Prairie Groupings

With apologies to Linda at Linda’s Writing Blog for carrying this to ludicrity. 😉

A bevy of buffaloes made its way across the fenceless prairie, followed by a flock of aboriginal hunters dreaming of sizzling steaks. In the wings, a murder of crows settled on the buckbrush bushes that grew in the coulie. A file of coyotes trotted along the coulie as well, awaiting the aftermath of the natives’ nefarious plans.

Overhead an assassination of vultures circled, hoping the hunt would provide them with a few feasts as well. Should the hunt fail, the vultures, opportunists rather than fussy eaters, might still be left a trampled coyote or two.

Ahead of the buffalo a cluster of startled grouse flew up, propelling their plump bodies toward the coulie. Before they could recover from their sharp-tailed flight a couple of the birds met a sad fate at the paws of the wily lead coyote. Life on the prairie tended to be short for meaty birds.

Slowly the hunters advanced and the buffalo moved ever closer to the ravine ahead. Near the lip of the ravine an amazement of other natives had concealed themselves in the sagebrush. The plan was stellar. As the buffalo approached the ravine, this group would spring out at the side of the herd, making a cacophony of noise. Fenced off from flight on one side, hopefully some of the startled buffalo would dash over the lip of the ravine, where a dispatch of men with spears would finish off any survivors.

The animals, quickly attacked by a clan of carvers, would be transformed into strips of meat to be pounded and smoked by a web of women. This meat would provide the natives with food for another winter. Buffalo hides would become blankets. A scrabble of miscellaneous wild creatures would scrap over whatever remained when the natives were done.

As the moon rose over the ravine that night, a smudge of smoke rose toward the stars. Fifteen beasts from the bevy had hurtled over the precipice; buffalo meat had filled the tribal tummies and the rest was curing over the fires. The hunters, old and young, sat in a circle visiting. A herd of youngsters played “hunters and buffalo” while the mothers sang softly to dozing infants.

Writing prompts for today:
Ragtag Community :  HERD
Fandango’s challenge : FENCE
Word of the Day :  STELLAR

Getting a Handle on Hairy

Ragtag Daily Prompt word today: HIRSUTE

Some years back I thought that pursuit and hirsute were related. (And spelled the same.) Pursuit was what the chaser did and hursuit was what the chasee did. Hurried and harried, they fled from pursuit.

For example: a mouse or rabbit, in hirsute, dashed away from a fox or cat in pursuit.

In the case of male and female, the chased might wish to remain chaste, with the pursuer being the wooer. His pursuit was about pressing his suit (figuratively speaking) and she was all a-flurry in her hurry to outdistance his advances. (Pardon all my puns! I have this weakness. 😉 )

As you’ve likely discovered yourself, all good ignorance comes to an end at some point. I came across the word one day where my definition didn’t make any sense so I finally looked up the word, and learned that I’d been pursuing the wrong meaning. Not quite, though: the mouse and rabbit were hirsute (hairy) — but so were the fox and cat.

Knowing the word’s real meaning now, I can see that sheep are the perfect example of hirsute. And Pixabay provides me with this perfect illustration:

Hairy Sheep

Sheep are one of the few animals from which man can fashion his own apparel without killing the supply. By caring for and then shearing the sheep, carding, spinning, and weaving the wool into fabric, we’ve developed a mutually beneficial relationship with the docile creatures.

Philip Keller, in his book A Shepherd Looks at PSALM 23, talks about a problem unique to sheep, one that a shepherd must be ever on guard against: a sheep being cast down. A sheep with a heavy fleece, especially a ewe made even heavier with the lamb or twin lambs she’s carrying, may lay down and, trying to arise later, lose her balance. Then the animal can’t right itself. Old English shepherds called this “a cast down sheep” or “a cast sheep.”

The sheep will lie there terrified, feet flailing in the air as it frantically tries to right itself, until the shepherd comes to its rescue. Or until a predator finds it. Or until the gasses in its stomach build up and suffocate the sheep. Bad enough to lose a sheep, but losing an ewe means losing the lamb(s) she’s carrying and the income they’d bring.

