By: Esther M. Powell
Posted on: Sun, April 27 2008 - 6:55 pm
Piglet Apes the Copycat Colt
Piglet has been practicing walking sideways on the beach. Now she's feeling a little crabby. (Or was it the other way around? She can't remember what prompted her to come down here in the first place!)
The other day Piglet watched thirty cranes overhead, wheeling upwards with the heat thermals. She had to sit on her haunches to even get them in her field of vision! (What a funny expression. No fields up there with the birds! At least, not in Piglet's grain-biased opinion.)
She craned to spot the next thermal site that would lift the cranes up again after their long earthward glide, but only the far-up birds could do that! And who knows if even they could? The last time she saw them, two groups of zany-babblers were going in two different directions.
"They define the edges of the thermal." Those two clusters of cranes were getting further apart. Do thermals disperse as they rise? Would the crane cliques part also, not meeting again until evening? Or Fall? Or ever?
No wonder cranes have to have such long necks if they have to keep track of each other in 360 degrees of direction! Piglet shook her head. She had a crick in her neck just thinking about it.
Piglet returned to her family. There they were, still asleep, breathing together in one big cosy heap. A short-necked crowd, indeed!
Piglet was disinclined to sleep. Once she'd heard of something called "lutrophobia." A fear of otters! Really? Piglet couldn't imagine being afraid of those cute little romps! Maybe lutrophobia was supposed to be a fear of "others!"
Or maybe lutrophobia was a fear of "oughters!" Piglet had a fear of those, all right! Maybe she didn't want to go back to sleep because there were too many "oughters" there!
Piglet giggled. She pranced sideways in the fresh almost-Spring air. Piglet raised her un-otterly but still cute young head plenty high enough to sniff what was on the breeze.
Where to go for breakfast this morning?
Piglet and the Skunk
Piglet had kind of an unsettling experience yesterday evening. She was out snouting around, doing her usual scavenging thing, when somehow she got between a skunk and her young'uns. The skunk, small as it is, behaved exactly like a big ol' bear would in similar circumstances, and charged directly for Piglet, coming zany low and fast!
Piglet was so shocked it took her a second to realize what was happening. She stared at the skunk, transfixed. The skunk had on a black and white T-shirt that said, "83 mph or bust!" (Or at least that's what Piglet thought it said.) A Running Skunk! When she realized the skunk was charging her, Piglet was so flustered she had to use her ankle wings to fly away. (Actually, they kind of flew away with her! (They must be magical or something!)) She was hanging from them for a while, like a basket below a hot air balloon!
Piglet, however, prefers to accentuate the positive. "That I got away shows I can fly 83 miles per hour!" Piglet bragged exultantly. "So what if I was upside down! I got away!"
(A good thing, too. Skunk perfume is even worse than natural eau d'boar! Piglet is so glad the skunk didn't spray her!)
"Hmm... 83 mph doesn't seem very likely," I said. "I don't think even cheetahs and antelopes and wildebeests can go that fast."
"Huh? But," Piglet protested, "that's what it said on her shirt! I saw it myself!"
"I'll look it up when I get home," I promised. "But meanwhile, try to avoid testing your speed against any big cats. Remember, they can leap pretty high as well as run very fast!"
"Sure!" said Piglet abstractedly, in a way that I was sure meant, "Yeah, yeah, surely not!"
I had to get some real information fast.
I rushed home (at considerably less than 83 mph, I assure you!) and looked up skunk-speed. Top speed for a skunk is 8.3 miles per hour! Even that speed kind of surprised me. After all, skunks are usually shy, kind of moseying little critters. How could they get in shape to work up that kind of speed, skulking around in the twilight? Must be the skunkly equivalent of adrenaline!
I hurried back to tell Piglet that she outran (outflew!) a skunk going at most eight point three miles per hour.
"What does that mean?" Piglet asked, snuffling through the soggy leaves looking for acorns that had survived the winter.
"It means you can probably fly about nine miles an hour," I answered. "But," I added (I was trying to be encouraging) "you could probably go faster right side up!"
Piglet looked down at the dreary forest floor.
"Oh," said Piglet.
