rhythm.  She also remembered that, long ago, she had learned that plants breath carbon dioxide, and exhale oxygen, and so she spent her evenings reading alongside the burst seedling. There, by the window, addressing no one apparently, Mrs. Stacy was seen by her neighbors, and again they shook their heads. “ What has come over her these days?” they thought disapprovingly, and believed the worst had arrived. But it was truly an aid to Mrs. Stacy’s loneliness, this maple, for  she now had something to occupy her during oppressive evenings when all her solitary state bent down heavily upon her. Then, she would bring forth a book and read comfortably to the young plant. It was upon one such occasion that she noticed a difference imn the nursery sprout. To her eyes, the leaves seemed unusualy limp, and the color uncommonly livid. With a sentiment of apprehension, Mrs. Stacy stood and rushed forth from the room, through the adjoining compartments, and to her bedroom where she fetched the sole lamp of the house. Her eyes were used to the dark, yet she wished to verify her vision. She returned to the window like a gush of wind, and shone the lamp upon the plant. Indeed! Her eyes had been right! The twin leaves drooped and sagged, and the stem was bent, its hue sickly to behold. “ Perhaps I have not watered it enough?” She thought and ran again from the room before returning with a beaten soup can filled with the cooling liquid. While she watered the plant, she had a hope that she had tended to its illness. Then, she went to bed, and took what disturbed sleep she could. But the next morning, the plant was not well, and Mrs. Stacy carefully examined it, but found not one bug or blight. This, indeed, was a desperate case! So, without further ado, she took the plant to one of her neighbors, yes, one which had shaken his head at her. He was a well-known plant doctor, this neighbor, but when he examined the maple, he gave Mrs. Stacy little reason to hope. “ Try changing the soil,” Said he, “Perhaps it does agree with this young fella.” And that is exactly what Mrs. Stacy did as soon as she returned home. She drew handfull after handfull of soil from the pot, taking care not to damage the patient’s roots or the patient itself. But then she stopped. There was something ticklish in her hand other than soil. Swiftly, she fretrieved her paw, and opened it. There, to her utmost horror and indignation  was a dark, caterpillarish larva wriggling contentedly in her palm. At first she planned to end its life then and there but then thought better of it. That larvae too, after all, had a life to live. “ As long as it does not damage my maple, it may become a cranefly.” Mrs. Stacy said to herself. And, yes, it was the young of a cranefly; those large, harmless, dangle-legged mosquito-like insects. 

A New Friend Prt.1

Not based on true events

Mrs. Stacy was a lonesome woman, with her days of youth far behind her, and her earlier friends and and times long gone. She now had no friends, which is an intolerable state, and yet neither had she any enemies, which is quite a tolerable state. But one day, when she sat at her bay window, gazing forth through it with the leaping rays of sunshine veiling her being, she knew that she could find a friend. Indeed, it was a fanciful notion, born from Mrs. Stacy’s pinings after a long-missing companionship. The good woman, though,  did not fret about its foolishness, but put it immediately into action. Leaping from her seat with the vigour of  anticipation, she rushed forth from her violet-hued house and into her yard. It was a mere wilderness, this yard, and one at which the neighbours often shook their heads, yet Mrs. Stacy herself long adored its confines. And it was in this small jungle that she began her search. Bent double, she passed back and forth, from one fence to the other, to and fro, to and fro. She rifled through grasses, scoured hedges, and lifted logs, but found nothing to her satisfaction. But then, when the sun was low in the sky, and the crickets were beginning to sing, Mrs. Stacy discovered her heart’s desire. There, nestled between a hefty stone and a bulging mushroom, was  a seed, wrapped in brown, like a wing upon the ground. With a gleeful heart, Mrs. Stacy snatched the item, yet snatched it tenderly and with the same tenderness brought it into her house. There, within the blossom-strewn kitchen, she took from one of her cupboards a small and simple clay pot, and from one of her drawers a bag of sweetly-scented soil, and filling the pot with the self-same soil, she took the wing-seed, and set it upright in the centre. There it stood, like a sail of a ship upon a dark ocean. Yes, thought Mrs. Stacy, it is like a ship, a ship to bear me far from my loneliness. Her heart immediately leapt within her breast at the thought. Then, without another delay, she took up a watering can which stood near, and tipping it, watered the seed of friendship. Thus was the beginning of Mrs. Stacy’s companionship with her Manitoba Maple.

