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Raven Mystic Part 5

Obidiah the Cummings Lane raven mystic was perched on the edge of his new roost high in a giant gnarly old redwood named Tree. Obidiah had just eaten two delicious morsels of perfectly cooked chicken given to him by a human named Isadora.

There were twelve more chicken morsels left in the bag, and Obidiah was about to eat them when he saw a sight that took his breath away. Gliding through the forest fifty feet below him was the beautiful Jack Peters Creek raven gal Magdalena, she of the four snowy white tail feathers.

“Wow, talk about wishes coming true,” said Obidiah, who had just moments before wished he could share the chicken morsels with Magdalena.

Obidiah had only met Magdalena once before and very briefly, but that meeting was a life-changing event for both of them because neither had ever met another full-blown mystic, which they both were, and neither had ever been so profoundly attracted to a raven of the opposite sex.

“If you’d like to talk about wishes coming true,” said Tree, with whom Obidiah frequently conversed, “I’d be happy to.”

“Hold that thought,” said Obidiah, flying off in pursuit of Magdalena.

“Wishes coming true,” mused Tree. “Do thousand-year-old trees make wishes? I don’t recall ever wishing for anything. But if I did wish for something, what might it be? Perhaps I’d wish for rain to end a long drought, though I never have wished for that because I know droughts always eventually end whether I wish they would or not. So… I don’t know.”

While Tree pondered the concept of wishes, Obidiah caught up to Magdalena and cawed, “Well if it isn’t Magdalena. Fancy meeting you here.”

Magdalena alighted on the first convenient branch and Obidiah landed on a branch not far from her.

“Hi,” she said shyly. “You made a wish involving me and I’ve been wanting to see you again, so here I am.”

“You heard my wish?” he replied, overjoyed. “All the way from Jack Peters Creek?”

Magdalena nodded. “Is your roost nearby?”

“Yeah, its…”

“Don’t tell me,” she said, interrupting. “I only asked because though you’re not technically in Jack Peters Creek raven territory, you are still very much in danger of being attacked by Jack Peters Creek ravens. As I mentioned to you when we first met, they are all brutal dunces and not to be reasoned with.”

“You don’t want to see my roost?” he asked, disappointed.

“I do and I don’t,” she said, sighing in frustration. “I do want to see your roost because I’m super curious, of course, and I don’t want to see your roost because if I love your roost, which I probably will, then…”

“Then what?” he asked, holding his breath.

“Then it will be even harder for me to stop thinking about you,” she said matter-of-factly. “Ever since we met and conversed clairvoyantly and… by the way, do you read minds? Of other ravens and birds and mammals?”

“I do,” he said, nodding. “But your mind is closed to me.”

“That is so weird,” she said, squinting at him. “Because I can read minds, too, but not yours. How about future glimpsing?”

“Yes,” he said, frowning. “Only not my own future or yours.”

“Ditto,” she said, enraptured by him. “I’ve never met another raven like me. Have you ever met another raven like you?”

“Still haven’t,” he said, jauntily bobbing his head. “You’re a gal raven and I’m male.”

“I meant the other stuff,” she said, blushing.

“Speaking of other stuff,” he said, making a clucking sound. “You hungry? One of my human clients just paid me in scrumptious chicken morsels, and my wish, the one you heard from an impressive three miles away, was to have you join me in feasting on said scrumptious chicken morsels.”

“You have human clients?” she asked, amazed.

“Well… one,” he said, shrugging. “Hungry?”

“Actually I am,” she said, torn between staying and going. “But the thing is… by the way, what’s your name?”

“Obidiah,” he said, smitten beyond smitten.

“Nice name,” she said quietly. “The thing is, Obidiah, I’m three-years old and soon to be four, and I long ago resigned myself to never marrying because all the raven males I’ve ever met are brutal dunces.”

“I’m not,” he said simply.

“No, I can sense that,” she said, her voice full of tenderness. “But you’re an outsider and the brutal dunces will kill you if you ever come to our territory again.”

“I never will come to their territory again,” he said, shaking his head. “We would live here and socialize with my raven and non-raven friends in Cummings Lane raven territory and at Big River Beach.”

