Audios for Episode 2
Audio for Ch 2
Audio Chapter 3 Jay Ro
Into the Minds of the Many
If you listen with all your heart, all your mind, and all your soul, you may just hear, in that moment between moments, the stories the trees murmur and the reports the birds bring. You may begin to grasp the point of view of one of the many, many different life forms on this earth. You may even begin to understand your part in this saga whether through the eyes, ears and nose of a common weasel, on the wings of a black kite, buzzing with a buff-tailed bumble bee, or a rainbow-feathered bee-eater with an eating dilemma. You may just be able to overcome the barrier for our species and enter into the minds of the Many.
It must be a point of fact that there are many different points of view on this earth, La Tierra, the Living Earth. Too many points of view for a small weasel to get its sharp teeth into. But there was one fact he had to really make sense of. He was going on a journey. His short legs trembled as he came out of a borrowed burrow and into the warm light of day. Poised on a mossy green rock, he waited and wondered.
Life as a young weasel at Navaselva was safe and fun. Now there was fear. There was a sad fact if a fact can be sad. One of the many species living on this earth created too much fear. Having lost the ability to connect with the different views of others this species became known as the Outsiders; a species that lived without the deep knowledge of the Many. It had not always been so and there were remnants of stories told by the reptilian members at the meetings of the Many. These were called dreamtime stories, half remembered, half forgotten, of a time long ago. After the turning away and turning against the Many by the Outsiders there was a time of great change. Now it seemed there may be another time of terrifying change. Comadrito the weasel was learning much from the Meetings of the Many in the Navaselva valley and was now to go on a journey to discover how to help the Many adapt and survive. Or was he more likely to be caught and eaten?
Comadrito’s tail twitched. He must be alert. He must be fully in the here and now. A shadow passed over his body. Danger but the warmth of the rock soothed his paws. He was called to wait here. His ears heard the normal chatter of the local birds but then all went quiet. He should move, but somehow felt safe with his paws stuck to the old rock.
Comadrito’s whiskers sensed the movement of air. His instincts were to withdraw into the abandoned rabbit burrow. Another shadow passed over the old hollow tree. He must trust his colours of deep brown on a mix of green, grey and brown. He must trust in the calling of the Meeting of the Many.
Within a whisker tingling it was too late. Great claws gripped around his slender body. The firmness of the boulder under his paws became the emptiness of air.
Comadrito’s eyes could not take in his sudden change of view. His body sensed being lifted high into the spaces of the sky where the birds flew. His point of view was changing and his eyes struggled to focus—the world below him grew smaller until the great trees looked like small bushes.
Now that he was in that sky, he longed for the rustle of fallen leaves and the smell of warm, wet earth beneath his feet. He was used to close contact with the undergrowth. He was used to the glossy, smooth leaves of low-growing trees and bushes that would brush against his coat, and the madroño tree with its strawberry red berries and white flowers on overhanging branches, glinting and dazzling his eyes against the brightness of a deep blue sky. He even wanted to feel the bristle hardness of the broom plant scraping against his sides, cleaning dirt off his coat. Or the hunger he felt in the winter and the disgust of trying to eat the bitter viburnum berries and being almost stung by a bumblebee nearby on the pink clusters of the viburnum's flowers as they began to open. He wanted his paws back, safe and alive on the living earth.
Above all that he knew he was numb. His body first tense, was now limp, playing dead within the grasps of the talons of this great bird. His gaze rolled upward to the sturdy legs, the feathered body and giant wings thudding through the air. This powerful creature belonged to the air and was designed to easily swoop and kill small creatures. He saw the hooked beak that could break into his flesh. Quickly, he glanced down again, to break the fear of being eaten alive.
Comadrito was above the height of the tallest pines along the valley ridge. His eyes took in an amazing view and he quivered with a feeling of elation but this was soon followed by deep dread. All seemed dotted green below but there was no sense of smell around him, just the beat of wide wings as they ascended higher and higher. His instincts were confused. Why did he not move quickly for cover when he sensed the shadow. Shadow stories always foretold death.
Perhaps his life was to be short without the challenges given by the Meeting of the Many? He did not fear death but he would fight if there were a chance to live. The opportunity to bite the scaly legs and claws that held him was lost. He was too high up now. One of the stories from his ancestors told of surviving an eagle attack by digging teeth into the stiff legs of the giant bird, but there was no biting back now on these talons that held him or he would drop out of the sky to certain death. He must wait and find out if this was part of the plan.
