Blind Strike

{November 24, 2007}   Squirrel’s Journey: Javelina

The sun sank below the horizon and Squirrel kept running though her lungs burned and her paws ached. The cool scent of water grew stronger with each stride and finally, when she thought her legs would give out, she crested the last dune.

Javelinas gathered around the pool below, which spread out in its basin and crept to the edge of a sheer cliff. Squirrel was crestfallen to see there were no oak trees, only cactus. The javelinas, which resembled boars with no tusks, sniffed the wind and turned their heads toward Squirrel as she picked her way down the prickly slope. Cactus of all kinds flourished here, blooming egg-shaped cactus and some of the tallest sujuaros Squirrel had seen yet. She made her way to the cliff’s edge, and looked out onto miles of desert below. It was calming to be up high. A slight breeze cooled her skin and made her shiver.

A snorting sound behind her made Squirrel jump. A javelina had detached itself from the herd and now stood only five feet away. It was hard to make out much detail in the fading light, but judging from the piercing look in javelina’s beady eyes, and the rigid posture of its triangle-shaped head, Squirrel thought this one must be in charge.

 “Hello?” she said.

Javelina pawed the ground and opened her mouth, revealing pointed teeth. “What are you doing here?”

 Squirrel gulped. “Cobra. Cobra said I could find…” The idea that there might be acorns anywhere nearby seemed ridiculous now, and she shook her head, scratching her head with one paw.

Javelina snorted loudly. “Cobra? There are no cobras here, little fool.”

“But, I went into his den and he gave me this acorn.” Searching the inside of his cheek for the sweet meat, Squirrel tasted a mound of sand and spat it out.

Now Javelina squealed with laughter. “You were tricked,” she said, “by a desert shaman. Sit down. I will tell you a thing or two about this place.  But first, where are you from?”

Squirrel shook her head. “I don’t know. I think I was born here.”

Javelina raised her snout in amusement. “I doubt that. No matter. Wherever you’re from, you live on the coast now.”

“The coast?”

“Five hundred million years ago,” Javelina said, nodding toward the land beneath the cliff, “all of that was an ancient sea. Can you imagine it?”

Squirrel pictured waves lapping against the rock face, water reaching to the horizon. “It doesn’t seem possible,” she said.

“But the land has told us its story,” Javelina said. She shook her small tail and approached Squirrel, standing beside her. “Our kind has walked the desert for centuries, and we have many visitors. That friction of water meeting land, it lingers here. It draws many. Though we can’t see it now, that sea stood almost as long as it has been dried up.”

Squirrel imagined the prickly cacti as coral and anemones on an ocean floor, Javelina, a little fat fish.

“The energy is strong here,” Javelina continued, “easy to change and use, for those who know how. The snake you saw was a mimic, probably a harmless lizard, showing off his powers of illusion.”

“Why would he bother to trick me?”

Javelina laughed. “Even shamans get bored sometimes. But don’t worry. This one, it seems, was harmless…I like you, little one. Why don’t you come have a drink from my pool. Travel with our herd awhile. My kind will protect you. Stick with us and you might learn a thing or two about your home.”

Squirrel had begun to shiver as the air rapidly cooled. Her thirst made the choice for her, and soon she was drinking from the desert pool, flanked on all sides by Javelina’s kith, who produced quite a bit of natural heat.


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