“Your friends would accept me?” she asked incredulously.

“Absolutely,” he assured her. “I’m held in high esteem by the Cummings Lane ravens because of the many useful repercussions of my mystical proclivities, and you would be held in high esteem, too, because you would be my wife.”

“Seriously?” she said, flabbergasted. “Most Jack Peters Creek ravens think I’m a total nut case, though that doesn’t stop the males from trying to impregnate me against my will.”

“I would never do that,” he said gently. “I would always wait until you invited me.”

“Gosh,” she said, her heart melting, “this puts things in a whole new light, a lovely new light, though I still think our roost… your roost is vulnerable to attacks from Jack Peters Creek ravens.”

“Speaking of vulnerable,” he said, turning in the direction of Tree, “I don’t think we should leave those scrumptious morsels unattended much longer.”

“No we shouldn’t,” she said, surrendering to his charms. “Lead me to your roost.”

*

Had either Obidiah or Magdalena been able to see the future they might have been spared a few terrifying weeks of trying to make the hollow in Tree a lasting home for themselves and their future progeny.

But they could not see their futures, and despite their valiant efforts they could not withstand the constant harassment and predations by gangs of Jack Peters Creek ravens who were furious that a Cummings Lane raven had successfully wooed and wed a beautiful Jack Peters Creek raven gal.

Nor could Obidiah and Magdalena have known that even marginal land for roosting in Cummings Lane raven territory would be in such short supply, and that after giving up their roost in Tree they would spend a long wet winter in a temporary nest in a small redwood on Obidiah’s parents’ land, which was fine with Obidiah’s father Tarkanda but did not sit well with Obidiah’s mother Doris who felt intimidated by Magdalena’s formidable mystical proclivities and her beautiful white tail feathers.

*

Then one Thursday morning, as winter was giving way to spring, Obidiah went to meet the human Isadora at the big driftwood log on Big River Beach. With food scarce, Obidiah and Magdalena had come to depend on the weekly bag of succulent morsels Isadora brought Obidiah in thanks for his counseling.

Obidiah alighted on the big driftwood log a few feet from Isadora and sent “You look lovelier than ever. Those pearl earrings are to die for. How are things going with you and Thomas?”

“Things are going wonderfully well for us,” sent Isadora, gazing fondly at Obidiah. “How are things going for you? You sound sad, Obidiah. Are you?”

Now in all the many Thursday mornings that Obidiah met Isadora on the big driftwood log, Isadora had never once inquired about Obidiah’s life, nor had Obidiah ever shared anything about his life with her. But when she asked how things were going for him, and especially when she said he sounded sad, he told her everything that had happened to him since he helped her end her terrible marriage to Jeff and find true love with Thomas.

When he finished telling his tale, Obidiah looked at Isadora and saw she was crying.

“I’m sorry,” he sent. “I shouldn’t have burdened you with my…”

“No, Obidiah,” she sent passionately. “I should have asked how you were doing long ago when I first sensed your sorrow.”

“But our relationship has always been about me helping you,” sent Obidiah, tearfully. “And in thanks for my help you’ve given me food glorious food. So…”

“I can do more than give you food,” said Isadora, gesturing magnanimously to the sparkling sea. “I own ten acres a mile south of here and I’m certain no ravens are currently living on my land. Come live there with your wife. You would be most welcome.”

*

And that is how Obidiah and Magdalena, the raven mystics, came to live on Isadora’s land.

They built a big comfy nest in a gnarly old giant redwood named Cassiopeia and raised many children on Isadora’s fruitful acres. Their female progeny were all witty and wise and gifted with snowy white tail feathers, and their male progeny were all strong and adventurous and fond of double entendre. And many of their offspring were full-blown mystics, too.

*

Obidiah and Magdalena are quite old now and spend most of their time hanging around Isadora and Thomas’s house enjoying the marvelous smells emanating from the kitchen and listening to Isadora and Thomas make music together.