Piglet and the Camel
Since the weather was warming up, Piglet began to think of warmer climates. Desert. (No, honestly, not dessert for once!) Desert! It occurred to her that Spring might be a good time to visit one, before the summer made it too hot. So she pestered her Uncle Icky, and they flew to the Desert.
The sky was an incredible blue. There were exotic people in brightly colored robes and camel caravans and date palms. Piglet was very excited. She loved dates! Maybe she'd get dessert in the Desert!
After a long, hard winter scrabbling around in the dirt and snow, Piglet felt rather foolish. Why hadn't she come here before? (Oh, that's right, she reminded herself. Her wings were being used by the educational porpoises!)
She just thanked her lucky stars she was here now - before it got too hot!
Not everyone was in such a good mood, however. She ran across a camel who was spitting mad.
"I don't know why they make us carry such heavy loads," he muttered. (Ha! Maybe the word "mutter" is the next best thing to a mute utterance (which would, of course, be impossible!))
"Can't they see we're already carrying a heavy load? Look at it!" He jerked his rather zany features back towards his decidedly zany hump. "It's as plain as the nose on your face!" Piglet's nose began to twitch, and Camel realized that he had perhaps been less than tactful, so he rushed on. "That hump's mostly water, and that's one of the heaviest things you can carry!
Oh, they'll tell you that my hump is "fat", as if it were something to be ashamed of," he spat out. (Ha! Maybe that's where the word "spout" came from! Boy, I'm hot today! Must be that desert influence!) "But that fat is holding water! Lots of it! Nobody has to carry water for me!" He held his head up and spat (again!) in disdain. Piglet hadn't realized how many moods could be expressed by expectorating!
Piglet was also astounded to learn that camels' humps were built-in canteens! For all she knew, humps could have been like kangaroos' pouches where they stored their babies, only on top! (Dorsally, to you scientist types.)
Camel carried on (for that is what camels do, after all!)
"Have you ever heard that story about the straw that broke the camel's back? I hate that story!
"That story was meant, I bet, to teach humans to have a little compassion!
"But no! They take it as a challenge! Load up the stupid beast as much as you can, right up to the nth degree! But be careful! Just avoid that last impossible straw!"
He looked at Piglet as if she were a human. (Don't blame me! I never said she was human!)
"And then! AND THEN! They have the gall to call us ill-tempered and grouchy!"
(Piglet felt for the animal, but she couldn't help but think they were right!)
"They wonder why we spit and bite (whenever we get the chance!) So would you, if you were treated like this!"
Piglet nodded doubtfully while she subtly (she thought!) backed out of biting range. She reckoned what he said was probably true. She was glad she was so spherical that people couldn't tell she probably carried as much fat as Camel! They might pignap her and load her up and make her carry brass pots in the hot sun!
The idea made her a little uneasy.
Much as she enjoyed the weather and all the strange sights and sounds, when Uncle Icky said it was time to go back home, Piglet didn't object!
The camel was still sputtering when they left! (Get it? "Spitting" and "uttering"?)
Piglet as Roadkill - NOT
Have you ever seen a pig, young or fully grown, on the side of the road, dead?
I haven't. I've seen deer, possums, raccoons, rabbits, dogs, cats, birds, snakes, turtles (well to tell the truth, if they get hit they usually don't make it to the side of the road!) but I have never seen hog roadkill.
No, I think pigs and boars are too smart to spend a lot of time around roads.
The other day I saw a dead possum by the road and immediately got worried. I told Piglet about my sighting, wondering if it was Piglet's Possum friend, Pinochio. (Don't look at me that way! I didn't name him!) I knew Pinochio had a couple of babes and wondered what would happen to them if something bad had happened to Pinochio.
Piglet wouldn't go to the road to try to identify the body (too smart!), but dropped by the burrow to see about the kids. (Er, well, not kids, exactly, (or are they called kids?) You know what I mean!)
No sign of the younger generation, Piglet reported. We decided to keep our eyes out. (Ha, ha! What a funny saying! As if they would work better "out" than "in!")
That night Piglet heard a rustling near where she had been eating supper. ("Okay, okay, so I'm a sloppy eater!") She lifted her head and found herself looking a little junior possum straight in the eye.