But he longed to be back in the undergrowth of the trees, in the valley far below, with the species of the earth not the sky. Some species he crossed paths with, some he just smelled, and others he heard in the distance. There were his distant cousins: the big and bossy beech marten with its large bushy tail and the fearsome mongoose that arrived at the same time each day at the drinking hole near his burrow. These cousins were best avoided. He had seen one tackle a slippery ladder-back snake with one crunching bite. Another caught one of the many friendly but noisy blackbirds that loved to dig up the leaves. The gentle genet mother with her striking coat and spotted tail also lived nearby. She was gentle with the young weasels that played with her young. But was terrifying when a mongoose attacked her kits. Her sharp teeth bit hard into the tail of the mongoose. The mongoose fled.
The talons of the giant bird gripped him tighter, making sure that he, the prey, would not fall. Comadrito felt a warm uplift of air. Could this be a messenger bird sent by the Meeting of the Many? But there was no sign, and no inward communication.
Down below, the valley of Navaselva was disappearing. Great trees became like small dots of insects. The rocky boulders of the Meetings were now a thin scratch. The valley looked like a giant paw print, trod into the side of the mountain by some fantastical beast from a dreamtime story.
That was his last view of the valley. He gasped for oxygen and then his mind fell into a series of strange images.
There were eggs, shells cracking, smells of contents good enough to eat. When a young weasel, some smell had drawn him up one of the tall oak trees. A bird flew in fright from her nest. He ate one egg and was full. He then ate four more, and in his greed, the last one fell. He remembered the long mournful call of one of the Navaselva turtle doves. Her eggs were gone and her mate far off.
In the next Meeting of the Many that summer he was not just told off but his family shamed. This was not the right behaviour for resident weasels at Navaselva. Birds were to be kept safe in this special valley and their eggs were not to be taken. He had only just been introduced to the Meetings that year and was already getting a bad reputation. He could not keep still. He was always ready to chase and pounce on small creatures, in particular the different butterflies; swallowtails, festoons and fritillaries. They were out in good numbers with so many wild flowers in bloom and wanted to tell their stories about the wonders of the purple scabious, the tiny pimpernels, and the wild red poppies and whiteness of Madonna lilies. These stories were important to the Meeting of the Many. When all was well with the insects and plants, all would be well for all.
One butterfly was different. She was called Pasha, the two-tailed pasha. There were never the right flowers for her. She knew her beauty as a butterfly, her large size, her flightiness. She was just too full of herself. She would annoy Comadrito and the young genet as they played. So they chased her but could never catch her as she flew up into the trees. But they were shocked when they saw her drinking the fresh pee of the rather exalted but scary El Zorro, the fox. Now they knew what she was full of. And another time Pasha was on the fox poo which for a weasel was the worst of smells. Why did such a high-minded butterfly need to do this? Comadrito was too young then to understand all the intricate and indelicate ways of the wild.
Comadrito’s mind went from his days of being a carefree youngster to the clear and present danger he was in as the powerful bird lifted him high above a swell of clouds. There was still no sign this was a messenger bird ready to help him go north on a quest for the Many. Perhaps he was to be fed to the young of this giant bird and their beaks would not be small and would certainly be sharp. His mind filled with the memories of the recent meetings as he tried to understand his predicament.
Comadrito was called to attend the first Meeting in early spring by the weasel families of Navaselva. All female weasels were busy with their young. Larger male weasels had wandered too far off. He was the one close to the territory of the old rocks not far from where he was born the previous spring. All seemed right with his world until the mournful cry of the turtle dove and the buzz of that bumble bee.
There was a chill in the air now. Jay Ro’s fire-lighting skills would be put to the test. And she would have to go out in the dark again for some twigs and logs. Carmen and Jonas, Nana G’s lodgers and friends, were just through the orchard gate in their small but comfortable home. She knew they would help but Jay Ro wanted to be alone.
Opening the door again and with wood bucket in one hand, and torch in the other, she carefully trod over to the very well-organised wood pile. Jonas took pride in his wood skills, from wood carving to superbly-designed wood piles. But caution was needed as so many animals liked to live around the wood pile including a rather large ladder-back snake she had seen now on several occasions. It was not poisonous but could bite if a hand went into where it was resting. For all Nana G’s love of the wild this happened to her.
‘We have to understand wild creatures, they cannot be expected to understand who is on their side’ were her words when she sent a picture of her swollen hand and her bemused face.
The bite was deep and was the first time Nana G needed to visit the ‘Urgencias’ or Accident and Emergency of Spain. It was also the time she decided to ask for help with work at Navaselva and Carmen and Jonas came to stay. They shared the same values as Nana G and helped to manage the land so wildlife would flourish too.
Jay Ro managed to shine the torch brightly into the wood and gather enough twigs and medium-sized logs into the bucket. A turtle dove was still calling out with low rhythmic patterns like a song. This was the inspiration for another of Nana G’s stories about The Meetings of the Many. Was this story written down? Or did it only exist in Nana G’s mind?
With the fire now crackling Jay Ro opened her tablet and began to write as if she could hear her nana’s voice telling the turtle dove story. Get the gist. Let it flow.
