یاد گرفتم که همانند یک خوک فکر کنم

مجموعه: سهم من از کوهستان / کتاب: در دور دست های کوهستان / فصل 9

یاد گرفتم که همانند یک خوک فکر کنم

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دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

این فصل را می‌توانید به بهترین شکل و با امکانات عالی در اپلیکیشن «زیبوک» بخوانید

دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

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متن انگلیسی فصل

IN WHICH I Learn to Think Like a Pig

Bando stands over the sun compass squinting, scratching his head, and finally grinning as he compares it with his own compass.

“The crazy thing’s quite accurate,” he says and takes out the quadrangle map of Delhi. Spreading it on the sand, he gets down on his hands and knees and studies it. “Sam, we’re going to have to think like Alice to find her. Look here. If you were Alice, where would you go after you got to Peaks Brook?” I get down beside him and imagine I am Alice as I read the map.

“If I were her,” I say, “when I got to the West Branch of the Delaware, I’d follow it to the most powerful stream coming off the highest mountain and go up it to a waterfall.” “Good. That’s what I’d do if I were Alice. We’re off!”

Walking into the sun, now a hand span over the trees, we follow the slow stream to Peaks Brook. This brook, which starts on the east side of my mountain, is vigorous and so cold it feels as if it were melted snow. I avoid wading in it and stick to its stony edge.

Since it’s only two miles to the West Branch, and maybe fifteen miles to Alice, we go slowly, stopping to admire a handsome, almost pure white sycamore and an enormous eastern cottonwood as big or bigger than my tree. Bando lingers over a rock outcrop, and we are happy to see a swatch of rare bluebells. It is a hot day and the icy stream cools the air.

As we go, the brook plays pranks. Here and there it cuts through rocks, leaving no shores to walk on, and we are forced to jump downstream from boulder to boulder. In high spirits, we whoop as we leap. It’s wonderful to be out on the trail.

As we zag along, I practice with my sling, missing eighteen times out of twenty. Not good, but not bad. A wolf pack misses its prey sixteen out of twenty tries.

Finally, we go under the highway and railroad bridge and come out on the flats of the West Branch of the Delaware.

“Now, we’ve got another problem,” Bando says, looking around. “Did she go downstream or upstream?

“She’s going east northeast now,” I say. “Where does that send her?”

“Upstream,” he says after taking a sighting with his compass.

Bando puts the map away and starts off.

“Let’s not go yet,” I say. “The fishing looks good here. I’ll get us some lunch.”

I catch three pumpkinseed sunfish and a catfish while Bando gathers tender dandelion leaves, chicory greens, and wild carrots for salad. At the same time, he looks for pig tracks.

“No tracks,” he reports. “I hope we are thinking like Alice.” He takes a seat on a rock and watches me make a fire with my flint and steel.

“Maybe,” he muses, “there are no tracks because Crystal’s a little pig and Alice is carrying her.”

“I doubt it,” I reply. “Alice has been talking to this pig for months, and she wasn’t a piglet when they met. Maybe we’re just not on their course.” I steam the fish and vegetables in violet leaves, and we eat by the river, admiring the kingfishers who dive into the water and come up with fish every time. Then we push on.

Farther along we come to the confluence of the Little Delaware and the West Branch, and Bando takes out his compass and map again.

“The West Branch will take us right through Delhi. Would you want to go through Delhi with a pig on a leash if you were Alice?” “No.”

“Look at the map, then,” he says. “We have a problem ahead.”

I see what he means. If we take the Little Delaware and avoid Delhi, we will be way off course. The only other choice, as far as I can see, is to climb Federal Hill and it’s nine hundred feet almost straight up.

“That’s awfully steep for a pig,” I say, “but I’m no expert on pigs.”

“As a matter of fact,” Bando says. “It may not be too steep. I read a well-researched book about three pigs who followed cattle drovers across prairies and over mountains on a trek to Montana.” That’s Bando for you. He always gets his knowledge from reading.

Nevertheless, before making up my mind to climb Federal Hill, I tell Bando to stand still and I spiral out from him in a wider and wider sweep until I have covered almost the entire delta of the Little Delaware and the West Branch.

“Bando!” I shout.

“What?”

“Pig tracks.”

He joins me at a trot.

“Pig tracks?” he asks dubiously as he looks at the cloven prints. “They look like deer to me.”

“No. Deer prints are much more pointed and tapered. These are quite rounded.”

Bando nods and puts his hand beside the prints. “We can certainly say that Crystal is no baby piglet. Those prints are as big as my palm,” he observes, and we start off again.

The tracks lead us through a shallows in the river to the other side, then east by northeast to the bottom of Federal Hill. Near the far edge of the flood plain I find Alice’s footsteps in a stretch of muddy sand.

“Hello, little sister,” I hoot in excitement. “There you are!”

Grinning with satisfaction, I follow her tracks into the woods where they soon disappear on the leafy trail. But Crystal’s do not, and Bando and I follow her up the steep mountain. Then, almost at the top, her tracks disappear.

“The pig took off like a bird,” Bando says, studying the last footprint. I spiral again, moving out from that print as I search for another. When I am almost ready to give up, I come upon a trampled and routed garden of May apples.

“I’ve found her,” I call. “She stopped for lunch.”

“Let’s take five,” says Bando and sits down. “That’s a steep climb and, besides, we’re making good time. They can’t be too far ahead. That pig is hardly a greyhound.” The sunlight filters through lacy hemlock needles and we stretch out on our backs, chewing the tasty twigs of a spicebush and silently admiring the forest.

