This Is a Work of Fiction
Any resemblances of characters to Bobwhite quails (whose populations are declining drastically mainly due to loss of habitat) are the concocted imaginings of the silly author. Any resemblance to actual events, creatures or persons, living or dead, is entirely and totally coincidental.
1. “Let it be known that this water is magical. Anyone who drinks or bathes here may be considered prosperous and very well-to-do.” Cleowhite, a ruler, spoke these important words to the small flock. “Know where it is. But do not linger here, for this place has many who visit. Some of them you should avoid. Some will try to kill you. Others may take your life. They might eat the meat right off your bones. Beware!”
At that moment, Cleowhite quickly moved her small flock away from the very edge of the pool of magical water and through a small part in the tall Switchgrasses nearby. She gave Lizawhite, the sweet little bird in a helpful push as they were the last to enter. This was the place that they considered their new home. They’d only just arrived and that was the one and only source of clean drinking water. She continued her teachings. “Water is very important for life. Everyone knows this.” With a sense of foreboding, she added, “And too, everyone knows that all creatures must visit a watering hole.”
2. The ruler paused for a moment before she continued with her guidance. She looked into the eyes of each young bird. “Beware the birds of prey,” she said. “They can swoop down from above. Beware the furry creatures. They can jump from behind things. Beware those that slither from the underground. They can strike without a sound.” For a few seconds, the ruler slowly nodded her head for emphasis as she said. “They all visit the pool. Be forewarned”.
“Some who pass by or linger at the water’s edge are human. Be most wary of the human. They can bring dogs and loud weapons to kill birds and other animals. A loud bang can interrupt a day’s quietness and suddenly there can be death among us. A dog will find the fallen and a human will take the dead with them leaving only small splashes of red blood on the ground.”
3. Cleowhite pushed on with her teachings. “Humans have many kinds of magic. They can look through a magic scope to spy upon those of us who lurk in the shadows. They can find us if they try. Some humans kill us and yet other humans offer friendship. Some humans give food as lure; others offer it freely as a kindness. There may come a day when each one of you will have to decide if you will trust a human.”
“One more thing, remember to avoid the enchantments of the deep dark forest. You must never ever go into the deep dark forest. It is a most ancient important rule of our kind.”
4. Lizawhite seemed small and innocent, shy and fragile. She almost seemed to shrink away. Yet, mindful and without a sound, the young bird listened to the words of the ruler. The words were clear as clean water. The messages were most important.
“Now I say to you, each one of you, I beg your co-operation”, Cleowhite said before she sent them on their first perilous adventures. “We have this one pool of magical water here but still there is much to do. In this new land, we must find new sources of food and look for more places with clean water. If we can do this, I believe that we will be able to scratch out a good living here.” Go, walk as fast as you can and as far as you might, and find these things so that we may truly call this our new roosting place, our new home."
Lizawhite waited for Cleowhite to continue speaking as she thought about setting out on her own for the very first time. This was a challenge to be met. “When you find water, turn around and come back here to share your new knowledge with the flock. Remember the warnings, be safe … and don’t forget to have fun.” With that Cleowhite gave a wink and the whistling call which always marked the end of her little flock meetings.
The young birds all joined in the whistling calls as they jumped into the air and flew off in most all different directions, except directly north where the flock had been flushed out of yesterday. They wished each other “Happy Hunting!” as their wings and their voices made for a melodious parting and farewell.
5. The first young bird to excitedly return to the flock’s new home was Robwhite. He brought news of water not far to the West. It was very close and easily found again. He showed Cleowhite the way, an easy and clear path and not a hill to climb. Cleowhite and Robwhite stood by the small pool and she said, “This is good. This is very, very good.”
She walked into the magical pool of water and peered down into the reflecting clearness. She contemplated her good fortune … and her good looks. She decided that this was a very good day.
Her happy thoughts were interrupted by Ronwhite as he hollered “Ron-ron-white!” to announce his arrival back home.
