Wise Owl (Woodland Indian Myth) retold by Lin Donn Illustration

Wise Owl
A Woodland Indian Myth retold by Lin Donn

There is an old saying, "wise as an owl".  People are always saying that, but the truth is, owls were not always wise.

Once upon a time, a long time ago, the Everything-Maker was very busy, making all the animals and all the plants and all the rocks and caverns and everything else that covered the earth.

Owl had not yet been made. He had been given a voice. And two eyes. And a head and a body and strong wings. Owl was waiting his turn to be formed. "I want a long neck like Swan," Owl told the Everything-Maker. "I want red feathers like Cardinal and a beak like Hawk."

"Yes, yes," mumbled the Everything-Maker. "Whatever you want. But you must wait your turn." The Everything-Maker looked sharply at Owl. "Your eyes are open again. You know that no one is allowed to watch me work. Turn around and close your eyes. I have no time for you now. I am busy creating Rabbit."

The Everything-Maker turned his attention back to Rabbit who was shaking with nervousness. "And what do you want, little rabbit?" the Everything-Maker asked encouragingly.

"Long legs and ears," Rabbit spoke softly. "And fangs. Could I possibly have a fang or two? And claws. I would dearly love to have claws!"

The Everything-Maker smiled. "I think we could manage some claws and fangs." He smoothed Rabbit's long legs and ears.

"Silly Rabbit!" Owl hooted loudly. "Why don't you ask for something useful, like wisdom?"

"This is your last warning, Owl. Be quiet and wait your turn."

Owl twisted around and glared at the Everything-Maker. "You have to do it," he hooted. "You have to give us what we ask. I demand wisdom!"

"I warned you, Owl!" shouted the Everything-Maker. He shoved Owl's head down into his body, which made Owl's neck disappear. He gave Owl a shake, which made Owl's eyes widen in fright. He pulled Owl's ears until they stuck out from his head.

The Everything-Maker snapped his fingers. "I have made your ears big, the better to listen. I have made your eyes big, the better to see. I have made your neck short, the better to hold up your head. I have packed your head with wisdom, as you have asked. Now, use your wisdom and fly away before you lose what I have given."

Owl was no longer a fool. He flew quickly away, pouting and hooting.

The Everything-Maker turned back to Rabbit, smiling gently. "Claws," he reminded himself. But Rabbit was gone. Rabbit had hopped hurriedly away, too afraid of the Everything-Maker to stay for his fangs and claws.

As for Owl, Owl knew if he angered the Everything-Maker again, he would lose all that he had gained. Even today, Owl only comes out at night, when the Everything-Maker is fast asleep. As for Rabbit, his claws and fangs are waiting. Perhaps someday ...

The Same Story - Wise Owl by Lin Donn, illustrated by Phillip Martin,  in PowerPoint format

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