Gr-Gr-Uncle’s Sad Fate

Our Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning was WIDOWMAKER. I’ve never heard of this word, though I grasped the idea soon enough. Still, what might I might write in response to this prompt?

About ten minutes later our cat, Angus, came around the corner of the house with a mouse in his jaws. He rushed up the steps, intending to bring his prize inside, but that’s not allowed. The creature’s tail hung limp and lifeless, but you never know. They can fake it until the chance comes to dash under some furniture.

Anyway, my mind went back to the prompt and I thought, “Okay, here’s a tale…”

Widow-Makers

“”Quiet, children! Did you hear that sound?” Our mother trembled. Most of us froze, ears alert to the faint sound coming down through our tree stump.

Some of our siblings were still tumbling around, pulling each others’ tails. “Stop squeaking,” she hissed, reaching over to box their ears. “Everyone listen.”

The plucking, rasping sound was louder now and we all trembled a bit, wondering what it could be. She started shoving us into the corner farthest away from the door, whispering, “Don’t any of you dare squeak, or put so much as a whisker out the door.”

We all huddled in the corner until the sound stopped. Still Mother wouldn’t let us move around for a long time after.

“Mother, what was that sound,” one of our sisters finally asked.

“That, little ones, is the sound of THE CAT, a furious beast, sharpening its claws on a tree nearby. We must be silent whenever it’s near because if it hears any rustling, that monster will be over here in a flash, reaching in to snag whoever it can.”

By now we were all trembling. We’d heard many fur-raising tales about “THE CAT.”

Mother’s whiskers twitched wildly as she described the beast. “Its claws are viciously barbed. We call them widow-makers. Few mice ever escape those clutches. THE CAT has massacred dozens of our relatives.” She began wringing her hands “I do hope your father and brothers are safe. Snitching grain from the harvest field won’t be worth it if they lose their lives doing it.”

After awhile Father and our brothers came back and we could all relax. They told us all how they’d seen THE CAT and had hidden in another stump until the beast had moved on. Our brothers described THE CAT for us: a big furry monster with fiery golden eyes, HUGE paws and a long tail that it whipped around constantly. Oh, we were glad they hadn’t fallen prey to a beast like that!

But the sad news went round that evening when we mice gathered among the trees to visit our clan. We’d lost our great-great-uncle to THE CAT. Our great-great aunt is years younger than gr-gr-uncle and has perfect hearing; she shuddered as told us how she’d squealed a warning to him, but gr-gr-uncle hadn’t understood it. He’d poked his head out to see what was making that noise and spotted the cat. He’s kind of slow in his old age and didn’t duck back inside soon enough. THE CAT spied him and dived toward their hole, reaching in to snag gr-gr-uncle with its vicious barbs and carry him away in its jaws.

The mouse clan offered many sympathies to great-great-aunt, another widow in the daily battle for mouse survival. We’re all twice as cautious now. None of us want to be caught by those widow-maker claws.

Mini-but-Mighty Lion

The lion, tail twitching, silently stalked across the plush savanna. He’s spied a nut-brown orb hidden behind one of the dining room table legs and was approaching it with utmost stealth. His mind had turned it into a young warthog at a water hole and he was the ravenous beast of prey – though really he wasn’t all that hungry. Nevertheless, he was determined to capture and torture this hapless creature that dared to lie around so nonchalantly.

As he crept closer, the orb – actually a hazelnut dropped during the nut-cracking party two evenings ago – seemed to lie there helplessly awaiting its fate. The lion, tabby rather than tawny, reached out a paw and gave the creature a tentative tap with its paw. Did it have sharp fangs? Would it rear up and do battle? No. Not even a squeal. Rather, the hard-shelled thing lumbered under the table and hid in the shadows. Cowardly creature! Tearing it to shred was going to be piece of cake.

His strategy now was simple. With a flying leap his front paws landed on the creature. The blow would have crushed the spine of a true warthog, but this pee-wee brown thing was made of sterner stuff. It skittered away again, and the lion – mini but mighty – gave chase.

With a whack from his huge paw the creature rolled between two shoes. All the better! Here was a challenge. However, while he was wrestling the pee-wee mouse – for it was a baby mouse now – from between the running shoes, gnawing at the laces in his hunger and frustration – or just for fun – along came the Person of the house and ruined his adventure. As he rose into the air he saw his prey escape under the toe of one shoe.

