The Blue Ridge mountains aren't a real challenge unless you're not in moderate physical shape. They don't stretch up to that point where the air thins. They don't get above the tree line. And they don't offer the starkness of say the Himalayas. Tell that to Monk Ki.
Wandering from mountain to mountain can be a wearing experience. Our intrepid traveler (other descriptions come quickly to mind but I refuse to demean him this morning) makes things more difficult by sticking to the ridge lines. His trvel resembles more the recent bounce of the stock market. Up down- up, down some more.
And then his ears catch the squawk of some creature. Naturally the sound is below his current location so he abandons his upward progress and goes looking for the source. He keeps hearing the sporadic noise. Just as he comes around a chestnut oak he catches movement. At first he suspects a flying squirrel nest but they don't squawk. This is the first wild turkey he's seen. It's not much to look at (unless you're another wild turkey).
Monk Ki takes the opportunity to sit at the base of the tree and just watch this bird. It musr be a bird becfause it has feathers and flies. It is not a song bird. It isn't a cute brightly feathered bird that looks right at home under a backyard feeded. It's one great claim to fame is that it blends well into the background of autumn leaves and tree trunks.
Another call goes up. (Got to keep the story moving, right?"
The current turkey under observation takes instant interest in this call of the wild. His or her head goes up an inch or two looks around and gobble gobbles in reply.
The duet continues for a few minutes. Monk Ki's object of observation wanders a bit in the direction of the competing sounds. Monk Ki attempts to follow. He's not a great woodsman.
A bare stumble turns into a raucous descent approaching the shuffle of a square bowling ball down a lead filled gutter, punctuated by a few distinctly non-religious words.
The turkey takes flight and Monk Ki's words are echoed by more emphatic scarcely rligious words. A hunter holding a rifle materializes from the brush.
"Whur'd you come frum?"
Monk Ki stares at this man and attempts to interpret the foreign words.
"Don't know a monastery from a drug store. Know I'll be eating a store bought turkey this yar. No picking bird shot outa my teeth. Least I got one Wil Turkey."
With that the native woodsman reaches into his pocket and extracts a bottle. He unscrews the top and takes a pull.
"Hell, it bein Thanksgiving and all, wanna belt?"
Monk Ki wonders how a belt would look on his drab robes until he sees the offered bottle.
"When in Rome..."
"This ain't Roan Mountain. That's over a piece. You sure are funny looking."
Monk Ki almost responds with "You are too but refrains calculating that it might lessen the chance of "taking another pull."
"You ain't from round here are ya."
"then I guess I'll jest invite you over for turkey dinner. Hope the missus don't mind too much. Here take another swig. Guess that turkey you spooked ain't bout to come back."
Monk Ki reaches out for the bottle. "Pretty good stuff."
"Oughtn be. Made it myself. Jest put in a fancy bottle. My name's Buck." The man smiles a very warm smile.
"Mine's Monk Ki."
"Monkey. You say. One of them little varmints they tie to I-talian organ grinders? You got a tail?"
Monk KI looks behind himself. "Not last time I checked." He takes another drink from the bottle.