Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Every picture tells a story...

A friend of mine, Rowan Moonstone, took this picture up near Estes Park a few years back.  She posted it in one of the Charles de Lint groups on Facebook a few days ago, commenting that she thought there was a story there, but she couldn't find it. She threw the gates open for folks to give it a shot, so here's my submission.

The Business of Winter
by Bryan Fields

Fall in the Rockies is a time of great industry for the creatures living there.  They look around themselves, seeing this sign and that, and watch the days grow shorter, and each sign they see stirs them to be about the business of winter.

As happens sometimes, a bluebird gave heed to an excess of distractions, and, for a time, forgot to give account to the doing of needful things.  It was not until the first flecks of snow intruded on her that she realized she was unprepared for winter.  The thought terrified her, and she gave a great wail of despair.

Her cries startled a young bull elk, who was full of dry grasses and thoughts of lady elk, and of things done with lady elk in large meadows of soft, dry grass…  He sounded a challenge and turned to face his attacker—but it was only a foolish bluebird weeping over….well, something.

He snorted at her, and assumed his proudest stance.  “What did you say to me?  I warn you, I’m not to be trifled with.”

“My troubles are my own,” said the bluebird.  “I have been foolish, and winter is here, and I am not ready.  I must spend my time well, and be fierce, but I will endure.”

“HMMPH,” snorted the elk.  “Well, your fate is not my concern, but winter is unkind, and I am noble and true of heart, not to mention virile and powerful.  I will aid you.”  So saying, he lifted his hoof, and struck it on the ground, again and again. His blows tore the grasses and the earth asunder, exposing grubs, and seeds, and berries dried and forgotten, and the crunchy things burrowing for their life. 

The bluebird ate, and ate well, listening to the elk, who had quite forgotten her.  When she could eat no more, she took to wing.  All the land was before her, and so also its secrets.  Soon, she returned to the young elk.

The bluebird spoke to the elk, asking, “Is this what you seek, my friend?”, and she cast a tuft of fur on the ground before him.   

The elk sniffed and cried, “Yes!  Tell me, what…er, how, I mean, where?” 

The bluebird spoke of where, and of things seen from the sky that may be touched on the ground, and of how a trail had been left into the thick forest, guiding one who knew how to look to the resting place of the lady elk who had given her fur to the bluebird.

“But, what of the herd bull?” the elk asked.  “He sees all, he knows all-“

“Go,” said the bluebird.  “I will fight the herd bull for you.  Go!”

This, the elk did, and found his way to the lady elk, and they did what elk do in thick forests.

The bluebird flew to the meadow where the herd bull held his court, and watched his rivals with wary eyes.  The bluebird flew past him, and alighted on the rump of the strongest rival bull.  She took a twig in her beak, and gave the rival a good poke in the place where a small twig must seem a cruel branch.

The rival broke onto the meadow, snorting and bellowing.  The herd bull was upon him at once, for a challenge must be answered. 

Another rival charged forth, and another, and soon a great tumult engulfed the bulls, and no calm returned until all the bulls were exhausted.

The bluebird found her friend, who was well accounted of himself, and the two went forth, one aiding the other, and so they attended to the business of winter.

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