Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Raven: A Fable by Allison Brehmer

The Interns, Staff and Volunteers that cross the threshold of the World Bird Sanctuary on a daily basis have come in many shapes, forms and abilities.  Not the least of these abilities is talent. 

Many are talented musicians, painters, sculptors, writers, actors, photographers and poets whose talents remain hidden behind the unassuming fa├žade of a dedicated naturalist--until a chance remark reveals that they have untapped abilities.  Such was the case with today’s blog contributor—Allison Brehmer whose “day job” is supervising the care of our “behind the scenes” animals.  When asked if she would write for our blog she came up with the following story reminiscent of an Aesop’s fable.  The Raven in the photo is our own Poe who lives in one of the Octagon enclosures on the display line.

The Raven that wanted to be Beautiful

A long time ago, in a place that has long been forgotten, there lived a Raven.

He was rather content with his life.  The chilly winds and icy touch of winter were giving way to the warmth of spring.  The Raven always loved when spring came around.  That’s when all his friends, the songbirds, would return from their winter grounds and fill the air with their love songs.  He watched everyday for them.  As soon as the sun would show its shining brilliance on the horizon, he would watch the skies for his friends.

One day, his friend, the Indigo Bunting, arrived.  The Raven, being a polite fellow, asked how he was and how was his journey.  The Bunting began to tell the Raven of all he saw and heard while he traveled.  He saw bustling towns, open fields and endless forest.  The Raven listened and wondered in awe at the travels of his small friend.  “Oh look Papa!” a little girl ran up to the tree that the Raven and Bunting were sitting in and said, “Look at that beautiful blue bird!”  “Ah yes,” the man picked up the little girl and placed her on his shoulders, “That is an Indigo Bunting.  That means that spring has truly arrived.”  “What about the bird next to it… the black one?” the little girl pointed to the Raven. “That’s just a common Raven.  A drab bird that is an ill omen,” the man snorted, “Let us be on our way.  We don’t want mother to worry.”  “Yes Papa,” the little girl continued to stare at the birds as she passed by. 

The Bunting noticed the Raven’s frown and said to his friend “Don’t listen to that man-- he doesn’t know anything.”  The Raven only nodded; his friend was only trying to comfort him, but still he thought about the man’s harsh words.  The Bunting took his leave and left the Raven to think.  He thought day and night about how he was just a drab bird and how he could be just as beautiful as his friend.

One day, while pondering in his nest, he overheard a couple of doves. “The Sun makes everything shine.”  “Oh yes” said the other.  “From the water to trees, it makes everything seem so beautiful, even the plainest of objects.” “Indeed”, said the first Dove, “the Sun has miraculous powers.”  That’s it! The Raven thought to himself,  I will go to the Sun and ask him to make me beautiful like the Bunting. 

So saying, he set off to find the Sun. He flew across many lands and over open waters.  He flew until he could fly no more. He had followed the Sun along his path, but never seemed to catch up to him.  Taking refuge in a tree, he decided to rest for a while.

It was about midday when a soft voice awoke him.  It was an old woman with grey hair that was calling to him.  She asked him to retrieve her hat that had blown up into the branch he was sitting on.  Taking it gently in his beak, he brought it down to her.  She was grateful and invited him to dinner to thank him.  He was hungry and went to her home.  She fed him all his favorite things until he could eat no more.  “I know why you fly about all day and night.  You are looking for the Sun, so you can ask him to make you beautiful.  I know this because I am the Sun’s mother and he tells me many things.  My son doesn’t like guests, but because you retrieved my hat, I’m going to hide you so you can hear what he has to say.”  The old woman turned the Raven into a mug made of ebony.

The Sun soon came in and demanded his dinner.  His mother waited on him and served him all sorts of delicious meats and drinks.  He was satisfied and sat back as his mother started to clean.  “My dear, I know that you’re tired, but…,” she started.  “Go on,” the Sun encouraged her.  “I saw a Raven the other day and wondered if such a drab bird could be made beautiful?”  “Is that all Mother?, the Sun laughed.  “I think that the Raven is the most beautiful bird in the world.  They remind me of my lover, the Moon,” he smiled.  “They are as black as the night where she walks, but when I throw my rays upon their black feathers, they glisten like my sweetheart does when I give her some of my light as I come home.  No Mother,” he yawned, “I love the Raven the best of all.  I think it is more beautiful than even the Bird of Paradise.  Goodnight Mother,” he went off to bed.

As soon as the Sun left, the old woman turned the Raven back into his proper form. He was so happy to hear that the Sun thought he was the most beautiful bird in the world! 
He went home, his heart filled with joy.

His friend, the Bunting, was happy to see his return and asked him how he fared.  The Raven only smiled as he said that he fared well.  “Look Father! The blue bird again,” it was the little girl from before, “And the pretty black bird too! They must be friends.”  “I told you before,” the man pulled her along; “the Raven is an ill omen and is rather drab.”  “I don’t care,” said the little girl staring at the Raven, “He’s like the night sky and he shines like the Moon and stars.  I think he is the most beautiful bird.”

Submitted by Allison Brehmer, ETC Supervisor


Jaime Haney said...

I love this. I'm a big fan of ravens.

Mael said...

Wonderful story. Thank you for sharing it. :)