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Hunt and Peck

Dreamed 1997/6/16 (early morning; typed later that day) by Patagia

I am a little brown sparrow pecking in the dust, in a dusty road, a fire road, though I don't know that it's a fire road. I'm just a busy brown sparrow busy at what I do. I'm searching for seeds, seeds for food, (food for thought, seeds of action). Though I could not express this for the average reader. I peck, peck, peck and jump to the side of the road and spot my prey or seed and peck at it determinedly. Dust dulls my feathers from my efforts in the dry dirt of the fire road.

My relatives are not near nor are my friends nor even look-alikes nor even strangers. At this time I am alone doing my work in the dust under the sun of a summer day or end of spring day.

My feet are scaly and yellow. I have three toes up front and one in back for perching, when I get tired of peck pecking in the dirt.

The dirt is chocolate colored or cocoa colored. Grass stalks and weed stalks grow out from the edge of the road in great profusion. The road is unnatural, cut by man, by man's machines. I feel no thirst. My head is down. My energy is sustained and keeps me going in this area. I have been in this area of about two feet for a long time. My beak is insistent in its probings and tappings. Any other living bigger thing could be around me and I wouldn't notice it, unless its nearness really felt threatening, because I am one-pointed and industrious in my pecking. Paint-sketch by Chris Wayan of a brown sparrow scratching in the dirt

I have a yellow beak meant for seed opening. I am not singing now nor vocalizing. I have black eyes. I am curious, so interested in my very immediate surroundings. I don't think I have bright white lines on my forehead, like a white crowned sparrow. I am an unnamed in-my-dream sparrow, just a dark brown busy sparrow.

I do not see the insects in the dirt, though they must be there, the ants and beetles and all. Nothing can distract me from my movements. I am undeterred. There is nothing to fear. In my patch of earth on the bigger road I am in charge. I am gainfully employed. I am not lonely. I am sharp eyed and diligent. I am so busy doing what I am doing I don't even think about whether I like it or not. I am totally, mindfully engrossed in the doing. This is a good activity. This is a well-known activity. I am not thinking about doing anything else or looking for company or wishing for something or someone I once had. I am too busy. I am too fast doing what I am doing.

There may be a cloud or some bands of fog above me or approaching above me. When they reach me I will feel a cool, damp sensation. The dirt beneath my tiny feet may clot up that is damp down a bit, if the fog is really thick. If it gets too wet, I will fly into my coyote bush nesting area and wait it out, maybe wait until tomorrow morning to resume.

I eat and scratch, scratch, peck scratch, jump on something that looks interesting and then repeat, repeat all that. I'm trained to do this. My family knows this and all my relatives from far back in time. I don't question why I do this. I don't ask not to do this. I don't wish for something else to do. I am completely centered doing this pecking and scratching. It feels just exactly right. I am serious doing it and I do it with all my good heart and spirit. It gives me my me-ness. It is natural. It is easy for me.

Peck, peck, peck. Sometimes I scratch deeper and see the dirt deeper looks darker. There are more ants deeper. My claw feet dig deeper in some places leaving a rut in the path. The path was built for others by others. I did not need it. Nobody asked me if I wanted it built. But since they built it, I use it. The bright sun on the path lets me find what I am looking for more easily. The grass, shrubs, weeds, vines and maybe some trees were cleared away to make room for feet and bicycles and such. Cleared for much bigger creatures than I. But when they are not here, I use this path to feed me. If they suddenly show up I safely flutter to my safe spots where many of them can't see me.

Some passersby will never notice me. Many will say, "Oh, just a brown sparrow, a little brown bird, LBB, so what?" It's my life and I'm me and I peck along, get out of their way. They move on, and I stay around here. It's OK. What are they to me anyway? I'm too busy doing what I need to do. I wouldn't have time to teach you to do this, whoever you are, because I have to move so fast, eat so much, and my life goes so quickly that I couldn't spare a minute unless you were my nestlings or something important like that. Are you? I don't think so.

If my little brown wings feel too dusty I fluff out my feathers and shake myself to lighten myself from dust. Although, if you don't know it already, I would like to tell you that I often take dust baths to clean myself up. The dust irritates mites and things that might be trying to make me their home or dinner! In fact I usually bathe in the dust not in water. Does that make you feel funny when you hear me say that? Is it odd to think that the dust you despise on you, which you might consider "dirty", to me is like a kind of soap? Different soaps for different folks, eh.

I'm going back to my business now of hunting and pecking. Just do what you need to do, and I'll do what I need to.

Good-bye and all that.


Ten years later, in Lion Eyes, Patagia dreamed again about the time and focus creative work takes. It's all work, dirt and hungry animals again! Even the tone's the same--that dry deadpan humor de-romanticizing artists and dreams. She's no white-crowned sparrow. Plain brown all the way.

--Chris Wayan

LISTS AND LINKS: I'm Just Not Myself Today! - Cross-species dreams - birds - writers and writing - creative process - dream puns - Zen Buddhism - Taoism - Patagia's dream Lion Eyes - more dreams by Patagia - Wayan dreams a similar fable: How to be Happy -

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