Pythian Games

put on your track shoes and write the miles

Posts Tagged ‘shape-shifting

An Old-Fish Story (4)

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Where were they going?  And why are they all going together?

 

She turned around and scrambled even further along the ledge.  Many varieties swam by: trout, bass, crappie…   Oh, and there’s a catfish.  Don’t usually see them all together.  I wonder if there is a gar although they are not usually in fast moving streams but in brackish backwaters.  I remember being so surprised when I first saw an alligator gar and how it looked like an alligator with its long snout with a double row of needle-teeth in the upper jaw.  I read up about them and their average size of 3-7 feet.  That one reprint in the paper of 10-foot long gar caught in Mississippi in 1910 was amazing.   

 

Gars are a primitive species with fossils found going back to the Cretaceous period about 145 million years ago to about 70 million years ago. What would it be like to have a direct line back for so long? But they are so ugly.  That’s unkind.  I bet they consider themselves just fine, or even VERY fine.  And the gar would be large enough to carry my satchel.  Good thing everything is in plastic-zipped bags – just in case.  

 

She sat on the ledge, feet dangling into the water, well aware that if a gar was present it might bite her leg thinking it was a flopping fish.  Gars, so old yet still around and surviving well around here and further south.  Do they have awareness or any sense of who they are?  The skeleton picture of the gar showed teeth in a bit grin, or so it seemed.  Like the wolf dressed as the grandmother in Little Red Riding Hood.  What big teeth you have…

 

Before she realized, she slid into the water, satchel, scales and all.  Other fish darted away obviously aware that gars eat fish and even crabs.  She understood their reluctance to travel close but it still hurt her even though she knew gars were solitary fish.  She always seemed to want to connect with any and every thing.  She could sense the difference between “her” feelings of being different and the gar’s acceptance of being who he was.   

 

The slight wriggling motion of the gar swimming made her nauseous for a few minutes, then it felt natural and free.  It was much easier to move through water than to walk through air because of gravity.  And the rhythm of swimming was quite soothing.  The feel of the water as she glided through actually felt very sensuous on her skin/scales.  Do fish interpret that feeling as sensuous?  Maybe not, since they don’t know of anything else and know nothing to compare it to as I do.

 

She could see a narrowing in the cave wall where the fish were heading towards and then disappearing into.   Ok, here we go!  A dark passage with spotlights on the side, here and there, as sun shone through.  Possible outlets for springs.  Springs are a good source of wells for farmers and settlers.  Are any of these hot springs?  There are many hot springs that were used and still are, for healing and pleasure, in the Ozarks.  Even Native Americans gathered here to recover and bask in the warm, soothing waters.  

 

One sun-lit area loomed larger than the previously seen ones.  It was off to the right side where the main tunnel divided.  She decided to check that one out as she saw some fish heading over there.  She swam to the same area and was suddenly outside.    

She popped up close to the surface but still retained the gar body, remembering that gar have an air bladder so they can breathe air for as long as 2 hours.  Being close to the surface to draw in air also made them vulnerable as an easy target for bow-fishermen.  But she wanted to see if anyone was around before surfacing and shifting.  Seems clear. 

She wriggled onto the pebbly bank and checked to ascertain how well the air bladder worked.  As her tail, flipping her ashore, caught the light’s reflection, she thought of how some Native American tribes, like the Seminoles, Creek, Chickasaw, and Cherokee participated in ritual dances and song surrounding the gar, and many liked to collect the gar scales, which were hard like armor.

 

She lay still, now breathing air.  She watched and listened.  She could see the other fish moving along further with the current of the stream.  She could hear the sounds of water running over rocks and the usual forest sounds.  But what is that?  A hum—something else.  Just sounds like a humming  noise.  Maybe the gar can’t hear things above water the way humans would.

 

She allowed herself to change back into her regular form so as to listen better, even though she knew her hearing was getting worse.  But it still had to be better than the gar’s.  Sounds like chattering well off in the distance—people chattering and music.  What kind of music is that?  Not any popular music like country, rap, hip-hop, reggae, rock and roll, big band, or even classical. Whatever is that?  Sounds familiar in a way, in a sort of nostalgic way… like when I was a child… sounds like circus music! Real circus music!  Where am I anyway?  Where have I traveled  to?  And when have I gone to? Since I can’t go back against the current so might as well go on.  It’s been years, but I’m going to the circus!

 

Written by thalia

June 10, 2008 at 7:34 am

Into the Well

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I finished glancing through a Toscano catalog, enjoying the beautiful sculpture suitable for putting in the garden.  Most everything was too expensive for me to ever buy, but just looking always inspired me with garden ideas more suitable for my budget.  So I then decide to wander through the garden, as the various possibilities were still fresh.

 

I wander through the flower and vegetable gardens, around the huge wild rose bush in bloom, past the honeysuckle overgrowing the old fence, and roam through the back gate onto the rest of the property, all wild and abandoned.  Clumps of daisies and cluster of late-blooming daffodils poke through wild grasses and tumbled stone, evidence of caring habitation in the old homestead that had been here years ago.  Part of the local stone chimney was evident, now a haven for snakes and other critters.   Giving the chimney a wide berth, I move behind it toward a particularly beautiful setting of blackberry flowers cascading on prolific branches.  They seem to form a circle with an opening in the center, but as I walk around the perimeter, I’m not able to penetrate within.  Something smaller was needed to avoid all the thorns… Yes, a bee.

 

I throw my garden/woods-wandering satchel over the blackberries wall and shape-shift into a bee able to fly between branches to avoid the thorns.  But the overpowering fragrance calls to me to stop and collect some pollen.  And then I fly to the next flower, and the next.  Wait a minute… I’m a bee in order to egress to the center, not to stop at every flower for pollen.  It can be hard to become something and not get caught into all the aspects of that something, all the instincts and attachments.  Focus… focus…   

 

I shoot straight to the center and see a round wooden plank cover lying there, encrusted with moss in places.  A metal handle pokes out of the center, so I shift back into my overweight self and pick up the satchel.  As I glance around I think back to the catalogue I had just seen and remember one of the items for sale entitled “The Dweller Below.”  This sculpture by artist Liam Manchester portrayed a legendary boogeyman rising from beneath the streets of London through a manhole cover.

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The sculpture gave me second thoughts about pulling the cover off, but really, what do boogeymen roaming the city-streets of London have to do with a well in Ozarks country.  Grunting, I pull off the cover and peer within, expecting to see water below.   Instead, there are stairs leading down into blackness.  What is this?  Not a water-well which are common around the farms here, but a passageway.  Where does it lead?  Could this have been an escape route in case of attack from rustlers or Indians way back?  How long ago was that homestead here?  Maybe it’s  more of an escape for during the Civil War when the North and South fought heavily in this area.  Part of the underground railway?  Where does this lead?

 

I pull out the flashlight from my satchel, glad the batteries were new, plus I had extra in the bag.  I tie a Kleenex on the tip of a nearby branch as evidence I was here, just in case… 

 

Written by thalia

May 25, 2008 at 3:01 pm