Junior, looking pale and ghostlike in the dim light, realized he was being watched. He froze with one paw in the air, then started dropping it verrrry slowly, as if being slow would make him invisible.
"I've heard of playing possum before, but this was ridiculous!" snorted Piglet later.
"Playing possum means pretending to be dead, and that only works if your predator isn't a scavenger!" (Can a predator be a scavenger? I'll have to look it up!)
"Playing possum is a risky tactic at best!
"I'm inclined to think that Junior's dad and mom are just out of sight." (Another funny expression! They aren't out of sight! As if sight were something you could run out of! They can still see just as well as ever, I bet!)
"He acted more like a caught-out juvenile up to no good than a pathetic kid struggling to survive!"
My, Piglet sounded grown up! And her judgment was right on! The deceased possum I had seen by the side of the road was Junior's great-uncle Jasper! (Yeah, well, pardon me if I couldn't tell a middle-aged possum from an old one!)
"Oh, and Jasper's not dead!" Piglet announced.
"Well, then who is?" I asked as patiently as I could.
"No one! That was Jasper all right, but when he came to, he stumbled in the right direction - off the road! He was a little punchy, but he's okay."
I was utterly confused.
My computer was on the blink, so I rode my bike downtown to look up possum-related stuff at the library and learned (I think!) that a predator can also be a scavenger, but not at the same time!
I also learned that possums are scavengers!
That didn't make any sense to me at all! Why would they play dead to avoid getting eaten when they themselves eat dead critters? What kind of defense would that be? Zany, if not completely irrational!
I read on. It turns out that possums don't play possum at all! It's not a logical thing. They don't do it on purpose! When they get scared they just involuntarily pass out and smell bad! (Some secretion from anal glands makes them smell like they're dead! Good grief!)
What a survival mechanism! I tried to tell Piglet about it later, but she wasn't interested in other stupid species' survival mechanisms, or about the dark and unsavory aspects of their lives.
I guess that would probably include mine.
I didn't tell her that riding back home from the library I almost got hit by a car! Piglet already acts superior enough. No reason to let her know that I was almost dumb enough to become -
Kinda Wild County Fair
**Pigalatte's** padded silver booties flashed in the air as she spun one little giggling piglet after another in a squealing circle and sent them flying into the haystack nearest the woods where she lived.
The piglets were only supposed to get one ride apiece, but she knew she had counted at least three times the number of piglets that her extended families contained.
Oh, well. Maybe they had lots of friends. That would be a good thing! (Pant, pant gasp, gasp). Lucky she was a big strong subadult! Lucky she had these big wings giving her balance as she lay on her back in the dust. Big Fairy Sowmother wings!
Piglet didn't think that she was using the wings the way Fairy Sowmother had intended when she came flying in over the pasture like some zany pop-up gift card, making the cows gape! (She caused a flurry amongst the crows, too! Moos and caws, ha, ha!) These white feathery miracle-wings were getting thoroughly dusty and stuck all over with burrs and weed stems!
But this wild version of a county fair made it all worthwhile, **Pigalatte** was sure! (Piglet wasn't at all sure, but luckily she's ambivalent! Or maybe it depends on how much work it takes to get those wings clean!)
Fairy Sowmother was off in the muddy pond with all the other moms, getting sowsed [sic and ha-ha!] on hard apple cider and having a gay old time. **Pigalatte** could hear her snorts of laughter from here.
Where is Fairy Sowmother when she isn't here? wondered **Pigalatte**
Oops! She almost overshot the haystack with that last piglet!
Somehow Piglet didn't think that this was the way it was supposed to happen when Fairy Sowmothers came to visit, but maybe this was the country version.
**Pigalatte** sneezed and almost dropped another cousin.
Concentrate, concentrate! Into the haystack! Just so! Gently!
Luckily, wings clean up pretty well! Just ask the birds!
Piglet has been looking for her inner coyote. Sure, she's a wild boar, but even wild animals have to be civilized, if you know what I mean.
They have relationships, responsibilities, even what you might call duties. (Wild animals don't think of them as we do, though: stuff you have to do whether you want to or not. For wild animals, those things are more like "do-ties" - things you just "do" without thinking because you have "ties" to the ones you are doing them for - whoops! I'm rattling on! Back to Piglet!)
