Canku Ota Logo

Canku Ota

Canku Ota Logo

(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


July 13, 2002 - Issue 65


pictograph divider


Thunderhawk - The O’Malley Vacation - Part 1 of 2

Late in July Papa O’Malley decided to take his family on a vacation. They all loved the area of the Great Smoky Mountains called Cades Cove so he let Virginia and the little ones know that they would be going there the next week. All the little mice were so excited. They needed a vacation badly after all the events of the past few months.

Fiona was thrilled about the upcoming vacation because she knew that her boyfriend Matty would be able to go along. Paddy was excited because he would be able to do many of his favorite things including jumping off the high rocks at the area called the “Y” (it is called the “Y” because two smaller streams meet there to form the Little River). Sean, Jr. was happy because he knew that the family would go into Tuckaleechee Caverns, which always was exciting yet scary. Baby Shannon loved how beautiful Cades Cove was and was looking forward to seeing their friend Freddie Prince (Freddie Prince was a huge green bullfrog who lived along the Little River. Legend had it that Freddie was once a handsome Cherokee Warrior who fell in love with a beautiful but evil Spirit Woman who turned him into a big green frog).

Cades Cove is an area of the Great Smoky Mountains, which is a picturesque valley high in the mountains with all kinds of wildlife and beautiful flowers. It was also a summer hunting ground for the Cherokee Indians of Eastern Tennessee and Western North Carolina. Baby Shannon as well as all of the O’Malley’s loved to watch the Cherokee people in their daily lives. Colleen just loved everything about their trip to Cades Cove.

Fiona let Matty know that they were going to Cades Cove the next week and that she expected him to meet them at the point where they reached the Little River. Matty had to cover a lot of ground alone to meet the family since he lived in a faraway town called Maryville.

The trip began with great expectations for fun and excitement. The O’Malley’s met Matty as planned and began their trek up the banks of the Little River. They knew that there would be lots of fun, but were on constant guard for the many dangers that the trip held. Papa O’Malley had also instructed the little ones about safety and emergencies. When they went into the caverns they were to stay close by each other because it’s easy to become disoriented underground and get lost and probably never be found again. If trouble surprised the little family they were all to run for cover in different directions and then wait for Papa or Virginia to sound the “all clear” and “reassemble” signal.

The first landmark of the journey was the area that Freddie Prince lived in. They never knew exactly where he would be so the little family just kept and eye out for him. Freddie Prince was quite a character and loved to play practical jokes on his friends. He had been friends with the O’Malley family for many years. Frogs are very aware of their surroundings and movements since they have many predators. Freddie Prince had been sunning himself on a big rock by the river when he noticed the movement in the distance. As he stared intently towards the movement he saw it was his friends the O’Malley’s. He was happy that he would be able to spend a little time with them, but he decided to play a practical joke on them.

As the O’Malley’s approached the spot where Freddie Prince had been sunning himself they noticed the large frog laying motionless on his back. They all screamed out in fear and rushed to Freddie Prince’s side. They all together gently rolled the huge frog over on his soft belly. They were all scared and Baby Shannon was crying. Suddenly Freddie Prince let out a loud sound and jumped high into the air. It was a sudden movement and a loud sound and all the mice screamed out loud at one time, “Eeeeyahhhh!”

As Freddie Prince landed back on the ground he burst into uncontrollable laughter. Fiona shouted, “Freddie! You scared us!” and she hit him on the snout lovingly. Then the O’Malley’s all laughed out loud together at Freddie Prince’s practical joke. Papa O’Malley said, “Freddie Prince…you always come up with something funny to catch us off guard. It’s a good thing that we like you so much.” Freddie Prince smiled broadly and simply said, “Ribbit. Ribbit. So How y’all doin’?” The mice smiled and returned the greeting.

The O’Malley children spent some time swimming and playing with Freddie Prince. They all loved to sit on his back as he leapt far out into the water. They would all scream and laugh as he took off and then they’d swim back to the bank after their turn. They also loved to sit on Freddie Prince’s back as he swam powerfully through the water. The feeling was funny. It was sort of a jerking motion as Freddie Prince’s powerful back legs propelled them through the water. Their little heads and shoulders went back and forth with each powerful stroke that the frog took. They also loved to climb up a rock while the frog rolled onto his back. The little mice then took turns jumping down on his soft belly. After they landed they would tickle Freddie Prince to which he squirmed and laughed. It was really fun!

After the fun the family sat on the bank of the river and just visited with the funny frog. He always had a few silly jokes that the little ones enjoyed. Many times it was the same joke as last time, but the children always laughed. This time he said, Ribbit…hey kids…Ribbit…what did the snail say when he got a ride on a turtle’s back?” The little mice said, “What did the snail say Freddie Prince?” The frog started laughing and said, “Ribbit..ribbit…the snail said, Wheeeee!” All the little mice laughed and laughed. Papa O’Malley and Virginia just smiled and wagged their heads back and forth in polite but sympathetic manner. Then after she stopped laughing Baby Shannon said, “What does that mean?” The laughter started again and Sean, Jr. said, “Baby Shannon…think about how slow a snail is. When it went for a ride on the turtle’s back it was really fast for a snail!” Baby Shannon laughed again and said, “That’s silly!”

