The Great Change: A Trilogy
Illustrated By Johan Afroz
A huge, brown bear neared the clearing at the edge of the forest. His deep-set eyes were dark and focused. Fox followed from a near-by thicket. They glanced toward each other and bowed, rubbing their hind paws three times against the grass. This is how they left the field of space and time in order to enter the circle of light. Bear lowered his lumbering body and faced the discarded heap of old rubber tires.
“Mornin,” Fox greeted, as he took his place. Bear nodded warmly.
Next to arrive was Black Snake, who slithered nervously, not wanting to be late. He rubbed against the earth with his belly making three slinky-like loops in the dust. He couldn’t bow any lower than he already was.
“Comin'!” shouted Deer wistfully as she halted in her gallop long enough to bow and scratch the land with her hind hooves before joining the others. “Sorry about the dust.”
“”Quite all right,” Snake greeted, “but where’s Quill?”
As creatures looked curiously about, they heard a giggle coming from the tall grasses. “Been here all along,” Quill spoke mischievously. “Just wanted to see if you’d spot me.”
“You hid so well,” Deer spoke, as she motioned all to form a circle around the pile of tires. Without another word, heads again bowed. Each took a deep breath and began to chant. Their slow, gentle voices soothed like a deep, underground lullaby seeping through the soil and rising into the cloudless blue sky. The air above began to swirl and sway. At times, the chanting grew louder and higher in pitch until, at last the old tires that had once appeared lifeless now began to vibrate as though in rhythm. Slowly they lifted off the ground and floated above the singing animals.
The tires suddenly broke apart into thousands and thousands of tiny black specks. The little dots hovered over-head, dancing and spiraling like a swarm of bees. They continued to rise higher and higher into the sky as the animals sang.
Suddenly, they dove into the entrance of a cave deep within the forest. In that instant, the animals stopped chanting and grew still. Deer, Snake, Bear, Fox and Porcupine stretched and yawned, as though waking up from a very deep sleep. Each critter backed up a few paces, bowed toward each other one last time and scratched thrice on the ground in order to return to the field of the everyday. Then they disappeared back into the woods.
My sister and I sat on a large rock not far from the animals’ circle. We were probably the first humans who had ever been allowed to witness this magical moment. The animals had been using the sound of their own vocal cords to move large, heavy tires from one place to another. It was as though their voices did the heavy lifting, causing the tires to rise off the ground, break apart in tiny specks and then fly off into the woods. We were impressed.
You might wonder why two young children would be chosen to view this bit of magic. Well, the Meadow chose us. Yes! The Meadow chose us. It’s a long story that began one spring day when some ducklings swimming on Little Meadow Lake discovered something so amazing it would change our lives forever.
Little Meadow and The Wake-up Book
Chapter One: The Stuff of Humans
Helga waddled close to the water’s edge glancing again at the smooth stones near the water’s edge. “I love you, Stones! I love you, Pond! I love you, Breeze!” For a brief instant she felt she had been shouting instead of imagining, but no, it was just a thought. Yet what a grand thought! To be here! To be alive! “Come on guys,” she called, “time to go.”
“Ah, Momma,” her son, Evan, was first to respond. “Not yet. We’ve barely had time to investigate.” Evan, like his mom, had lost all track of time. They smiled at each other, and Evan understood. “Okay,” he offered. “I’ll get the girls.”
Hey, Momma,” called Libby, out of breath with excitement. “Look what Ana found!” Ana was the younger of the two girls and curious about everything. Things like colorful rocks or old bottle caps, left over from the days humans visited Little Meadow, always caught her attention. This time she could hardly drag her bulky relic through the tall grasses. She dropped her find with a plunk just missing her mom’s foot.
“Hi!” she declared with a mischievous grin before snatching the bag up again with her little beak.
“Ana! What in the world have you found this time?”
“We don’t know!” Libby piped in. “But you gotta’ see it!”
Helga sighed and waddled toward her ducklings to get a better look. “Let’s see. Hmm. Looks to me like more bits and pieces we’ll need to store in the cave.”
Ana grasped the bottom edge of the plastic bag, tipping it up as high as she could. Helga used her beak to tip the bag even higher, forcing its content to slide out onto some ferns.
“Awesome!” shouted Libby, so proud of her sister’s ingenuity.
“Can you eat it?” asked Evan, who was beginning to get hungry.
“Don’t think so,” said Libby as she sniffed the item for a few seconds. “Smells like that old cereal box we tried nibbling on last week.”
