Curious as he was, the condor dropped down to Matica as usual,
but he wouldn’t catch the food. Instead he passed her with an
elegant swoop. It was as if a hurricane went over her. It also appeared
to her as if the whole sky parted and let him through and that she
was blown on the wind of the universe, that he was the wind. Such
thoughts went through her mind in seconds, too fast for her to really
grasp what was happening.
She missed several heartbeats as she watched the huge bird. Is this
really happening? she thought. Then her heart started to thud as if a
fist was banging against her chest from the inside.
The big condor tried to land on one of the top branches of the
nearest huge conifer tree, but the branch was much too thin for his
size and snapped under his weight.
Oh my gosh, Matica thought. That can’t be happening!
The condor dropped down, feet first, but before he could catch
himself, he knocked his body then his head at the next branch as
well as his spread out wings. Matica was shocked. Don’t break your
wings! she screamed inside.
In a nanosecond, the condor stretched out his talons – clumsily,
Matica thought – and stuck his claws into the next thicker branch,
but it was too late in his fall. He couldn’t hold himself upright and
so swung around and hung upside down, trying to collect himself.
As he hung there, that branch also cracked under his weight. As it
broke off, it took him further down. Since he wouldn’t let go of the
branch, his fall was slowed down tremendously, but hitting the next
branch, it was knocked out of his claws.
Free of the branch now, he stuck his talons into the next one.
Hanging upside down once more, he swung around and tried to
stand up with the help of his beak and wings. It took him a while by
straining every muscle of his body, but finally he stood up. He then
looked down at Matica triumphantly with an elongated neck and his
wings spread out.
Matica started to breathe again. What a majestic bird! she thought.
The bird folded his wings and broke off some little branches that
were poking into his body, then he looked keenly at Matica with his
tilted head. His expression seemed to say: How was that? Did I do
well, or what? Now, what do you want of me?
‘Hey,’ she said, walking to him, ‘you did all that for me? But I guess
you don’t do that very often, do you? You’re too big for landing on
She stretched out her hand and, reaching his talons, she caressed
them, then she gave him his food. As he tucked it under his talon and
ripped it apart, she said again, ‘Your legs aren’t designed for landing
on trees. They are too short. Why not land on the ground? Wouldn’t
that be better? You eat on the ground.’
Finishing his food, he grunted a ‘thank you’ then stretched his
neck down to her, sniffing her face and hands. Matica giggled. It
tickled. Not afraid anymore, Matica stroked his beak, his neck then
his talons again.
Before long, he flew off by jumping first to the ground then running
for a short time before lifting up into the air. Matica, happy
as she was, ran with a triumphant smile, cartwheeling all the way
The next day, it wasn’t as traumatic for the bird to land on that
branch. It still wasn’t easy, but with each day, it became trouble free
as more little branches were broken away.
Thrilled, Matica met him like this for a week, and every time she
came to see him, his mate would circle above them. Still, she wondered
why he wouldn’t land on the ground. She would ask him why
On the seventh day, he landed as usual on his branch and took
Matica’s food gift. Then Matica asked him the same question again.
‘Come on, condor,’ she added. ‘Come down, will you?’ He looked
deeply into her green eyes, trying to understand her.
Then it happened.