So, Snyder, is a story of a bird who is tired of flying north and south every year. Have you ever watched geese fly back and forth in complete formation for 100’s of miles and think to yourself, “really, there isn’t just one who gets shit full of it”. They have to leave their home for the winter and head to the other ‘south’ house, then when spring comes, do it all over again. Snyder has been pushing to sneak out for years..a little would sneak out and then would retreat to the cat tails for another day. Maybe putting the Snyder clan here will beckon the rest of the story out. They say you should write, let it sit and come back later to tweak. Snyder is like a wave crashing upon the shore..it isn’t refined..yet..it will take time.. but all good things need that..time..
The sun had just started to peak over the sun kissed mountains in Bear Claw Valley. The Snyder Bird village nestled at the bottom of the valley was still dark, not a light anywhere. The Snyder Birds were fast asleep, everyone that is except for their leader, Walter L. Frederick. Walter was busy reading the morning edition of The Gaggle. The Gaggle was the Valley’s daily paper flown in daily by the Gutolph Carrier Service up on Gutolph Mt. The headlines on the front page of the Gaggle sent a sense of urgency through Walters pin feathers. Walter took a deep breathe and re read what he was dreading, “Climate experts announce two weeks until yearly migration begins”.
“Hmm”, said Walter, “It is hard to believe that the season is over already. It seems like only yesterday that we flew back to Bear Claw Valley. I better gather the flying committee and begin”.
As Walter got up from his chair his glanced outside. A lonely yellow leaf gently fell to the ground. He grumbled as he shuffled to the kitchen.
“Dear?? What are you up to at this time of the morning and who are you talking to?” asked Sylvia, Walter’s wife.
“Sylvia, don’t get your feathers ruffled so early. I was just reading the paper. I’ve noticed lately that the trees in the valley are starting to change. The paper all but confirmed it this AM. It is time to start preparing for our migration south.”
“OHH”, Sylvia sighed, “You’re kidding me? This season has gone by so fast. Oh how I dread that trip.”
“I know dear, but we must go. Could you imagine a winter season here?? Well I remember my Grandpappy telling me how he stayed one winter and —–“
Sylvia cut in, “Uh huh, I know, the snow went over his house and he had to use his beak to dig himself out. He dug so much part of his beak wore off by the time the village migrated back that following spring..Yeah I know the story”
Sylvia gave Walter a raised eyebrow and smiled at him. Walter took a deep breathe and cleared his throat.
“Ahem, well I guess you know the importance of us getting things ready then. When the kids get up, I want you to tell Nelson to come to the town office. My son is old enough now to help in the process.”
Sylvia sighed, “Ok, do you want me to wake him up or just send him when he wakes up?”
“No, don’t wake him yet, just send him down when he gets up, besides, that will give me time to think about this.” Walter grabbed his hat and jacket and strolled out the door.
Walter walked out into his yard and took a deep breath of the fresh mountain air. He stretched out his wings and with a skip flew up to the village perch. As Walter settled onto the perch, the fresh dew on the porch made one foot slip up and the other foot slip back. In the process of falling, he quickly grabbed his perch with his left wing. He slowly grabbed a spindly branch and pulled himself back up on his perch. Wiping the sweat off of his brow, he cleared his throat.
“Ahem, ahem, mi mi mi…YAH YAH YAH YAHERO YAHERO, YAH YA YAH YAHERO YAHERO! That should get their attention,” Walter exclaimed, gasping for air. Walter flew down from the perch and headed to the town office to prepare for his meeting.
The Snyder birds of the village were starting to move about around the town. Frank, the town Father was already at the office waiting for Walter. Walter strolled into the office whistling a happy tune.
“WALTER!” hollered Frank. “What took you so long?”
Walter looked towards the floor. Something about that bird made him nervous, always had. “I, uh, well, did you know that there was fresh dew this A.M.?
Frank shook his head and looked over his glasses at Walter. “Oh my, you fell off that damn perch again didn’t you?”
“UM, maybe, well…yeah I didn’t think it would be so slick..how did you know I fell?
“Walter, this happens to you every year and besides you bent some wing feather. Goodness son, I swear, sometimes I have no idea how you even fly straight, let alone lead this village of migration. But somehow you pull it off every year, so let’s get to business. I take it you read the morning Gaggle?”
“Oh, yes sir I have, hence the reason I have called the committee together. Preparations will begin today sir”.
“That is indeed good news Walter. It is good to see that you are on top of things. Have you made up a list of who will be in charge of duties on the flight down?”
“Yes, I have. I have all of them filled and the members should be here soon to get things going”.
“Are you going to tell me you got a replacement for Milton’s spot?”
