Thursday, December 17, 2015

What I did this fall

This fall I was a quaking aspen.
I didn’t start out that way. I started out as a white cedar but I leaned toward the south and that became uncomfortable. So I became a ramrod-straight quaking aspen. Much better. No regrets.
I had only just begun when a chickadee landed on me.
“I’m a quaking aspen,” I said.
“Got it,” said the chickadee and flew off. And that was that. I was “in” with the chickadees which, admittedly, are the most accepting of all the birds.
It was harder with the blue jays.
“I’m a quaking aspen,” I said.
“If you say so,” said one out of a pair of jays. They then took off to torment some red squirrels which torment quite easily.
A ruffed grouse landed on a balsam fir right next to me.
“Are you what I think you are?” it asked.
“I am if you think I’m a quaking aspen,” I replied.
“I’m not so sure of that,” said the grouse, its eyes the size of saucers.
“What else could I be?” I said. It was logic I knew would appeal to a grouse. But I also knew it would take a while because grouse are notoriously slow thinkers.
Five minutes later for me but just a few seconds in slow-thinker time the grouse said, “You’re a quaking aspen!” It then flew down to the clearing in front of us where there were some tasty rosehips visible.
By and by a raven landed on a tree in front of me.
“Weren’t you a white cedar a few days ago?” it asked. “In fact, in the past you’ve been a spruce, a birch, even a balsam fir. Do you just get tired of being the same kind of tree, or what?”
“Something like that,” I said and wished he would leave.
“Were you ever a shrub?” He chortled so hard that he nearly lost his balance on the limb and had to flutter to stay perched.
I said nothing. In reality, I had spent many a fall as a shrub but I wasn’t going to admit it to this rude bird.
“Well, you’ll never be a quaking aspen to me,” he said, haughtily, with a waggle of his thick beak.
That hurt. That stung, especially because I knew, deep down, it was true.
“Yeah? Well, it’s not your opinion that matters to me,” I shot back. Two could play this game.
The raven looked at me for a long time with his head cocked to one side. “No, I suppose not. Well, good luck then!” He sounded sincere and was already winging over the clearing.
I enjoyed the next many days being a quaking aspen, watching the birds and listening to the squirrels, wondering if this was the one-time-in-a-hundred when their chattering actually meant something.
The squirrels, snowshoe hares, foxes and whitetail deer paid me no attention at all and that is what I wanted.
But now it is winter and time to take down my tree stand.

1 comment:

Joe Overman said...

This is so cool! I was wondering where you were going with this. You pulled it together with the last line. Great story!