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Once upon a time, not very long ago...

In a distant land where tales are told
Hiding Sunalo was born into a small herd of buffalo.
Shortly after this babe of a buffalo was born,
it became apparent to the elders of the herd
that the heart of this not so courageous fellow
was blessed by the spirit of the great sun in the sky.
The mark of the sun lay golden upon the shaggy hair
across the upper length of his chocolate brown body,
radiating within to the depths of his heart and soul.
As the others in the herd roamed the open field,
Hiding Sunalo would usually be found hidden
among a clump of trees near the watering hole.
Thus, Hiding Sunalo was aptly named.


It wasn't long before Hiding Sunalo began
to wonder about the meaning of his name.
Unfortunately for him, every time the question
crossed his mind, his momma was way out
yonder with the rest o' the herd.
So one day, Hiding Sunalo mustered up all
the courage he could and ventured
out onto the range in search of his momma
and the answers to his wonderings.

Many surprises were in store for this li'l buffalo.
He would travel wide open spaces leading far
beyond the queries of his young mind.


"Sunalo! What causes thee to come out o' hiding?"
First words out of his momma's mouth when
he finally caught up to the herd.

"Oh dear Momma," cried Hiding Sunalo.
"What a great distance I have traveled and
I am so thirsty! Why I left the shaded watering hole
is beyond me! Tis so hot here on the plains."

Faltering Hoof licked her son a time or two and said,
"The desert plains are warm, tis true, for the sun
shines upon them the length of day. But soon, my son,
the warmth o' the sun shall fall from the plains.
Then the chilly desert eve shall blow upon us and
the buffalo shall return to the protection of the tesota."


"Tesota?" asked Hiding Sunalo, as he looked back from
whence he came, wondering why on earth he'd done so.

"Ah, the great ironwood trees, my son!
They protect us from the great winds that come in the night.
We must rest with caution there, though,
as the seed of the tesota is food
for our feared enemy, the coyote. Sunalo,
I have warned thee of this many times when you
choose to stay behind rather then join the herd
to graze upon the desert plains!"


Now as Hiding Sunalo glances behind him
the longing he had for his hiding place wanes.
His thoughts of the coyote he has never seen are interrupted as
Faltering Hoof gently nudges him along to graze with the herd.
As he munches along he thinks of how the grass is sweeter
back at the watering hole and notices that the great
leader of the herd, Quaking Hooves, has turned them in
the direction of the clump of tesota trees.
He realizes he has little time to question his momma
about his given name and rushes to her side once more.

Faltering Hoof glances at her son, guessing why his
stride appears so urgent. She groans softly to herself
knowing that more questions are about to flow from his mouth.
The young buffalo's thirst for knowledge is never satisfied.


"Momma, now that our bellies are full,
may I ask you a question or two about this name o' mine?"
There, finally I said it, Hiding Sunalo thinks to himself.

"Oh Sunalo, what would you like to know?
I'll answer if I am able," she answers, as she glances ahead,
wondering why Quaking Hooves is picking up the pace of the herd.

"Well, I know about the Hiding part o' my name."
It's the Sunalo thing." He hesitates, pondering the right words.
"It's just that the other young buffalo make fun of me.
They say unkind words and snicker when I am near."
And they bite chunks of hair off my back as they say these things."
No sooner than the query left his mouth,
Hiding Sunalo was taken aback by his mother galloping off.
He had no idea why his comments caused this reaction
and his questions were left unanswered.


Hiding Sunalo stood still in sadness as he watched
Faltering Hoof and the others rapidly head off
in the direction of his once treasured hiding place.
The image of his mother trying to stay with the herd
as she limped along, yet faltering as she glanced
behind her with beckoning eyes toward him
would be the last image of his beloved Momma.
An image that would warm his heart forevermore.

The air around him now filled with the harsh desert
sand, swirling round 'n' round, blinding him to the sight
of the shrill cries that screeched in his ears.

Once the sand storm of the high desert had blown itself away,
Hiding Sunalo picked himself up off the ground, shook the sand
from his body, rubbed his eyes with his knee and looked ahead.
He saw nothing. Nothing but the desert rose before him.
Frantically he turned this way 'n' that,
only to find that he was alone on the vast desert plains.


Hiding Sunalo began to trot, as fast as his young legs would
carry him. He searched to and fro, desperately seeking a sign
that would tell him where the herd had disappeared to in the noise.
Where was that watering hole and clump of tesotas?

He ran toward what looked like a mountain of sand,
which he guessed had been piled there by the thunderous winds
of the storm. Nothing could have prepared him for the
sight that stopped him in his search.

Before him lay his mother and the entire herd. All dead.
Tesota trees had been uprooted by the gale force winds.
He could only guess that the force of the wind had
thrown the trees into the bodies of the buffalo with such power
that they never stood a chance of surviving. And now they lie buried
in a pile of twisted trees covered in the bite of wet desert sand.

Hiding Sunalo stood alone amid all he had ever known and loved.
The momentary stay allowed him to hear the silence of twilight
surround him. And somewhere off in the distance a vaguely familiar
voice beckoned unto him. Yes! There was life in the pile of rubble!


Using the hardness of his front hooves, Hiding Sunalo dug with all
his might to get to the voice he heard below. The groaning below
became louder as he dug deeper and deeper into the ruins.
All at once amid a squall of desert dust came a bellowing snort
and before him stood Quaking Hooves.

“Praise the Spirits! You’re alive!” Each cried to the other in awe.
But at that moment the bloody buffalo leader fell to the ground.

