Saturday, October 9, 2010

Rufus returns home

The mountains of New Mexico are so beautiful in the spring, The cottonwoods fresh with young leaves chatter as the cool breeze fans their branches and the tiny pods of cotton form on the upper branches. It will be a few weeks before they burst and send the seeds borne on fuzzy puffs. The ground will look as if snow has fallen. William and Wendy Wren will gather the pillowy down to decorate their home and make it comfy for thier babies. Here comes William now.

Why Rufus, what are you doing so far away from your home on the Virgin River, chirps William?

I've been all the way to Sonora to visit my cousin there. He brags about how tasty the scorpions are around his cactus patch. I will admit that they make a spicy change from my usual meals.

I mentioned how the sheep herder's boy on the reservation likes to practice with a braided whip and he told me a story about a legendary masked rider named Zorro who used a whip and a sword to defend the peasants when his great grandfather was alive. The indian boy must think he too can become a legend. I could show him a trick or two with the rattlers I catch. The boy's whip isn't alive and can't strike back.

I've seen you dance like a Spanish bull fighter when you challenge a rattle snake. You do put on quite a show. I don't know of any other bird who would risk their life against a snake that is too big to even swallow.

Oh that is nothing, William, I may not be able to swallow one all at once but I can find a nice bush to crouch under and swallow a little more as my stomach makes room. You see, I don't ever need to drink water so I can keep my mouth full for days. I won't have a big meal while I'm on this journey but if you get too close, I might have you for an appetizer.

I've seen how quick you can be. I'm fast too but I know better than to challenge you to a duel. Good day now and you have a safe trip. I'm going down to the stream bed and get myself a drink and take a bath too.

Good bye William. I can run all day and never break a sweat but a few seconds of flight and I'm ready to stretch my legs again. Before I cross the mountains I'm going to flip over a few rocks and dine on fat scorpions. You never can tell where your next meal may come from and Mom always said to be grateful for the blessings God provides and not waste his gifts.

On the second day in the mountains I notice a paw print in the dust. Bobby Bobcat told me about Lenny Linx who lives around here somewhere. Watch out for him, cautioned Bobby, he may mistake you for a sickly forest grouse. Lenny loves forest grouse more than he does green-headed ducks. The feathers on the back of my neck bristled as I trotted through the cedars. I felt as though someone was watching. It pays to follow your instincts. If the sight of the paw track hadn't made me extra careful, I would likely be Lenny's dinner now. As it was, he gave me quite a scare when he bolted from a mound of rocks. It was only my quick reflexes and hiding among the leaves in the chapparal that saved me from his claws.

Three more days and I caught sight of the cottonwood trees along the river near my home. I hadn't come home with a present for my parents or my friend Renae Roadrunner. Old Mr. Rattler had left his curled track across my path so I decided to take a short detour and hunt him. He would make a fine homecoming feast. No sooner had the thought entered my mind than I saw Mr. Rattler peeking from under a cactus. I danced right up to him using my wings to draw his attention. He was in a nasty mood as he bit my feathers but I had done this dance many times and shortly Rattler was exhausted. Grabbing him by the tail I snapped him back and forth until his spirit left and he lay limp. Instead of swallowing him, I grabbed his middle and sped home to present him to my parents. I did peck off the best part and took it to Renae. She did the most beautiful dance when she saw me approach and I could tell she liked my simple present. Watching her dance made me feel warm and strange inside. As much as I enjoyed the visit with my Sonoran cousin, I doubted that I would ever make that journey again.

Days later I was strolling by the river when who should come riding past on their bicycles but Ellie, Jenna and Brooke. Evening was coming on, the sun low on the horizon and I was starting to look for shelter for the evening. I guess the girls were preparing for night-time; they stopped at the park and prepared for their dinner. Dad and Mom followed close behind the girls. In their packs were meals for the family and treats for the girls. As I perched on a boulder overlooking the park I watched as they helped each other prepare for the meal, dine together and then clean up afterward. I held their gaze and felt the love they shared for each other. I was overpowered by the desire for a family of my own and I couldn't get Renae out of my thoughts.

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