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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Guile and Gullibility. By John von Daler

                  We were in Greenland making a recording of some songs written to be played on a new cd by three #Greenlanders and three #Danes. I had written a song about the national bird of greenland, the #Raven. #The Inuits have a beautiful and quirky legend about their favorite bird that fascinates me.

                The recording took place in a town in the southwest end of the huge land. Here dog sleds were the preferred form of transportation. The whole town resonated with the moods and baying of the sled teams. Behind or at the side of many houses a place had been cleared to make room for the chained huskies. They stood in groups of ten or fifteen, each locked to a central anchor point from which they could reach only a limited distance. They were beautiful, proud and ferocious.
                The huskies were also instinctively very attuned to each other. If one of them had something sad in its heart and began to wail, then soon the whole town was filled with the wailing of hundreds of dogs. If another one became angry, then they growled and panted and barked in huge groups like irate fans at a football game.
                It usually took a whole day to record one song. On the day we were to record my fable, we worked hard from about ten in the morning until the middle of the evening. I think it was in the last part of the afternoon that I took a long break just to clear my head. I wandered outside into the cold and crispy air. A pack of dogs next to the studio was just being fed. The owner had thrown a lot of meat into a pile just within reach of the dogs on their long chains.
                A group of ravens must have been waiting for this moment, because just as the owner poured the meat onto the ground from a large bucket, the raven began to flop and flap and dance and fall on the ground at the opposite end of the tether. The dogs almost in mid flight towards the meat reversed their direction and attacked the seemingly wounded or crazed bird that stayed just out of their reach on the ground. It made a raucously inspiring show of its plight; even I watched it with fascination.
                As all the dogs were hung on their chains stretching out to reach the seemingly injured wild bird, a group of ravens landed in the compound beside the meat and preceded in sober dignity to fly off with the biggest pieces they could carry to some dog-free haven to enjoy their ill-gotten gains.  After they had flown away, the remaining raven underwent a remarkable instantaneous recovery and flew away in the same direction.
                The dogs that now were left panting after nothing remembered their meat and returned in one charge to what was left of the raw, red flesh.
                Of course this whole scene added extra energy to my recording session. It was hard to forget the wily birds and their victims. Actually, the most remarkable part of the whole story was that the dogs, even after the fact, did not seem to be aware of the subtle scheme that had robbed them of their rightful prize.
                Reminds me of me down at my bank.

My book, Pieces: A Life in Eight Movements and a Prelude (WiDo Publishing) is now available. Order through, the publisher or your local bookstore. Click to buy Pieces at the top of the blog. Please feel free to write a short review of the book in your own language at or GoodReads. Thanks for your support!


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