The Fox And The Owl

Lay your eyes on me. Admire my lush fur coat (yes, it's designer), my long, slender frame. Peer deep into my charcoal eyes and fathom my ancient wisdom that is beyond the casual smarts and tricks that I am perceived to possess. Cunning, tricky, vicious are the traits that have been bestowed upon me in tales recited to children. A chicken burglar is a label that I had been given since birth. Because of my grim reputation, I am constantly on the run like a fugitive. My kind rarely makes it past the age of one, except for those lucky enough to be born in protective areas - orphanages of the ostracized.

In a similar situation is my dear friend, the Owl. With eyes as large and shiny as prized jewels, she is the seer of the night. She embodies a quiet strength and a dreamy serenity. She is a symbol of trust and an assurance that all things will be alright. Her delicate feathers allow her to soar in silence, but her screams contrast her softness - they are eerily reminiscent of a howling child. Oh how she wails, like a slave in captive, years fall away like sand. Perhaps like the oppressed, she cries for justice. I had been told that humans used to nail her wings to their doors to ward off evil spirits. They hung like festive ornaments for all to see (not just spirits), a cruel reminder of ignorance and superstition. These days, things appear to be a little brighter, though not too long ago, those who plow the land used to engage the help of poison to harm my dear friend.

Our common nemesis, the two-legged creatures above all others, have forced our cycles to sync, and turned me into a nocturnal creature like my dear friend. I can never show my face in broad daylight because I know my fate will end with a bullet. Not that I mind, really. I love spending quiet nights with my dear friend, Owl. Every fortnight, we'd gather at our favorite tree to discuss the happenings of the previous week. Owl lives in the countryside, so I have to journey from the city to her. My home is right beside the railway station where I have an abundant staple of mice and various fruits, or whatever else I could find. Owl constantly praises me and tells me about how she admires my endurance and adaptability. She would coo in between sighs (and with that look of endearing helplessness that she was born with) that my ability to move mountains and my power in staying true to myself impress her to no end.

Before I travel back to my home each night, she would gift me with a kiss on my paw and whisper a prayer of blessing over me to wish me safety and strength. Such is the depth of our friendship, which I hope will last for as long as we both shall live, by the mercies and divine timing of the gods and not external dangers.

© Cristel van Zunderd and Rachael Teo

The Rooster And The Woodpecker

Did you know that every creature on this earth possesses a unique DNA that scientists discovered in recent years can be translated into song through technology? A whale's song sounds just like it was meant to be, soaring in a majestic, almost apocalyptic grandeur. A swan's melody, on the other hand, sounds like a ballerina prancing around on a midsummer night. Delicate, rich, yet playful all at once. I guess a creature is known by its song. In that case, consider the rooster the lion of the fowls. With a crown as its mane, an elegant poise and pride amplified by his protruded chest, muscular claws that cling to the earth firmly like roots of a hundred-year-old tree, and powerful lungs that would put Adèle to shame, he exudes a sense of exuberance, fullness of life, and richness - a symbol of openness to the universe and groundedness to the earth. What a magnificent creature!

Like the Rooster, the Woodpecker also contains a zest for life. With heart and fervor, he drums away at the tree trunk relentlessly, perhaps, sculpting a new form and shape to mark his existence and territory. He is a picture of content and liveliness. The Woodpecker is hardly one to complain and always true to his colorful character. He and his kind are a vivacious and varied tribe - speckled, striped, red-faced, tangerine. With a similar red in his tail as the Rooster's crown, no wonder they are such good friends!

The Woodpecker's visits to the Rooster are as unpredictable as the winds. His favorite thing to do is to fly straight into the gorgeous crimson comb of the Rooster (perhaps in admiration) and settle there. Like housewives, gossip is always on their beaks. What is Jan's wife wearing today? Is she wearing a new scent? And who is that new speckled brown hen? Nothing escapes their roving eyes. Especially now that the Rooster no longer needs to hide who he is and draw out an escape plan. You see, the Rooster's former owner, Annie, was a total sweetheart who adored him, but was forced to give him up for adoption due to Rooster's cries of exuberance in the morning (when nature calls…). Thankfully, Annie has a close friend, Cor, who lives in the countryside with a gigantic backyard and no neighbor to bother (or serenade). As a result, the Rooster no longer feels suppressed and is free to sing his heart out every day without fear and shame!

The Woodpecker, being a good friend and excellent reporter of exciting news, naturally had to announce to Rooster about the arrival of a new 'chick' in town with a beautiful speckled brunette coat and buns that would make a rooster go "kwak kwak koooo!"A little straightening of his handsome comb and clearing of the throat, the Rooster gets ready to sing again, sharing the song of his soul and the music in his blood, in hopes of another quietly listening.

© Cristel van Zunderd and Rachael Teo