First things first:
<Photo courtesy Eastman Kodak Co.
Mama's staying close to the nest box today and looking miserable. I suspect another egg is due shortly.
More misery: this damned infection really has a 'grippe' on me. (Medical humor - har,har.) When my head isn't pantomiming a cotton wad it's throbbing like a clumsy carpenter's thumb.
Oh, well. Onward.
Chapter Seven: A Long Way From Home
The sun was fast fading in the west and the shadows were growing long as the silvery rodent awoke and began to groom herself, carefully inspecting her belly for any damage that might have been inflicted by the cruelly sharp talons of the owl. She found a few tiny pinpricks that had scabbed over rapidly. Concluding that she wasn't seriously hurt, she quickly engaged all her senses in an attempt to determine the status of the world around her. As there appeared to be no immediate threat, she decided that her first order of business was to distance herself from this tree that she knew to be a source of potential danger. She emerged from her covert and began the laborious process of climbing down the trunk of the tree. Since the gray bark was rugose and channeled, offering many toeholds, she made good time and reached the ground before the sun had sunk fully below the horizon. Moving warily away from the trunk, she found herself wending her way among many irregular, odoriferous objects that, when trod upon, broke open to reveal pale ivory bits reminiscent of twigs, along with what seemed to be bedraggled tufts of fur. She had never before encountered such articles and could not know that these were owl pellets, but they made her uneasy all the same.
As she cast about with all her senses, she began to realize that her present environs differed remarkably from those with which she was familiar. The smells, sounds and sights that now buffeted the tiny creature were quite foreign and unaccustomed, causing her a measure of disquietude. It occurred to her that she had been carried a long way from home, and she had no idea how to return.
The tree from which she had recently decamped was one of a number that were irregularly ranged along the southern edge of the savannah in which she made her home. Although at this juncture the boles were spaced far apart, the forest grew denser as it deepened, like the walls of a burrow that narrowed to a claustrophobic end. The relatively bare ground just inside the edge of the jungle rapidly gave way to a riotous profusion of underbrush - saplings, shrubs and colorful, exotic blooms all clawing for a small space in which to survive. Gathering gloom pervaded the gaps beneath the bowed branches of the farther trees, lending an air of brooding menace to the dank and fetid atmosphere. The shrill and frenzied cries of nameless, terrifying creatures echoed faintly and incessantly from the shadowed inner reaches of the immemorial woodland. Clammy tendrils of pallid mist spiraled lazily up from the moist and humid earth, tickling her nose with the mysterious odors of this unknown and mystical realm.
Recalling the gruesome fate that had almost befallen her, the sleek, silvery creature darted into the forest, seeking security from the inimical regard of hidden, unseen eyes. She remained ever alert for the unforeseen dangers that awaited her if she was not careful.
She scurried gingerly from the protective roots of looming trees to the drooping, moisture-laden foliage of strange and fantastic plants, pausing on occasion to imbibe drops of liquid from the dependent leaves. Insects intermittently trundled purposefully across her path and she sniffed at each one, filing the scents away in her memory for future use.
Cautiously, carefully, she proceeded further into the depths of the woodland, marveling at the variety of flora and fauna to which she had never before been exposed. She discovered a myriad of fruits, nuts and seeds with which she was unfamiliar, and she warily investigated each and every one, taking a single taste of everything that smelled good, avidly devouring those that pleased her discriminating palate. Soon she was quite satiated, and she began to consider whether she should search for a secure spot to curl up and rest. She crawled under a growth, the leaves of which hung right down to the earth and completely hid her from the sight of predators. Drowsing, she wondered how she would ever be able to find her way back to her burrow, and pondered whether she might have to begin a new life here, trapped in this alien environment. Her sleepy musings slowly fragmented into troubled wisps and snippets, phantoms of dream and nightmare alternating as she slipped into a light and fitful slumber.
<Savannah & Jungle
This isn't up to my usual graphic standards, but I'm not well. Sorry.
(Let's see: falcon update, whine, story & charmingly cheesy map, have I left anything out? Don't think so. Oh, Albert, thanx again for the shout-out; I got some lurkers out of it.)
Journal's done, dishes are done, ummm ..... BED!
Story & map copyright Malcolm Mott 2005