The Osprey and the Wolf

January 11, 2001

The Osprey and the Wolf

           

There once was a very slick wolf. He was a greedy prankster who conned the other forest animals into doing whatever he wanted them to do.

            One day Wolf was bored. He wandered aimlessly through the woods listening to the other animals busily going about their daily chores. Wolf watched a mother robin bring her young food. He also saw a little squirrel scamper about the leaves gathering food.

            "Hmm," Wolf thought. "The other forest animals are all going about keeping themselves busy. They are not at all bored like I am," Wolf walked on further, watching the critters go about. "Maybe I should find an activity to do so that I will not be bored anymore," Wolf said to himself.

            But what to do? Wolf thought. "I do not have any young to take care of. I really do not have to gather food for the winter. What is there to do for a wolf?"

            Wolf continued walking. Very soon, he arrived at a lake in the middle of the woods.

            "I know!" Wolf cried, as a sudden idea came into his mind. "I can go for a nice swim!" Wolf immediately charged into the cool, clear lake.

            "Hey, hey!" someone shouted. Wolf opened his relaxing eyes and looked up. A huge water bird circled above him. It was Osprey, a very good friend of Wolf's.

            "Ho!" Wolf called. "My friend Osprey, what is the matter?" Wolf paddled back to the shore.

            Osprey fluttered down into a tree near Wolf. "Oh nothing at all, my good friend, except that you and your enormous bulk are scaring all the fish away with all your flapping and paddling."

            "I am very sorry, Osprey," Wolf apologized. "Indeed, I did not know that you hunted at this lake."

            "Yes, but it is not a very good hunting spot. It is too cold up here, and all the fish are swimming at the bottom of the lake."

            "Oh, that is true, but I know of a lake where you can hunt and catch plenty of fish." Wolf said.

            "Oh, you do? Do tell me, do tell me," Osprey begged.

            Wolf was about to reply, when, suddenly, he got an idea. You see, Wolf did not think very highly of Osprey, and Wolf had thought of a plan to trick Osprey, and entertain himself as well.

            "I'll say Osprey, I have an idea. I will tell you of this place where the fish swim practically on the surface of the water, if you help me."

            "What is it Wolf?" Osprey asked.

            "I have thought of a brilliant plan to make ourselves rich. If you will help me, you can have part of the profit, and all the fish you can eat.

            "If we go out to the lake, we can make a business. You can catch the fish, and I can take them to market and sell them."

            Osprey sat there thinking. He knew that Wolf was a con artist, but he was a good friend of his. He also knew that if he helped Wolf, he could have all the fish he wanted.

            So, Osprey and Wolf went out the other lake. They stopped at the edge of the water. Then Wolf spoke:

            "Osprey, you a much better water hunter than I am. I think that you will have to do the fishing, since you are the expert."

            Osprey, who was a water bird, did not have any trouble seeking out his prey in the water, agreed to do the fishing. He flew out into the water.

            A couple hours later, Osprey had caught all the fish that he could. He brought them to Wolf who inspected them.

            "Now, may I have something to eat before I starve?" Osprey asked.

            "Oh, Osprey, these fish are too small for such a noble person like you to eat. As your best friend, I would certainly not permit you to eat these! These are only fit for selling to other animals that do not know the difference between a good fish and a small fish. I will go to the market, while you stay here and catch your supper. We will split the money when I come back."

            Without waiting for a word from Osprey, Wolf gathered up the fish, and set out with the load.

            Osprey sat silent for a couple of minutes. Then he sighed, and prepared to lift off his branch to fly over the lake again.

            He flew over the water, and looked into it. He could see a reflection of the sky behind him. It was dust. The stars had started to appear in the velvet sky. Osprey had been fishing since late morning.

            Something in the reflection caught Osprey's eyes. The Moon. The Moon was out, and it's light shone in the water. There was something unusual about the light bouncing back. It seemed brighter than normal.

            Then Osprey saw why. The Goddess of the Moon stared back at Osprey in the water.

            "Osprey," the Moon Goddess said. "You are a fool. You have allowed Wolf to cheat you. After all your hard work, Wolf, who did nothing at all, walked off with your fish, and he is not coming back."

            "What do I do, Mistress?" Osprey asked, uncertainly.

            "Wolf loves tricks. We will play a little one on him. Go and fetch all your bird friends. Then, go find Wolf. He will be on his way to the market with your supper."

            Osprey went to gather his bird friends. It was a strange group full of raptors.

            Under Osprey's lead, the birds flew along the path to the market. Almost there, they saw Wolf trotting along with the heavy load of fish.

            Before Wolf knew what was happening, one by one, the birds dropped out of the air and stole a fish from Wolf. Then, they left and flew away with their feast in their talons.

            Osprey hung around after the other birds left. He landed in a tree near Wolf, who was still stunned by the memory of all those birds attacking him and stealing his fish.

            "Wolf, you tried to cheat me, your best friend. The Moon Goddess told me, and I have gotten my fish back. You are left with nothing but the bones, which is all you deserve because you did nothing to get them."          

            Wolf shot an angry look at Osprey, and sulked off into the dark woods. Osprey took flight and soared back to his sleeping tree. Before he went to sleep, he glanced at the moon hanging in the sky. He saw the beautiful face of the Goddess staring back at him. And faintly, Osprey thought he could hear a wolf howling. He guessed it was Wolf, complaining to the Moon Goddess.

            This is why wolves howl at the moon. They have never forgiven the Goddess or the Osprey for their little trick.