Walter stopped in his tracks and air started to get thin to breathe. “I, uh, yes, I filled that spot just this AM actually. Milton was a great Snyder bird which made filling his spot pretty hard. It still makes my pin feathers shiver thinking about him choking on that hot dog he found at the beach. You know that Milton, he always was one to walk on the outside of the nest.”
Frank rolled his eyes and chomped his beak. “Walter, don’t put Milton on too high of a perch. He was a good loyal Snyder bird, I will give him that. But common sense wasn’t his strong point. Lest we not forget that the poor old bird died choking on a hot dog, because a beach rat had bet him a chunk of thick baby swiss that he couldn’t eat the hot dog whole. Walter look in the mirror, our throats ARE the shape of hot dogs!” Frank shook his head in despair. “ So who is this new fellow you put in to fill his shoes?”
Walter looked around the room and glanced down the mainstreet path. “Well, he will be here soon, but in the meantime it looks like George and Weldon are coming in now.”
“Oh yes, the ever so famous George and Weldon. Do you suppose George, or as he likes to be called, community organizer will have all the village homes sealed before we leave? Remember last year when he swore things were taken care of? Old lady Mulford had her house broken into by a pack of squirrels who stayed there all season. When we came back the squirrels protested that they had a universal squatter right to live in that house? Then Mr. Brown on the south side found 100 butterfly pods in his bathroom? They had turned his heat on so high that the heater finally broke two months into it? His heat bill was so high that he couldn’t afford his bill and to this day is still gathering sticks for the local energy coop trying to pay that off?”
“I know, I know”, said Walter, “We went over everything, I still don’t know how those squirrels got in or how in the world 100 caterpillars got in to create pods. I have every confidence that this year will be different. We will go over everything and the process will be as smooth as the wind we will be flying”.
“Hellooo boys”, hollered George. “How’s things hanging with you old birds this fine morning?”
Walter grabbed George by the wing and pulled him in close.
“George” Walter whispered “First of all, we’re the same age! I just chose to mature . Second of all, you need to pay attention and do your job. You are flying in very thin air with Frank. Now, get with it”.
Walter let go of George and patted him on the back. “Glad to see you two this great morning”, Walter said, “Please have a seat here. Weldon I assume you brought the food maps for our trip?”
“YESSEREY JIM BOB!” Weldon exclaimed, “I have calculated the distance and divided the time into how many Snyders will be flying, subtracted out the restroom breaks, feeding times and the—“.
“OK Weldon, Thanks!” Walter said “you actually lost me in the whole division part. I will take it that you have everything covered and umm ‘calculated’ as usual”.Weldon smiled as he pushed his wire trimmed glasses back up onto his beak.
Walter looked at this watch and then got up from the table. “Please excuse me for a moment, I need to make a phone call.” Walter got up and tried to sneak into another room to find his phone.
Frank looked up from the table. “Walter, who in the world would you need to call now? Plus, when is this new committee bird going to be here? It is now 10:30 in the morning.”
“Yes sir, yes sir. That is who I am going to call right now. I’m sure he just got busy working and lost all track of time. He is such a hard worker that guy, very impressive. I will give him a ring and see where he is. I’ll be right back.” Walter walked into his office and closed his door. He tapped his beak against the desk. He whispered, “Oh dear Mother of Nature, please get Nelson here soon!” he picked up the phone and dialed his home number
“Hello” sang his wife into the phone.
“Honey, it’s Walter, where is Nelson? I told you to send him down here when he got up. What happened? Where is he?” Walter rattled.
“Yes, I know what you said silly. You said not to wake him up. He is still snoring in his nest”, Sylvia said.
“S T I L L S L E E P I N G!” Walter shouted “It is almost 10:45 in the morning. How can he sleep so long? I need him here at the office, NOW!” Sweat started dripping in between Walters feathers.
“I will try to get him up and send him your way. What is so dang important that you need him down there anyway? Aren’t you doing your migration meeting?”
“Yes, that is why I need him down here”.
“Walter, you didn’t answer my question. Why would our Nelson need to be at your migration meeting?”
“Wellllll…..” Walter went silent.
“WALTER!”, Sylvia shouted, “Why do you need Nelson?”
“Ok” Walter said, “here is the deal. I wanted to tell you about this, but I thought it would be a, um, great surprise instead. You know that boy of ours is getting older and he really needs to get out of the nest and I wanted to surprise everyone by-“
Sylvia cut him off. “Oh no you didn’t”
Walter tried to defend himself. “But you don’t even know what I did yet”.
Sylvias icey words sent chills up Walters spine. “You may not have said the words, but I have a pretty good idea what you have done. You gave Miltons spot to Nelson didn’t you”.
