River Mist Tales: The Horses

Come in, come in, the mist is rising from the river, but here you’ll find some warmth, some tales, so make yourself comfortable. There’s tea in the pot, or perchance, you brought some wee dram of your own.

The chairs by the window give the best view, allow the best hearing. Ignore the cats, no matter what they say, and don’t open the window for the tapping crows.

I’ll be working at the table in the corner, if you have any need, or she knocks upon the door. And until you stop by again, may your wonderings be bold and your imaginings be wise.

Until your next visit, until the next photograph, the next 12-line story, good fortune and safe wanderings.

horsesgate_cwm

The Horses

The night was calm, except for the thick billowing clouds hiding, revealing, and hiding again the rounded moon, a moon dancing shadows across the yard below her bedroom window.

When the night shadows lingered, Jessie Woodbridge retreated from the window, sitting, statue like, on the edge of her still made bed.

Silently, she reviewed the day’s events, the preparations. She had filled her large canvas hiking pack with clothes, camp knife, matches, water canteen and an odd assortment of small tools Brian had listed for her.

Brian Murphy, with his swirling blue green eyes, had planned everything.

Brian knew the reason Jessie had been hearing the horses, at night, in her dreams when all the other creatures of the day were deep in slumber.

Jessie trusted Brian, even when he told her the story about the tiny horse on the high mountain trail, about trading tools for passage across the river, about the two gray horses, well, the horses’ heads.

At the beginning of the long drive leading towards Jessie’s home rose two wooden columns, each capped with a carved gray horse head. Their sorrowful eyes capturing Jessie’s attention, haunting her sleep, her days, no matter how many times Jessie told herself they were just carved pieces of wood.

A soft dull thud, a stomp of hoof, floated through the open bedroom window. Jessie, with boots in hand, slouched though the sleeping house, creeping into the side yard where Brian, holding the braided reins of two mottled gray horses, stood waiting for her.

With a quick nod, Brian led the small expedition down the driveway, passing between the two columns.

Clouds parted, the moon lit the night, Jessie looking up, gazed at the top of the columns, now capless, and smiled as she turned her silent mount north toward the mountain ridge.

River Mist Tales: The Dragon

Come in, come in, the mist is rising from the river, but here you’ll find some warmth, some tales, so make yourself comfortable. There’s tea in the pot, or perchance, you brought some wee dram of your own.

The chairs by the window give the best view, allow the best hearing. Ignore the cats, no matter what they say, and don’t open the window for the tapping crows.

I’ll be working at the table in the corner, if you have any need, or she knocks upon the door. And until you stop by again, may your wonderings be bold and your imaginings be wise.

Until your next visit, until the next photograph, the next 12-line story, good fortune and safe wanderings.

bigdragon_cwm

The Dragon

He is called Alastrann.

They say he is enchanted, cursed.

They say Alastrann is being punished for disobeying the last High Wizard of Raggastaad.

They say lots of thing, mostly half forgotten stories of a time vanished beyond memory.

Delaney Watson had heard the stories, the cautionary tales, the unbelieved histories evolving into mere fables.

She also heard the dragon’s voice, at night, when the street lights silenced the day, the river stole from the shore, and Delaney walked through the shadowed, abandoned city streets.

His was a deep voice, an aged voice, remembering, patient, observing.

As a child Delaney had flown with dragons, in her dreams. She spent her childhood gathering stories about dragons from books, from family, from the brightly clothed strangers traveling through her small coastal town.

As she grew, Delaney discovered she could speak in a language understood by dragons, in her dreams, and understanding, she was spellbound by Alastrann’s deep voice, followed it to Raggastaad, found not a haven for dragons, but a very modern sprawling city.

The dragon, chained to the front of a tall building, seen by most as carved stone, felt the energy of his tormentor, the last High Wizard, stirring in a young kind heart.

And the girl, the girl, slender, untempered, unaware of her gifts, her ancestry, stood watching the gray dragon as he stretched, her heart aching to set him free.

River Mist Tales: Teacup and Saucer and Tree

Come in, come in, the mist is rising from the river, but here you’ll find some warmth, some tales, so make yourself comfortable. There’s tea in the pot, or perchance, you brought some wee dram of your own.

The chairs by the window give the best view, allow the best hearing. Ignore the cats, no matter what they say, and don’t open the window for the tapping crows.

I’ll be working at the table in the corner, if you have any need, or she knocks upon the door. And until you stop by again, may your wonderings be bold and your imaginings be wise.

Until your next visit, until the next photograph, the next 12-line story, good fortune and safe wanderings.

teatree_cwm

Teacup and Saucer and Tree

“Oh do tell that story again uncle Devlin, the one about Getta going away, and the teacup and the weeping beech tree,” said Avalyn, patting the faded cushion beside her.

With an imperceptible lift of the corners of his mouth, Devlin O’Connor settled into the pillowed wicker settee, sending his gaze across the porch, across the browning grass, stopping at the shadowed edge of his old foe, the forest.

“And Maggie, do you wish to hear about Getta and the teacup again?”

“Only if you tell the true story uncle, I don’t want to hear that fairy tale father tells, and neither does Avalyn,” said Maggie ignoring the frown covering her younger sister’s face.

“The truth, the truth is a bit more complicated, a much longer story full of sorrow and heartbreak. Would you settle for me finding the teacup?” asked Devlin, his gnarled hands smoothing the breeze blown hair of the cheerful Avalyn.

Maggie, nodding her head in acceptance, sat opposite her sister and uncle, sinking into worn cushions, tucking her feet underneath her body, her arms falling down along the outer sides of the wobbly wicker chair.