Piglet has been looking for Pigyote, that wild part of her that doesn't look to anybody but the moon.
She has found a black-and-white bandana. (I guess she has kind of a Santa Fe idea of coyotes! (I kept my mouth shut.)) I tied it on for her. It barely fit around her neck! The knot is really small and tight!
So Piglet has her bandana, but she's still not feeling like a wild coyote. She's searching for him still, trying to howl at the moon and blaming the tightness of her bandana for her failure to sound like the real thing.
(Actually, I think the tightness might help shorten her vocal cords (ha, ha, I almost wrote "chords!") for those high wailing tones. You want me to tighten that bandana some more, Piglet? Maybe that would help!)
Now Piglet is getting frustrated. Her squunks and goigles wouldn't fool a taxidermied ex-rock-concert-fan porcupine, let alone soar her longings to the moon!
Piglet is getting desperate. She is hunting for Pigyote now. Forget sleep! Forget riverbanquets (easy in the summer when they are so plentiful!) and cooling mud-soaks! Bring on the sly humor and cunning of the desperados who are conscious of their existential plight!
Piglet pays no attention to such silly talk. Existential flight, indeed! What on earth is that? (She's not looking for her wings. Quite the opposite!)
She shakes herself like a dog (er, I mean, a coyote!) and hunts for something alive to run down. (Do boars really do that? I have my doubts!)
But as for finding her inner wild side, I think Piglet just might be on the right track! The hunt is more appropriate than the look! How wild inside does a boarlet really need to be?
In our minds the coyote lacks the hard cold kind of killer instinct we associate with wolves and the big cats A coyote at heart is really just a harmless old dog, right?
Right? Er, maybe not quite.
Oh well, it doesn't matter. He's only a zany inner alter ego anyway!
Long live Pigyote!! May he energize Piglet for many years to come!
Piglet's wearing a wiglet. She is presighting over a mawk t'while.
The defend ant is me!
Me! What did I ever do?
That's the point, Her honor nods.
You are accused of the gravy offence of perspicating a major frown.
I plead gilt-y.
But what is a "frown", I ask? A frumpy "gown?" I pleat gilt-y to that!
A zany frog that's unaccountably down? A downy owlet that's free?
But what if a frown is the furrow on your brow of major concatenation and blook confusion? The kind of frown that comes before a smile or a heal?
Let alone the frowns that come before a meal!
I set my table, I rest my case. Then I put apple pie on it.
Piglet softens, takes off her wiglet, and ties it around her neck to double as a bib.
Really, Piglet is getting too old I mean mature for the diminutive "let" to be appropriate!
I smile free and fondly at Piglet's crumby bewiglet.
Yep, she's getting really savvy!
Piglet was all stressed out and grumpy, walking along in the dusty old hot, when she saw a beatific pig.
She was seated, with her front paws erect to one side of her reclining nether half, holding her head up to the warm sun and smiling. Her scary tusks peeked out beyond her lips so modestly they only looked a little bit dopey!
She was an inspiration. She was warm and content and spiritually complete. She knew all was right with her world and made Piglet feel better about hers. Nirvana is right here on earth and available to pigs! Inspiring!
(I'm not sure about this pig's Creator, though. How does he really feel? Does his mammoth hog creation reflect his own spiritual state? Does the Creator know everything and contain within his Being all spiritual answers?)
Piglet doesn't care about all that. She has a smile beneath her snout very like her new spiritual mentor's. She's happy.
(This isn't really a fable. I guess it's just kind of a zany apostrophe.)
(Secret - You can see a graven image of this pig in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Can you find her? Now Piglet walks by her spot every day!)
The Picking Order
The other rainy cloudy day Piglet was "taking a short-cut" through the farmer's land when a fat racoon kind of pretending not to be in a hurry ran across the road in front of her and disappeared into a shrub by the corner of the farmhouse.
Instantly a good-sized cottontail shot out the opposite side, causing a very young squirrel to skitter chittering up a tree. Startled, a brown creeper gave ground and flew to another tree-trunk.
