A few miles into woods I had never hiked before, I came around a gentle bend in the trail and found myself face-to-face with a bear. It stood perfectly still and stared at me with dull eyes and an expression that was blank, but teetering on the edge of irritated. It stood perfectly still on a foundation of three enormous paws, it’s fourth one held straight out to its side. Upon that outstretched leg, a falcon was perched.
“Why do you have that thing?“ I asked cautiously. “Aren’t you deadly enough on your own?”
“This thing is called a bear,“ replied the falcon, “and we’re friends.“
“That’s amazing,” I said, because it was.
“What is?” said the falcon. “That we can be friends despite being different species? That’s a very narrow worldview.”
“That’s not what I meant, no, I’m sorry,” I explained. “I just didn’t expect a reply from you.”
“You expected a reply from Bear?” the falcon asked.
Silence filled the air of the entire woods at my lack of response to that very fair question. Birds stopped chirping, cicadas stopped buzzing, and I started walking in silence; slightly wiser and far more confused than I had ever been in my life.