Early in the evening, before the stillness of the dark, different birds gave voice to their stories in song. These would be the stories of the past times from the Meetings of the Many. The swallows would tell tales of the giant tuskers and how these first got their long trunks.
At first Nana G’s stories were full of fun but then a darker edge would creep in. The turtle dove’s ancient song showed the beginnings of cruelty and indifference to the wild world.
After flying over the vast sandy stones of the desert, turtle doves gathered to remember their migration songs. The saddest song was about a pair of turtle doves, partners for life at the time of the Great Changes. One was caught by the ape like hunters and kept for a while. The good mate flew down to help. But to no avail and was trapped too. There was lots of noise, even song-like chanting as if the dove was special, important. But it was killed with a blow within sight of its mate. This dove too waited on death. There was a chance to escape but its wings could not move, weighed down by the horror of the loved one’s brutal death.
The turtle doves knew the songs about the Great Changes from experience. These were slow and solemn songs, and told of when this ape species with its oversized brain and odd way of moving on two legs, changed its behaviours towards the Many. This was the beginning of the cruelty and indifference. It hadn’t always been so.
The turtle dove’s songs went further back to the time when there were deep connections between all species and fair hunting for food. There would be praise and thankfulness to those of the Many that gave food to this One, the clever apes. Ancient cave rocks told stories of this closeness. Dreamtime stories told of special places like the valley of Navaselva where there could be deep communion and communication between all living things.
And then came the Fall Out. Not in all places, but over time the Many lost the One. The One began to believe it was above all other creatures, better and much cleverer. This was the time when this species began to be known as the Outsiders—creatures that continued relentlessly to tear apart the wild and the deep forests and even tear apart the inner workings of things.
The fire was warming her up now. Had she got that right? Was that how Nana G would tell the story of the turtle dove? Or was Jay Ro bringing in her own anger at how indifferent humanity was to the continuing destruction of nature? But Jay Ro knew she became indifferent when a teenager at that school, struggling to be friends with Tracy, she ended up letting her best friend Gaia down. There was certainly a fall out and a loss of innocence.
Her phone rang; it was her mother. She could speak more easily with her mother now but her father never rang her and his disapproval of her friends, past and present was the barrier between them. He forbade her to see Gaia and now was angry about her involvement with the climate action groups. He would flare up like a firelighter on fire but the flame did go out quickly too. Jay Ro put another log on the fire, the slow burning wood of the encina or holm oak. Why was his father, her grandfather Joseph so different? She missed him. They could talk about anything together and he understood. He never judged or made her feel judged. He was the one always there for her at home while her parents worked and worked.
She listened to her mother’s voice. Was it concern or did her mother not trust her?
‘I’m okay. I’m warm. I can make my own fire. Yes, and I’ve eaten. There’s no need to worry about food now.’
Carmen and Jonas had left her some soup and their homemade bread. They were really not far away but it was a dark if short path to their converted shepherd’s hut or ‘casa de monte’. Why did her mother always seem to create something to worry about?
‘I’m not on my own. I can ring or shout or send their dog back as a messenger!’ She bent down to stroke the mottled brown giant of a dog at her feet, Lola. Lola, was a Spanish ‘mastin’, very large but quite like a mastiff used for guarding. But really friendly to humans. Dogs made you feel less alone, somehow. Her mother did not really like dogs or Nana G’s love of the wild and desire to lead a solitary life close to nature.
‘Look, I am not having much luck finding this manuscript of Nana G’s. Can you try and get some more detail from her? There are so many rooms in this house with books and papers in them.’
‘Well, I think you are on a wild goose chase. I think she’s probably imagining she wrote a whole novel.’ There again was her mother’s dismissive tone. Jay Ro wanted to defend Nana G.
‘Nana G told me lots of stories when I was here in this house. I can’t find those either but they were real and I’m hoping she wrote them down.’
‘Really, she never told stories to your aunt and I when we were young. It was our grandad, Nana G’s father who did all the story telling. And there was always a wolf, a good wolf. I have never come across any of those written down either. Pity, they might have made a bob or two, like Watership Down. Just come home soon and don’t spend too long looking.’
‘Just an old expression. Shillings, oh no, money, a bit of money, not pounds. Pipe dreams writers making money. I hope you are not thinking about writing as a career.’
The conversation ended rather abruptly and Jay Ro did not find out much more about her nana’s health. Putting another log on the fire she felt uneasy. Her mother created doubts but did not seem to know or understand much about her own mother. Jay Ro believed Nana G and hoped to find more than a novel about a weasel. She wanted the stories of her childhood back.
Was that still a turtle dove calling outside in the dark? It must be very alone. Had it lost its mate or flock before the long journey to its winter home in Africa?