The parable of Little Eagle

Little Eagle was born in what we would know to be the early 1400’s, he was the second son of the tribal chief. Life to Little Eagle was simple, he was taught from a very young age to make the tools he needed to hunt and fish, and then to track his prey or find the best times of the year and best locations to fish. The salmon would come to spawn just a few weeks after the winter thaw, the tribe would celebrate the return of the sun and salmon in a week long festival of fishing and hunting. He love the smell of roasting fish and meat, the stews and soups. The celebrations would hardly finish one day than they would begin again the following day. This year was his fourteenth year and marked his progression from child to adult life. All that he had learnt over the years to hunt and fish he would be expected to put in to practice now, for the survival of the tribe.

He had begun to build his own kayak, so after the salmon had spawned and died, he could venture further afield to find his prey, either fish, hunt buffalo or rabbit. He was well skilled with the tomahawk and found the building of his boat a simple, but very enjoyable task. This would be his means of getting up river to better lands in which to hunt. It was his final task, he had made his own bow and arrows, and spears for several years now, and had been taught how to use them by his father, he had become quite proficient in the use of these weapons on stationary practice targets, and had felt he would be able to take down any of the moving targets in the wild when the time came, his first kill would mark the end of his progression from child to tribe member.

As the spring rolled in to summer, he had proved his worth as a hunter, he had become to sense where the quarry was, and even where it wanted to go as it hurried away for safety, and he could nail a rabbit in mid run as easily as larger beasts like buffalo. He would never come home without a bounty to be shared around the tribe at meal times. He loved his life, he felt no pressure to succeed, it was like this was what he had been born to do. When the cold and snows came around again he would be put to the test to find food for them all. He did not have any fear that he would come out on top, even in the harshest of weathers, he had his mother turning some of the buffalo hides in to a warm coat for his first winter hunting season. He could not wait to show everyone that he was the best hunter in the tribe, he was going to lose the “little” from his name if it was the last thing he ever did.

The summer had been a bountiful time, he had started to earn the respect of the elders with his hunting skill but it was always prefaced with the line “we will see when winter comes, that’s the mark of the man” or some such throw away line to keep him in his place. Nothing made him more angry, he had thought he had proved his ability’s and earned the right to some respect from those who would feast on his hard work. He had been gathering some of the straightest and strongest branches as he traveled the land, drying them out for arrows or spears, ready for the harder seasons, he was going to show them all how things were. It was his time to shine, and he was going to shine brighter than the brightest star in the heavens.

By the time the leaves on the trees had started to turn to their autumn colours he was already scoping out some prime locations for hunting. The trees were super rich with their fruits and nuts, and an abundance of wildlife gathering ready for hibernation, he would watch them scurry around gathering, and noting where they were taking them to. Once the first frost had blanketed the plains, he had amassed a dozen or so maps written on off cuts from the buffalo hides, he often got odd looks from the elders as he gathered up the unwanted skins. He did not care, he wanted to record the habits and habitats of his future prey, he thought it was a good head start for the long cold winter.

He woke one morning to see a light ground frost, he knew that winter had finally taken its grip on this land. This is the weather he had been waiting for to prove himself to the tribal elders. It was no surprise to him, it had been getting steadily colder, and once the sun dipped behind the hills the temperature dropped with it. He pulled on his clothes, grabbed up his bow, arrows, spear, tomahawk and skinning knife, and he ran down to the mooring point. Frozen grasses crunching under his footfalls leaving his tracks in the white blanket, down the plain, to where he had tied the boat up to. There she sat, his pride and joy, his kayak gently bobbing up and down with the undulations of the river, there was a light breeze, but not so much to make him re-think his expedition on this cold morning. His whole body was electric with the excitement, he thought you would be able to see his heart beating from beneath his clothes it was hammering that hard. He untied the ropes anchoring his Kayak to the bank of the river, jumped in and pushed away from the bank with his oar. He just leisurely paddled up the river, he was in no rush and wanted to keep his strength for the hunt to come, he was also enjoying this new day, and gazed in wonder at the beauty of this white shrouded land. He could not quite fathom how the gods had worked their magic to create this world, and he wondered how far it stretched beyond his tribe. This was the best day of his life he though, and could not keep his excitement under control, as his smile beamed out. He eventually arrived at his chosen ground, tied up his kayak, gathered up the tools of his trade, and dashed toward the Forrest.

He had indeed had a successful day hunting, he had bagged a dozen or so rabbits, a couple of wild turkeys and a couple of big horn sheep. By the time he had returned to the river with his bounty, the sun was starting to dip, and with it went the temperature. He was decidedly cold by the time he had loaded his kayak, so he gathered up some twigs and a little dry grass, he sat them in a pile in the middle of the kayak, he pushed his boat off, and let the flow of the river drift his boat homewards as he built a small fire on the floor in front of him. After a few minutes he had got the grasses smouldering, he bent down and gently blew on the embers to get the fire going. It did not take long to get the small fire giving off enough heat to keep the chill off his bones. After about five minuted the fire had burnt a hole in the floor of the boat, icy water gushed in, and within seconds the little kayak had sunk, the water was so cold when Little Eagle was fully immersed he took in a sharp intake of breath that was all water and no air, I did not take long for him to drown, leaving his lifeless body floating down stream. A day that had started off so perfectly for him, he would never have guessed how it would have ended.

The simple moral of this story is simple, you cant have your Kayak, and heat it.


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