6. Ronwhite had returned with news of water … and worry. Ronwhite led Cleowhite (and Robwhite) only a short distance and back to a pool of water behind bars. Yes, bars! Ruler Cleowhite peered in through metal rods. She decided that it must be a thing left by humans. She wondered if it was a coincidence that it was near an entrance to the underground.
This was magical water alright, but it was being used for dark and evil purposes. She announced that if a bird went into the thing, they might not be able to find their way out. Once before, when she was young, she had seen such a barred box as this. A human had carried her brother away as he was trapped inside and was never seen again.
Cleowhite declared this a place of evil doing and a place to be avoided by the flock. Robwhite and Ronwhite agreed to help tell every bird in every flock.
7. Meanwhile, little Lizawhite had walked and walked. She had walked as fast as she could. Twice she had been startled by grasshoppers or frogs or something that she didn’t understand and so twice she had flown a few feet as her sort do. But she was no chicken, her heart was fearless.
She was still looking for water and food, of which, she had found only food. She had found only just enough food for her own tummy at the moment, not enough to go home about. She had been gone a long, long time.
Now in the moonlight, she found herself all alone in the deep dark forest waiting for sleep to come for a visit. She missed her covey. She wondered if she would find friends in her dreams or if she would find those who jump from behind things. She pondered her quest set by the ruler, Cleowhite, before she fell asleep that first night of being alone.
8. Dreams came to Lizawhite filled with light and hope. Before her, shimmering in the sun, sat a ruler holding a golden heart in her beak. Another heart lay in the sand. The heart on the ground was the color of the sand and difficult to see. Lizawhite knew it was camouflaged so that it was difficult to find. Very near the left side of the ruler grew a twig with a new and tiny budding red flower.
The beautiful ruler gazed into Lizawhite’s eyes and hummed a soulful song. She didn’t drop the golden heart so she could not open her mouth to sing out loud. The song was soft and beautiful but it was not one that Lizawhite had heard before.
What could a moving song, two tiny hearts and a fiery flower mean? Lizawhite wished that the ruler would let go of the golden heart and speak with her. Could the beak be sealed with a tiny golden heart?
9. Suddenly a rooster was crowing in the distance and Lizawhite knew that he was announcing the new day. She stretched her wings and fluttered. She stretched her legs, one at the time, way out behind her. She shook her head and fluffed her feathers and she was ready for the day.
After finding and eating a small seedy snack, she began again her trek in search of water or food for the flock. She looked to the left. She looked to the right. She walked a few steps and looked again. She looked behind rocks and in front of stones. She looked and she looked. On and on she walked.
In the middle of the afternoon, as Lizawhite’s feet were becoming a bit tired, she passed through a place of fat grasses that held water inside. They were very, very green. This would do in a pinch, she thought to herself, if she was really, really thirsty and needed to drink, but only in an emergency. She thought they were the same as the green grasses that Robwhite had shown her and her friends just the other day when they were all out foraging. Robwhite had said they were juicy but very bitter so nobody wanted to give them a taste.
As she continued her search, her thoughts drifted from one friend to the next. She could almost see their faces. The day she and Barbrawhite flew for the first time, just a few feet, of course, she had landed on top of Dodwhite. The occasion had caused quite a stir. The ruler had called them to her and as a precaution, had them be still for a few moments as she scoped the sky for dangers.
Hoping that all of her friends would return safely to the flock, herself included, Lizawhite paused. Almost as an afterthought, she inspected the sky.
10. As Lizawhite saw the sky turning the color of cantaloupe innards, as it does sometimes at the end of the day, she heard the faint sound of trickling water. The soft babbling song whispered to her from a place just a hop, skip, and a jump away, just up ahead and it made Lizawhite’s little bird heart leap with joy. It was a sound more magical than anything she had ever heard before.