“Yuck!” all three ducklings exclaimed at once.
“It’s a book,” Helga stated after giving it a closer look. “My, my! How easily they can be damaged! We need to wrap it back up in its container and leave it here for now.”
“But, Momma! This one’s different! Look!” Ana pleaded, and with the help of her brother and sister, she managed to flip the book over. Everyone’s eyes widened, and a breeze from somewhere deep within the forest rippled over them like water.
“Wow!” they all sighed. On the front cover of the book was a picture of the most beautiful duck they had ever seen. This duck looked just like Momma and Pappa. It had a dark green head, trimmed with a narrow white neck ring, and a breast of chestnut-brown. Its wings were a brownish gray with black tail feathers and he sported a smooth yellow bill. So magnificent!
“I can’t imagine anyone leaving a beautiful book like this behind?”
“Can we keep it?” All three ducklings asked at once.
“Well,” Helga replied in her calm, soft-spoken tone, “Perhaps, but first we have to figure out a way to get it across the pond without getting it wet.” She had seen other books, magazines and empty boxes made by humans.
All the plants and animals at Little Meadow had decided that even though humans no longer visited the campgrounds, the things they left behind should be stored in a safe place, just in case they might some day return. And so, all the things people had left behind were slowly gathered up and stored in the Old North Cave. But Helga couldn’t imagine stowing away this fine book with the duck on the cover. “Maybe we should keep this book,” she thought to herself.
Evan grunted as he bobbed up and down in the current, pushing a piece of bark toward the shore where Libby and Ana waited to help him drag it up onto the grass where all three waited, hoping Momma would take the hint. “Good job, guys,” she beamed when she saw the bark. “I knew I could count on you to think of something. Way to go!”
Soon with their strong bills they lifted the Duck book onto the dry bark and pushed it out into the open water. Each duck positioned its soft, feathery breast against the wood, and the crew paddled effortlessly into the deep. Libby began to sing a song and soon the whole family was quacking in rhythm. Their melody continue until they reached dry land.
“We did it!” they yelled, pushing their treasure ashore. Helga Duck waddled ahead to her nest to find John. After all, her mate’s strength was needed to carry the book. While some duck built their nests in the hollows of dead trees, John and Helga’s home was comfortably situated in a hole in the ground. The bottom was carpeted in the softest feathers from Helga’s chest. The whole nest was encircled with reeds, ferns, willows and a large rock.
“John, wake up,” she quacked. John had been napping, so she nudged him and whispered, “Honey, it’s time to wake up.”
John opened one eye first, then the other. Slowly, he withdrew his head from beneath his wing and managed to look his wife in the eye. “Uh-oh,” he thought, “now what?”
Momma Duck told John all about their ducklings’ exciting adventure as he pecked on a few barley grains and listened. “The kids are out there by the pond right now pushing the bark through the tall grasses. Their little bodies are worn out. You must come and help.”
“Okay.” He waddled over to greet his little darlings. “Hi, guys! You look exhausted. Tell you what. You go ahead of me and flatten out the grass to make a trail, and your mom and I will push this thing across the path.”
Always a team! The ducklings began rolling their soft round bodies over the grass, laughing each time they rolled. It was in this way that the book found its new home, safe and dry and so elegant. John finally noticed the picture of the duck on the book’s cover. “Amazing!” he said as he continued to gaze. “It looks so real!”
“Looks like you, John, right after our wedding,” Helga said with her upturned beak, as she leaned against him.
“But you know we can’t keep it.”
“What?” quacked the three ducklings in unison.
“Let’s sit down and talk,” said Helga. The ducklings positioned themselves around the book with Helga at one end and John at the other.
“It’s the Way of the Meadow.” John said. “Many years ago, humans came here all the time and they were so happy. Grampa used to say he could actually feel the sadness in their hearts each time they had to leave.”
“Then they stopped coming,” said Helga. “Don’t know why, but we decided to save all the stuff they left behind. Maybe the things left behind were meant to be offerings, and we have to respect that. Who knows? Maybe they’ll return someday and be surprised that all their precious things are still in good condition.”
“Why do you think they stopped coming?” the three ducklings asked in unison.
“Don’t know,” Poppa sighed. “Maybe they discovered other places they liked better.”
“Better than here? No way!” Evan exclaimed.
“It is hard to imagine,” Momma agreed. “My grandma said that one day she heard some humans arguing over something and some of them began to fight. She got very upset and swam as far from them as she could get.”