“You know, Sam,” Bando finally says. “I remember something else about pigs from that book.”

“Really? What?”

“They bite. They can be as mean and dangerous as a guard dog. They even kill and eat snakes.”

“Is that right? I’m glad to hear that.” Although Alice is very good at taking care of herself, I’m happy to know pigs can bite. I smile and look at Bando. “I’m beginning to like that pig,” I say.

“So am I.”

Bando chuckles.

“What’s so funny?”

“I’d sure hate to be the one who tries to Cackle Alice and her pig.”

“So would I,” I say, shaking my head. “They both bite.”

I spread out the Delhi quadrangle map.

“I figure Alice was sitting right here where we are two days ago,” I say. “And at about this time of day. If so, and if I were her, I’d be looking for a waterfall and a campsite right now.” Bando glances at the sun and nods. I take out the map.

“Fitches Brook is it,” I say, pointing to a cluster of brown contour lines drawn close together which indicate a steep hill. There is a blue line through them. Together they say “waterfall.” “It’s the only stream with a slope steep enough to make a waterfall and close enough to be reached before evening.” I point to a submerged swamp symbol. “The brook begins here.” I measure. “We have about four miles to go.” “Let’s get along, then,” Bando says, rising to his feet. “We’ll want to have enough light when we get there to do a little fishing.” It is easy to follow dear old Crystal, as we are now calling her, and at about 4:00 P.M. we arrive at a reed-filled mountain swamp in a dark spruce forest where Fitches Brook starts.

Bando unfolds his collapsible fishing rod, and I gather cattail tubers and catch a mess of frogs for dinner. It’s still too early to stop for the night, so we fish and gather May apples for dessert as we follow the splashing stream downhill.

I almost missed Alice’s camp. It wasn’t by the steepest waterfall, as I thought it would be, but considerably below and under, of all things, a dead oak. I passed that tree with only a quick glance, because it didn’t look like anything Alice would pick, and then something occurred to me. I turned back. The leaves and sticks under the tree had been recently placed there. They did not match the colors of the leaves and sticks around them because their wet dark bottoms were up, not down. Alice and I always cover our campsite with leaves when we depart so that no one will know we have been there. Those displaced leaves have a distinctive look to the knowing eye—jumbled and unnatural.

I kick a few aside, looking for blackened fireplace rocks or wood that would tell me Alice had camped here. Finding none where the strewn leaves are, I search the other side of the oak.

I come upon holes in the ground that could have been made by none other than a pig. They are outlined by rounded hoof prints and have sniff marks in them. Ha, I say to myself.

“Bando,” I call. “A pig has been here.”

Bando joins me, folding his rod as he contemplates the dead tree and the leaf-strewn ground.

“Alice slept here?” he asks incredulously.

“She did.” I pick up a recently fire-blackened stone.

“If she loves beautiful waterfalls so much,” he says, “why this unattractive place?”

“It’s not unattractive to the pig,” I answer. “We’re not only going to have to think like Alice, but also like a pig.” “Got it,” he says and picks up a half-eaten blacksnake. “Pig kill,” he says. “It’s been thrashed and bitten. The book says that’s how pigs kill snakes.” He looks around, then points to another snake, soaking up the last sun of the day on a limb of the dead tree. “We’re in blacksnake habitat. Another reason for Alice and her pig to stop here.” “Bando,” I say, “Pigs are omnivores. We’ve got to think snakes, fungi, grasshoppers, and big juicy moths as well as bulbs and roots.” He sighs. I go on. “Here we are among fungi and snakes. It’s clear Crystal is making decisions for Alice.” “And us,” he mumbles, taking out his bedroll and spreading it under the leafless tree. I gather pine boughs for my bed, cook the frogs legs and cattail tubers, then put out the fire.

After eating we stretch out on the ground. Gradually the sky darkens and fireflies flash their love lights as the males rise through the trees by the brook.

“Bando?”

“Yes?”

“We’re doing fine. I think we’ll find Alice tomorrow.”

“Maybe,” he answers. “Trouble is, she knows where she’s going. We don’t.”

“That’s true,” I reply resignedly.

A screech owl calls from the dead oak, and I look up. There is nothing so magical as a tree with an owl in it. The dead oak has come to life.

The little owl brings Frightful back to mind.

“Bando?”

“Yes, Sam.”

“Do you think it’s too late in the season for Frightful to breed? We’re way into June.”

“It probably is, but the geneticists do amazing things today.”

I’m glad to hear that, but I still can’t go to sleep.

“Bando?”

“Yes?”

“Have you seen the place where they keep the falcons at the university—the peregrine mew?”

“Yes. I have a friend on the staff there. You got me interested in peregrine falcons, and he got me interested in the effort to keep them on the planet with us.” “Tell me about the mew.”

“Well, it’s an enormous barn that is divided into apartments for paired falcons. Each mew has a high wooden shelf that resembles a cliff where the birds nest in the wilds. The females lay their eggs on these platforms. Some pairs will mate in captivity, others like Frightful, who is imprinted on you, must be artificially inseminated. Once the eggs are laid, the birds incubate them, and when they hatch, the sight of the nestlings triggers a ferocious parental love. The parents tend their young until they fly.

“It’s a nice place, Sam, not like a cliff above a wild river, but nice. You’d like it.”

I close my eyes and see Frightful incubating her eggs. A hot wind rises out of the valley, rustling the leaves and making me sleepy at last.

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