Thursday, December 13, 2012

Woolly Mammoth Meets Dark River ( a fable )

Woolly Mammoth went trudging his way along the path near the river. The heat was unbearable. The noonday sun would soon spike high above. He was looking for just the right spot in the river, not too shallow, not too deep to first cool his toes and then spray himself with the help of his truck. Time to cool off, shake the old neck and perhaps get a snack.

Woolly was off on his own today, away from the herd. A female was giving birth in the distance. Female's work to give encouragement and a few nudges for a calf to be born. Oh the burden of being a big bull. The Big Bull. King of the woolly mammoths.

A young male cousin was tagging along nearby. Big Bull raised his truck and trumpeted his displeasure. Leave me alone. I am Big Bull. Go off and play. Or watch big sister give birth to little brother.

The young male hesitated a moment and then Big Bull made a mock charge of one or two steps and then young male ran off towards the rest of the herd.

"Hmm." Gotta a keep an eye on little cousin, that young male, Little Bull. He may challenge me one day. But I will run him off because I am Big Bull, head of the herd of woolly mammoths.

Just then a sweet smell of broken grasses reached big bull's nose. Smells like sweet Mammoth grass. Someone is eating it. A snack first, then the river. Along the path he continued until he came to what looked like an island in the middle of the river. Tall sweet grass, still wet with morning dew lay under the shade of a mighty tree.

I don't remember this spot. Perhaps my father, Old Bull, had once shown me this spot. Old Bull knew all the good places to find the good treats. One does not always have to share with the herd. The herd would always be along. Follow the scent of Big Bull and sweet grass on a riverbank.

How deep is the river here? Can I cross it without too much effort? Could always swim but the wool coat, it gets wet and the swim would be such an effort in this heat. The snack would not taste as good as…

Just then Big Bull saw the strangest creature he ever did see before. It was like a woolly Mammoth but it was smaller and had no wool. Unbelievable. Was this some illusion in the water? Am I dreaming?…

Bull Pachyderm stopped chewing and stared across the water at the big woolly mammoth. Who are you? You are so strange looking. Bigger than an elephant and wearing a big heavy fur coat and in tropical weather like this. Who are you?

I am Big Bull, King of the Woolly mammoths. This is my territory and you are eating my grass.

Your grass? I beg your pardon. But this is my grass. Hmm. It’s good, and sweet and very moist.

Big Bull charged into the edge of the water and stepped back, shaking his head and raising his enormous tusks skyward as he echoed a mighty trumpet sound in the direction of the intruder.

Bull Elephant (Pachyderm) froze his head for a moment and then went on chewing the sweet elephant grass.

Stop that! Stop that I say, shaking his head said Big Bull Woolly mammoth.

Why? Asked chewing elephant.

Because this is my territory and that is my grass.

Says who?

Says me. Big Bull Woolly M…

Yeah, Yeah, I caught the name. But let me tell you something. This is my ground and my grass and my ladies I don't think they want to mate with another species though probably closely related and wearing a big fur coat. Sex is a big deal in this heat. First you got dig a big hole in which to…

I am King of the Woolly mammoths! This is my territory!

Oh I get it. My gramps told me about yous mammoths. Said yous was extinct. Died out with the recent ice age and all that.

Get off my land! I challenge you! Get away from my grass!

Big Bull Woolly Mammoth charged into the river.

I wouldn't do that if I were you Big Bull. You see…

Big Bull stopped. A strange smell arose from the river. The mud felt slimy. His truck went to touch the water. What is this? Such strange mud. It's dark. Like the night. I don't smell nutrients…I

Big Bull tried to turn around but his feet were stuck in the mud.

Big Bull blasted his trumpet voice in anger at the staring elephant who was still slowly chewing his grass. Nobody challenges Big Bull. River mud cannot stop me.

How about tar? tooted Bull Elephant to Bull mammoth.

Tar? That black gunk you are sinking in and will shortly be drowning in.

But how did you get onto that island without getting stuck?

Just then Little Bull Mammoth made a splash into the river water. I am here to help. Before Big Bull could wave him off, little cousin had come close enough to find the feel of the slimy bottom and stop in this movement forward. What is this stuff Big Bull?

Big Bull was shocked and bewildered. He knew that this was a terrible trouble that he could not fix with a toot of his trunk or the bump of his head and tusks against an opponent's head.

How did you get onto that island without getting stuck? Tell me how to get out?

Hey you challenged me Big Bull, I didn't challenge you. You told me to leave this, my land, and to give you the sweet grass on the land on which I stand.

I am Big Bull, King of the Woolly Mammoths, trumpeted the massive creature. Get off my land and stop eating my sweet grass.

Little Bull echoed a similar message although his sound also echoed a fear and he began to struggle and sink deeper into the muck.

Bull Elephant came to the water's edge. Big Bull Woolly Mammoth saw tar stains on the toes of his opponent.

Tell me the secret of this dark river and I will be kind to you in our fight. I will not bump you so hard. I will let you take a few of your ladies with you when you leave my territory. I will even…

Big Bull feet sunk another measure. Little Bull eyes peered above the tar and only his flapping ears and trunk held upward squealed a sound for help.

Since you're going fast to the place of the ancestors, I'll let you in on a little secret. This ain't no island. It used to be an island. It’s more like a peninsula nowadays. I walked across the mud over on this other side. I little sticky but I know where to step.

But you have no right. This is my territory said a tired Big Bull slipping fast into history.

No right. I earned the right. I was patient. I watched animal after animal, species over species, sink on this side of the island. One by one they smelled the sweet grass. One by one they perished in the tar. Now there is a land bridge that reaches this island. I know the path. It is a bridge made of bones and blood mixed with sand and tar.

Big Bull slipped fully into the dark river but not before one last time announcing to the world that he was Big Bull, King of the Woolly Mammoths.

copyright 2003


Bishop Robert Morlino is Failing Badly

Bishop Robert Morlino is failing badly in his role as a community leader. If the Catholic Church had any sense, they would replace him with someone more in touch with the community he should be serving. Of course, they won't. 
…The bishop also has a pulpit -- literally. He has a particularly significant voice in the community. He could be speaking out against poverty or rampant gun violence or lack of respect for workers or the unequal distribution of wealth or binge drinking on campus or domestic violence or racial profiling or even the pollution of our lakes, which he would define as God's creation.
But no, he chooses issues like abortion and stem cell research, and now he even picks a fight with nuns who have had the audacity to try to build bridges of understanding with other faiths. 
His point apparently is that unless you believe that the church is right about everything, you have no business speaking for it.
In a letter to the editor in this morning's State Journal, defending the bishop, Monsignor James Bartylla wrote that it was "necessary to protect the reputation of the church." Yeah, I'll say.