Saturday, October 18, 2014

An Awakening

An Awakening…

by our Southwestern correspondent

Once upon a time there was a family of wolves who lived in a cave in the woods. The forest where they lived was very large and pristine, not yet defiled by mans quest for big houses in the woods and shopping malls The mother wolf gave birth to a new litter of pups one night. The next morning as the light of day filtered into the mouth of the cave, she discovered that one pup had wriggled and rolled from the soft stuff she had gathered with the intent of making a comfortable nest for her babies. Gently, the mother wolf picked him up with her mouth and eased him back into the nest…but she noticed he was a bit bigger than the rest of the pups, darker, and a little odd looking with a missing tail. She overlooked all that thinking that he had taken more after his father’s side of the family and had seen other wolves that were missing their tail.

As the days wore on, and the other pups had already opened their eyes, the bigger pup still had his eyes tightly closed. It took a few more days for him to open his eyes and start exploring his new world. The mother noticed how clumsily he walked around his surroundings, and the father wolf was furious! He even went so far as asking his wife if she had been unfaithful to him, as he couldn’t believe he had fathered the ungainly and clumsy pup. Later in the spring, when the pups were allowed to venture from the cave, they delighted in chasing one another around, wrestling, and investigating every new thing they saw. The clumsy pup lumbered along behind the rest and lacked the graceful movements of his siblings, though he tried to act exactly like them.

Another she-wolf of the pack asked the mother where that awful looking pup came from, and suggested she take him for a long walk in the forest and leave him. But the mother wolf would hear none of that, reasoning that he was going through a clumsy stage in life. But it soon became apparent that he did not fit in very well. The other wolf pups in the pack teased him relentlessly and made sport of nipping him and running away. They rolled with laughter when he came waddling after them in his clumsy way of walking. Eventually, even his siblings became ashamed of him and avoided having much to do with him. After all, when they played he was too clumsy and being bigger than they were, he had a tendency to squash them when they wrestled. The ugly pup was very depressed by all this, because all he wanted was to fit in and be a part of the group. Only the mother wolf showed him any kindness.

One day while enduring all the teasing, nipping, and ridicule, he felt as if he could not take any more, so he went for a walk alone. He walked far, far away and when he finally walked some of his frustrations away, he realized he was in a strange part of the forest he didn’t recognize. He looked around for signs he could recognize and saw nothing. He tried to follow his tracks back the way he came, but his big wide feet left little if any impression on the thick green moss on the forest floor. After wandering around in a big circle, he finally lay down on a patch of the moss and cried himself to sleep.

The next morning, he awoke to the morning sun peeking through the trees and thought to himself, “I remember the sun shining in the mouth of the cave every morning. If I walk the opposite direction, I will be back home in no time!” So off he went, clumsily shuffling off in the direction opposite the morning sun. As he wandered along, he noticed the other woodland creatures either took off in a great fright, or hid behind rocks and trees and peeked at him timidly. “It is because I am so clumsy and ugly!” thought the pup. The further he walked, the wilder the woods became. There was nothing that remotely resembled his cave and the loving mother wolf.

Eventually, after climbing a hill, he found an old ranger cabin and lookout tower. It didn’t look as if the ranger had been there in a very long time, but the pup reasoned it would be a warmer place to sleep, and managed to squeeze in where the door no longer shut completely. It was pretty dark inside and it took a while for the pup’s eyes to adjust to the dim light. “Who are you, and what do you want?” a gruff voice demanded. A fat old porcupine shuffled across the floor rattling his quills menacingly.

I’m a wolf pup who wandered away from his cave and I am afraid I am hopelessly lost. I only wanted to come inside out of the wind and warm up a bit.” was the pup’s bashful reply.

You don’t look like any wolf pup I ever saw!” This comment came from the roommate of the porcupine, a Western Spotted Skunk. “In fact I don’t know WHAT you are, other than ugly! Jeez, Porky…did you ever see anything as clumsy and goofy looking?” They both had a good laugh at the pup's expense as a stray tear rolled down his nose and splashed in the dust. “Aw, don’t go crying, little guy. You can stay a night or two if you like.” said the porcupine, “We don’t get many visitors and aren’t the sociable kind, but we really mean no harm.” Food was a big problem. The porcupine loved the inner bark of the spruce trees, but it left a nasty taste in the pup’s mouth when he tried to eat it. The skunk chased down mice and ate them, but the pup was too clumsy and slow to catch one and couldn’t squeeze into the small places that the skunk was able to corner the mice. The pup decided to walk down to the little creek and at least get a drink of cool water.