“What’s that mean? To f-f-fight?” inquired Evan.
“It means to hurt someone else simply because you can, or because you think you need to,” said Helga. “Libby, what would happen if you hurt Ana or Evan?”
“We would feel pain,” responded Libby.
“That’s right,” said John. “And why would you both feel the pain?”
“Because if I hurt Evan or Ana on purpose it would make me feel awful. I couldn’t imagine doing something like that.”
“Oh, you are so wise, Libby,” her mom spoke with pride.
“Then what happened?” asked Ana.
“Well, Gram began to cry and couldn’t stop. And her tears flooded some of the valleys.”
Ana grinned, “Ah, Momma, You’re messin’ with us!”
“Well, maybe just a little,” John added, “But apparently all the plants and animals who were here that day felt ill, just sensing the hurt the humans carried with them as they finally left the forest.”
“But how could a painting of one adorable duck hurt anyone?” Ana asked.
“That’s a good question,” her mom praised. “What do you think, Poppa?”
“I think I’m hungry,” sighed John as his beak poked at the ground, hoping for some morsels of food, yet finding nothing. “Let’s go scrounge up something to eat, and then we’ll decide what to do.
Chapter Two: Mystery Rock
The members of the Duck family all nodded their heads in agreement, but as they were about to leave the nest, they heard a rustling sound outside. Ana wobbled out to investigate and almost stumbled over Friend Turtle.
“Hi,Turt!” Ana greeted, with her usual, cheerful grin. Before Turt had a chance to respond, he found himself surrounded by his feathered friends. They waited patiently for him to speak.
“Hi, John! Helga! Hey, kids. Good to see ya’. I dropped by to tell you I found some seed pods down on the old south path. I know how much you all love those things, though I’ll never know why.”
“Thanks, Turt,” replied John. “We were heading in that direction. Want to come along?”
“Well, I don’t …”
Before Turt could finish his sentence, Libby chimed in. “Yea, Turt! Come with us. When we get back, we’re gonna’ show you somethin’ exciting. A surprise!”
John and Helga Duck glanced at each other. They had wanted to keep the Duck book a secret until they had a chance to talk it over but it was too late for that now. Turt was nothing if not inquisitive. His eyes grew wider.
“Well, I do say! A surprise? Tell me all about it.” Before the others could say anything, Turt maneuvered himself past them and into their nest. He couldn’t help but notice the object lying in the middle of their home.
Helga knew she needed to explain, so in her calmest duck voice she told Old Turt about the Duck Book: how Ana had found it, and how they had managed to get it across the pond and into the nest. The children stood proudly around their new find. The glorious painting of a duck seemed to stare back at them.
“My, my, my! That is a good likeness, John, I must say,” declared Turt. “Perhaps I can help you take it to the cave with all that other stuff.”
“The cave?” interrupted Evan. “Not you, too!”
“We don’t understand,” chimed in Libby.
Before Turt had time to go into their community’s plans, Evan reassured him that Momma and Poppa had already begun telling them about the “Preserve Human Stuff” rule.
“Of course. Of course,” said Old Turt, “but I don’t see why we can’t have a look at it first. It’s a book, right? Let’s open it.” The ducklings cheered and then looked at Momma.
“Well, we’ll need to be careful. You know how easily paper tears.”
“Helga,” Poppa motioned toward his mate, “will you do the honors?”
All eyes focused on Helga then as the others stepped aside to give her more space. And so it was that Helga Duck had a new job. She was in charge of turning pages, a task that would require great care. She had always wondered why she had been born with an extra curve on the inside of her beak. Now, with the help of her special bill, she was able to open the book and turn to the first picture. The others cheered in triumph. “This is a special moment,” she sighed.
A tear formed in the corner of Turt’s eye, and he felt it trickle down his cheek and plop to the ground. He could hardly believe what he saw on the second page. ‘This turtle painting looks just like my grandmother. She had a strong shell like that and beautiful black eyes. Oh, my,” he whispered. “I miss her so much.” Helga and John looked away, trying to hold back their own tears.
"What happened to your grandma?" Libby asked.
Before Turt could respond, however, an eerie booming sound frightened the ducklings with its slow, deliberate syllables.
“BE---BEM---BER---BE! BE---BEM---BER---BE? BE---BEM---BER---BE?” The question was heard as vibrations, rumbling through the ducklings little bodies. They began trembling and huddled next to their Poppa for protection.