The Person had scooped him up and was cuddling him. “You can’t tear my running shoes to shreds with your sharp little claws. Let’s see what else we can find for you.”

The lion, though he was ever so fierce, knew better than to wrestle with this tall tree of a Person, so he submitted to the indignity of being carried away to a chair and petted. As soon as he was released from captivity he leaped onto the savanna below, remembering his pee-wee mouse and those wiggling shoe laces. A moment later, however, a silvery ball began to move through the plush pile savanna.

Just as a gazelle grazing on the plains of Africa would catch the attention of his lion and tiger cousins, even so the glittering ball caught the mini lion’s attention. Back and forth his eyes flicked. Back and forth his fluffy tail lashed. His back rose in an arch as he slowly stalked the plump creature. When it suddenly made a dash to safety under a footstool, he gave pursuit. And when it darted out again, he was on it!

He’d come back and cuddle later. Right now he was the fierce hunter and there was tantalizing prey about.

Ragtag Daily Prompt: NUT-BROWN
Fandango’s FOWC: STRATEGY

The Hawk At Dawn

In the light of dawn his profile
 adorns the south route sign
 waiting for day to reveal
 the carnage of speed.
 Then he feasts,
 crisscrossing the highway
 sampling the hapless menu.

 Does he ever rise into the sky
 to dip in the currents heavens?
 Or has this young hawk bartered
 his soul for this putrid feast?
 Sold his soaring and searching,
 abandoning lofty rights
 for the easy dead and the dying?

 Like those human birds of prey
 flush with the takings of greed,
 those shadows that lurk in byways
 to prey on suffering souls.

Heather’s choice for the Ragtag Daily Prompt today: FLUSH
Fandango’s One-word Challenge: PUTRID

An Ungraceful Visitor

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is GRACEFUL

Which immediately makes me think of SWANS. Don’t they always look so graceful when they’re floating serenely in a stream?

Swans my webst

Other birds just don’t have the knack.
Duck down. Alexas Fotos

🙂

Which calls to mind an rather ungraceful visitor we had one morning some years ago.

Great horned owl.Pexels
Image: Pexels — Pixabay

On the wing, a great-horned owl can be a very graceful bird. I’ve read that the owl has a feather construction and placement that allows the predator to fly without a whisper of sound, swooping down with no warning on its prey.

Its efforts on the ground are another matter, rather ungainly, as we were to learn one day.

We’ve often heard a great-horned owl in the woods beside our yard and in the evenings we’d see one flying over the pasture behind our acreage. We’ve heard them and have seen le Grand Duc, (Grand Duke) as the French call it, many times in the tallest bare trees, surveying their domain or looking for some unsuspecting morsel of lunch. One evening we saw two owls in the treetops hooting back and forth to each other, discussing prospects.

One September we could hear a screech or squawk and decided that this noise was coming from a young owl. Then we went away on a five-day trip to visit friends in mid-September, and early on the first morning at home I let our long-haired black cat, Panda, go outside. A few minutes later I was hearing this funny loud peeping or squawk outside, so I glanced out the window and beheld a fascinating sight.

A great-horned owl chick was sitting in our driveway near the car shelter, staring toward the house with its big golden eyes and letting out a screechy sort of peep about once a minute. Fluffy and cute with its pointy “ear tufts,” this young owl looked almost white to me. Our huge black Panda, about the same size and shape, sat silently on our deck eyeing the owl with her big golden eyes.

Were they curious about this odd specimen in front of them? The way it was peeping, you could almost think the chick was lonely and thought Panda might be another owl for company. Or were they sizing each other up, wondering who should eat who? Perplexed as to what should be done about this strange white cat – or black bird, depending on whose viewpoint you took?

I decided not to take any chances, so I let Panda in and the owl soon got bored sitting there. It proceeded to make its way down the driveway and back again, snapping up grasshoppers as it went. Its “running” was quite amusing and anything but graceful — a kind of waddle-and-hop from side to side as well as forward.

For a couple of hours the owl chick stayed around our yard, entertaining us and eliminating some of the many grasshoppers we had that year. It did the rounds of our garden and lawn, flying up to roost on the clothesline post in between. We never did see it fly away, nor see it again. My husband guessed the chick had made itself to home in our yard while we were away; it must have decided not to come back when people were around.