It was one of those
days in late WInter when Spring tries very hard to assert herself.
Churchill's fur felt warm, and the bright sunlight bouncing off
the croecus caused tiny bits of ice to sparkle like diamonds.
Sitting by the river bank on a large flat rock, Churchill realized
that he felt profoundly happy, for no reason in particular, and
isn't it?" a voice said behind him. He jumped slightly
and looked back. it was the old woman. She sat down
beside him and began to scratch his head. It was the first
she had ever addresed him directly, although she had joined him
many times before
the river, rubbing his head as they shared the quiet.
it is" Churchill replied softly.
the old woman replied. "Just as I thought".
confused, Churchill asked "Thought what?", tipping his
head slightly to the side, finding this exchange in no way unusual.
you are one of the Old Ones, one of those now very rare animals
who can speak with humans" she replied..
would have spoken to you long ago" he chuckled, "if
you had opened the conversation, but I was afraid of being intrusive".
Now she chuckled. Again they fell into a companionable quiet.
minutes later Churchill looked directly into the old woman's eye
do you think that is?"
what is" she asked.
very few animals can now speak to humans, even though we converse
among ourselves quite easily" he answered.
expect it is because most humans no longer believe, much less
there was once a time when animals and humans spoke frequently.
Not all of those conversations were pleasant, but there was a
great deal of respect between species then, and some remarkable
moments of cooperation. Now most humans don't believe animals
could ever speak, and most animals who can no longer dare to speak
to humans. That is why, over the millennia, animals have
developed the ability to read the pictures humans make in their
minds. Humans have developed no such skill, unfortunately,
with some remarkable exceptions".
do you know about that!". Churchill knew he sounded protective,
but could not help himself.
you think you are the only animal I speak to?" she
replied, and there was laughter in her voice.
Churchill said. "Of course".
woman continued, "As humans become more egocentric and less
connected to the life on this planet, all of it, the more disconnected
they will become from it and finally, from each other. For
animals to survive at all they had to become telepathic.
I believe this will finally be true for humans as well, after
some very hard lessons. Survival requires perceiving intentions
before they become actions, and acting appropriately. In
other words, you may not always speak the truth, but you will
certainly always think it".
a playful look at Churchill she then said "So I assume you
have been reading my pictures?" she smiled and raised an
often" he replied. "Your pictures usually look
like our valley, or places far away, or the small people up at
the big house. Your pictures look like our pictures",
he noted, a small puff of powder-blue dust momentarily floating
over his forehead. "You feel like an animal, a true
animal." And he grinned. "Yes, that's it, isn't
am honored" she nodded. "It is among the joys of aging
in concert with the natural rhythm of things. We humans",
she continued, "are making a hash of things on a grand scale,
with the result that lonliness is becoming a disease called depression,
which is treated with drugs to make us forget we are lonely.
So we become numb to our feelings, and mistaking the absence of
pain for joy, we believe we are fully participating in our lives.
The simple solution, of course, is to learn to sit quietly and
listen, and gather life with our eyes and ears. But of course
" she sighed "the drug companies would make much less
don't understand about drug companies" Churchill replied.
is just a human thing, like when you treat a stomach ache with
fresh mint, only a lot more complicated" she answered.
guess I'm glad i don't understand" Churchill laughed.
they both laughed, and sat together looking at the sunlight turning
the ice to diamonds on the croecus shoots, as whisps of powder-blue
dust spun lazily in the warming air.
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