The Wild Kingdom
The Wild Kingdom
Franklin Greenway - Harpeth River Project
One day Deer decided to take a run or at least fast walk in the woods by the stream. He headed down to the Harpeth River Greenway to see what he could see. After getting on to the Greenway trail from Aspen Grove Road, Deer ran down the trail with his white bobbing tail up in the air, to the very large bridge. He checked to see that no one was watching and slipped down the far left side of the bridge. There on the top beam behind the support post, he found the thing he needed to start his search... his Spirit. With his Spirit in tact he could move freely and unsuspected. As he moved back up to the trail, his spirit moved into him and he felt alive and free.
As he left the bridge and continued on the trail, he thought he could hear Owl’s spirit on the wind. “Is Owl spirit calling to me he ask himself” Deer put his ears higher up in the air, twitched them from side to side, trying to hear Owl spirit once again "Deer, what are you looking for?” came the spirit voice of Owl. "Why, I'm looking for you Owl", "where are you?" “I could hear your spirit hoot in the wind.” As Deer listened, he followed Owl spirit’s hoot to try to find Owl. He was cautious to things around him as he searched. “Deer, said Owl, I will try to help you find me.” So Deer listened as Owl gave him directions as best he could.
“Run down the trail until you see a path on the right that goes down into the water.” “When you get to the path stop and walk so you can count your steps.” “When you have gone 61 steps, look to the left, you will see where the big tree has lost some of its branches and they are on the ground.” “I was in my nest on one of them when the storm came that knocked those branches down last night” “Now I am stuck behind the tree behind the fallen branches still in my nest.” “I was waiting for night to come to rebuild my nest on another branch in the tree” “Could you come and help me get out so I will have a place to rest in the morning?” ask Owl spirit. Deer carefully walked behind the tree and looked down to see Owl’s nest under a rock. “I am here Owl,” said Deer. “Let me help you get out of there.” Thank you” said Owl. “You should leave that nest as I found it and gather more twigs to rebuild your nest.” “I think you are right, this nest is a mess.” “I will do as you say Deer Spirit.”
As Deer was helping Owl out of the messy nest he heard another sound on the wind, “Owl, do you here that noise, ask Deer” “Yes, it sounds like a bugle blowing,” said Owl. “It does,” said Deer. “I wonder where it’s coming from,” said Owl. “Maybe we should see what it is,” said Deer. “We should, Owl said, maybe someone needs help.” “Come on, I’ll give you a ride,” said Deer spirit.
Owl flew up and settled onto Deer’s back as Deer ran on down the trail toward the bugling sound. As they continued on, Deer spirit started to hear sounds of a struggle on the wind and quickened his pace. Owl was about to be thrown off of Deer’s back, he was running so fast, so Owl took flight calling to Deer, “I will scout ahead to see what I can see, I will hoot if I see anything.” “If you hear anything, bellow and I will hear you on the wind.” They agreed and Owl flew away high over the trees in search of the bugling sound.
From far above Owl could see something struggling in the trees beside the trail. “Hooooot” said Owl so Deer could hear. “What do you see Owl?” ask Deer spirit. “Deer,” replied Owl, “there is something really big on the left in the tree line, and I can’t tell from up here what it is.” “Can you swoop down a little closer to get a better look?” ask Deer spirit. “I can,” replied Owl. As Owl was about to fly lower the bugling sound came on the wind louder than ever. Deer stopped in his tracks to listen. “Hhheeelllpppp” was bugling on the wind. “Deer, I think that’s Elk spirit I see down there,” said Owl. “I think you must be right Owl, I hear him bugling for help” “Yes you both are right” they heard Elk say. “Where are you?” Deer and Owl said in chorus. “Listen carefully Deer, and I will try to guide you here,” said Elk spirit. Owl hooted! Elk said “Come down the trail until you see a water spout on the right. Stop at the spout and take a compass reading of 170 degrees” “You will see a tree on the left that has a scar high up above the ground, I’m under that tree covered in grass” Owl got to Elk first and soon Deer was there. “How did you get down here?” they ask Elk. “I was running from the golf course across the stream and I saw a body with no head. I leaped across the stream as fast as I could to get away and tripped when I hit the bank over there” pointing with his antler toward the stream. “I went flying through the air and hit my head, my antler stuck way up there in this tree. When my antler finally came loose I slid all the way down on my face and landed here” “That’s really high up there” said Deer “I was really spooked” said Elk. Owl hooted! “Can you two help me out of this mess?” “I want to see if I can find that body with no head” Elk said “We can,” they said. “I want to see this body too” said Owl and hooted! “Me too” said Deer
They helped Elk out of the grass under the tree leaving no trace he’d been there and began to look for the body. On the trail again, Deer’s spirit began to listen. He turned his ears toward the stream, and heard nothing. “Elk, what do you think it was?” ask Deer. Elk replied, “Not sure, I saw it from the corner of my eye just before I hit the tree” “It had left the stream and was trying to get off the ground but I didn’t see what it was or where it went, I was kind of busy,” he said a little embarrassed. Owl hooted! “Owl” said Deer “can you fly over the tree line and see if you can see what’s there” “Sure” said Owl, and he took off. “I’m sure I scared whatever it was as bad as it spooked me,” said Elk. “Maybe it’s hiding somewhere,” he said.