“Good grief woman..how do you know these things? Do I talk in my sleep? Anyway, Nelson needs some responsibility and this is a great way for him to get into a leadership role with the Snyder birds.
Sylvia sat down at the kitchen table and held her head with her wing. “Walter, Walter, Walter. What are you thinking? Have you even talked to Nelson about this?”
“No, I haven’t exactly talked to Nelson about this”. Walter said. “but he has Frederick blood running through him, true leadership blood.”
“Walter, I am going to get Nelson up and send him down. You will then meet him at your office and ask him if he would like the position. He will decide, not you. Whatever his decision, you will accept it. Do you hear me Walter?”
Walter peaked through the blinds in his office to the meeting room. Frank was looking impatient. “yes, dear, yes. Easy for you to say. You don’t have Frank down here tapping his wing on the table unpatiently awaiting my new member who will be a great addition to our team. Could you please just send Nelson down asap? Thanks dear and I love you” Then Walter quickly hung up the phone.
Sylvia looked at the phone and said, “Oh he didn’t just hang up on me. Walter I hope you know what you are doing.” Sylvia got up from the table and hung up the phone. She walked down the hallway to Nelson’s room. The door let out a long squeaky creek as Sylvia opened the door. Sunlight slowly worked its way into the room. A snoring Nelson was sound asleep with covers thrown all over his nest.
“Nelson” Sylvia whispered.
“Nelson” Sylvia said.
“NELSON” Sylvia shouted.
A wing twitched under a soft blue blanket. Soon a beak peaked from under the blanket.
“OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH, YAWM, HMMMMMMMMMMM, Ma is that you?” Moaned Nelson.
“Yes, Nelson it’s me, you need to get up and go meet your Dad at the town office. Now. Quick, get to moving.”
Nelson stretched and rubbed his eyes to focus on his Mom. “Why?”
“Well, your Dad wants to talk to you about something and he is waiting for you at the office. Now get up and get going. Hurry UP!”
“ok alright. I’ll get up and go down. No need to holler. Geesh!”
As Sylvia walked out of Nelson’s room, she glanced back at Nelson. Nelson flopped his head back onto the pillow.
“NELS! NOW, MOVE!” hollered Sylvia walking down the hall.
Nelson groaned and kicked his covers off. One foot hit the floor and the other followed. He fluffed his feathers, slicked back his top feathers and grabbed his baseball hat. He made a quircky smile into his mirror, “Alrighty Daddio, I’m coming, I’m coming.”
Nelson strolled down the hall and went into the kitchen.
“Ma? Is there anything for breakfast?” Nelson asked.
Sylvia came out of the laundry room folding towels. “Nels, I left you some granola sticks on the counter there”.
“Ma! Granola? How about some fried worms or something like that?”
Sylvia grabbed the granola sticks on the counter and shoved them into his pocket. “Get to moving Nels, your Dad needs you down at the office.”
Nelson raised his eyebrows and asked, “Dad never needs me. Why does he need me down there anyway?”
Oh Dear, just go down and talk to your Dad. I want you to remember one thing though. Be true to yourself and remember who you are”.
“Geez mom, isn’t that kinda deep? I mean come on, I’m not even that old to know who I am. Am I?”
“Get to moving Nels, your Dad is waiting for you.” She patted Nelson on the back and walked him to the door. “Have a great day sweetie”.
“Yeah for sure Ma. I’ll see you later”. Nelson walked down the street to the town offices. He could hear Weldon inside talking about his maps and graphs. “Geesh, that guy is one over achiever” Nelson mumbled as he opened the front door. As he looked around the room he saw Weldon with maps spread out all over the table. George was sleeping, Frank was writing down numbers and his Dad was staring at him with a big grin on his face.
“Nelson” Walter exclaimed “Glad you could join us. Take a seat”
Frank gave George a pat on his wing, “Come now George, it is time to wake up”. Frank turned to Walkter and asked “Walter for the last time, where is this person you recruited to fill Milton’s spot?” Walter go up and walked over to Nelson and put his wing around him.
“Members of the Bear Claw Valley Transportation Department. I would like to introduce the newest member of our committee. Nelson Frederick will be replacing our dear Miltons’ position and will be taking care of any problems within the villiage.
Nelson wrinkled his forehead and blankly stared at his Dad and said “HUH?” George smiled and said “Alright alright Nelsy” Weldon came over and shook Nelson’s wing, “Congratulations ole boy, a chip off the old block you are. It will be a pleasure to work with you.”
Frank just sat there with his beak open staring at Walter. After a moment that seemed to last forever, Frank finally spoke. “Walter, I need to speak with you for a moment..preferably alone. If you boys could shuffle out for a minute I would really appreciate it.”