Halfway up the Spruce tree young Raven had a special view of the valley. Raising her beak, she could easily see a rushing creek fill several large ponds.
Even narrow trails, where deer zigzagged though the forest. If only her feathers could carry her to taller trees, she might reach higher than what looked like snow above.
Her wings were too weak to fly up and see.
Raven sensed something different existed beyond the high rise of land.
She was stubborn and tried over and over during practice flights. Falling onto the ground with a thump was often repeated as her beak poked into the grass.
Tired wings kept her airborne only so far, or high. Other ravens were content to live in this valley.
Why wasn't their friend happy too? Was it really important to reach the tallest trees? Who cared what might be outside their valley?
Yes, they thought Raven was a bird with impossible dreams.
Families of ravens were busy spending much time looking for food. After hours of searching they rested on branches, waiting for the sun to set.
But young Raven wanted more. It wasn't enough to shriek into the wind that often pushed her around in the sky. She hoped for much more.
Practicing long distance flying had its difficulties. Plopping onto the ground brought her into an area inhabited by foxes, coyotes and hawks. And wolves ate anything that looked tasty.
Young raven did indeed look yummy.
Raven was determined as she tried to reach one special tree. It looked out of place among the greenery of the forest. But, strong enough for a raven to use for a good observation perch.
Once again she fluttered down, then splashed into a rushing creek. Friends flew around with merry calls seeing their silly friend fail once again. At least Raven was able to cool her feathers.
Then the sun sent a warm breath to dry her soaked feathers. Often she watched other feathered creatures play games chasing each other.
But raven seemed only interested in flying higher and higher.
Days turned into months, then into years. Life was too quiet for Raven in the lowlands. She wished more than ever to see the other side of the hills.
Through practice she was finally able to fly to taller trees. But could not reach the tallest one she desperately wanted. She had to be content with her old perch, now bone white, without bark due to the erosions of seasons.
Yet it was firm enough to withstand any windy weather.
Raven didn't realize how much she had grown stronger and larger.
Her head and tail feathers were also turning lighter in color. But it did seem much easier for her to fly higher and farther. Strange, but her eyesight was getting much better. Friends were unable to fly as high as raven.
The scenery she enjoyed was much the same each day. But Raven was getting tired of eating leftover scraps. From high above, she noticed swimming fish, and rabbits playing in the underbrush.
Her sharp eyes could even spot chipmunks skittering around trees.
Raven remained curious about was over the far ridge. Perhaps the pair of loons enjoying water games in the pond below came from beyond that point?
More days passed, then weeks and months. Raven's head and tail feathers continued to lighten. Her friends could not understand the changes, especially her size. She was larger than other ravens, and still growing.
One day Raven noticed Cormorants and seagulls. Surely they must have come from the other side of the ridge. If her wings were stronger she could fly from this valley and see.
She left her nest each morning and flew high as she could. Practice gave her a confidence to realize her dream. Somehow she had to discover what was outside her valley. As she flew around she saw clouds forming a variety of shapes.
From her hillside perch she watched lightning flashes looking more like blinking fireflies.
One day she tried flying above the raindrops since they brought chills to her feathery body. Afterwards the sun sprang up in a blaze of glory.
Raven could see its beautiful smile. In the past she only saw the darkness of evening as light left the world. No longer did the sun sleep feeling sadness for this once unhappy raven.
Even stars had held back tears. Even the wind's lamented whispers tried not to disturb Raven.
But, everything was different now. Friends didn't tease her any more making sure Raven was included in their games of chase. They didn't mind she grew into the largest bird, flying faster and higher, always winning.
Tonight Raven had a great sleep on her high, bone white perch. And not realizing tomorrow would change her life forever.
She woke up at the usual time, stretched and swooped to the valley below. Breakfast was cookie crumbs and half a forgotten sandwich. Then Raven flew to the highest branch on one of the taller trees.
She raised a head full of past dreams. But, she wasn't calling with disappointment. Raven did have a good life. There was much food on the land below.
She had a comfortable nest, although it was difficult to get all her feathers inside.
And because of her stronger wings, Raven had interesting places to explore. She easily observed fish swimming in great numbers at the waterfall.
Raven also did not mind any heavy rain. Actually it was warm on all her feathers. When she landed on a large branch it shook fiercely from her weight. Her legs were much stronger.
And most of her friends finally understood it was okay to be a dreamer.
One day something strange began to take place. Raven was extra warm from the sun that settled on her head and tail feathers. The heat was soothing. And she sat still for a very long time.
She did not realize her head and tail feathers had turned completely white. Other changes already took place.
Rain splashed over her hooked beak. Her wings began to stretch. And stretch. They stuck out from under branches in the fir tree. Her head grew much larger. Raven's legs were powerful with hardened muscle.
Her feet expanded into larger ones with razor sharp talons. The tree branch dropped lower from movement. Once Raven had a chubby body with short wings.
Now she was a creature of muscle with wings wider than a whole family of ravens. Finally the branch let go, dropping this new creature.
She flapped wings, eight feet wide from tip to feathery tip. And a warm thermal of air sent her soaring into the sky, high over the tree she once occupied. Raven rose past the tallest branch of the tallest trees.
Even higher than her private perch where the bark had disappeared long ago. Now she climbed higher than the clouds and could see beyond the ridge. She explored from above thick forests and new hills.
Her soaring was effortless.
Both eyes were more like twin telescopes. They saw movement at great distances, such as sea gulls passing low over a large lake.
And Cormorants were diving for mackerel. A family of loons paddled around a small bay. Squirrels and rabbits played tag far below.
The huge bird's dives and swoops harnessed the breezes. Then turned around and returned to her own valley. Yes, she could see much, including the nest where she once lived.
Other ravens were excited at the speed of her
disappearance. Suddenly she dropped lower and flew among them.
They were not fearful of her size and began to play chase. Other ravens dipped and dived, joining them. They danced across the blue sky. Then circled and swooped until the smaller birds were tired.
The larger bird flew to the perch of bone white she claimed as her own. It was more like a beacon of authority among the greenery.
From here the huge bird rested and watched. She tucked in powerful wings. Her white head and neck blended with the tree that was her lookout. A sudden urge demanded she eat something special for supper.
Eyes zoomed in on a large rainbow trout far below. Wings shuffled, muscles tightened. And Bald Eagle swooped lower for a fish-feast.
* * *
Richard & Esther Provencher 2008
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