Turt, instead of retreating into his shell for safety, looked around until he spotted the source. "Mem!" he shouted in delight, looking toward the large rock wedged into the ground behind him. "I should have known it was you."
"Turt's acting strange," Evan whispered to his sisters. "He’s talking to a rock."
“BE---BEM---BER---BE?” the rumbling echo asked again.
"Of course I do," said Turt as he made his way to the boulder jutting up from between some ferns. "Mem, I'm so sorry. Let me introduce you to my friends. This is John and Helga Duck and their children: Ana, Libby and Evan."
Rock did not move or speak again, but Helga and John bowed politely and urged their ducklings to move toward the rock. "Hi, Ms. Rock," said Libby, trying not to giggle. She'd never had a conversation with a rock before.
"Don't be afraid, my friends," Turt reassured. "This is Mem. She's rock, solid granite to be exact. Her molecules are packed so tightly together that it is only with great effort that she speaks, but she has an amazing memory.
"What is she trying to say?" asked Helga.
"BE---BEM---BER---BE?" Mem strained as the ducklings scrambled ever closer to Poppa Duck.
"Re-mem-ber me?" Turt interpreted for Mem. "She's asking us, 'Do you remember me?' She has trouble forming some of the sounds. 'Remember me' comes out as ‘Be bem ber be.’”
"Of course I remember you,” Turt reassured. “How could I forget? You're the one who explained to me what happened to my grandmother that day the hunters stormed through here with their guns hunting for deer. One of the men spotted my beautiful grandmother and decided to keep her. She scratched and clawed and snapped, but the brutish fellow was much too strong and Gram ended up being stuffed into a bag. He stole her along with my heart!" Turt again began to sob.
"I'm so sorry, old boy," John comforted.
"Oh, my goodness," declared Helga. "What happened to her? Did you ever see her again?"
"Touch your heads against Mem, and close your eyes," said Turt, still sniffling. "She'll show you what happened."
And so the family of Helga and John Duck did as they were told. They snuggled their bodies tightly against Rock, closed their eyes and were shown dreams of a beautiful turtle being taken to a very unusual place and put in a deep box. They saw humans walking up to her and staring. One human painted a design on her shell. The fumes from the paint made her gag and hide her head. The ducks could feel her loneliness and fear and how her heart was broken. Turt’s five feathered friends became so sad that they quickly drew away from the the rock. They did not want to know more. There was a long silence before John spoke.
"Thank you, Mem," John said. "I had no idea you carried so much weight. No wonder you try and stay in one place."
"Wait, let me guess!" cried Libby, trying to interpret. "Re-lax, me be fine!"
"Quite right you are!" declared Turt, and they all laughed.
“Can Momma turn the next page in the book?” pleaded Evan.
“Please, Mamma. Please,” Libby and Ana joined in the chorus.
Everyone was chuckling now, happy with this new companion. Helga looked at Mem and then at John and Turt, who both nodded in agreement. She rubbed her bill into her feathers a few times for a good cleaning, and continued her task. Again six pairs of eyes looked in awe as an adorable brown chipmunk appeared on the page. “Jarvis!” they all shouted and giggled in unison. There was an amazing resemblance. Jarvis and his chipmunk family lived two trees down, and when he heard his name called, he and his family scurried toward the noise. They froze as they peered down at the breathtaking sight of the picture of chipmunks that looked just like them.
And so it continued. The sounds of excitement and chatter attracted more and more curious animals, who in turn became as excited and chatty as the animals who had come before. As each new page was examined and each new creature emerged into view, more sighs of delight arose, and new visitors came to check out the commotion only to be delighted and amazed at Ana’s wonderful discovery. Animals brought food, and it became a celebration with dancing that lasted for quite some time.
Finally, John Duck, who had begun to miss his quiet nap, spoke up, “It’s been fun, everyone. We need to get together like this more often, but now it’s time to take our wildlife book to its proper place.”
“The cave,” they all said in disappointment.
At first, some grumbled, expressing a wish to tear out their own family portrait. Some didn’t want to take the book to the cave. A few wanted to keep on partying.
Then Old Turt lumbered toward the book. “Come on,” he said to John and the others. “Help get this fine thing on my back. Support the sides, so it doesn’t tip off, and we’ll go to the cave. Theresa’s there. She’ll know what to do.”
"Goodbye, Mem!" the others shouted, some patting the huge rock with affection.
