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Me and Stickeen - Lyrics

by Bill Oliver
based on the John Muir story, "An Adventure With a Dog"

One morning while rising in the driving rain
Nature was calling to me once again
Out on the glacier, adventure was waiting
And I had to be out exploring again

There was no time for breakfast, there was no time for tea
I reached for my coat and some bread crust to eat
Outside the tent in the wind and the sleet
A canine companion appeared at my feet

It was little Stickeen, the Reverend's best friend
A little mixed breed, black, white, and tan
Named for Alaska's Stickeen Indians
He'd proven his courage again and again

Go back, said I, this is no hike for you
I don't know what waits in the glacier's deep blue
He was looking ahead, so brave and so keen
So I shared my breakfast of bread with Stickeen

We hiked through the storm till the glacier appeared
'Twas one I'd first seen in a previous year
This frozen river, I wanted to map
We had one day to cross and return to the camp

The glacier grew deeper, the crevasses grew wide
Me and Stickeen took it all in our stride
Twas adventure as grand as I'd ever seen
This grand crystal prairie, me and Stickeen

Our task was successful, but on our way back
We found we were trapped by mighty crevasse
The one lone escape was a sliver of ice
It dipped like a thread, it was sharp as a knife

For the very first time in all our wild days
I heard from Stickeen a sound of dismay
He looked at the glacier, he looked at the sliver
He looked at me like I was out my mind

"Hush your fears, my boy," said I
We'll get safe across, though it's not safe to try
We must risk our lives to save them sometimes
No right way is easy in this world of ice."

I straddled the sliver and started across
I leveled it off for Stickeen's little paws
As I inched through the air, he cried with despair
For he knew he was next in this bone-chilling dare

At last I was over, but I'll never know
How I made the far side, how I cut the last hold
Was something inside, much greater than I
I looked back and said, "Stickeen, you must try."

He silenced himself, he measured each step
The world was that ledge, one slip would be death
As he walked on the edge, I held my breath
'till he sprang up the side like a spirit possessed

Then came a scene I will never forget
Little Stickeen was no longer a pet
He was weeping and crying and sobbing with joy
And I cried there with him, this brave little boy

I've traveled Alaska, and the American West
Seen Mother Nature at her wildest and best
I've learned great respect for our animal kin
In our souls we are not all that different from them

Little Stickeen, my wilderness friend
So many times I think back to him
Was the wildest of days that I'd ever seen
On a grand crystal prairie, me and Stickeen

Lyrics & music © Copyright 2002 Bill Oliver

Stickeen, An Adventure with a Dog by John Muir

Muir Power to You by Bill Oliver

Other John Muir Songs

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