Finally her eyes fell upon the water. She sniffed and there was no odor. She went down the steep slope and looked in. She saw herself looking back. Even though there was falling white water very close by, it trickled into the deep pool but it scarcely disturbed the glossy tranquil surface. This surely must be an actual magical place, she thought. Her reflection stared back at her … and was that a fish down there? She tasted the water then drank deeply. It was good. It was very, very good. She admired her reflection. She contemplated her good fortune … and her good looks. Just like her teacher, she decided that it was a very good day.
Since the day was ending, she decided to begin her journey home the following morning. She could hardly wait to tell Cleowhite about this pool of water and she hoped to see the look on the handsome Robwhite’s face when he heard. She hoped that he survived his adventures, she knew that the chances for fatalities during first outings were not just possible, but probable.
11. Morning came swiftly. Lizawhite was early to rise and immediately found a worm. She had discovered that on mornings when she rose early, she always found at least one worm. She also found several arthropods and her favorite, an acorn. After breakfast, she began her trip back to her flock.
She was anxious to get home so she ran as fast as her little short bird legs could run. She ran through the briars and she ran through the grasses. And she ran through the bushes where a raptor couldn’t go. She ran so fast up that she ran plum out of get-up-and-go. Her little legs just wouldn’t, couldn’t go. Waiting to catch her breath, the thought of home was as clear and sweet as the rays of morning sunlight stretching across a grassy field. “Oh, there’s no place like home,” she thought. With renewed strength, she ran toward home. She was ready to face any kind of challenge.
12. After running for a long, long while, Lizawhite saw a shadowy darkness pass over her. It fell right on top of her as it glided from her left to her right. She swiftly stopped in her tracks and glanced to the sky. A big black bird of prey was overhead. Circling. Circling. And circling.
She dared not move even one muscle or she would be seen. She would be consumed. She would have the meat pulled right off her bones. Her red blood would be spilled upon the ground where tiny underground creatures would come out and clean it away. None of her family would ever know what had become of her.
Thereupon she understood what must have happened to the disappeared members of her flock, her family. Her sister, Lanawhite, had disappeared only last week, her brother the week before that. Almost instinctively her mind turned on the ancient magical chant from her chickhood. She thought it silently to herself:
Hold this pose, hold this pose, he’ll never see my nose.
He’ll never see my tail; he’ll never hear my tale.
If I’m still he will fail.
And I will prevail.
Hold this pose, hold this pose, he’ll never see I’m froze.
He’ll never see me bail; he’ll never hear me flail.
If I’m still, he will fail.
And I will prevail.
Hold this pose, hold this pose, he’ll never see my woes.
He’ll never see my trail; He’ll never hear me wail.
If I’m still, he will fail.
And I will prevail.
As she stiffly posed, camouflaged but exposed, the circling bird of prey moved his circling circle each time round ever so slightly farther to the West until his wings had disappeared from Lizawhite’s view. Whew! Finally she was able to blink. Finally she was able to think. She had to continue to hurry home!! Oh, she must journey home! Could she, would she make it home?
13. Thinking that she had seen everything there was to see on her path when she was still on her search for water, before she found the pool, Lizawhite thought she must have witnessed all there was to be seen.
Somehow, though, this place looked a bit different coming as it did when she was going. Did the trees sparkle and shimmer in the light; did the bushes look so thin? Did the grasses grow over here when instead they grew under there?
Calling frogs were singing in high chirps now but before there were slow sounds. The crickets and grasshoppers were not quite the same. But they still hopped from here to there, back and forth and still making no sense, clacking and buzzing.
As she approached the place where she had dreamed of a humming ruler with two hearts and a red budding flower, the sun approached the horizon. It cast the longest shadows of the day. From nearby a small tree let its shadow fall across her. She thought that it looked like a belt of dark color and she wondered if it made her look too fat.
14. As night passed, moonlight sifted through clouds and fell across the ground where Lizawhite sat sleeping, roosting and dreaming of home, of finding Cleowhite and showing her the way to her magical water source.