Suddenly, the silence was shattered with the sound of loud explosions and the thunder of hooves. A herd of elk came crashing into the forest near the creek and for a moment, the pup thought he was going to be trampled. There were more loud explosions, and the elk fell to the right and left of him. He managed to shuffle away to a hollow beneath a stump and curled into a ball with his paws over his ears and shut his eyes very tightly. At one point, a hunter nearly stepped on him as he hurried over to where the elk were. For hours after the hunters had gathered their trophies, he never moved a muscle and tried to breath as slowly as possible to avoid attracting attention. Finally, after dark when the full moon rose, he decided to leave this dangerous part of the woods and never come back.

As he wandered through the ever changing forest, never seeing anything to point a way to the only home he had even known, he learned which berries could be eaten and learned how to make a meal of grubs and roots. And once while crossing a stream, he managed to catch a fish and found it to be very satisfying. He pleasured himself for several days splashing around in the water and catching the small but nourishing trout. One day, he happened upon a wide river with rapids and waterfalls. There were a group of bears fishing in the creek, and he was amazed by the huge, majestic beasts. How they moved with great strength, and how easily they managed to catch the salmon. But he dared not approach them, for every other creature he had met had either run away from him in great fright, or made fun of him because he was so clumsy and ugly. He was sure these beautiful creatures would not tolerate the likes of him!

But his sense of survival was strong. All summer long, he ate whatever he could find and whatever smelled or tasted good. He could tell he was growing bigger as the months passed, and the larger he grew, the more his appetite did likewise. About the time the leaves changed colors and the cold wind started blowing them down in large piles, he was wandering along in the forest and saw a cave near the bottom of a rocky outcropping. Was it the same cave he has called home? It didn’t look the same, but perhaps he had just forgotten in all the months and adventures up until now. There were big white flakes of something falling from the sky, though he had never seen it before. He made his way down to the cave and started exploring the entrance. He was sure it was not the same cave he remembered, but suddenly he felt very tired and decided to go inside the cave and take a little nap.

He must had slept much longer than he thought, because when he awoke, everything outside was all strange and new. The leaves he saw falling were now a sodden mass on the forest floor and green moss was beginning to grow over the top of them. Here and there were patches of melting snow and the trees had tiny green leaves on them. The pup yawned and made a sound that startled him. So he waddled out to the creek and took a good long drink of the refreshing water. Then off he went to find something to eat.

He crossed a large hill and looking down through the meadow, he saw a group of grizzly bears enjoying the fresh roots and wild strawberries growing there. Oh what magnificent creatures they were…if only he were like them! The tears once again started running down his muzzle. He was so tired of being all alone in the world. He would try to make friends with the bears! He knew that they might not accept him, but better to be killed by these magnificent beasts than continue to live in pain and misery. He waddled toward the meadow and one of the bears woofed at him and made a stiff-legged false charge. Then another of the bears made a stiff-legged bluff and then they both came over and started sniffing him and checking him out. Soon other bears in the group began to check him out and nudge him and paw him in a friendly manner. He was bewildered by the attention and made a comment about no one making fun of his clumsiness nor his ugly appearance.

Finally one of the older bears gently lead him to the edge of the pond and when he leant over to get a drink, he saw his reflection for the first time. Always before he had drank from running streams and never saw his true reflection. But the water on the pond was as clear as glass and what he saw looking back at him was a large grizzly bear that mimicked his movements. Then he realized that the grizzly bear was him! All those months of wandering alone, he never dreamed he could possibly be a bear, but now here it was in perfect clarity right before his eyes. He was so happy at that moment, he thought he would burst! He wandered over to a big patch of clover he had seen growing in the meadow and started to roll in its sweet fragrance. Soon the other bears joined him with a lot of pawing, nuzzling and good-natured wrestling. It was a good day to be a bear…but who would have thought? All those months he thought he was a mistake and a freak of nature. And now he was one of the very animals he had thought were so admirable.


  1. This is 'The Ugly Duckling' story,recast and considerably improved!