When it’s cold and it’s frosty, when there’s sleet and there’s snow, when the mountain passes are blocked and there’s nowhere to go, in blizzards like these that freeze the leaves on the trees, what does it think about that, the venerable yak?
Nothing positive, it seems. He just shakes his shaggy locks, and he snorts and he steams.
“If I were a gnu,” he mutters, “there would be much more to do – or a bison, a buffalo or a zho. That’s what I’m after, juicy green pasture, not the lichen-stained rocks of my home.
‘Spangled with snowflakes, the frost making my hooves ache, I ask you what’s a poor yak to do?”
“You don’t know anything,” a voice suddenly spoke. The yak shuffled around and saw down at the ground, the hourglass eyes of a goat.
“Think of America, where the bison roams free, with barely a care in the world, on the wild prairie. Yet it all ends badly,” said that capricious fellow, “Listen, I know what I’m talking about. A blow to the back and they’re in for the sack. Then they rip off their pelts and before their absence is felt, that poor bison’s been turned into rugs and blankets and belts.”
“What about the buffalo?” Cried the yak, stamping his hoof at that goat. “You can’t tell me that they suffer as I do, stumbling and sliding around on these slopes?”
“The buffalo? Oh on! Oh no! All day long, they have their teats being squeezed, mashed and manhandled, to turn their milk into cheese.”
“It’s all so grim,” the yak muttered at him, “how I wish I’d been born long ago.”
“Oh yes, how happy you’d be,” said the goat, cynically. “Then your bones would be broken, forgotten and lost, like the fossilised remnants of the legendary aurochs.”
“You speak the truth,” sighed the yak, “There’s no getting away. This chill cave is my home, it’s no worse than some, and it’s where I’ll live till the end of my days.”
“Be glad,” said the goat before he skipped out of sight. “Ossified, ruggified, udders tugged till they’re blue, you forget that everyone else has their troubles too.”
(c) Alastair Savage, 2013