18 episodes

Friday Fables is a weekly podcast, giving you original, modern fables in the ancient tradition. Each Friday our fables help we humans to see ourselves through the speculative lens of a different animal.

Friday Fables Barry J. Northern

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Friday Fables is a weekly podcast, giving you original, modern fables in the ancient tradition. Each Friday our fables help we humans to see ourselves through the speculative lens of a different animal.

    FF Metacast One

    FF Metacast One

    Friday Fables Metacast OneA brief audio update on what's happening with Friday Fables. ... look out for the Spider and the Peacock coming down your feed

    The Fable of the Tarsier

    The Fable of the Tarsier

    The Fable of the Tarsier by Barry J. Northern Why not listen along to the Fable of the Tarsier as you read? Just click the play button below or download the MP3. A tarsier sat upon his branch, chewing on a large cricket he had just caught. A warm jungle breeze rustled the leaves about him, and above, stars twinkled through the forest canopy. He heard approaching footsteps on the branch and swivelled his head, fixing his large eyes upon a brother hurrying towards him. The younger tarsier waved his arms and chirruped. So hurried was Chirrup that Cricket-Catcher did not at first understand his words. “... coming … quick … coming … this big.” Cricket-Catcher smiled around a mouthful of food as he watched Chirrup extend his little arms as wide as his slight frame would allow. “Big, eh?” Chirrup jumped up and down and nodded. “Yes, yes. Big it is. Quick.” “Quick too?” “No, no quick, we must go.” “Where? I've just caught this cricket. I'm not moving.” This sent Chirrup into another frenzy of arm-waving and high-pitching singing. “... coming … big … snake.” This caught Cricket-Catcher's attention. “A snake? A big snake is coming?” Chirrup sighed and deflated. “Yes.” “Relax. Snakes are slow.” Cricket-Catcher spotted a Striped Tree Frog sneaking up the tree's wide bole below him. Finishing off his cricket, his mind already on his next meal, he spoke idly to Chirrup whilst eyeing the frog. “You know, those are clever little things. Tasty though. Worth catching. Can't leap as well as us. I saw one in the morning once, just before going to bed.” “Go! We go now!” “Yeah, yeah. Just a minute. It was pale coloured. You never see them pale like that at night. It's like they change colour to fool us. Argh! A snake!” Cricket-Catcher had never before seen a snake as large as the one that loomed up from the shadows beyond the small frog. “I told you!” cried Chirrup as the pair leapt upwards into the canopy where the branches were thin and the snake could not follow. “I know. But did you see the size of that thing?” A picture is worth a thousand words. The Fable of the Tarsier by Barry J. Northern is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 UK: England & Wales License. Hosted by The Internet Archive. Music by Jeff Wahl from the album, Guitarscapes, and provided by magnatune.com

    The Fable of the Pigeon

    The Fable of the Pigeon

    The Fable of the Pigeon by Barry J. Northern A young pigeon, not long out of the nest, squabbled among his fellows around the legs of one of the wingless giants who sat upon the strange wooden bush at this time every day. His father stayed close to him. “Look Fletch, this here giant is dropping bits of giant food already, good as grain that stuff. Oh, he'll fling us his scraps at the end, but you wanna watch out for anything you can get.” His father laughed at the older pigeons at the front of the crowd, fighting for scraps. “Look at em go. That's the way!” “But, Dad?” “Yes, my son?” “Can't I just have grain mash? You've still got crop milk. I like it with a bit of crop milk.” “Look son, I told you already, you're off the milk now. It'll dry up soon anyhow.” “What about Mum?” “She's got your brother to worry about. Look, you're not a squab any more.” His beady red eye darted ahead of a sharp-turned neck. “Look out! He's dropping scraps! Go on, get in there my son.” Fletch, wanting to impress his father, pushed his way in. Everyone said Fletch was big for his age, and he was pleased that he had weight enough to force through the crowd of adults and defend his own patch. There were grains among the fluffy giant-food. He picked at them, they were delicious but few. He tried one of the giant's fluffy grains. “Ergh!” He spat it out. In his moment of disgust he lost his place and was forced to the back of the crowd. “What happened, boy?” “Those fluffy grains are horrible, Dad. There were hardly any proper grains, you know, like the ones you and Mum give me.” “Son, if you live long enough to have squabs of your own, you'll wanna rear em on the best pickings. But you gotta learn to take what you can get now, lad. You're on your own.” And with that he flew into the mêlée and pecked at the floor with gusto. Fletch flew around the green square of woodland for a while, not daring to venture into the giant's cliffs that surrounded it. He searched for good grain, but found little, and after several days he was so hungry that the next time the giant sat upon his wooden bush, Fletch was the first at his feet. “Beggars can't be choosers.” The Fable of the Pigeon by Barry J. Northern is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 UK: England & Wales License. Hosted by The Internet Archive, download MP3here. Music by Jeff Wahl from the album, Guitarscapes, track 5 Reality Check, and provided by magnatune.com