And, as you might expect, Obidiah and Magdalena are totally addicted to the scrumptious morsels Isadora gives them every day.

fin

Just Love

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Raven Mystic Part 3

On the day after Madge the beautiful Cummings Lane gal raven turned down his marriage proposal, Obidiah the raven mystic decided to seek out his two non-raven bird friends, a gull named Marcus and a Red-tailed hawk named Harold, to get their opinions about how he might proceed with his life. In Obidiah’s experience, other species’ viewpoints were often helpful in resolving seemingly intractable raven dilemmas.

*

Harold the hawk oversaw a couple square miles of fields and orchards and wooded land between Cummings Lane and the coast. Harold and his mate Rose had a big nest at the top of a half-dead bull pine on the edge of a wooded ravine carved by a seasonal creek.

Obidiah and Harold became friends two years ago when Harold and Rose were establishing their territory and the local ravens would daily mob the hawks and chase them all over hell and gone. The ravens did this because the hawk couple who previously presided over Harold and Rose’s territory were notorious raven nest raiders, which Harold and Rose were not.

One day Obidiah happened to join a group of ravens mobbing Harold, and because Obidiah spoke fluent Hawk, he understood Harold when Harold cried plaintively, “Leave us alone. Please. We are not raven nest raiders. We are gopher, squirrel, snake, rabbit, vole hunters. We really don’t want to have to resort to killing some of you, but we will if you persist in mobbing us.”

So Obidiah brokered a peace between Harold and Rose and the Cummings Lane ravens, and thereafter Harold and Obidiah were friends.

Obidiah found Harold perched on a power line overlooking Harold and Rose’s Rodent Field 7, a level acre of land that the human owners left fallow, though this acre would have made an ideal apple orchard or vegetable farm.

Harold greeted Obidiah with his perpetual steely gaze, which Obidiah knew not to misconstrue.

“Obidiah,” said Harold, his voice fantastically high. “What brings you… excuse me.”

Harold then plummeted to the ground and snagged with his talons a big fat gopher he promptly tore to pieces with his beak.

“No matter how many times I see you do that,” said Obidiah, admiringly, “I’m amazed. Will you be taking that meat back to your nest?”

“No,” said Harold, devouring the shredded gopher flesh. “George and Naomi left the nest a couple months ago, and Rose is working Rodent Field 4 this morning. This is all mine. Want some?”

“Sure,” said Obidiah, alighting near Harold and waiting politely for the raptor to fling him a few bloody pieces.

When the gopher was no more, Harold and Obidiah flapped across the field and perched on another power line from where Harold could scan the field.

“As I started to ask,” said Harold, blinking at Obidiah, “before that delicious gopher emerged from his hole unawares… what brings you here today?”

“I’m seeking guidance,” said Obidiah, humbly. “I’ve found a marvelous roost in some fine unclaimed territory several miles north of here, but I don’t yet have a mate and I despair of any Cumming Lane raven gal wanting to settle so far afield. I’m not getting any younger and… well, I’m at a loss how to proceed.”

“Hawks, you know,” said Harold, his eyes fixed on the field, “do not live communally or even semi-communally, and we’re fortunate if we live half as long as your average raven. I got booted out of the nest and driven out of my parents’ territory when I was five-months-old and had to migrate to the far fringes of hawk civilization before I could stake my first claim on extremely marginal hunting grounds. For some months I survived on scrawny lizards and throat-tickling caterpillars and the occasional snake, but I persevered, met Rose, and together we claimed this paradise after the previous pair of hawks were electrocuted by a power surge. Then we had to fight off several other hawks who wanted this land, and then we had to survive months of mobbing by ravens until you came to the rescue. Since then things have been relatively marvelous. Which is all to say, if you were a hawk, you’d claim that territory you’re enamored of, get to know the lay of your land, and hope for good things to follow.”

“Even if one of the things to follow was a raven gal from another society?” asked Obidiah, his fear of Jack Peters Creek ravens inherited from hundreds of previous generations of Cummings Lane ravens.

“Heck yeah,” said Harold, seeming to glare at Obidiah, though he was merely being a hawk. “Love doesn’t care where we come from. Love only cares who we are and if we have that ineffable je ne sais quoi.”

*

Inspired by Harold’s thought-provoking ideas about love, Obidiah flew down to Big River Beach and found his gull pal Marcus standing on the outskirts of a sizeable congregation of other gulls gathered at the edge of a sand bar pecking in the wet sand for sand dabs.

