May 14, 2023
A peaceful morning on a Hawaiian beach was… less than peaceful. There were birds screeching – at least two birds and birds of different kinds screeching. There was also a sound that was harder to identify because it’s so rarely heard. A nearby cat decided she had to find out what was causing all the ruckus.
Besides, it was interrupting her first nap of the day. She’d really prefer that it stopped.
The loudest voice was, predictably, a myna. The other bird voice turned out to be a koa’e kea, and it was nearly as loud as the myna. The third voice wasn’t a bird at all. It was a honu, and although she wasn’t as loud as the two birds, she put plenty of passion into her part of the argument. Because it was a three way full scale all out argument.
The cat really wanted them to stop. She briefly considered a hunting charge, which would certainly drive off the myna and might startle the koa’e kea into flying away. She decided not to, though. It would just add more chaos to a chaotic morning.
“What,” she asked, “are you three arguing about?”
“They do it all wrong!” said the myna, and was promptly echoed by the other two.
“They do it all wrong!” they shouted in chorus.
“They do what all wrong?” asked the cat, who really wanted to bury her head in the sand and take her early morning nap rather than ask about an argument she didn’t care about.
“Eggs!” “Chicks!” “Hatchlings!”
“Children!” all three said at once.
“This one doesn’t even build a nest!” shrieked the myna, indicating the koa’e kea. “She just lays her egg on any old shelf in the rock.”
“That one buries her eggs in the sand!” shouted the koa’e kea, “and goes away and doesn’t take care of them!”
“The mynas build their nests in a tree!” rumbled the honu. “Anybody could find those eggs and break them!”
The three continued to explain – well, argue – that their method for laying eggs and raising children was the only right way to do it, and how the others’ failure to do it that was indicated a complete lack of good sense and proper parental responsibility. The cat, who didn’t lay eggs at all, was getting a headache.
“Can we find some common ground?” she said.
“Like what?” they demanded.
“Like the common ground of this island. You all lay your eggs on this island, even if they are in different places in different ways.”
They had to agree that was true.
“And do you get children who thrive?” asked the cat.
“I do.” “Of course I do!” “I’ve got over a hundred children swimming in the ocean,” said the honu. The myna and the koa’e kea looked startled.
“And do you do the very best you can to make your eggs and your children safe, even if those ways are different?” asked the cat, and watched each head nod, and a thoughtful look come into each pair of mothers’ eyes.
“Then I think you’ve got some common ground,” said the cat.
“I guess we do,” said the myna. “More than I thought,” said the koa’e kea.
“Good,” said the cat. “Talk to one another. Maybe you’ll find more common ground. Maybe you’ll learn something from each other. Keep talking.”
“Quietly,” she added as she turned away to resume her early morning nap.
by Eric Anderson
Watch the Recorded Story
I tell these stories from memory of the text I’d prepared (which you’ve just read). My memory isn’t that good and my delight in improvising is so great that the story as told may be rather different from the story as prepared.
Photos of a myna (left), koa’e kea or white-tailed tropicbird (upper right), and a honu or green sea turtle (lower right) by Eric Anderson.
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