Story: The Pueo that Caught a Pig

October 16, 2022

Genesis 32:22-31
Luke 18:1-8

As you know, there are birds and animals that don’t eat meat, and there are birds and animals that eat entirely meat, and there are birds and animals that eat either one, depending on what they find. Most of the meat-eating animals have a similar strategy about what they eat. They tend to look for something to eat that is smaller than they are. If that sounds a little bit like bullying, well, I think that’s where bullying comes from. I wish we could think of other people as people, and not as “this is someone I can bully.”

There are a few creatures that do hunt for animals larger than they are. The pueo is not one of them. The pueo flies about over the grasslands and looks for smaller things: mice, small birds, more mice, more small birds… basically, lunch.

This is the story of the pueo that caught a pig.

He didn’t mean to. He was distracted in his flying that day. Everything was nice and clear and there wasn’t a lot of wind. He wasn’t hunting with his full attention; he was mostly daydreaming in the air. Still, when he saw some grass move out of the corner of his eye, he was on it in a flash. Movement in the grass meant a mouse or a small bird. Movement in the grass meant lunch.

In this case, however, what it meant was a napping pig whose ear had just flicked at a fly and moved the grass. The pueo only discovered his mistake when he’d grabbed the pig by the top of her head. All the dreaminess of soaring about the sky vanished in a flash, as the pig woke up, felt the pueo on her head, and dashed off in a panic.

The pueo didn’t know what to do, so he hung on.

The pig tossed her head and tried to use her front feet to knock the pueo off her head, but her legs were too short. She threw her head from side to side as she ran so that one moment the pueo was pulled left and the next pulled right.

The pueo hung on. Dust was flying from beneath the pig’s feet but so were feathers from the pueo’s body. The sensible thing to do might have been to fly away, but there were so many feathers in the air that he wasn’t sure he could control his flight, and if he once fell underneath the pig’s feet that wouldn’t be good at all. As for the pig, if she’d thought about it, she could have rolled over and forced the pueo to let go, but she was startled and frightened and panicked, so she didn’t think of it.

This went on for some time until the pig ran out of energy and stopped, trembling. The pueo’s feet were tense and cramped and he still didn’t dare let go.

“Who are you?” said the pig, “Why did you do this?”

“I thought you were a mouse,” said the pueo, knowing that this sounded silly as he said it.

“What do you want?” said the pig.

“I want to go home,” said the pueo. “And I’d like to go home without your footprints in my feathers.”

“I’d like to go home without your claw marks on my head,” said the pig, “but I’m not getting what I want.”

“I’m going home without a lot of feathers,” said the pueo. “I’m not even sure I can fly.”

“What if,” said the pig, “we both get what we want? I want you off my head, and you want to be off my head, don’t you?”

“That would be best,” agreed the pueo.

The pig walked over to a larger rock, one that rose above her head. The pueo, with some difficulty, unclenched his feet and stepped cautiously onto the rock, then hurried up to its top. The pig looked up at him. He was too high for her to reach.

“Thanks for bringing me to a safer place,” he said.

“Thanks for getting off my head,” she said. “Don’t do it again.”

“I won’t,” he said. “I’ll make every effort to avoid it.”

She went home with some scratches. He went home without a few feathers, ones that would have to grow back before his flying was at its best. They went home having given one another the thing they wanted most: an opportunity for peace.

by Eric Anderson

Watch the Recorded Story

The story was told from memory of this prepared text. And so… it’s not the same.

Photo of a pueo in flight by Forest & Kim Starr, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6167276.