No, a cast sheep is never a good scenario — except to a passing wolf. And we don’t want to go there.

Sheep were designed to be with man; in so many ways they need a shepherd. And man has used the hirsute quality of sheep to keep himself alive on frigid nights. A neat working relationship.

Sheep + lamb

And with sheep for sure there’s no pursuit in hirsute. They come when the shepherd calls.

Fire + Verse

As Alan Summers, a.k.a. haikutec, so helpfully informed us on my post about haiku, August 15th is the deadline for submissions to the next issue of Cattails, the online journal of the United Haiku and Tanka Society.

The community of haiku enthusiasts had produced a number of societies and journals: Cattails; Troutswirl; The Heron’s Nest, Modern Haiku

Yesterday I was looking through various haiku I’ve written to see which might be suitable and I came to a sad conclusion: I can’t tell the difference between a verse that is good and one I only think is good because I wrote it. 🙂 I write scads of haiku, but which ones to submit is a whole ‘nother decision.

Anyway, here’s one I concocted yesterday on the way home from work. Seeing the sun so sickly, a pale pink-coral overlaid with a hint of grey, calls out the muse in me. Smoke in the atmosphere does something to the sun you just have to see for yourself.

I’m so thankful this is all we see. It would break my heart to see miles of forest ablaze, to see first-hand the suffering and death of the woodland community. Anyway, here’s my haiku, good or bad, and a verse I wrote another time when our skies were overcast with smoke.

sun’s fire smothered
in a smoky haze
weep, rain, weep!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Heavy air smells of burning;
mighty forest fires rage,
send smoke signals wafting
across the province for days.

The animals, the birds, the trees;
my eyes water in sympathy
at their last mute cry for help
as they perish in flames.

Have mercy, Lord, on Your creation;
send them buckets of rain. Torrents.
But, please, no lightening.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My response to today’s Ragtag prompt:
COMMUNITY

A Man She’s Not Keen On

Deer heads

TROPHIES
by Edgar Guest

There’s a moose head in the hall,
and a dead fish on the wall,
a stuffed owl on the mantelpiece,
and birds in a shining case.
There’s an antlered deer upstairs,
and a mounted fox which shares
with a partridge prone at its wily feet
a nice mahogany base.

There’s a maid each morn who must
go round the rooms to dust,
and day by day on her weary face,
there is ever a dismal scowl.
And this is the song she sings:
“Dead deers are dreadful things!
And I hate fish on a shining board
and the wings of a mounted owl!
Fish mounted

“Oh, if ever a man I wed,
may he care for books instead
of moose and mountain goats and deer
and ducks in a glassy dome.
May his hobby be postage stamps
instead of the Northern camps.
For I’ve had my fill of dusting things
which a hunting man brings home.”

Owl head

From his book, Collected Verse of Edgar A Guest
© 1934 by The Reilly & Lee Company

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My response to RAGTAG prompt word for today: KEEN

A Letter From Home

This “letter” is from a book of poems written by Mary J MacColl, published in 1880 by Peter Paul & Brother of Buffalo, NY. The book comes with endorsements from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, John Greenleaf Whittier and Oliver Wendell Holmes. speaking of hob-nobbing with the Greats!

Johnny’s Letter

Dear Ned, your letter’s come at last
and Nelly’s cockatoo;
Old Captain Cable brought them both,
‘Twas pretty good of you
to write so much, when it’s so hot;
how jolly brown you’ll be –
just like a heathen Hottentot –
when you come back from sea!

I don’t believe I’d care to hunt
in jungles – at a show;
I’m just as near a lion’s jaws
as I would care to go.
Suppose the cannibals you saw
had nothing left to eat?
Phew! They’d have built a fire, I’m sure
and roasted you for meat.

We’ve all been down at Grandma Lee’s
and didn’t we have fun!
We jumped the fences, climbed the trees,
and made the squirrels run.
High on a load of hay we rode
with Jake and Uncle Nate;
we hunted nests and fed the chicks,
and swung upon the gate.