Piglet meditates for a little while on the picking order. (I've tried to tell her it is "pecking" order, but she's no chicken and can't relate.) Usually in nature, she observes, it's all about creature size. As she herself gets older and bigger, she's noticed, formerly convivial friends seem to look askance at her, furtively checking around to see if there is an exit route handy should things get ugly. (Not that Piglet ever gets ugly, she thinks, rolling her eyes.)
It makes Piglet feel powerful but a little sad, too. Maybe all her fellow critters should keep more of an eye out for the little denizens of the world with the big secret weapons! Like poisonous spiders and water moccasins and ... while Piglet was watching out for danger in small packages, a big zany shadow loomed up behind her! It was making a loud terrifying noise and she ran like crazy, squealing all the way.
The farmer chuckled. Teach that little crop-raider the fear of the John Deere!
Hmmm... maybe I should warn Piglet that water moccasins aren't always so small! Some of them are longer than she is! They aren't always in the water, either. Sometimes they hang around on dry land, soaking up the sun like anyone else. She might mistake one for a small branch. (The old ones are pretty dark.) Someday when Piglet is trying to run away from a big threat, she could accidently step or trip over something worse!
Eeeeek! Whew, that old rope gave me a turn! Maybe I won't tell Piglet anything more about water moccasins until she's a few months older. It's getting too cold for them to be out until Spring, anyway.
Shudder and sigh! Why people have to leave junk around all over the place, anyway... this is supposed to be wilderness! Okay, okay, the country....
Ooops! Piglet! I almost fell over you! What are you doing here in the middle of the path?
Piglet looks at me slyly. "Playing possum!"
Well, that's okay. She's too big to mistake for a water moccasin!
Piglet is feeling like a spriglet. April is here and Summer Ahoy! She's gamboling and caterwauling and skinny-bone hauling. Ready to pig out and fatten up on the good life, the easy life, the warm breezes and spring teases!
Oh. The shoots are still a little small. Well, rustle up some early grubs! Nose out some neglected corn frozen over the winter at the dark corner of the field!
She'll take a lesson from some spiders about networking. The ducks know how to work two environments for sustenance. Piglet thinks she can work three: water, air and soil! Just in case she has to jump up to catch a bug on the wing she practices grand jetes. (For Piglet these are doubles - simultaneous, of course.)
Caprioles are beyond her, but she has considered practicing them while skydiving. My, Spring is a heady time! Full of possibilities normally unthinkable!
I curl a slightly cynical lip. How is Piglet going to get an airplane to jump from? But then I remember a dream I had a couple of weeks back. Not only was I riding on a jet but was expected to fly it!
Uh-oh. I wonder if that dream was predicting the future, and if Piglet has hidden resources which, along with her fine powers of eyeing and oinking persuasion would end up having me flying a plane for her so she could practice her fancy leaps!
No, certainly not. That cannot be. Even April cannot be that cruel to me!
Piglet looked at me dourly, then looked pointedly at the plume in her hand. Er, well, the closest she could get to a plume.
It was a turkey feather.
"Pigalatte, if you please, when I'm holding my pen."
She looked at it again, this time with a despair she tried to hide but couldn't, really.
I noticed that there was no script under her languishing pen. Nothing at all. Not even paper or smooth sand with markings on it.
"Okay, Pigalatte, what are you up to today?"
I'm a poet and didn't know it, but Piglet noticed and turned her sour gaze back on to me. "I was trying to write about Robin."
"What about Robin?"
"Well, he isn't."
"What do you mean, he isn't?"
"I saw him this morning and said, 'Good morning, Robin,' and he said, 'My name isn't Robin, it's Sassyfras - like a good hot cup of tisane on a cold day, or a refreshing root beer in the summer! With ice!'"
"No kidding," I said. "Sassyfras! I like that name for a robin! It's got frisson!"
(Whatever that is. I didn't know precisely but it sounded good. Appropriate. Whatever that means. (Here I am beginning to think entomologically er I mean etymologically and where that will end you never know but luckily Pigalatte interrupted, throwing down her pen and thus turning herself immediately back into Piglet.))
"Let's go for a walk!"
"Sounds good to me!" I said happily.
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