Suddenly a harsh croak came at them on the wind. ”You certainly did scare me and I am hiding” “I’ve never seen a flying Elk before!” came the croaking voice. “I was wading in the stream, just grabbed a salamander, “which I about choked on, mind you” “minding my own business when suddenly there are antlers and legs and legs and antlers everywhere” “And I might add, I am not a headless body, I am a Blue Heron and I’ll thank you to remember that!” “She’s a hoot!” exclaimed Owl as he came back to the others. “Where are you hiding,” ask Deer “I’ll not tell you unless that Elk promises not to take flight again, only birds should be flying around in the air!” Owl hooted again! “I can’t fly” said Elk “I got spooked when I saw you with no head and tripped, I wasn’t really flying” “Hump” said Blue Heron. “Well I do need help getting out of here so come 80 steps down the trail, there is a path on the left with a clear view of a building.” “I’m under some rocks behind the first tree on the right as you are facing the building.” “Be quick about it she croaked. They hurried to gather around the Blue Heron.
Just as they were about to help her up, she croaked shrilly once more and shrunk back behind the tree where she had been hiding. “What is it,” the three who were helping Heron ask in unison. “Oh, oh, oh my” retorted Heron cowering now after such bravado. “What? Tell us!” “Oh my,” croaked Heron “there are all sorts of things flying in the air today that aren’t birds!” “What ever are you talking about?” ask Deer spirit. Heron looked out from behind the tree and meekly shrinking back again. Owl had fluttered up to look in the direction Heron was looking. “Hooootwhat was that” Owl stammered as Deer and Elk were turning to see what Heron and Owl were looking at. For a moment they saw nothing when suddenly something bounced up in the air, then it was gone again. Deer and Elk took off running down the trail, tails twitching in the air as Owl was trying not to fall out of the sky. “Wait, Wait for me” croaked Blue Heron taking flight. Owl hooted! Moreover, they didn’t slow down, they didn’t even hear Blue Heron they were so excited. “What is it” Elk ask Deer as they ran down the trail. “I don’t know,” said Deer “I’ve never seen anything like that in my life,” he said. Bounce, bounce, bounce. As what ever it was kept bouncing, Owl, Deer, and Elk were trying to figure out how to get to it. “Owl,” Deer said into the wind, “can you see what is happening from where you are.” “Well no,” said Owl “as Heron flew past him with wings spanning wide saying “it’s a creature that looks somewhat like you Deer but bouncing on two legs.” “Like me!” exclaimed Deer? ”There are no deer with two legs that can bounce” poopooing the idea. “Can you hear anything on the wind?” Deer ask Blue Heron “No, but I can tell you how to get there from up here” “Then please do so” said Deer spirit. “Keep coming down the trail, you will cross a culvert where another stream meets the big stream” “After the culvert you will see an opening in the forest on the left that goes up to the road.” “Turn into that opening, there is a phone pole on the right and two trees on the left” “There is a bush under the second tree and that’s where the bouncing is coming from,” Blue Heron said, guiding the others to the spot.
Blue Heron, and then Owl landed in the treetop watching with heads bobbing as bounce, bounce, bounce “Will you STOP THAT BOUNCING” screeched Owl just as Elk and Deer arrived on the scene. “Oh tut, tut, tut sorry” came a soft voice. “What are you and whatever are you doing?” ask Heron. “Why I am a kangaroo,” said Kangaroo softly tutting. “I was jumping up to see what all of the commotion was about” “I’ve never seen a flying elk before and you all were in a tizzy about it.” “I’m lost but I just had to see what was going on so I was jumping up to watch you all” “I am not a flying elk!” bellowed Elk “Oh, I see,” said Kangaroo meekly, not wanting to be bellowed at again. “How did you get here?” ask Deer, looking over this creature thinking maybe it’s head and coat resembled his own, but that was about it. “I’m not sure” replied Kangaroo. “I don’t know where here is” she said “Well don’t just stand here everyone, let’s get her out of there” said Elk “Oh, I don’t need help getting out, I’m used to jumping through bush” said Kangaroo as she exploded up and out from under the bush. “I see that,” said Owl when the Kangaroo’s face came up even with his own before she disappeared and stopped bouncing once more.