“Hiding Sunalo,” came the low moan from Quaking Hooves.
“Come nearer to me, my son. You must listen to me.”
Sunalo knelt before the great buffalo and began to question him,
but was halted before a word left his quivering lips.
“Quiet!” came the roar from the ground. “There is little time now.
Heed my every word Hiding Sunalo! The great wind spirit has chosen
this day to destroy the great herd, yet has seen fit to spare thee.
You must leave this place at once and find a new watering hole and
field upon which to feed. You must journey forth with the courage of
all the buffalo within you. You must be as swift as the
mountain lion and see with eyes as keen as the great eagle.”


Hiding Sunalo wanted to do nothing but find a place to hide.
But something happened inside him as he listened to the old buffalo’s
words. A stirring deep within that he didn’t quite understand held
him in place. The great buffalo continued, “Go forth in your journey
now, my son. As you head toward the setting sun, let the warmth of
the golden spirit in the sky guide you from within. My son,
the queries of your mind lie within your spirit.
Feel the warmth of the spirit of sun
and you shall have your answers.”

“But,” respect almost kept him from interrupting his leader,
but he continued on. “Why must I leave you? Can’t we stay here
until you heal and you can lead the way?” Hiding Sunalo didn’t know
the spirit of the great buffalo had already left the body that he
spoke to. It was only when he didn’t reply that Sunalo knew the old
buffalo’s end had come. Hiding Sunalo stood weeping over the limp
body of his leader, his majestic Father, Quaking Hooves.
Even the coyote could not match the blaring howl he wailed
across the desert plains.


It was thirst that led Hiding Sunalo away from the remains of the
herd, his mother, his family. As he trudged across the desert,
the words of Quaking Hooves echoed in his head; he mulled them
over and over again, weighing them against the questions he’d
tried so hard to ask his mother, Faltering Hoof. His body ached
for her firm nudges and her memory tugged at his insides. He must
not allow himself to look back, he thought, or he wouldn’t have the
courage to journey forth.

Hiding Sunalo wandered for hours across the desert toward the
setting sun. The wind appeared to be picking up and was blowing
against him so he was forced to pick up the pace. Strangely, the wind
seemed to be talking to him and he thought surely distress had taken
over his senses. He glanced into the sky above and wondered if it
was the voices of the spirits of the sky he was hearing.
“Go ahead. Speak! I’m not afraid of you.
After all I’ve witnessed today I am not afraid of anything!”
He bellowed aloud, surprising himself. “Oh my, I really do
carry on the courage of the entire herd!”

All of a sudden he heard the wind again, or so he thought.
“Oh my, do you now?
And what makes you need such bravery, young fellow?”


Hiding Sunalo stopped in stride. That was not the wind!
He looked around and saw nothing,
but his senses alerted him he was not alone!
He stopped and slowly turned to look behind him
for the first time since he left the destruction behind.
Lo and behold, not far beyond him stood a young buffalo!
But this buffalo was different. It was almost like
a ghost or a mere reflection of himself.
“Who are you? Where did you come from?
How long have you been following me?”
Questions ran rampant thru his mind and out his mouth.

“It is I who should be asking you such things,” snorted the
ghost buffalo, “Who are you? Where did you come from?
Why shouldn’t I follow one who trots upon the hallowed
ground of my ancestors?”

Hiding Sunalo looked to the earth. He’d been so intently
searching the sky for guiding spirits and keeping a keen eye
upon the setting sun before him that he hadn’t realized he’d
climbed a small mound of sand. As he looked more closely
he saw laid out before him ruins similar to
those he’d left hours earlier.


He stared at the buffalo before him now with questioning eyes and
in silence her eyes answered all his unasked questions.
“The desert storm hit here too! And you are a lone survivor as am I!”
Moving closer to the maiden buffalo as he spoke,
he gently nudged her golden coat. A warmth radiated
from her like none other he’d ever felt.
And that warmth was mimicked inside him like never before.
As she drew back from his touch this jolted Sunalo back in time,
back to the words of Quaking Hooves.
Again he heard the old buffalo telling him to journey forth.
Again he heard him speak the words of the spirit of sun.
And he knew the setting sun must be his guide.
He turned to the golden buffalo maiden once more.
“Come with me.
I journey to the watering hole marked by the setting of the sun.
We haven’t much time. You must decide now.”

“I cannot just follow you! I am Rainbow Golden Sun and I am led by
only the spirit colors of the sky. I must wait for them to appear!”

Hiding Sunalo stared at this maiden buffalo again.
His body urged him to convince her to go with him.
But his spirit made him feel what she was feeling.
He nudged her once more, turned and with a groan of lament,
then headed toward the sun without looking back.


It wouldn’t be long now, he thought to himself.
The sand is cooling, the winds are calm, the sky is darkening.
Tis the lull before the storm.
Hiding Sunalo lay alongside the Rio Grande.
He yearned for the winds to swirl once again,
for the sand to bite into his aged coat.
He awaited the thunderous pounding upon the river.

For he knew the rainbow would follow the thunderous droplets.
And he knew the great and guiding light of the sun lay upon his back.
And he knew that soon he would no longer be alone.


Fable dedicated to Fabler O' LuvRaqui
In the spirit o' sun it was my delight to spoil her.
For I am the Fabler O' Sunshine of the Fablers O' Fortune!


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Midi "Buffalo Dance" provided by Greywolfcub's World



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Fable O' Hiding Sunalo © 2002 Ruth Norman