Like the gentle loving touch of an angel, she was awakened by the scent of a flower. When she opened her eyes, dust of moonbeams glazed the small flower that she had only ever heard of back in her short days of yore. Instantly she knew that it must be the fabled enchanted blossom that only arrives at night and only in moonlight. She was filled with overwhelming excitement. She was mesmerized and exhilarated.
Silvery shining sparkles blanketed everything. If it was the fabled flower, the bloom would soon fade. How could Lizawhite sleep when the enchanted flower was so dramatically putting on a show? Not at all, not at all. Oddly and unexpectedly, Lizawhite instinctively wondered if the flower tasted … spicy.
“Hmm… Would she or wouldn’t she? Should she??”, she thought.
15. It seemed that soon after Lizawhite had consumed her delectable spicy mid-night snack, the morning sun lit up the forest turning some of the trees to pure gold. And after a few hours of restful sleep, she had a replenished vitality. Lizawhite also held a new resolve about herself and her quest. This golden hour seemed just as delicious as an enchanted moonlit bloom.
She was gloriously happy, more than chirpy. She was jubilant. She felt like a clever bird. This solo sauntering survey was successful and satisfying. She knew the memory of it would be with her for always and she would look back upon it with fond memories. She paused for a short spell letting it all settle in her mind, sink in. She held onto the quietness of this place, the gentle whispers of wind, the chirping of other birds (the songbirds that fly overhead), and the sound of crickets. A crow sounded a call in a treetop not far away and was answered by a remarkably faint crow reply. She heard crow wings depart and disappear.
All seemed right with the world. It really did seem that way. But things aren’t always what they seem, are they?
16. Back at the home of the flock, a guard cast his eyes about looking for the last of the young ones to make her return. Robwhite, Barbrawhite and most the others had made their safe returns. Each had found water and some had found fabulous food sites. That was the good news.
Cleowhite had delivered some bad news and everyone was saddened for the loss of their dear Dodwhite. Cleowhite had witnessed his appalling demise with her own disbelieving eyes. Dodwhite had been running to greet her, whistling his joyous call that let her know he had found water and foods.
Without warning, a big brown dog bounded from behind a bush and took Dodwhite into his monstrous jowls, slobbering and shaking his head hard from side to side. After his head stopped shaking and the dog stood there grinning with a bird in his mouth, poor Dodwhite’s head dangled back and forth, hanging long from his obviously lifeless body. His eyes stared off into nowhere. She heard a human call “Come on, boy!” and “Good dog, Duke! Good boy!” and Duke went running away, carrying poor lifeless Dodwhite with him. Gone just like that. Never to be seen again. “Oh, poor Dodwhite. Poor Dodwhite. Oh, poor Dodwhite”, Cleowhite mournfully called, sounding almost as sad a Mourning Dove.
The early birds had finished their morning chores and settled into their mid-day siestas. The sun was passing overhead. Everyone and everything (including the trees) stood or sat upon their own shadows as the afternoon arrived. The flock waited for their last missing member’s return. “She’d been gone too long.” That’s what they were all thinking. They all wondered if Lizawhite still lived and walked the earth.
17. Lizawhite was still walking the earth. And she was feeling fine after her night of consuming an enchanted night blooming flower. She was feeling just fine and dandy. She was feeling fine in her feathers. She was feeling better than a bird should.
Until all at once she wasn’t. “Oh, what was that with my tummy?” she thought to herself. Then she belched a big belch that made a loud funny sound. “Well, that wasn’t very nice”, she thought. She was glad that she was still all alone. The sound would have made the whole flock laugh had they heard it.
Then her tummy rolled again and she really had to go. Yes, go! And you know where. She had to go and she went a lot. A lot! A hoe, whole lot! It was wet and nearly clear, slick and slippery and juicy. It was like a newly broken egg emptied onto the ground but instead of a clear egg white with a yellow yolk in the center, there was a magic flower-colored blob in the middle. It was in the middle of a clear pool of silvery shining sparkles. Oh, yes, those moonlit kind of sparkles. Lizawhite turned around and looked at the goo and thought “oo, goo”, “oh, my gosh”, and “what should I do?” “Oh, what should I do with that doo?”
