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Raven Mystic Part 4

On a drizzly morning in late October, Obidiah the raven mystic and his seagull pal Marcus and ten of Marcus’s gull buddies flew north from Big River to a little rocky beach at the mouth of Jack Peters Creek. The tide was way out when they reached the beach where the creek was little more than a trickle for lack of rain.

They landed in a group at the south end of the beach and one of Marcus’s cronies opined, “Why was it again we left the easy living and soft sands of Big River Beach to come all the way to this sad excuse for a beach?”

“You lack imagination, Stefan,” retorted Marcus, turning over a baseball-sized stone and exposing a scrumptious little crab. “Not only do crustaceans abound here, but yonder is a shallow pool wherein are trapped several dozen delectable smelt who neither went far enough out with the tide nor far enough up the creek while the going was good. Hence they are sitting ducks, so to speak, for gulls such as we.”

Inspired by Marcus’s preface, the gulls flew en masse to the little pool to dine on the many fish trapped therein. Obidiah followed the gulls, and being less aquatic than they, did not take part in the fishing. 

Standing apart from the feasting gulls, Obidiah heard the unmistakable creaking of fast-flapping raven wings and looked upstream as a trio of glossy black Jack Peters Creek raven gals emerged from the forest and landed a short distance from Obidiah.

“You’re no Jack Peters Creek raven,” said the largest of the three. “You migrating? Well you better migrate yourself down the coast pronto before our big boys get here and kick your butt.”

Obidiah read the mind of this largest of the three as well as the mind of the next largest, and was disappointed to find both raven gals were profoundly afraid of him, emotionally unreceptive, and not the brightest of passerines. But when he tried to read the mind of the third, a comely gal with four snowy white tail feathers, he found her mind closed to him.

“I’m Obidah,” he said, mesmerized by the raven gal with the white tail feathers. “Who are you?”

“Watch out, Magdalena,” cackled the largest gal raven. “He’s got the hots for you.”

“Better tell him to shove off before he gets hurt,” said the mid-sized gal. “The big boys will show him no mercy.”

But Magdalena spoke not a word as she gazed steadfastly at Obidiah.

“Say,” said the second largest of the gal ravens, squinting suspiciously at Obidiah. “You wouldn’t happen to be a Cummings Lane raven, would you? Because if you are, our big boys will do more than kick your butt, they’ll tear your eyes out.”

Obidiah was about to say he was hoping for a more peaceful outcome to his visit, when Magdalena spoke to him clairvoyantly, her voice sweet music to his psyche.

“Why have you come here?” she asked, her tone suggesting concern for his safety. “My sisters speak the truth about what the big boys will try to do to you. They are all brutal dunces and cannot be reasoned with.”

“I came here,” said Obidiah, replying clairvoyantly, “because I’m in search of a mate. I’m claiming some land between Cummings Lane raven territory and Jack Peters Creek raven territory and hoping to meet a gal raven who will love the roost I’ve found and love me, too, once she gets to know me and finds out what a thoughtful, capable, loyal partner I’ll be.”

“But why did you come here?” sent Magdalena, glancing furtively up the creek. “Why not seek a mate among your own kind?”

“Because the gal ravens where I come from are ruled by fear,” sent Obidiah, taking a few steps toward her. “And I’m hoping to meet someone ruled by love.”

Before Magdalena could reply, four large male Jack Peters Creek ravens flew swiftly out of the forest and attacked Obidiah.

Obidiah took wing, flying for his life, and just as those four brutal dunces were about to overtake Obidiah, Marcus and his ten pals rose into the air, a cloud of gulls, and battered those four ravens with their powerful wings until the brutal dunces fled back into the forest and Obidiah was able to escape unharmed.

*

Back on Big River Beach, Marcus and his buddies regaled the large gathering of gulls with wildly exaggerated reports of their triumph over the Jack Peters Creek ravens, while Obidiah sat on a nearby driftwood log recovering from his close call and reviewing his clairvoyant conversation with the enchanting Magdalena, she of the four white tail feathers.

Seeing Obidiah in the throes of emotional turmoil, Marcus excused himself from the hubbub on the sand bar and joined Obidiah on the driftwood log.

“Thinking about that beautiful Jack Peters Creek raven gal, aren’t you?” said Marcus, winking at his non-gull buddy.

“You thought she was beautiful, too?” said Obidiah, smiling dreamily at Marcus. “I didn’t know gulls found individuals of other species anything other than individuals of other species.”