We fished and waded in the creek,
shook apples off the trees—
I ate so many I was sick!—
we chased the bumble bees.
They stung poor Bobby on the nose
and Katy in the eye;
it made them look so very queer
and oh, how they did cry!

Dick made believe he had a horse –
‘twas nothing but a rail –
I tied the duster on behind,
it looked just like a tail.
But he got tired, let go the rein
and tumbled on a log
and when I ran to call Nurse Jane
I fell across the dog.

I haven’t got much more to say
and I must go to school.
I missed my lesson yesterday.
I said “a little bull”
when teacher asked what bullet meant.
Why shouldn’t it be so
when streamlet means a little stream?
That’s what I’d like to know.

There goes the bell! I must be off–
I ‘most forgot to say
that Charley has the whooping-cough
and Tom fell off a dray.
But ‘cepting them we’re all quite well.
Good-bye – remember now,
if you don’t bring a monkey home
there’ll be the biggest row.

Other Side of Nowhere

Book Review

THE OTHER SIDE OF NOWHERE
by Max Allen

In this book wildlife biologist and photographer Max Allen takes readers on a naturalist’s journey into the prairie, sagebrush, and sandstone cliffs around the Yampa River, a 250-mile long tributary that squiggles its way westward across northwestern Colorado to join the Green River in Utah.

According to the writer, the Yampa “is one of the very few rivers in the area remaining un-dammed and free flowing. The river offers many recreation opportunities from rafting to fishing, and of course wildlife watching and photography.”

Mr. Allen includes with his photographs descriptions about some of the settings where he took them, plus camera details. As he writes in his notes, most of the animals he’s photographed are not unique to that area, but he’s gotten some great shots of them living their “everyday lives.” For my part he could have included more about his own involvement in that region, too.

I found the book very well edited and would recommend it as a coffee-table book, gift for a nature-lover, and a nice addition to a reference library.

In the fall of 2015 I received a free copy from The Story Cartel in exchange for my honest review, then purchased my own copy. This Review is reblogged from Christine’s Reflections post, Dec 3, 2015.

Max Allen has since put out another photographic journey, also for sale on Amazon:
The Itinerant Photographer: Photographs from Five Years of Wandering with Wildlife and the Stories behind Them

New Friends And Nosy Critters

We had quite the windy, cloudy day yesterday and our Internet wasn’t working for most of the day. Which was okay because we had friends join us for dinner and a nice visit after. In the evening we worked on a jigsaw puzzle. Thankfully this morning the wind was down and the net was up and running as usual.

Among the e-mails that came through was one from The Drabble, telling me they’re publishing another of my short stories today, titled A Friend Drop By. This one has never appeared on this blog so if you want to read it, Click Here.

We went to the city today to do some shopping. Among other things I looked at shoes, but would likely have to give an arm and a leg in exchange for a nice pair. (Around $130 CDN.) Tried to stock up on groceries to prepare for the coming writing marathon.

NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow at midnight. Will anyone be up typing at 12:02 am? Here’s the synopsis for the children’s story I’ll be working on:

In the summer of 1957, 14-yr-old brother Gerry and 11-yr-old sister Joy take the train to their widowed Aunt Patty’s new home beside a small town. She’s hoping to earn a living for her and her two children by growing a market garden. Gerry and Joy are going to be her “hired help” this first summer.

Among the various characters living in and around town there’s a retired map-maker, now a famous writer of the “wild west” teen adventure stories —of which Gerry is very fond. Reginald Gentleman (who writes as Reg Savage) has just prepared a manuscript for posting when it disappears. Gerry and Joy help search for it.

I plan to work some other excitement to keep the summer hopping. A touch of romance, too. A widowed farmer from the district helps Aunt Patty whenever he can and talks the School district into having an old fashioned “Box Social” to raise money for sports equipment. Of course he’s hoping to buy Aunt Patty’s box and thus get to know her a bit better. Oh, do those plans go awry!