The dreamtime conversations with the Great Pink Sea Snail and the Giant Lunar Moth were still sailing around my brain as I pushed the covers off of me and sat up, stretching out the sleepiness.
Parker, my big, shaggy, dreadlocked 60-pound black standard poodle stretched out on his bed in that far corner of the bedroom, raised his head at hearing me and stood up, then as he always does, my poodle moved into a perfect downward dog, then gracefully into an updog which he does with a particular little flare of his own: he kicks out his left leg, leaving his right one on the ground. No yoga teacher would let him do that. But it’s beautiful to watch him.
Because I was still troubled by my naptime dreamtime conversations, I thought a bit of yoga was a good idea: I stood up and moved into down dog to the degree my ankle allowed and completed a number of vinyassa sun salutations A + B to get the kinks out of my body and to focus my mind.
Parker sat back on his haunches and watched.
My brain calmed and heart pumping, I was ready for the rest of the day. Glancing at the clock I saw that I had napped for 93 minutes.
“Parks, did I dream the uprising story you told me? Talking with Blue? The message to humans to stop?”
He stood up, gave himself a full body shake, and headed out through the bedroom door to the top of the stairs.
“No,” he said, and galloped down the stairs to the landing. He looked back up and me and Tweety.
“Not a dream.”
My heart sank to my tummy. I wanted it to be a dream.
Tweety came up from the perch at the back of his cage. I put my hand out for him to step up and we headed downstairs. We got to the living room and I deposited him on his stand. Parker was on the couch; a recent development. He never used to get up on the couch, but the increases in wind and thunderstorms found him needing comfort that can only be found by curling up on a brown leather couch. He discovered that he liked to be on the couch, propping his chin on the arm rest. I let him do it.
“Parker, I am going to go chat with Blue. I’ll see you in a little while.”
He didn’t say anything, but his eyebrows moved a bit.
“Tweets, I’ll be back soon. Try to be quiet?”
“As long as he stays away from my food, I’m fine,” said Tweety, flapping his feather and pointing his beak at the Parker.
I put on my jacket and headed out to the house two doors down, and walked around to the backyard to where Blue sat, out on the back deck. Because I often visited it wasn’t unusual for me to be there.
He raised his head off his forepaws. I sat on the deck beside him and stroked his back. He tilted his head a bit then put his chin back on his paws. He was generally this way with me, regarding me quietly for a minute, feeling me out with his feelers before saying anything. It puzzled me the first time he did that: unusual behaviour from a lab, but it felt ok and I acclimated to it after that.
“Parker said you’d be here,” he said.
“And here I am,” I said. “Parker says that you are a Teller. Can you explain to me what’s going on? What all of this is about?”
Blue raised his head higher and looked at me. “Because you asked I will tell you and use the words of your kind so that you can understand,” he said.
His accent in this language is different than Parker’s which I attributed to his living way way up in Northern Ontario until he was 12 weeks old. He talked like he had stuffing in his mouth. It had taken me a while to attune my ear to him when he arrived on the street.
I sensed his feelers again, feeling me out. Blue was talking in that accent of his. “Because I am a Teller and you have come to me as a Listener, it is my duty to speak to what you can hear.” He stopped talking for a minute as he continued his scan.
Then he stood up and turned half circle, and sat down facing me. “I feel you can listen.”
I just nodded and opened my listening.
“It is true that we will, all at one time, ask you to stop. Parker told you true. An Uprising. This is what we say: Stop thinking that you are the only ones who think and feel. Stop hurting us, stop killing us, stop eating us, stop hunting us, stop collecting us for medicine, for zoos and for security. Stop.”
Blue shook his head, then continued.
“There is debate among us. Some do not wish to take the risk. Others believe it must be done or we will all suffer; your kind too.
“Each kind has…your word is consciousness. Has life. Feels pain. Your kind is disappearing all the many kinds past the flow of how things can be without harming balance.”
Blue shook his head again, like he was trying to dislodge something.
“Are you ok, Blue? I asked
“My ears itch when I Tell,” he said. I moved closer to him and rubbed his ears. He sighed. I was still trying to figure out what all this meant and what, if anything I could do or should or would do. And I was still trying to figure out just what diversity looked like when it stood up and talked to us.
We talked some more, to the end of his Telling and of my listening. The picture was clear. On a certain day next year, all around the globe, humans would be delivered a very clear message by all non-human species.
I did not know what to do. I was trying to imagine what the people of the world would think when faced with the evidence of alternate life forms right here on our own planet. And because I did not know what to do, and that day was roughly a year away, I simply rubbed Blue’s head, kissed the spot between his eyes and thanked him.
It’s time for Parker’s walk,” I said. “And then I am going to go to the zoo,” I explained.
Blue laid down, put his head down on his forepaws and watched me stand. His tail thumped the ground when I bent down to scratch his ears again as I said goodbye. “We will talk more,” he said.
At the zoo, the elephants started walking toward me as soon as I got through the entrance. Last time, I was standing at the fence of their zoo-made habitat, talking with my friend, not really paying attention to them and two of them came to the edge of their side of the fence reaching out with their trunks. My friend looked a bit surprised.
“If I didn’t know any better, I’d say they want to talk to you,” she said.
I laughed at that. “You know better.”
But they did talk with me..and I promised to come back at a quieter time. And if you know anything about elephants, you know you had best keep a promise you make.
Today was a quieter time. No-one around. Thika and Toka and me. They told me their matriarch had just died, and all were still grieving. I wondered whether I should ask if they knew anything about the Uprising.
Thika, who was the first elephant to talk to me, rumbled low, and the other three elephants came over to her. It struck me that how they were standing in relation to each other and me formed a perfect circle, and as I was thinking that, a wash of grief cascaded over me and I found myself weeping…with the elephants…over their loss.
They would know I was there to talk of something different, but I decided I would not ask it: circle was now. Everything else later. If ever.
I stayed in circle with them til closing time.