October 27, 2009

The Hawk and the Lodgepole Pine

“Arp! Arp!” cried the hawk, and he circled to land on the highest branch of a lodgepole pine close by the lake.

“What do you know about World War One?” he asked the tree without so much as a ‘How do you do?’

“Huh? What?” responded the tree, its impressive height doing nothing at all to boost its not altogether impressive intelligence.

“World War One. Do you feel that Haig was stubborn and blind or do you on the other hand feel that in the end he did what had to be done?” stated the hawk between preening wing feathers and tearing at the dead chipmunk he held in his talons.

“I … don’t know. A lot of my ancestors were masts, though,” offered the tree in a pitiful attempt to converse. It was not often that birds talked to the tree.  And whenever they did, the more or less comatose pine was always so startled that all it could ever think of to say was the exact same thing, that short statement about its tree mast ancestors. Suddenly inspired, this time the tree added, “Masts are straight.”

“That’s really neither here nor there,” said the hawk, tearing off a strip of nice red meat. “The maritime bits of the war don’t interest me all that much. Oh, sure, Gallipoli and u-boats, I suppose, but the trenches, I mean slogging back and forth for years gaining and losing the same few hundred yards while suffering frightful slaughter. What was that all about?”

“Masts?” suggested the hopeful tree.

Moral: It’s always a good idea to keep your mouth shut even if you don’t have one.

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