18. After Lizawhite decided to scratch some cover over the doo, and did, she walked away slowly. Then she ran. She ran fast. She wanted to leave that mess she had made far behind (no pun intended).
She ran and she ran until she stopped. Still feeling a tiny bit ill, but very much better than before, and hearing no more rumblings from below, she took a look around. This didn’t look familiar at all. No, not at all! “Was this place filled with trees? Was this a forest?? Was this the dreadful forbidden Deep Dark Forest?? Oh, dear”, she thought. “I think I’ve lost my way.” Then she used her little bird brain and thought logically, as birds actually do. She let her little bird brain automatically point her toward home.
She turned her face to where her tail had been (again) and ran back to her trail that led back home. She ran out of the forest just in time.
When she paused and looked back through the trees, she heard sounds. The wind in the pines was not alone. An owl hooted a hoot, a coyote howled and another yipped. A bear growled a low growl and a bobcat gave a call. A rattlesnake gave a warning rattle, a fat squirrel chittered and a chipmunk squeaked. Lizawhite marched herself toward home. Glancing over her shoulder from time to time and glancing over the other shoulder the other times, she worriedly marched herself toward home. She was beginning to wonder if she could make home.
19. Because Lizawhite had gotten off track and lost so much time, she had to spend another night alone. It meant that she had to spend two nights out on her own. Not just one as she had when she was going. Now coming she had to spend two, with a total of three nights on her own. That is a long, long time for a little bird.
And Lizawhite was feeling like a little small bird. She was beginning to wonder if she would ever make it home. Nighttime rushed over the purple mountains with blue blanket shadows and before you could say “Bobwhite”, darkness was upon her.
Along with it, sleep fell upon Lizawhite, a deep deep sleep. Dreams rushed through her head behind her eyes. Robwhite was standing atop a big rock, his fine feathers glistening. His head was thrown back with his open beak up in the air and he was whistling a call.
All at once she heard a big cracking sound and a loud thud and felt a fleeting, yet strong movement of air push pass by her. A tree limb had loudly crashed to the ground nearby and a raccoon with it. Lizawhite woke, startled but she did not move a muscle except for eyelids that would not be stopped and they popped open. Morning had broken. Soft filtered light bathed her surroundings.
A young raccoon was rolling from its back onto its four paws and she saw it waddle away. The soft ground cover of fallen leaves slowly decaying had made a bouncy landing for the lucky creature.
The tree limb was still rocking slowly as Lizawhite saw a big lizard make his way off the limb and onto steady ground. She heard him say “Good gracious! The raccoon was planning on eating me. That was a mighty fall but it sure was a lucky break for me!” He looked at her and said “lucky break, get it?” He dropped and rolled on the ground laughing out loud. Lizawhite rolled her eyes and groaned but remained self-controlled and stoic.
20. Lizawhite finished her quick buggy breakfast. The lizard had disappeared, soon camouflaged on the side of his tree that now had one less limb. “I’ll soon be home” thought Lizawhite out loud to herself.
“Which way is that?” said a voice from above. It was a Bluebird sitting on a thin mossy Locust Tree twig that was still bouncing up and down as if the bird had just arrived. “There has been a tragedy in that direction, just over there,” the little bird said as it motioned in the direction of Lizawhite’s home. The news was difficult for Lizawhite to hear but she was grateful for the kindness and was so glad that a little bird told her about poor Dodwhite. As the bluebird departed, a strong gust of wind kicked up.
The blast of air wasn’t just a passing breeze that huffed and puffed and went along its way. It was blowing and blowing and blowing even harder. It made her feathers ruffle up the wrong way, making them stick straight out or worse. She turned her face into the wind so that her feathers went back in place, well, pretty much back in place.