    The Fable of the Elephant

    The Fable of the Elephant

    The Fable of the Elephant by Barry J. Northern A young elephant trailed behind the herd, trying not to be noticed. She wanted to play with the young ones, as she always had done, but Mother had told her that this year she was old enough to help with mothering duties. The first of the new calves had been born the previous night. It had been a wonderful time, all the women of the herd celebrated, but Kijana now feared she would soon be set to some task or other. The fear of impending duty grew within her until she could no longer bear it. "Mother!" she called out. "I'm just off to the water-hole. I won't be long." Mother turned around, her trunk swaying, ears flapping. "All right, dear." Kijana had expected an argument. It seemed there were some advantages to being a little older, she thought, and stomped off to the water-hole alone. She was still young enough to feel nervous about leaving the herd behind, but felt emboldened when a pair of impala skittered away from her shadow. Now it was Kijana's plan to escape the herd to avoid mothering duties, so she had decided to take the longest route to the furthest water-hole. She would make some excuse about needing a wash, for the water at the local hole was hardly deep enough for that. She chuckled at her own cleverness. At the water-hole, however, she found she really was in need of a bath, for the it was further away than she had realised, and the day was hot. After she had spent a long time washing, which was not one of her favourite duties, the sun had already begun to set, and she could barely see her herd's distant dust-cloud. She knew it was time to return, though she would gladly have rested longer. On the way back she saw a she-lion stalking a herd of zebra. The herd was large, and Kijana feared that the she-lion might decide that a young, lone elephant was easier prey, so Kijana gave the lion, and the herd, a wide berth. The journey back took over half as long again as the journey out, so that when she eventually returned to the herd she was quite out of breath and ready to sleep. "And where have you been all afternoon, young lady?" said Mother, "I wanted you to help with Abla's calf. She needs time to forage you know, she's eating for two now. I explained this to you yesterday, Kijana. That calf of hers is a thirsty one." "I know, Mum," said Kijana. "I just wanted to have a bath." Mother's great grey brow wrinkled. "Well, it's too late to help with anything now. You can help tomorrow." Kijana knew the same trick would not work again, and sighed. "What exactly will I be doing, Mum?" "Don't look so distressed, Kijana," said Mother. "I only want you to play with the pup while Abla's off foraging." She who avoids labour works twice as hard. Elephants are highly social creatures, though it is females who stay together in herds, while the mature bull elephants are mostly solitary. Like human children, elephant calves require constant care for many years as they grow and develop. Unlike most animals, but again like humans and primates, elephant calves are born with few natural instincts, and so need to be taught about the world around them. The whole herd -- often closely related; mothers, daughters, sisters, and aunts -- is responsible for looking after the young calves. Such non-maternal care is known as allomothering, during which young females will also learn parenting skills before becoming mothers themselves. http://www.psychology.stir.ac.uk/staff/plee/documents/AllomotheringAnimBehav.pdf The Fable of the Elephant by Barry J. Northern is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 UK: England & Wales License. Hosted by The Internet Archive, download MP3here. Music by Daniel Berkman from the album, Calabashmoon, track 4 Two Rings, and provided by magnatune.com

    The Fable of the Swallow

    The Fable of the Swallow

    The Fable of the Swallow by Barry J. Northern A large roost of swallows settled about a tree, whose thinning branches fractured the sunset. One swallow among them stood on a high branch before her brood and proclaimed the end of Summer. "My children. It is time for us to journey towards the Sun, to our wintering grounds." The children became excited, especially one young lad from the first brood who had been dreaming of the wintering grounds ever since an old swallow told him of the burnt fields, teaming with fat flies. More than the promise of a great feast under a strong sun, however, Firstborn desired to make nest and find a wife. He saw a younger brother on a lower branch, and hopped down to say farewell. "I'm going now, brother, for I cannot wait. Will you fly with me?" Secondborn laughed. "No-one may fly as fast as you, brother. But what is the hurry? Will you not roost here tonight and wait for the flock to leave?" "No, I want to be there as soon as possible. I'll make the finest nest you ever saw!" And with a flicker of feathers Firstborn was gone. Secondborn rose with the flock the next morning. He enjoyed the leisurely pace and the nightly roosts. Though he caught his food on the wing and kissed his wavering reflection as he passed over lakes to slake his thirst, he still took the time to look about him at the changing landscape. He had never imagined the world so large, nor so varied. The trees and mountains, sprawling man-nests and glittering seas, all of it swelled his heart through his glistening eyes. Another young bird took to flying with Secondborn, for she too admired the lands over which they travelled. They began to sit together when roosting more and more, and the old ones smiled and sang. Meanwhile, Firstborn flew with relentless speed towards the wintering grounds. He fancied he could see lines in the sky drawing him forwards, and he never doubted his path. He had passed other flocks, and roosted with them on occasion, but so eager was he to reach his destination, he always set off before the rest of the roost were roused by the rising sun. If it were a choice between taking a diversion for more plentiful fields and clearer waters, or a less desirable but shorter path, Firstborn always chose the latter. He reached the wintering grounds days before the rest of his brood. He stopped and looked around him for the first time since beginning his long flight. He felt drained of purpose. The fields were lonely, not at all as he had imagined, and though the food was plentiful, he almost felt too weak to feed. But feed he did, and his strength soon returned, though he had not the energy nor the inclination to build a nest for several days. He had still not begun to built when Secondborn arrived with the flock. The younger brother had already married his sweetheart on the journey, and as the happy pair settled down to make nest, they congratulated Firstborn on his speed, and spoke of all the wonderful sights they had seen on the way, but Firstborn just smiled, for he had seen nothing of which they spoke. "Success is a journey not a destination." The Fable of the Swallow by Barry J. Northern is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 UK: England & Wales License. Hosted by The Internet Archive, download MP3here. Music by David Modica from the album, Stillness and Movement, track 2 Fresh Breath, and provided by magnatune.com

