How the pig got her curly tail
Once upon a time there was a vicar and his wife. But these stories are not about them at all. They thought they owned a cat, (the cat had is own ideas about that) and his name was Sid. Now, Sid was growing old and also going blind, though he hid that fact marvellously well.
Sid also had very much an enquiring mind and wanted to know things, mostly about how this, that or the other happened, over the course of Creation.
So, I wrote few stories for him. The first one about the pig and why it has a curl in its tail, is based on an old Flemish story that I heard told when I myself was a kid.
I changed it around a bit; to make it a bit more suitable for a vicar’s cat…
You asked me " how did the pig get her curly tail?
Well: here is the story, and I do not know if it all happened like that, but I know it is true.
In one of those happy days in Creation time, the Lord walked on his world and saw that it was good. “Yes” murmured the Holy Spirit, playing around, “but a bit boring, maybe?”
“How do you mean that?”, asked the Lord.
“Well, all your animals are happy and having fun, but they look rather much alike, do they not? A bit blurry muddish-greypinkish sort of noncolour and nonshapes, mostly… Why not get them fitted out with all your glorious colours and shapes, in their beautiful diversity?” said the Holy Spirit.
“Good idea” said the Lord, delighted as usual with the Holy Spirit.
Right there and then the Lord sent out a call to all the animals that three days hence, from Sunrise till Sundown, he would paint and shape all animals. Any and all were welcome to the Great Field at the end of the woods, and He would grant all their wishes for colours and shapes and sounds.
All the animals discussed and deliberated amongst themselves what they would choose. The peacock said that she would love to see her husband in sparkling green blue, with a huge tail to wave to her and look at her, when they danced;
the cat licked her right hind paw and blinked mysteriously about what she would ask for; the tarantula thought that she would love to dance on far more legs than she had right now;
the bacteria said they were totally alright, really, and happy to go on to become finally beautifully coloured rock; the snails wanted just good housing;
the frogs and toads wanted to remain a bit smallish but nicely big voiced; the snake looked craftily around and kept his own counsel. Much talk was going on, deep into the nights and during the days.
And the pig? The pig was lying down in a soft downy mud wallow,
well worn down by her, and thought how nice it would be to go and to look for some nice, sweetly ripe fruit to eat. She thought that maybe she would like to be totally glowing orange, like that nice fruit that just this afternoon had plopped down in front of her,
or maybe, as sparkling bright green as that bit of leek that had jumped out as well, or maybe, a soft long wavy coat in a blue and as warm as blue and warm as the heaven looked right now…. Anyway, life was good as it was now, and there was no real hurry to change it all, now, was there?
The great day broke, bright and clear, and the animals went off to the Great Field.
The pig thought that she might wait a bit longer, so as not to get jostled by the big crowd. She might just look for some more nice orange fruit, in that grove. So, she wandered off, and found the delicious fruit. She ate greedily, got rather sticky from all the sweet juices and then thought that she should take a bath, and after that, present herself to the Lord really pip squeaky clean. After the bath she was rather relaxed and thought “Now if I take a little nap first, I will be totally clear minded and then I can decide what I want to ask the Lord for”.
So, she took her little nap.
After that nap she woke up rather peckish and remembered the nice wood of acorns she had discovered last week. So, she went off, to have some bites of acorn. There she met the squirrel, stunningly beautiful in his new glowing red thick fur, sharp gleaming black eyes, and with his tail in a curving bushy question mark. “That is wonderful fur”,
the pig said admiringly, “How is it going on at the Great Field?”
“Oh, like you never have seen”, chittered the squirrel.“The Lord is laughing and splashing about with colours and shapes and furs; anything, anything you ask for, he gives to you. The Spirit is joking with us and the Lord, and suggests the most funny shapes; imagine: the squid has got 8 legs and two eyes now!
And the starfish has five legs and no eyes!”.
“Oh”, said the pig. “Anything? You can really ask for anything?”
“Yes, oh, yes”, squeaked the squirrel: “just think: some of the fishes wanted to be one big shoal and the Lord flicked his finger and now they are a wonder to behold: swirling, glistening silver in the ocean!”
Then the squirrel’s tail curled into a real big question mark and he looked sharply at the pig: “Why have you not gone to the Great Field yet?”
“Oh, well”, said the pig nonchalantly, “I just did not want to be jostled and crowded all about. I’ll go later”.
“Hm”, said the squirrel, “You know, if I were you, I would at least start to go there, it is getting a bit late now”.
The pig glanced as the sun and indeed, it was going down a bit.
But that really indicated teatime, did it not? And she remembered that large bush of bramberries, that had looked almost, but not just yet, lusciously ripe; now, after this day’s rich sunshine, they would be purple black and bursting with their sweet juices, and it was in the direction of the Great Field….
So, the pig ambled over to the purple-black bramberries and had just started to dig in, when a group of monkeys rushed in and picked all the best and purplest just before she could reach them. “Hey”, said the pig, “those thingies you use to pick the bramberries with so fast, are neat and clever! Did the Lord give them to you?”