A large gull, his feathers extra white from a recent bath in the river, Marcus was one of the few local gulls who enjoyed the company of ravens. Gulls and ravens compete for similar edibles and are frequently at odds, but Marcus was a most successful food getter and felt no threat from ravens. He was also a deep thinker and enjoyed discussing philosophical matters with Obidiah.

Marcus and Obidiah became acquainted when they were both young and learning how to forage for themselves. They kept bumping into each other while scoping out human picnickers at the beach, and on one such occasion Obidiah read the minds of the picnickers and learned they were going to leave their half-finished banquet unattended while they went for a walk. Being a generous sort, Obidiah shared this information with young Marcus, and when Obidiah and Marcus got away with an entire ham and cheese sandwich and a large bag of potato chips, which they shared, they became fast friends.

After a bit of chitchat about the weather and the fortuitous abundance of sand dabs, Obidiah described his marital territorial dilemma to Marcus.

“Regarding the far flung nesting option,” opined Marcus, “we would not be wrong in conflating that remote roost with the parable of the road less travelled. Ipso facto, this is a classic example of the artist’s dilemma.”

“Why do you say artist’s dilemma?” asked Obidiah, who didn’t consider himself an artist.

“By artist I mean an original thinker,” said Marcus, gazing at the horizon. “One who conceives of things and perceives reality in a wholly original way. A bird who finds little satisfaction in recapitulating the redundant patterns of the status quo. One who, and this is the key point, goes his or her own way in most matters. You may fail, Obidiah, but at least you will have tried and won’t regret not trying, if you will pardon my use of a double negative.”

“And what’s your take on marrying an outsider?” asked Obidiah, who enjoyed Marcus’s verbosity.

“Gulls are not ravens,” said Marcus, looking around at his numerous cohorts. “If you will excuse my stating the obvious. Every year we roam up and down the coast for hundreds of miles in either direction, gathering with our kind in great numbers hither and yon. Thus marrying outsiders is as common among gulls as not marrying outsiders. Keeps the gene pool jumping. Breaks the monotony of sameness.” He smiles. “I met my first wife Deb in Coos Bay. Talk about a tough gull. She relished barnacles and found icy weather tropical. When she choked on an enormous chicken bone and died, I mourned her for hours before marrying Conchita from La Paz. Ay caramba!”

“Okay then,” said Obidiah, feeling emboldened by the sum total of Harold and Marcus’s input. “One last question. The little beach where Jack Peters Creek meets the sea? Ever seen any ravens there?”

“Are humans omnivorous?” said Marcus, cackling. “The mouth of Jack Peters Creek is raven central. Especially at low tide.”

“Would you do me the honor of accompanying me to that little beach some upcoming low tide?” asked Obidiah, nodding hopefully. “I’d make it worth your while.”

“I’m sure you would,” said Marcus, grinning. “As it happens there’s a grandiloquent low tide on the morrow in the morning. I’ll talk some pals into coming with us so we can give you a little gull cover while you check out the Jack Peters Creek raven gals.”

“Thank you, Marcus,” said Obidiah, raising his wings to signify his gratitude. “I’ll meet you here tomorrow morning.”

“No problema mi amigo,” said Marcus, raising his wings in reply. “Tu mundo es mi mundo.”

Mystery Pastiche

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Raven Mystic Part 2

A few days after Obidiah the raven used his mystical proclivities to help Isadora the human move on from her unhappy marriage, and having impressed a gal raven named Madge with some succulent chicken morsels given to him by Isadora, Obidiah and Madge went to check out some territory Obidiah hoped would convince Madge to become his mate for life.

Madge was four, a year younger than Obidiah, and one of the most attractive unmarried gal ravens on that stretch of the northern California coast. She had been on the verge of committing to Halunga, the biggest raven for many miles around, when Isadora’s chicken morsels swayed her to give Obidiah a chance to make his marital case.