    The Fable of the Rhino and the Oxpecker

    The Fable of the Rhino and the Oxpecker

    The Fable of the Rhino and the Oxpecker by Barry J. Northern One morning, a black rhino looked up from the thorny bush he was stripping with his hooked lips, for he heard the distant rumble of hoofbeats. He squinted against the savannah sun and could see only a cloud of dust with a vaguely darker kernel, for his eyesite was poor. He set his feet to the ground and charged off to meet this new threat, for the bush was good, and the females were nearby. An oxpecker, who had been working at a tick near Rhino's ear, flew up above his head. "Charge, my tick-infested friend, charge well. Don't worry about your wounds, for I will keep them clean for you." Rhino called back. "Thank you little friend. I will be back as soon as I have dealt with my enemy." Rhino charged, and soon shortened the distance between himself and the approaching blur. The hoofbeats grew louder, until soon they were as loud as his own, and the distance closed so that even Rhino could clearly see his enemy -- another male, like himself. He called out to him. "Begone, my enemy. There is no room for you here." Then horns collided, and huge pointed heads glanced across each other forcing the pair eye-to-eye for an instant. Then the energy of their momentum was spent, and then their heavy bodies pounded the hard dirt beneath them in a slow cycle of stand-off and head-butting. The pair fought for several minutes, but Rhino was the largest, and so, before long, his rival backed away. "You are the better beast. Perhaps one day I will match your skill." Then Rhino's enemy turned and fled. Rhino chuckled, but it was only as he ambled back to his bush that he began to feel his injuries. When Rhino returned, Oxpecker was waiting, perched on the thorny bush. "Are you hurt my friend?" he said, and if Rhino's ears hadn't been ringing, he might have heard the hint of hopefulness in Oxpecker's voice. "A little. Nothing really, just a few scratches along my neck." "Oh dear, oh dear," said the bird, fussing over him. "You feast on your bush while I fe-- er, clean your wounds." Rhino bent his head down. "Thank you my friend." As he ate, Rhino insensibly ignored the sharp pains caused by the duplicitous bird's eager 'ministrations' as the Redbilled Oxpecker set about earning his name. "A good enemy is a better person than a false friend." It is commonly held that the symbiotic relationship between the Redbilled Oxpecker and the large mammals of the African plains, such as the Black Rhino, Impala, and Wildebeest, is mutualistic, that is beneficial to both parties. Recent research has shown that the tickbird's behaviour might not reduce the tickload of such animals, and even that it only feeds on engorged ticks to get the food it really wants -- the animal's blood. This is corroborated by observations of the birds drinking and eating from small wounds on the animals, and evidence of them keeping wounds from healing and enlarging them. Such evidence suggests the relationship actuallymay be parasitic, or that perhaps the relationship itself changes to suit environmental factors. Red-billed Oxpeckers : Vampires or Tickbirds? http://beheco.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/reprint/11/2/154 The Fable of the Rhino and the Oxpecker by Barry J. Northern is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.Hosted by The Internet Archive, download MP3here. Music by Jeff Wahl from the album, Guitarscapes, track 5 "Reality Check", and track 11 "Waterfall", and provided by magnatune.com

Customer Reviews

Bongalong Wif Fong ,

Excellent! Well Delivered!

Barry Northern. Very nice job on this podcast. Like many I'm sure I've perused the podcasts with great hopes regarding this one or that one only to be incredibly disappointed.

Disappointed primarily with the host/cast's delvery, which far too often sounds like high school/college students in "braodcasting 101" class putting together a project for class. Most times the vocal delivery is so, so amateurish as to be utterly impossible to listen to even though the stories, poems, etc, present great possibilities.

But you've risen above that level and have put together an enjoyable set here. Thanks.

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