Finally it was time to move on. The O’Malley’s bid Freddie Prince farewell and off they went. Freddie Prince smiled broadly as he watched the little family fade into the distance. Then he went back to sunning his large green body in the afternoon sunshine.

Thunderhawk and Blaze had seen the O’Malley’s leaving Happy Valley and decided to follow them to make sure that nothing would happen wherever they were going. Blaze and Thunderhawk circled high overhead and the little mice had no way of knowing that their lives were being watched over by the two hawks. Thunderhawk and Blaze both smiled as they watched the little ones enjoying themselves with the huge frog Freddie Prince.

The O’Malley’s’ moved cautiously up the bank since many predators live by the river. One of the most feared was snakes. They saw a few snakes but were able to pass by them safely. The little mice were now headed to Tuckaleechee Caverns.

Tuckaleechee Caverns is a beautiful underground paradise that goes deep into the heart of the Smoky Mountains. There is a stream with spectacular underground waterfalls. No matter how hot it is outside, it’s always right around 60 degrees inside the caverns, so especially during the summer months the caverns are refreshing. There are many places to hide and play so the little mice really love it there. Sometimes it was spooky because Legend has it that there are Spirits that live deep in the caverns and sometimes the little mice heard sounds that seemed like a human screaming way down in the darkness. The Cherokees people sometimes used the caverns for different things throughout the years also.

As the little mice approached the caverns Thunderhawk and Blaze knew that there was little that they could do for them after the mice went inside. They both landed in a huge tree to wait for the mice to reappear later. They took turns patrolling the sky and gathering their meals as they waited.

The young mice loved to yell inside the caverns and hear their sounds echoing back in a funny distorted way. As they entered Tuckaleechee Caverns Sean, Jr, yelled out, “Hello!” and almost immediately heard the fading echoes, “Hello…hello…hello…hello”. He and the other little mice all giggled and then they all started making noises to hear the echoes. Virginia was smiling also but warned the little ones to settle down and remember the importance of staying close to each other so as not to get lost.

As the O’Malley’s made their way deeper into the caverns they heard the underground stream. It sounded so beautiful. As they went in even deeper they heard a waterfalls. The little mice loved to swim in the water and go under the waterfalls. Papa O’Malley and Virginia stood guard on the edge of the stream while their beloved little ones played in the water.

Suddenly Fiona screamed out in fear. All the other mice immediately came to attention and looked toward Fiona. She was swimming for the bank as fast as she could go and screaming all the way. All the other mice cleared out of the water and gathered near Papa O’Malley and Virginia in fear for what might be happening to Fiona. When Fiona reached the bank she ran like lightning to Papa. She was crying hysterically. As Papa hugged her he noticed that the tip of her tail was bleeding. Virginia noticed the blood at the same time as Papa. She cried out, “Fiona! Your tail! What happened?” Fiona looked at her tail and cried even harder. All the mice were scared. As Fiona finally settled down a little she explained that as she was swimming near the waterfall she felt a sharp pain at the tip of her tail and suddenly she was being dragged under the water. Whatever it was it had let go a few seconds after she was drawn under the water and then she screamed and swam for shore!

Papa stared diligently at he water to try to see what had attacked poor little Fiona. He saw ripples in the water indicating that something was still lurking near the waters edge. He informed the family that it was time to leave the caverns. As he turned to begin the trip back out the hair stood up on his back. He was suddenly on full alert. He sensed that something else wasn’t quite right. As he walked his eyes scanned the area ahead for signs of danger. Suddenly he saw several sets of eyes peering out his family from behind some big rocks. Then he heard the unmistakable sound of rats communicating with each other. He knew that the rats would kill his family if they didn’t get away in time. Furthermore the rats are larger and faster than mice.

Papa picked up the pace and the little ones started asking how come he was going so fast. Papa didn’t answer, but kept heading toward the caverns exit. Suddenly Papa O’Malley screamed, “Run!” at the top of his lungs and he took off running. All of the others screamed and took off running after him. They were all screaming but still heard the nasty rats squeaking to each other behind them. They all knew it was a problem.

Outside Thunderhawk sat watching and listening intently. His keen sense of hearing heard the little mice screaming and the squeaking of the pursuing rats. He took off from his branch and sounded an alarm for Blaze to return at once. She heard his call and flew back immediately. As she approached she saw Thunderhawks serious demeanor and then she heard the sound of the mice and the rats. As the O’Malley’s came streaming out of the caverns the rats were right behind them. Blaze flew down and grabbed the rat who was leading the way and carried it up into the sky. Thunderhawk landed right behind Baby Shannon letting out an earpiercing, “Screeee!” and he inadvertently scared her badly. As Thunderhawk landed he immediately assumed an imposing aggressive posture with his wings spread wide and his beak open and ready for action. The rats tried to stop in response to the frightening sight of Blaze carrying one of their brethren away and the huge Thunderhawk standing menacingly in front of them. They knew who he was and they were scared! The next rat in line screamed, “Run! Run! Run! It’s Thunderhawk!” and all the rats ran back into the caverns except for the unlucky one that Blaze had picked off.

