This Week's (Feb 9) Minden Times Column
A dark and heavy despondency had fallen over the forest. The creatures who worked and lived there brooded over their declining state of affairs.
The beavers complained about jobs lost to workers in other faraway forests. Rabbits, bears, foxes, birds and others worried about illegal immigrants entering the forest, bringing different cultures, religions, and terrorism.
Meanwhile, the super rich got richer while the poor got poorer. The middle class was evaporating. Forest society was a mess.
Fears for the future drove many to despair. Increasing numbers chewed mind-bending leaves and snorted magic mushroom powders, once available only
when prescribed by owls, the physicians of the forest.
The decline in the forest also was marked by a loss of intelligence, and a lessening in tolerance for others’ views. Noisy barking and cawing overran reasoned debates and compromises became impossible.
Most of the noise came from the crows who squawked and jeered about making the forest great again. The loudest voice came from the crow Puffball, named because he swelled up to twice his size whenever he cawed, which was often.
It was said that Puffball dyed his feathers and used hairspray to make himself look sleek and majestic.
“Terrible. Really bad,” he cawed about life in the forest. “Horrible! Disgusting!”
The crows, then all the other creatures, turned to him in hopes that he could make their forest great again.
“The forest is in trouble. It’s terrible,” he croaked. “But we’re going to straighten it out. OK? That’s what I do. I fix things. We’re going to straighten it out. It starts now.”
Puffball decided to build a high wall across the forest’s southern border. That would stop the illegals from sneaking in with drugs and intent to rape and pillage.
Construction began immediately. The beavers cut trees with their sharp teeth. The bears and the moose hauled the logs while legions of other creatures set them in place.
One day a crow patrolling the forest border spotted light blinking from an abandoned farm house. He swooped down to investigate and found in the rubble pieces of a shattered mirror reflecting the sun’s beams.
He clamped his beak on one of the pieces and flew back to the grand White Oak where Puffball was signing orders.
“Look what I’ve found, Chief,” the crow cawed excitedly. “If you stand over it you can see yourself in it.”
“Fantastic!” Puffball croaked while trying to get a full view of himself in the small piece of mirror. “Amazing. Are there any larger pieces?”
A flight of crows left the White Oak immediately to find a larger piece. Two hours later they struggled back with a piece large enough for Puffball to see his whole self. He hopped back and forth in front of it, preening and cawing about how the forest already was starting to be great again.
The crows found a spot to place the mirror piece so Puffball could walk in front of it often as he went about his day.
Work on the wall progressed through the summer, which was unusually sunny and hot.
One morning Puffball was passing the mirror and moved it to get a better look at himself. As the sun rose higher during the day, the mirror caught the sun’s rays head on and reflected them onto the tinder dry forest floor.
Soon dry leaves on the forest floor began to smolder and white smoke curled into the air. Within minutes there was flame that grew and leaped into other parts of the forest.
All the birds, animals and reptiles panicked. They gathered their children and fled the best they could as the flames grew higher and advanced greedily through the forest.
A few days later a doe and her fawn walked to the edge of where the forest had been. All that remained was blackened tree stumps and grey ash. The carcasses of some animals that could not run fast enough could be seen rotting in the sun.
“What destroyed our forest, mother?” asked the fawn. “It was supposed to be great again.”
“Vanity, little one,” said the doe. “Vanity. The ruin that comes when popularity becomes more important than honesty and truth.”