“Something strange happened today,” announced Mayor Myles at the dinner table.
“Oh?” queried his wife, passing the sweet potatoes to Sophie.
“The men from the Canadian Condo Company appeared in my office complaining about being chased out of the forest by a raven.”
“Maybe it’s the raven’s home and the town should leave the forest alone,” said Sophie with a determined air.
“It’s business,” declared the mayor, “the town is expanding. We need the land....and the taxes.”
“My teacher says....,”began his daughter. The mayor looked away and sighed.
“The case is closed. All we need is a signature. Please pass those vegetables, Sophie, and let’s get on with dinner. I have another meeting tonight with the councillors.”
However, for Sophie, the case was not closed.
Munro was restless. He took a few short flights around his nest in the ferns and small trees, more or less putting in time while waiting for Sparrow-Girl. Who or what was she, he wondered.
Midas had gone somewhere and of course he had not confided in Munro. Even though Midas was not really his friend, he was somebody and Munro was lonely.
Just as he was settling down in the shade for an afternoon nap, Munro heard a footstep. He peeked through the fronds. He saw, not the shiny shoes, but delicate slippers.
But as he took that in, the feet suddenly changed to claws much like his own.
And then, the soft moccasins were back again. Munro blinked. What was happening?
The strange creature bent down and said, “Are you Munro?”
When Munro nodded, she straightened up and was not much taller than he was. Not only that but she had turned completely into a sparrow, a white-crowned one.
“I am Sparrow-Girl. Thunderbird sent me.”
“You are curious. I will tell you my story.” Sparrow-Girl flew to a low branch nearby and nodded to Munro to join her. Munro was not as graceful and felt lumpish beside his elegant companion. He was awed by the transformation right before his eyes.
“I am Sophie Myles. I live in the town close by. I am thirteen years old.”
“Are you an animal or a human?” Munro asked.
“I am both,” Sparrow-Girl replied, “ Thunderbird has been my friend since I was little.”
“So?” Munro was intrigued.
“ I’ll show you.” And Sparrow-Girl glided down to the ground. The reverse transformation began. Her sleek head with the white stripe gradually changed to glossy brown hair falling below her shoulders. Her feathered shoulders changed to a short brown leather jacket. Her wings changed to arms. Her perky tail became slim legs clad in leggings and a short denim skirt. The soft moccasins were back. As this change took place, she grew taller and taller. Munro was invited to perch on her outstretched hand. They were eye to eye, the dove and Sparrow-Girl.
“Wow!” was all Munro could say.
“My grandfather is a First Nations man,” she continued, “he taught me that all living creatures have spirits, even trees. All are important.”
“I sometimes feel very unimportant,” confided Munro.
“That’s why Thunderbird sent me to you, I think,” said Sparrow-Girl, and in a brownish blur she became once more a white-crowned sparrow. “Now tell me about yourself and what you are doing here in the forest.”
“I’m confused,” said Munro, trying to tuck his head under a wing, “ and I’m ashamed.”
“Why?” asked Sparrow-Girl gently.
“I tried to be friends with Midas by doing something wrong. And I don’t know how to make it right.” He told her about filching the rings from the picnic table at the campsite. “The sad thing is that it didn’t work. Midas still despises me.”
“I have a problem too,” Sparrow-Girl said. “My father wants to allow developers to cut down all the trees in this forest to build houses. And that’s wrong but he won’t listen to me. I’m just a kid.”
“Oh no, where will we go? I’m tired of trying to find a home.” It’s always true, sadly, that we think of ourselves first. And then his little brain thought of something else.
“Why are YOU so worried about the forest?”
“It’s something I learned at school. My teacher told us that trees are extremely important to all life on earth. They do a neat trick of making oxygen for us to breathe and they absorb carbon dioxide so the air won’t be poisoned. Too many trees are being cut down and when they are all gone, life will be gone too. The world will be a silent desert. We have to prevent that.”
Munro was quiet, digesting this information. He had never heard it before. Of course, he had never been to school.
“How?” he asked.
“I’m going to talk to my teacher,” decided Sparrow-Girl, “ and Thunderbird.” She looked around with quick movements of her feathered head and then began to transform herself back into her human form.
“The sun is beginning to set, my little friend,” she said, "and I must go. I have homework to do. May I come back tomorrow? I’ll tell you more then.”
“Oh yes,” agreed Munro, looking up. He liked Sparrow-Girl, especially when she was a bird.
Sparrow-Girl waved and disappeared.
Munro decided he would NOT tell Midas about her.