“On rare occasions,” said Marcus, thinking back over his life, “individuals of other species have struck me as beautiful or ugly or strange or funny or cute. Certain puppy dogs, for instance, are undeniably cute. And that raven gal with the snow-white tail feathers reminiscent of snow-white gull feathers was an amalgam of beautiful and cute and mysterious, too. Ergo, I can see why you’re in a tizzy.”

“And she can communicate clairvoyantly,” said Obidiah, excitedly. “She’s the only raven I’ve ever met who can. Other than yours truly.”

“I could only guess her thoughts,” said Marcus, bouncing his eyes, “but the way she was looking at you… ay caramba.”

“But how will I ever get to see her again?” asked Obidiah, mournfully. “Those Jack Peters Creek big boys will kill me if I ever venture into their territory.”

“You want my advice?” asked Marcus, still high from battering those Jack Peters Creek ravens and saving his friend. “Go secure the far flung roost you love. Take the road less travelled. Cut the seemingly irresolvable knot of doubt. Gather a trove of sticks for a nest you’ll build one day with your sweetheart and trust in the power of love.”

“You’re a romantic,” said Obidiah, chuckling. “Who knew?”

“I’m a sea gull living at the mouth of a bountiful river in paradise,” said Marcus, admiring the eternal collision of river and ocean. “Of course I’m a romantic.”

*

So Obidiah began spending a few hours every day in his new roost in the giant gnarly old redwood named Tree, exploring his new domain, and gathering excellent sticks for making a big comfy nest.

*

Then it was Thursday again. Had it only been a week since Obidiah communed clairvoyantly with Isadora the red-haired human at Big River Beach and saw into her future and helped her escape her terrible marriage? Yes. Only a week.

So Obidiah began his Thursday by flying down to Big River Beach and meeting Isadora and her dog Groucho at the usual big driftwood log. And while Groucho wandered about, sniffing and pissing, Obidiah alighted on the log a few feet from Isadora and sent, “You’re looking radiant today. Love the purple coat. What news?”

“Oh Obidiah, I am so glad Jeff is gone,” she sent, smiling at him. “So glad. And you were right. He took almost everything in the house and the garage. So now I’m slowly replacing the things I need. Kitchen table, bed, bedding, things to cook with, plates, silverware, mugs. He never cooked, but he took everything in the kitchen. He even took the food from the refrigerator and emptied the wine cellar. But he couldn’t get my guitar and violin and a few other precious things I moved to my friend’s house before he came.”

“Excellent,” sent Obidiah, proud of Isadora. “Now tell me, who is Thomas?”

Isadora blushed. “A dear old friend. We played music together before I married Jeff and before Thomas married Andrea. Why do you ask?”

“Thomas will cut down a tree for you,” said Obidiah, seeing Isadora’s future as if he was watching a well-made movie. “The big pine that’s threatening to fall on your house. After the tree is down and you learn Thomas is no longer married, you will invite him for supper.”

“Really?” sent Isadora, gaping at Obidiah. “And then what happens?”

“That’s as far into your future as I can see today,” said Obidiah, though he could actually see a little further. “Now remember, that pine tree might fall any day now, so call Thomas soon. Today would be a fine day to call him.”

“I will,” she sent, beaming at Obidiah. “I brought you more chicken morsels cooked just the way you like them.”

“Wonderful,” sent Obidiah, his eyes growing wide as Isadora took a bulging plastic bag out of her pocket. “Would you mind leaving them in the bag so I can more easily transport them to my new digs?”

“Certainly,” sent Isadora, placing the bag on the log between them. “I’m so grateful to you.”

“As I am grateful to you,” sent Obidiah, nodding graciously.

“Next week?” sent Isadora, getting up from the log. “Same time, same log?”

“Yes,” sent Obidiah, grasping the bulging bag with his talons and flying away into the wild blue yonder.

*

His heart pounding from the exertion of flying all those miles with the heavy bag of delicious chicken morsels, Obidiah landed in the hollow high up in the trunk of Tree, opened the bag, and ate one of Isadora’s morsels.

“Oh yum,” said Obidiah, relishing the perfectly cooked chicken and thinking I wish I could share this feast with Magdalena.

At which moment, a few miles away in a roost on the banks of Jack Peters Creek, Magdalena heard Obidiah’s wish and set out to find him.

Missing You

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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