by Denny Olson

        I decided to take a departure from the usual this month. Recently, we have seen our Valley “relapse” into another round of a pandemic variant, and the resulting cancellations and disappointments, and the depressing prospects of us returning to “normal” soon, have taken an emotional toll. But lest we forget, we have some tools inside of us to ward off the low times. And of course we always have birds to brighten any day. I want to share an anthropomorphic indigenous-style story I wrote some time ago. Apologies for the lack of non-gendered pronouns in our language, as I suspect “Creator” would not be male or female. This time, I went with the road less traveled … and the gender that mostly isn’t afraid to ask for help …

Long, long ago, after the Creator had made the big, humming World, she felt very good about it. And from those feelings she made two very special things. She called them “Love” and “Honor”. They were her Special Gifts to the World.

Love helped parents feel good about each other, and about their young. Love helped neighbors be helpful and kind to each other.

Honor helped them all be truthful and trust each other. Honor helped them learn from their mistakes. Honor helped them to do their best — whatever they tried.

But Creator had one worry. It was the Two-leggeds. A few of them might be confused, and twist Love and Honor for selfish reasons. They might make things seem like Love and Honor when they really weren’t. So she asked the other animals for help — to protect the Special Gifts.

Early in the morning, Eagle came soaring from the East. Eagle was the keeper of the dawn, and the messenger from the sky. He offered to fly the special creations far up into the sky — even to the Moon. “That  will be a good hiding place”, he told Creator.

The Creator thought about Eagle’s offer for a while, but then shook his head. “They will find them there,” he said. “One day, another flying thing will land on the Moon. It will have Two-leggeds inside, and they will find the Special Gifts.”

About noon, Mouse scurried to Creator from her home in the South. Mouse was the keeper of the warm, green summer. She offered to take the Gifts and bury them under the miles and miles of grass on the prairie. “That will confuse them. The prairie is so big.”

Creator thought this idea might work, but then she shook her head. “No”, she said. “Those Two-leggeds will someday turn over the whole prairie with their iron plows. They will think it all belongs to them. They will leave no room for the First People or the Buffalo. And they will find the Gifts.”

At sunset, Bear lurched to where Creator sat, huffing his way from his home in the West. Bear always stayed near the sunset because he was the keeper of the night. He offered to take the Gifts to the high mountains and dig a deep cave. “If I put them there, the rocks will be too heavy for the Two-leggeds to dig, and they will give up.”

Creator thought, and then shook her head again. “Those Two-leggeds are clever”, she said. “One day they will take giant machines and dig the rock away. They will be looking for shiny things. They will find the Special Gifts because they will dig holes in the Earth as big as the mountains.”

When it was dark, the night cooled the air, and Wolf loped to where Creator sat. She came from her home in the far North. Wolf was the keeper of the winter. Wolf offered to take the Gifts to the farthest North spot. She could bury the Gifts in the huge sheet of ice and it would never melt. “They will never want to go there,” she said.

Creator pondered Wolf’s offer for a while, and then, sadly, shook her head again. “I think those Two-leggeds will have a curiosity that will make them do things just because they can”, she said to Wolf. ” They will not ask themselves if they should, because they will be so proud of their skills. I think they will make special boats which will go under the Great Ice, and they will find the Special Gifts.”

Creator sat until dawn, thinking. Just before the sun rose again, Earthworm pushed it’s slippery little nose from the ground, between Creator’s feet. Earthworm was startled at first, but then greeted Creator, and asked her what was troubling her. Creator explained the problem.

Earthworm was quiet for a while, and then spoke to Creator. “I know I am just a small worm, and you are the great Creator. I know you have asked the wisest animals from the farthest places to help you and they could not. I can only dig a small circle here under your feet. I only know about the insides of the Earth, the insides of things, but I have an idea.”

“Why don’t you take the Gifts of Love and Honor and bury them deep inside the hearts  of these Two-leggeds. They will have to look very hard to find them.”

It was a great idea, and that’s what Creator did. Creator smiled, and thanked Earthworm for reminding her that even a humble Earthworm is very important, and can be very wise.

And you know, to this day, the only Two-leggeds who have found those Special Gifts … are the ones who know just where to look …

So Auduboners, during frustrating times, try to remember what you carry with you all the time.