A Rumour

Not based on true events

“There is a rumour of a deer even smaller than yourself,” said a Marsh Deer to one of his fellows as they grazed at the luscious swamp grasses. But his friend remained incredulous, and cocked back a floppy ear. “ How could that be?” said he, “ Are you talking about our cousins, the White-tails?” “ No,” replied the other deer with a laugh, “The White-tails are larger than us, silly! No,” he then repeated, “ this deer is supposed to be much smaller. And - and  I have seen it.” The other deer had begun to graze again and  had had his snout in the water, but when he heard the last  unexpected  revelation, he let out an immense snort of surprise. The water flew up like a fountain and both were bountifully drenched. Then he raised his head and looked at the tale-teller for some sign of play or humour, but found neither. Yet he would not believe the fact and with a disdainful “ Pooh!” began once more to graze. “ B-but I did!” said the other helplessly. “ How small was it?” said his friend bluntly through a mouthful of weed. “ Small.” “ But how small?” the doubtful deer pursued dryly. “Well, I don’t know. Small.” stammered the other. “ But how small?” “ Um,” began the Tale-teller, rather ruffled by his friend’s persistence, and he attempted to sum up in approximation the height of the mysterious being he had seen. He was just about to recount his estimation to his friend-yet-unconvinced when there was a sharp crack and the underbrush before them rustled and swayed. In an instant, a creature dashed forth from it, the sight of which caused the doubtful deer to forever bite his tongue in discrediting his companion. Barely longer than a mere fox, the tiny beast leapt into the swamp like an oversized rabbit, and sent a spray of marsh water all about. In another moment, it frantically bounded across the swamp and disappeared. There was a silence before the doubtful deer found his tongue. “Was that really a deer?” thought he, his eyes as wide as saucers, and looked imploringly to his companion. The justified friend did nought but nodding and smiling, said most graciously “ I told you so.” And indeed he had!

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In the Shadow of the Crowned

Based on true events

Unfortunately, being a very small sparrow is a very big inconvenience. Now, I do not wish to create a mountain out of a molehill, but when you have a sparrow that is almost twice as large as yourself eating not more than a few centimetres away, well, the situation is nearer to a mountain. The afternoon was hot when this most unpleasant experience occurred, a day when hunger was at its greatest and the sun was at its brightest. With a swoop, I landed as usual in my habitual feeding area beneath an old gnarled apple tree, and proceeded to peck up the scrumptious seed which lay scattered upon the ground.  But hardly had I tasted my cup of heavenly safety and solitude, when I heard a flurry of another pair of wings far larger and far more powerful than my own. Immediately, an imposing shadow was cast across my meal, and  with all the meekness which comes with fear, I raised my head. There, right before me was a giant White-crowned Sparrow. I am sure of what was in its mind as it gazed at my trembling figure. I am certain it thought: “Look at that tiny Chipping Sparrow! Should I frighten  it away and eat my seed in peace or should I put up with its irritating presence?” For a tense moment, I noticed that it was in preference of the former, and it crouched, ready to drive me away. I shivered and prepared to fly, and our eyes met, and the eyes I saw were as intense as an ocean surf. But then to my surprise and relief, those eyes were lowered, and my opponent  picked up a seed in its bill with all the nonchalance which became a crowned king. Then it began to scratch with unbelievable strength  in the seed, each far greater than any of my own scratches. For a length, I looked upon the immense sparrow, but eventually my fears were eased, and I commenced to feed myself. But, though I did all I could to ignore  this Hercules of sparrows, I could not help but listen to its claws rubbing dryly against the seed as it foraged, and I was once again dismayed by their sheer power. Each and every time the noise came to me, I gave a jolt of terror in the knowledge of their sharp points.  Yes, they were far longer, yet they could not have been any sharper than my own, but such is the ponderings of a mind bound in agony. How could one possibly partake of  a meal while dreading at every moment that a sharer in the feast could give you a splendid scare at any moment? I very nearly choked upon a grain when the sparrow suddenly came a millimeter nearer. How could I swallow another? Finally, the strain upon my mind grew to titanic proportions, far larger than any sparrow could overcome, and I arose into the air in puff of wings and fled for my feathers. I returned a few minutes later when the area was as empty and still as before, yet it is a great inconvenience to be so near the bottom of the pecking order. But it is an even greater inconvenience to be such a mite of  a sparrow.

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Wednesday August 4, 2021