"You're already bare," hissed Snake with a laugh, "but we love you."
"Be be bare be bor boo?” repeated Ana, thrilled with the new word challenge. “Oh! I know! I know! 'Me be there before you!'”
"Good guess, Ana." Turt smiled.
"But how could she be there before us?" Helga mumbled to John.
"I guess we'll find out soon enough," John reassured her with an affectionate wink.
Chapter Three: Meeting at the Old Cave
All the animals gathered round to help, and, before long, the book was in place on Turtle’s shell. Everyone headed toward Teresa, The Old Tree, who had guarded the cave’s entrance for hundreds and hundreds of years.
Of course, Teresa, who had always seemed to know everything, saw the parade advancing up the hill. She chuckled at the sight of her dear Friend Turtle balancing the heavy load on his back while others kept the item steady. It wasn’t easy, she knew, yet she was so proud of all these forest creatures and waited patiently as the procession continued it’s slow climb. At last, Turt and the other animals arrived at their destination. Carefully, they slid the book off its carrier and placed it before Theresa, the wise old oak tree. Then a hush settled over the forest. Even the birds stopped chirping.
“I see you found a book, Ana,” said old Theresa. Ana was amazed at the tree’s ability to know and see so much. Theresa Tree continued, “I heard about the big party at John and Helga’s. Wonderful to hear so much laughter. Helga, would you mind if an old, old tree like me could have a look at the pictures everyone’s been raving about?”
“It would be a pleasure.” Helga came forward and again, using her special beak, displayed page after page of wonderful family portraits. They were all images of Tree’s dearest friends or at least their grandparents or great-grandparents or relatives. Old Tree wondered who had painted them. She knew the artist must have loved the creatures in the wild very much.
“What do you think we should do with the book?” John Duck finally inquired.
“What do you want to do with it?” asked Old Tree. Since she had all the time in the world and was a good listener, all the animals had a chance to express their feelings. After she heard each and every request, she thought for some time before speaking. “It seems like most of you would like to take the book apart and keep the pictures that represent your individual family. Am I right?”
“Yes,” came the reply from many who had gathered, though some, including Helga and John Duck remained silent.
“Well, let's suppose we decided to do that. Would we be able to come up with a plan to figure out who gets each picture?"
After a pause, Squirrel made a suggestion, "How about getting all the ducks together in a group, and all the rabbits together in another group, and all the blue jays together in a third group, and so on and so on and so on?"
"I think I see where you're going with that," said Porcupine. "Each group can decide among themselves which family member in that group should be in charge of the portrait of their family."
"Sounds good to me," sang Butterfly, who was hovering above a leaf in Old Tree's hair.
"All right," said Theresa. "Why not divide up into your groups and decide."
It sounded simple enough, and everyone was happy at first, gathering together into his or her families as they spread out around Old Tree. Soon, however, the pleasant tone of friendship vanished like a puddle on a hot, windy day. The animals within each group began to argue over who was best qualified to be in charge of their prized possession. The arguing became shouting, and the quarreling was like nothing John or Helga or their dear ducklings had ever heard before. They wondered if this was the way humans had often felt.
A few of the young began to cry. They had never seen their parents bickering before. Aunts and uncles and cousins got so mad they decided to stop speaking to one another. The animals began to feel sick, and their heads began to hurt. They finally realized they couldn’t stand one more minute of this agony. They quieted down and turned toward Old Tree for help.
In the silence, Turt asked Tree what turned out to be the most important question of the day, "Old Tree, if we were to decide to break the book apart, which part would you want?"
Some sap dripped down Old Tree’s bark like tears as she watched the pain her friends had brought upon themselves. She knew how important it was that they work things out together, so she was glad to answer Turt's question. "If we were like this grand book," Tree began, "I suppose I would want to be the spine, the part of the book that holds all the pages together. Yet a spine without its pages is worth nothing. You see, that's what makes this book seem sacred to you."
The animals nodded, wanting to hear more. "The real sadness would not be the loss of the book, which is what would happen if we took it apart, but the loss of our connection to each other. Can you feel that loss now?" Everyone nodded in agreement as their heads ached and their stomachs churned.
"You see, life is perfect. We are perfect. We come from perfection and return to it in complete harmony. We reflect that harmony to the earth. It’s not that we each have a separate life. We are Life! Our collective memories are programmed and encoded directly into the cells of our bodies and stems and leaves. We need nothing but the sun, the air, the water and each other."