*

The sun was shining brightly on that cold October morning as Obidiah and Madge flew north from the end of Cummings Lane where Obidiah’s parents Doris and Tarkanda lived high in a giant redwood and Obidiah nested on a branch far below them. For this outing with Madge, Obidiah brought a picnic of an apple and the hindquarters of a car-struck squirrel to further enhance his credibility as a breadwinner. He also brought along a gold ring originally meant to reside on a human finger. He found the ring on the beach and wanted to have the beautiful bauble handy should Madge say Yes.

Having left the last road and house far behind, Obidiah and Madge alighted on a lower branch in a huge gnarly old redwood and Madge said, “It’s nice here, Obidiah, but we are so far from the nearest road or garbage can or house or familiar raven. In fact, we’re so far north we’re almost to…” She lowered her voice. “Jack Peters Creek and those psycho Jack Peters Creek ravens.”

“Wait until you see the place I found to make a nest,” said Obidiah, gazing at Madge and imagining the fun they would have procreating. “Fifty feet higher in this very tree.”

“I don’t know, Obidiah,” said Madge, trembling with trepidation. “We’re practically on another planet. Hard enough being a raven, let alone a wilderness pioneer raven.”

“Come see where we can build the most comfortable nest in the world,” said Obidiah, gently coaxing her. “Then we’ll dine on squirrel and if you’re still not convinced, I’ll fly with you back to Cummings Lane.”

So up they went, hopping from branch to branch until they came to a large hollow in the trunk of the old redwood, with spectacular views of the forest to the south and east, and a glimpse of the ocean to the west.

They devoured the squirrel, pecked at the juicy apple, and then Madge shook her head and said, “I’m sorry, Obidiah, but I can’t do this. Much as I like you and your delicious vittles, and much as I like this nesting spot, we’re too far from the creature comforts I’ve come to depend on. Halunga has promised me a pine tree penthouse on downtown Cummings Lane and nobody messes with him when he shows up at a road kill or a garbage spill, so…”

“I hear you,” said Obidiah, nodding. “Halunga will be a fine husband for you. I’ll fly you home now.”

“No need,” said Madge, eager to wing her way to Halunga and be done once and for all with courtship. “I’ll see you around the hood.”

And with that, she flew away.

*

Watching Madge grow small in the distance, Obidiah felt sad, but also relieved.

“She wasn’t really my type,” he sighed. “Not in a comprehensive way.”

“You can say that again,” said the spirit of the gnarly old giant redwood. “That gal operates entirely from a fear-based notion of reality, which is not your way at all.”

“Oh hey,” said Obidiah, happy to have his feelings confirmed by such a wise elder. “Nice to meet you. I’m Obidiah.”

“Nice to meet you, too,” said the tree. “I’m Tree. So when are you moving in? I’d love to have a mystic living in my trunk.”

“Well, first I have to win a mate,” said Obidiah, nodding to affirm this. “And if she likes this location, then we…”

“Says who?” asked Tree.

“That’s raven law,” said Obidiah, surprised Tree didn’t know that. “First the gal, then the roost, and then we build the nest together.”

“Seems counter-intuitive,” said Tree. “I mean… suit yourself, but if you love it here and you make this your home, you’ll attract gals who love this place, too.”

“Except no gal raven may love it here,” said Obidiah, anxiously. “And I certainly don’t want to isolate myself out of the running for a mate.”

“Maybe no gal ravens where you come from would want to live here,” said Tree. “But I know several Jack Peters Creek raven gals who would dig this pad and dig you, too. Totally.”

“What a concept,” said Obidiah, never having imagined marrying an outsider. “The mind boggles.”

“You can see into the future, right?” asked Tree.

“Not my own,” said Obidiah, shaking his head. “Only the futures of others.”

“Ah,” said Tree. “Of course.”

“How would I even go about meeting a Jack Peters Creek raven gal?” asked Obidiah, bewildered. “Wouldn’t I get attacked if I ventured into their territory?”

“Possibly,” said Tree. “But where you are now is nobody’s territory. Cummings Lane ravens venture here sometimes, as you did, and Jack Peters Creek ravens sometimes make scavenging trips to this neck of the woods. But no ravens live here. Not yet. And remember, you’re all the same species. Same sub-species, too. You have a few different customs and you speak different dialects of the same language. Cummings Lane ravens are symbiotic with humans, whereas Jack Peters Creek ravens rarely even see people. But I’m here to tell you, Obidiah, in the grand sweep of evolution, your differences are less than miniscule.”