“Yes, oh yes”, chattered the monkeys, “we asked and they are our new fingers and they are soooooooo good! Why don’t you have them? Did you not ask?” They peered more closely at the pig and remarked: “You are still looking blurry muddishgreypinkish sort of noncolour. No fingers! You better go to the Lord right now.
You can only run and not swing freely and swiftly through the trees as we can now! You cannot even see that the sun is really getting down, silly! Hurry, you silly pig!”
“Hm”, said the pig, “muddled talk as per usual”, but she started walking in the direction of the Great Field, after taking one last lingering bite of the purpleblack bramberries, and a last lingering dip in the mudwallow, and a brisk wash after that.
Overhead, she heard a whirring sound and there was the hummingbird, a thumb large sparkling jewel, and it hummed: “Hurry”.
She ducked down before the herd of zebra. They were cavorting, kicking high their legs, exuberant with their black and white stripes and they thundered: “Hurry, hurry”.
She almost ran into the cheetah, in a blur, but he swiped aside in a large leap, and shouted “Hurry, hurry, hurry”.
She saw, from the corner of her eye, the tarantula, trying out her first dance, with eight legs and in black spiky fur, counting measures. The tarantula spared her one glance though, and shouted: “You better canter as in: one, two, three; one, two, three. Hey, that is like a waltz, thank you, Lord!”
The pig broke into a gallop and then swerved aside from the crocodile, who showed her an amazing row of very large and sharp and sparkling teeth and said with a big smile: “You better hurry, hurry hurry, for the sun is setting down!”
Her throat was parched and she really, really needed a drink. So, the pig stopped at a creek and started to drink its gurgling water. The dragonfly flashed red and green and circled around her head and whizzed: “Hurry, hurry, hurry; the sun is setting down”.
The mosquitoes zzzzzzzzzzinged in and pricked her: “Hurry, hurry, hurry; the sun is going down, now”.
So the pig started running again.
The sloth, all dressed in emerald green fur, crawled over the branches she ran under, and even the algae in his fur shouted: “Hurry, hurry, hurry; the sun is finally going down”.
When the pig broke from the woods onto the Great Field, she was just in time to hear the Lord saying to the Spirit: “That was a good day’s work! Now let us clean up and go for a relaxing walk in the Garden”. “Yes,”, agreed the Spirit, “let’s go”.
“Nooooo!”, cried the pig and ran straight on to the Lord, “No, Lord, please: I am still only blurry muddishgreypinkish sort of noncolour. Please Lord, please, help me!”
The Lord looked at the Spirit and the Spirit looked at the Lord and they both smiled.
The Lord hunkered down and patted the pig. “Easy now, easy”, he said. “We will see what can be done. But where were you during the day? I missed you, you know.”
The pig gulped for breath and quieted down. She looked at the Lord, she looked at the Spirit. They looked quietly back and the pig decided that she’d better tell the truth.
“I thought there would be a big crowd, I thought there would be time later, I thought, I am hungry, I thought there would be time later… I thought you would not miss me anyway and life was alright as it was, so why change? And the acorns were great and the bramberries were lovely sweet and the sun was glorious and the wallow deep and cool. And I kept on being hungry and thirsty. But I did not think. I am sorry, my Lord. I am sorry to be so late”.
And she started weeping.
“I see”, said the Lord. “I see”, said the Spirit. They both smiled again. They took the pig on their lap and stroked her.
“There are some golden hairs left”, said the Lord. “And some ridiculously dense, golden eyelashes to go with them”, said the Spirit. “Some very little pink left from the flamingos, some black left from the swans, some grey left from the hippopotamus; that’ll be useful as well”, agreed the Lord.
“Oh, and the strong stout nose the elephant did not need, is left”, said the Spirit. “To find truffles with”, said the Lord, nodding in assent.
“What are truffles?”, asked the pig, ever so curious and feeling very safe now to ask a question. “You’ll find out soon enough”, said the Lord and the Spirit, chuckling.
“That well-rounded shape the ants did not want, is here as well”, said the Spirit. “And the big flapping ears to protect, well, the tiny little eyes that really were an extra for the hedgehog”,
the Lord added. “And the beginning of the grunt, the middle of the chuckle and the end of the oink, that neither the kookaburra nor the jackdaw nor the ass wanted?” suggested the Spirit. “Yes” smiled the Lord.
The pig felt this whoosh going over her. She felt totally strange and new and happy and then found herself lifted down from their lap. She did not want to leave. A gentle push forward followed. She did not want to leave.
Then she heard the Spirit say: “You better lead her by her tail, in the corkscrewed way she needs to go”. “Yes”, agreed the Lord, and the pig felt this swirl and the sideways push pull given to her tail.
And the pig walked on, toward life.
That, dear Sid, is why the pig has her curl in her tail. As all pigs have.
Genesis 1. 1 – 24
Proverbs 8: 22- 30
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