It was that dispiriting time of year when winter was not quite over but had gone on quite long enough and spring hadn’t quite arrived. The riverbank animals were restless and grumpy. It had been a hard winter; they had lost a few old friends, including Granny Wytcher who had “gone upstream” during the cold months, closely followed by her beloved hound, Tiny. Farmcat said that he wanted to keep her company and they all sympathised. There were not many humans who understood their animal neighbours like she had. The farm now housed one of her litter, a woman who had her mother’s gift for empathy. She took to walking with her small dog by the riverbanks just as Granny Wytcher had done with Tiny and was soon assimilated into the everyday comings and goings of the waterside even if the small dog needed a few lessons in neighborliness. Unlike her mother, however, the new human sang. She had a special relationship with the trees and made music for them when she felt they wanted to hear her. Otter, being a bard herself, liked to listen. The words meant nothing but the tunes were pleasant enough.
Crow was feeling dismal. She hated the winter. Carrion was hard to find and even small-feed was scarce. Farmcat’s suggestion that she make use of the bird table on which the new human put food for all the winged friends was met with disgust. Corvids did not, repeat NOT take hand-outs. They would rather starve!
Otter looked at the catkins on the hazel trees and some buds appearing. Spring would come soon when they would gather at the stones to greet the Moon Lady. She decided that she would sing a song in tribute to Granny Wytcher and asked Dog Otter to tell her again all the details of his rescue from the sea-side. It would be fitting to remember her to the Moon Lady to ask that her journey onward would be easy with Tiny at her side.
“I had nothing to do with her.” Crow sighed, clicking her beak in frustration. “She always greeted me and said she loved corvids but… I had no reason to like her as much as you did.” They lapsed into silence, winter darkness deep in their hearts, until the sound of the woman coming down the path, greeting the trees and singing caused them to hide away in the undergrowth. The small dog, however, nosed over to them and tried to make friends.
“Got munch.” She said. “I had lots so she got munch for folks here.”
Otter and Crow peered out from the leaves and watched as the woman emptied a bag at the foot of the ruined barn wall before she sang a song to the weeping willow. They could feel the trees stirring in response. Some woke from their slumbers and waved their branches gently in time. As the woman turned and walked away, Crow flew across and pecked at the ground.
“Meat! Fresh meat!” She squawked as she tucked in, her principles on hand-outs forgotten. Otter trotted after the small dog and adopted her defensive position.
” Female good. We like. You tell ?”
“She know. That why she make loud noise for all. Do that for make-happy. ”