“I appreciate your input,” said Obidiah, preparing for takeoff. “I shall ponder what you’ve told me.”

*

When he got back to familiar territory, Obidiah swung by his older brother Polyganda’s nest and found Polyganda’s wife Jan and her fledglings Sue and Romanulo eating mussels Jan brought home from the tide pools.

“Uncle Obidiah!” croaked Sue. “Did you bring us some food?”

“Don’t be rude, Sue,” said Jan, scolding her daughter. “Hi Obidiah. Your brother went to check out a fresh road kill. He should be back any minute. I’d offer you something to eat, but with these two growing so fast, well, you know.”

“Here comes Papa now,” said Romanulo, flapping his wings and accidentally whacking his sister in the face. “With gooey things in his talons. Whoopee!”

A moment later, Polyganda dropped the liver and heart of a small deer into the nest, and while Jan and the kids fed on the organs, Polyganda and Obidiah retired to a higher branch in the tree.

“Long time no see, my brother,” said Polyganda, who’d had his fill of deer meat before bringing home the innards. “What news? Other than Madge choosing Halunga over you. Or so the gossips say.”

“No news,” said Obidiah, who appreciated his brother’s penchant for cutting to the chase. “Just a question or two.”

You asking me questions?” said Polyganda, chuckling. “You’re the mystic, not me.”

“These are not questions of a mystical nature,” said Obidiah, smiling at his brother. “At least not overtly.”

“I see,” said Polyganda, knowing of Obidiah’s tendency to converse at length. “Would it be okay if we scavenge while we talk? I’d like to snag a bit more of that yearling deer before the vultures find the carcass. It’s a very fresh kill.”

“Fine with me,” said Obidiah, who was feeling a bit peckish. “Let’s go.”

So they flew swiftly to the east and ere long came to a dead deer lying by the roadside. Five ravens were feeding on the carcass, while drifting in the sky above them were two vultures awaiting the arrival of a few more vultures to help them drive away the ravens.

Polyganda grabbed a foot-long chunk of deer intestine, Obidiah ate a few bites of kidney, and they headed back to Polyganda’s nest.

“So,” said Obidiah, flying along beside his brother, “what would you think if I staked out my territory before I found a mate, and… what if I married a raven from outside our community?”

Polyganda alighted on the first convenient branch and set down the intestine. “If you weren’t a mystic, Obidiah, I’d say you were crazy. But you are a mystic and you’re a big help to the folks and your sibs and the community, so if you do things a little differently than the rest of us, I have no problem with that.”

“Good to know,” said Obidiah, cheered by his brother’s response. “And lastly, have you ever in your wanderings ventured into Jack Peters Creek territory?”

“Once,” said Polyganda, nodding solemnly. “Only once. And I’m lucky to be alive to tell the tale.”

“What happened?” asked Obidiah, gazing raptly at his brother.

“Read my mind,” said Polyganda, picking up the intestine and resuming the homeward journey.

Flying close together, Obidiah accessed his brother’s memory archives and saw Polyganda four years ago at the age of three following a gorgeous Jack Peters Creek raven gal through the forest and alighting with her on a rocky beach beside burbling Jack Peters Creek. Obidiah could see how greatly Polyganda loved the gal raven and how greatly the gal raven loved Polyganda. And as the gal raven and Polyganda began to nuzzle and chortle in the way of lovers, a gang of seven Jack Peters Creek ravens came swarming down upon them and Polyganda barely escaped with his life.

“You never told me,” said Obidiah as they came in sight of Polyganda’s nest. “Thank the spirits you survived.”

Polyganda delivered the intestine to Jan and the kids, and then he and Obidiah retired once more to a higher branch.

“Yes,” said Polyganda, quietly. “Thank the spirits I survived. But just between you and me, I left my heart on that rocky Jack Peters Creek beach. And I tell you, my brother, rarely a night goes by that I don’t dream of the life I might have had with Esmeralda.”

Incongroovity