The O’Malley’s didn’t look back, they just kept running until Papa came to a halt and looked back. When they finally stopped, Baby Shannon told the others about what had happened. About how a huge hawk had grabbed the first rat and Thunderhawk landed right behind her and scared the other nasty rats back into the caverns. The other mice were amazed but thankful that the hawk hadn’t grabbed one of them! Little could they know what had really happened.

Now it was time to find a place to sleep for the night. As they approached the edge of the woods Paddy spotted a huge deer antler. Mice love to eat deer antlers. Papa explained to the other mice that during the winter the male deer called bucks “drop” their antlers. Each year they grow new ones. As a result, whenever mice find a buck’s antler they are able to ingest calcium. The little mice spent a few minutes chewing on the antler and then moved on to find a place to sleep for the night. Papa O’Malley spotted a perfect spot. It was a large root system with bushes intermixed among them. The little mice scampered up under the roots and fell into a deep sleep. They had been exhausted with all of the previous days excitement.

The next morning Papa O’Malley got the mice up just after dawn to continue their journey. The next stop was the “Y” for swimming and playing. The “Y” wasn’t too far from where they spent the night so the little ones were anxious to get started.

As the family approached the “Y”, Papa O’Malley again reminded them to be careful. The “Y” was also home to many predators.

Thunderhawk and Blaze had also gotten an early start. They had eaten early and began circling the skies in search of the little mice. It didn’t take long to find them. Thunderhawk and Blaze each smiled as they saw the cute little mice running and jumping and playing as they approached the “Y”. What a happy scene it was.

Paddy was so excited that he went running ahead of everyone else. When he saw the rocks on the far side of the Little River that he loved to climb up and jump off he let out a loud screech and jumped into the river. He swam to the other side as fast as he could swim and climbed up the rocks to jump off. Virginia called out, “Be careful Paddy!” Paddy yelled back, “Okay mom! Watch me Papa!” and jumped off the rocks so high up the ledge. As he soared through the air he yelled, “Aaaaaaaah!” and disappeared from sight as he hit the water. Paddy reappeared quickly laughing and gasping for air. He immediately headed back to the rock ledge for another jump. He was having a great time already. Thunderhawk and Blaze both smiled as they watched from high above. At the same time they kept a sharp eye out for predators.

The O’Malleys stayed at the “Y” for about two hours. They had a wonderful time. The only nerve wracking experience occurred when Sean, Jr. got nipped by a playful trout. His scream momentarily startled the other mice but as he realized what was happening he just laughed as did all the others. Now it was time for the next part of the journey. It was a long uphill trek to Cades Cove.

As the tiny mice made their way up the mountain towards Cades Cove they got to see a funny site. As they were making their way along the stream that leads to Cades Cove they heard an awful noise up ahead. They crept forward to see what the noise was. As they slowly rounded a bend they saw two little bear cubs play fighting. As the little bears “fought” they made a loud bawling type of sound. One jumped on the others back and they both tumbled down a big hill complaining all the way! The mice just laughed and laughed. They thought it was so funny. Thunderhawk and Blaze had both landed to watch the fun too.

Suddenly the mama bear sounded an alarm sound and the baby bears went scampering up a nearby tree to safety. The mice all looked intently to see what the mama bear had seen.

After a few minutes a pack of coyotes appeared where the baby bear cubs had been playing. The baby bears stared intently from the safety of their tree. The tiny mice looked on uneasily from their location nearby. Thunderhawk and Blaze looked on safely from their roost not too far away.

The coyotes were obviously hungry and the situation could be dangerous. As the hungry pack circled around the tree where the baby bears were located the breeze shifted and the pack immediately picked up the scent of the little mice. As the pack leader sniffed the air to identify where the tasty scent was coming from its eyes slowly scanned the edge of the clearing where the O’Malley’s were waiting motionless. The pack leaders eyes suddenly met Fiona’s and locked on them.

Suddenly the pack leader let out an awful sounding howl and ran toward the mice. The pack immediately followed their leader. The O’Malley’s were frozen in fear.

To Be Continued
©2002 Geoff Hampton

You can email Geoff at

pictograph divider


Home PageFront PageArchivesOur AwardsAbout Us

Kid's PageColoring BookCool LinksGuest BookEmail Us


pictograph divider

  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107.  

Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.

Canku Ota Logo   Canku Ota Logo

The "Canku Ota - A Newsletter Celebrating Native America" web site and its design is the

Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 of Paul C. Barry.

All Rights Reserved.

Thank You