“I got under the bush because I heard a hissing sound while I was grazing,” she continued. “I’m afraid of snakes, and I’m pretty sure I heard one” “Where!” the others sang in unison. And Owl hooted! “Over at the Honey Locust tree” she replied. “Can you show us?” ask Deer spirit “I told you, I’m afraid of snakes!” she hissed. “Ok, ok” said Deer. “I see the end of the trail up ahead, stay here and we’ll stop back by to get you on the way out.” “But Deer” said Kangaroo, “the Honey Locust tree is past the trail end where the path goes down to the stream before you get to the power pole”. “Ok” said Deer, “you wait here.” “Better yet, all of you wait here, this could be dangerous!” They all conceded that it would be dangerous so Deer took off by himself.
Deer walked slowly, his spirit listening on the wind for the sound of the snake. As he headed in the direction Kangaroo said the Honey Locust tree was, he started to look for the path down to the water. When he found it, he cautiously walked toward the water, seeing the golf course across the stream ahead. He looked side to sides until he saw the thorny tree on his left. There he saw the snake, a Cobra in fact, hanging from one of the thorns. The Cobra sensing danger hissed with a sound that sounded more like a dog growling than a snake. Deer’s spirit afraid, not looking back, leapt up the trail, running faster than he thought he could back to his new friends. After catching his breath, and calming his fear for a moment, he told the waiting group what he found. “It was a Cobra!” “It was hanging in the Honey Locust tree sure enough.” “When I was about eight steps from the water it growled a hissed at me, I turned and ran.” Seeing the fear on his friends faces, Deer said, “Lets get back up the trail away from danger” So, they headed back the way they had come discussing the events of the day.
After they had past the places where each one of them had been found, Deer said to the others, “I’m thirsty after all of that running” Owl hooted! “Me too” said Elk. Blue Heron said, “There is a path into the water on the left just beyond where Elk flew” “I didn’t” Elk started to say fly but gave up. No one believed him anyway. “Why keep repeating myself,” he thought. Owl, “hoot, hoot hooted!” to himself. Finding the path and seeing the golf course where Elk had come from, they all went down into the stream for a drink. Heron quickly grabbed a fish or two. Since no one was talking because they were drinking, the sharp whistling sound that came then almost caused them all to drown.
They, recovering fast, turned to see the oddest thing. About 15 steps in the direction they had just come from on the left under rocks under a tree on the bank was what they thought was a bird of some kind except it didn’t appear to have wings. Owl hooted! “What are” but before Heron could finish the question, the thing scurried back behind the tree and buried its looong beak in the dirt. “Not again!” boomed Elk getting frustrated and thinking that all feathery girl animals must be scared of every little thing. The little furry feathery thing shyly and fearfully lifted its head peering at the group standing before it. Stuttering, the little flightless bird said, “I’m a Kiwi.” “You mean like the fruit?” ask Kangaroo. “No,” said Kiwi. ”The fruit was actually named after me, but it’s a common mistake” “Where are you from?” Blue Heron asked. “I’ve never seen a bird that couldn’t fly” and thinking to herself “nor an Elk that could” When the little bird said “I’ve never seen an Elk that could fly!” Owl hooted! Elk just turned his head not responding. The little bird continued “I am from New Zealand, and aren’t you from Australia Kangaroo?” “Why yes I am” said Kangaroo “Kiwi how did you get here” Kangaroo continued. “I’m not sure, how about you?” the little Kiwi said. “I’m not sure either,” said the Roo. “What are you doing down at the waters edge?” ask Heron. “Well, it’s silly, really, I recently laid an egg and was sitting it, when I took a break to eat. When I went back to warm my egg I couldn’t find where I left it.” “While looking for it I saw all of these eggs here in the stream, I thought one of them might be mine” Owl hooted then said, “those aren’t eggs, they are golf balls! Hoot- hoot- hoot” “Oh,” said the little bird embarrassed “I was sitting each one to see if any felt right, none did. They were smaller than my egg, and harder too, she sighed.” “Well” said Elk, breaking the pall that had fallen over the group “Let’s see what else the day has to offer.” “Sorry about your egg” Heron told the little Kiwi as she slowed to walk back up to the trail with the little bird. The little Kiwi was falling behind as everyone else took off up the trail. “Stop everyone!” croaked Blue Heron. “Someone needs to let Kiwi ride or she’ll never keep up,” she said. “Not me!” exclaimed Elk whiningly. Owl hooted! “I will,” said Deer “Can you get up on my back?” “No, no I don’t think so,” the shy bird said. “I’ll help,” said Owl, swooping down and grabbing Kiwi with his talons and setting her atop Deer’s back, and off they went.