Heads stopped hurting and pains subsided as everyone recognized in themselves their own inner wisdom. They felt so grateful to be who they were. They loved listening to the voice of Old Tree, so they waited, longing to hear more.
"Beaver needs no book to learn construction yet his lodge is always perfect,” Old Tree pointed out, “and Bird somehow knows everything she needs to know about weaving her nest into an ideal home for her family. Evan without this book, Caterpillar knows the exact moment in which to wrap her slender body into a silky cocoon so that her butterfly-self can later emerge. We've never fought over the land or the sky or the water. Yes, we have to eat, but we never eat more than we need, and we respect each other. You're all born knowing everything you'll ever need to know to survive."
"What about the humans?" asked one of the toads.
“BE---BE---BEM---BER.” The voice was unmistakable, but how did Mem Rock make it up the hill?
"Mem! So good to hear your voice!" Tree greeted, yet she wasn't talking to the rock at the bottom of the hill but to a different rock.
"Maybe they're related," said Deer to Porcupine.
The animals looked at each other to see who could guess the meaning of Mem's syllables.
“BE---BE---BE---EB---REE---PACE,” Mem repeated, frustrated that she couldn't get them to understand. Friend Turtle came to her aid.
"Mem is telling us, 'Me be me every place.' There is only one Rock. What you see jutting out from the ground are her knees and elbows. She's got thousands of them, and they're all around us.'"
If Mem had been able to show her emotions, everyone would have seen her beaming with pride. At last they understood, and so all the critters found the closest rock to them, and, with eyes closed, they connected their heads against its hard surface. As they settled back to enjoy this new dream-like trance, they found themselves floating peacefully through the pages of a great book. There were plants and trees and rocks and streams, blue skies and the familiar aroma of autumn. A stream sparkled with reflected sunlight as it splashed and curled around slippery rocks.
The dream book was brimming with life, fed by a soft heart beat which seemed to steady things, keeping thousands of familiar sights and sounds and smells from flying off the pages. The dreamers were shimmering with their wanting, as pages turned slowly, revealing discoveries, each small scene a celebration. Humans, too, were flying through the great book, climbing trees, running, swimming, hiking and laughing. Some were busy gathering firewood, spreading tablecloths and preparing for a picnic. Being human looked like so much fun.
But the pages suddenly began flipping from scene to scene much too quickly and the critters of Little Meadow felt as though they had entered into a giant wind tunnel. As they flew out the other end of the whirlwind story, they became very confused. What had happened to the wildlife? The plants and trees and rocks and streams had been replaced by fake walls and fake skies with little fake suns lighting the way. Even the air they breathed seemed unnatural. The critters were trapped in a horrid nightmare walled within a dead place where artificial voices spoke in simulated words about robot-like things.
Humans were there, but they weren’t laughing any more. They were busy pushing cages aimlessly back and forth inside huge buildings. Shelves were loaded with all kinds of stuff that the humans gathered furiously into wheeled cages to take them home. The critters felt confused as thousands of talk-boxes, wind-makers, lawn choppers, hair blowers and plastic gadgets flew effortlessly from shelf to cage to house to landfill. The critters also noticed that now, the humans often seemed impatient and irritated. Something had changed.
The wildlife wondered whether humans had begun to love things even more than they loved each other. Of course the plants and animals wanted to return to the picnic, but gradually, one by one, each lifted its head from Mem’s rocky surface to get a breath of fresh air. As the pages kept flying by more rapidly than ever, the critters of Little Meadow had seen enough. John Duck stood tall, puffed out his chest, and in his finest voice asked his friends, "Is that what we want?"
"No! No! No!" Shouts were heard rising into the sky like prayers. That was an easy decision. Everyone who was there that day felt so blessed, for they never needed to be anyone other than who they already were. Daisies were always content being daisies and the same was true for the sparrows and the woodchucks and all who stood or hovered or sprouted or slithered or crawled or swam at Little Meadow Lake that day.
Without another word, the book was hoisted up onto Turt's firm shell and was taken to the cave where it was wrapped in an empty bread bag and placed along side many other human things: aluminum cans, plastic bags, bottles, trinkets, fake flowers, electric heaters, rubber tires, styrofoam cartons.
Deer, Snake, Bear, Fox and Porcupine were the first to bow their heads to honor the All-That-Is. The forest became very still. All the plants and animals began to bow to each other and to the earth and Mem recorded everything.