Before she could preen her feathers, the winds changed directions and caught her feathers again. She put her face into the wind again and ran over to the base of the lizard’s tree. With her little short tail touching the tree, she hunkered down and waited for the winds to stop. Instead they were joined by a torrent of rain.
Soon the whipping water droplets were accompanied by small rock-hard chunks of ice. It was a hail storm. She got as close to the tree as she possibly could, exposing only one side of her body and keeping the other side almost dry. The wind kept catching her feathers and tossing wet water underneath them. Some of the water fell out but some went all the way down to her skin where it felt chillingly cold.
She pushed her face into a crack in the tree bark and closed her eyes. Repeatedly she felt the wind grab at her and she clenched her toes into the earth below and hung on. After what seemed like an eternity, the winds subdued.
There were many tree limbs and tree bits on the ground that had not been there before. Grasses had blown in from other fields. Oh, and there! There was a frog lying on his back, legs splayed, lifeless. And just a few more steps, Lizawhite found a wet bluebird on the ground, motionless and spiritless. Her wings were folded up tight. She was dead.
Lizawhite saw more even death on her journey home including other birds such as herself, birds that she had not yet met. She was more determined than ever to get home but she was not running quickly. She was walking … but not slowly.
21. The first bird of her flock that Lizawhite saw was her teacher, Cleowhite. She looked sad and forlorn. That changed as soon as she saw Lizawhite. Suddenly the whole flock was crowded around Lizawhite. She was surrounded by happiness. Before she could find Robwhite, she heard a whistle and looked around to find him. They all danced a happy dance.
After all the news had been exchanged, Cleowhite, of course, wanted to see the pool of water in the far off place. The flock would have many choices of places to fly off to if anything flushed them out of their home and they discovered that they couldn’t go home. Everyone knows that sometimes you just can’t go back home.
Later as they made the long journey together, and when it was just the two of them all alone, Lizawhite trustingly confided her biggest embarrassment to her teacher. Cleowhite was sure that the consumption of the magic flower should have been avoided and it was surely the direct cause of Lizawhite’s episode with ‘The Go’. It would have been, if anyone had seen, one of the worst things that ever have happened to Lizawhite who thanked goodness that it didn’t really cause her humiliation and shame, just only the awful pain.
And of course, Cleowhite, being the knowledgeable and wise ruler bird that she was, was very understanding but she had to smile, and laugh just a little. Lizawhite enjoyed the laughter so they laughed together as they journeyed on. And of course, Cleowhite also wanted to see this place where the magic flower had grown.
As they stood looking at the magical flower’s cut-off stem still sticking out of the ground, Cleowhite told Lizawhite that the wondrous flower might make another bloom sometime in the future from roots that were still planted in the soil. They both agreed that it would be a very, very bad idea to eat a magical flower if ever they were ever lucky enough to see one again.
This second trip to her pool of water was much easier for Lizawhite. Cleowhite stood and watched as Lizawhite walked down to the water’s edge. It was in nearly the same exact place where Lizawhite had tasted the water when she was here before.
Then they both saw it at the same time. Growing in a shadow was a magical flower that was blooming in the daylight! It was quite similar to the flower that Lizawhite had eaten!
Cleowhite chuckled and almost cackled as she declared to Lizawhite, “The kindred flower that opens its bloom during the daytime also tastes too spicy”.
As Cleowhite looked from the flower back to Cleowhite’s face, she realized that Cleowhite had made the same mistake that she herself had made. She realized that Cleowhite was speaking from her own personal experience. The thought of her teacher going through the embarrassing sounds, the upchucking and the going made her burst out laughing. They both had a good laugh there beside Lizawhite’s pool of magical water, a new source of clean water for her flock.
Cleowhite spoke of the magical flowering plant and how it lives on another plant, the Oak Tree. When we see this flower, we know that acorns will fall at the end of summer. Cleowhite said, “This is a very magical place. You’ve done well, Lizawhite.”
And they lived happily for a while.