When they were on the bridge, Deer turned to see if everyone was keeping up behind him when Kiwi peeped, “What is that”, staring up in the sky as she climbed up on Deer’s head so she could see better. “What?” all the others turned and said at once. “It looks like Deer with spots,” she said. “Oh no, not again” moaned Deer. They all looked up where Kiwi was looking. They collectively gasp as a huge spotted head with small horns bent down eyeing them from the huge cedar tree that faced them. “It’s not a deer,” said Elk. “It’s a giraffe” “Hello there” said Giraffe. “Are you flying” ask Kiwi. Owl hooted! “Everyone can fly but me” said the little flightless bird, pitying herself. “Not at all” the Giraffe said walking away from the tree. Kiwi gawked as she looked up at the Giraffe towering over all standing there. “I was hoping you all would come this way,” Giraffe said. “I have lost my friends and was looking over the tree tops to see if I could see them.” “I saw Deer spirit head down the trail finding Owl and then Elk, but I couldn’t see what happened after that,” Owl hooted! Everyone speaking at once started telling Giraffe their stories. Kangaroo included the part about the Cobra on a thorn in the Honey Locust tree. “That is quite a story,” Giraffe said as everyone quieted from exhaustion. “You said you were looking for your friends,” said Blue Heron. ”With that neck, you should have spotted them easily,” said Elk “You would think so” said Giraffe. “We split up trying to figure out where we are. Rhino went back the way you were coming, as did Lion, but I’m not sure where Elephant went. I couldn’t watch all of them at once so I stepped under this tree to wait until they came back. That was a while ago though.”
“HNAAAAAAANHNAAAAAAAN SNORT” thundered a loud voice just across the trail. “Rhino!” exclaimed Giraffe “I didn’t realize you were so close” “I went for a swim, it’s terribly hot here. I got in the water down the trail a bit and walked my three toed self back up here to this tree that’s hollow inside with a crushed can stuck in branches at the bottom” Rhino went on “I thought for sure you had seen me in this the last tree from the bridge, across the trail from you.” “No, I didn’t know you were there,” said Giraffe.
“Maybe Rhino saw where Lion and Elephant went,” said Owl. “Not sure,” groaned Rhino flipping his huge horned head. “I’ll fly up and take a look around,” Owl said. “I’ll come with you,” said Heron. “You look past the left end of the bridge and I will look past the right end,” Owl said on the wind to Heron. “Ok” replied Heron and flew back across the bridge from Owl and the others. Owl hadn’t gotten far when his breath was knocked out of him and he was nearly blown out of the sky “ROARRRR.” Owl “hoot- hoot-hooted” in shock and surprise. “You must be Lion,” he said shakily taking 11 steps to face the lion on his left. “King of the jungle I am!” roared the Lion again. “Are you lunch?” the Lion ask gnashing his teeth and standing from behind the triangle rock under the old cedar tree he had been lying behind. “No, no, no, I’m not lunch and this isn’t the jungle, I am an Owl and this is the forest,” he said. “Owls can be lunch,” roared the Lion. “Nooooo,” exclaimed Owl. Trying to be heard over the roar, Owl screeched, “I am helping your friends Giraffe and Rhino find you” “Oh” said the Lion calming down and sounding a bit disappointed that Owl wasn’t lunch after all. “Come with me and I will show you the way back to your friend or friends if Elephant has been found,” Owl said staying way ahead out of the Lion’s reach. “What about Elephant” roared Lion jumping up to nip at Owl’s tail feathers. “Stop that!” Owl screeched as they came upon the group standing on the bridge. Blue Heron, riding on the back of a Huge Elephant, was coming from the other side of the bridge. “I found him, I found him,” she said excitedly from the trumpeting Elephant. “I just went left right after the bridge toward the stream and there he was hanging out behind a square standing rock,” Owl hooted! Giraffe said, “Gosh guys, it’s good to see you. I wasn’t sure I would see you three again, it felt like I’d been waiting here forever!”
“Where are you four from?” ask Kangaroo interrupting Giraffe. “Africa” the four said together. “How did you get here?” ask Elk. “Well” they started to reply but were interrupted by Deer saying “Actually, none of you are really here, I was bedding down for the day and sent my dream spirit to your spirits. I asked my dream spirit to show me some of the Wild Kingdom, and he brought your spirits here.” Deer said, “And you will be gone when I wake up”
As the sun started to fade, Deer started to rouse. As he shook off the days sleep, his dream came to him full force. “What a dream” he thought to his spirit, “it seemed so real!” As he walked down the trail, passing all of the places he found a spirit animal in his dream, he was sure he heard… Owl hoot!