“It was early November, a Wednesday, after school, and your grandmother sent me in search of a teacup and saucer missing from the sideboard, your grandmother blaming her kitchen helper Getta, a young woman who lived down the road, at the old MacFarland farm, a strange girl from the other side of the mountain, even when she was in the same room as you, Getta seemed far and away.

“Most folks didn’t have much to do with Getta, except your grandmother, they thought she was touched, marked by the faeries, for Getta would go missing days at a time, more often than not found by that ancient weeping beech tree of hers, talking, telling stories about the village, the crows, whatever book she had found at the library that week, her daydreams and her night dreams, yet never revealing, no matter who asked, where she had been nor what she’d been doing.”

“Did Getta tell you about her night dreams?” asked Avalyn, keeping her eyes turned away from the impatient glare of her older sister.

“No Avalyn, she never told me, well, I never listened to most of what Getta said about anything, especially those silly old dreams of hers,” said Devlin.

“Now where was I, ah yes, finding Getta, well you know the forest can capture voices, keep them from flowing, keep them away from those who strain to hear, and as I approached Getta and that watching beech, I heard her voice, bright, laughing, full of wonder, asking questions, her mouth full of tea cake, then a wind rose muting Getta, muting the forest itself, the deep silence pushing through me like a winter’s storm.

“Stumbling, I ran toward that old massive tree with his arching tangling branches touching the ground before those long boney arms raced back into the sky, but no one was there, and it looked as if no one had been there for some time, there were no footprints, just dried leaves lying all around the tree, and as I looked for any sign of Getta I saw it, the teacup and saucer, tucked into a small space between a rising root and the massive trunk, abandoned, filled with debris, and nothing else.”

River Mist Tales: The Meadow Cat

Come in, come in, the mist is rising from the river, but here you’ll find some warmth, some tales, so make yourself comfortable. There’s tea in the pot, or perchance, you brought some wee dram of your own.

The chairs by the window give the best view, allow the best hearing. Ignore the cats, no matter what they say, and don’t open the window for the tapping crows.

I’ll be working at the table in the corner, if you have any need, or she knocks upon the door. And until you stop by again, may your wonderings be bold and your imaginings be wise.

Until your next visit, until the next photograph, the next 12-line story, good fortune and safe wanderings.

cat_trail_cwm

The Meadow Cat

Ona sat tall in the creaking wooden chair, the aging cushion flattened under her slight weight, it’s woven design of oak leaves faded to a ghostly image.

Hands on her lap, she stared at the long awaited brown envelope she had placed on the bare kitchen table.

Four years ago, at the impetuous age of fourteen, Ona had written to the ageless woman who lived deep within the Forlorn Forest, offering herself as an apprentice, a helper, listing all the wild herbs Ona had studied and harvested, listing all the tinctures created, all the languages of tree and bird and wolf studied, ending with her knowledge of moon and stars.

Ona wrote of the meadow cat, the mostly white feline, intelligent and brave, a cat who knew where the chanterelles flourished in autumn, where the birch sap flowed at end of winter, where the first cress grew beside the surging waters of spring, and where the deadly nightshades bloomed under the the moon’s embrace in summer.

The meadow cat held no human bond, answered no human voice, gave no heed of the comings and goings of villager or traveler.

It was the meadow cat, accepting the name Allta from Ona, who showed the young girl where the hidden treasures of wood and meadow grew, taught Ona how much harvest was allowed, and what gift need be left in thanksgiving.

It was the meadow cat, Allta, who visited Ona in her dreams, telling her tales, revealing secrets, whispering recipes and preservation customs, and informing Ona’s decision to approach the woods woman, reminding her to do so with patience and respect.

It was Allta who counseled when Ona felt lost or confused, unsure in which world she belonged, her parent’s world of technology with its strong steel and glinting glass, mechanical and synthetic, or the woods woman’s mysterious and mythical world with its mingling of herb and tree, feather and fur.

No longer an excitable youth, the young woman sitting tall in the well-scrubbed kitchen, hands on her lap, smiled slightly, finally moving her right hand, lifting the brown envelope from the table.

Ona had never doubted the calling would come no matter how impatiently she waited, not when her schooling ended, not when her parents insisted upon college applications being sent, not even as schoolmates rushed towards jobs, towards lovers, towards expected futures.

Savoring the moment, alone in her parent’s home, Ona opened the envelope, removed the honey colored slip of paper, read the words written, by hand, in a flourishing script: “In three days time, on the eve of the full moon, follow the meadow cat.”

Placing the the note back inside its plain, stampless envelope, Ona rose, paused, looked out the window and upon seeing the meadow cat sitting at the edge of the wood, she called to Allta, “Three days, and I follow you down your path.”

River Mist Tales: The Lantern

Come in, come in, the mist is rising from the river, but here you’ll find some warmth, some tales, so make yourself comfortable. There’s tea in the pot, or perchance, you brought some wee dram of your own.

The chairs by the window give the best view, allow the best hearing. Ignore the cats, no matter what they say, and don’t open the window for the crows.

I’ll be working at the table in the corner, if you have any need, or she knocks upon the door. And until you stop by again, may your wonderings be bold and your imaginings be wise.

Until your next visit, until the next photograph, the next 12-line story, good fortune and safe wanderings.

lantern_cwm

The Lantern

With its pale patina glowing in the moonlight, the sea washed bones of the long dead tree stood alone, silent.

Abigail studied the massive piece of driftwood, observing throughout the day, entranced throughout the night, especially when the full moon caressed the curving root tentacles, the sun bleached remains of its dense trunk.

As a silver veiled moon danced across a blue velvet sky, the brine kissed tree bones shimmered, swaying to music Abigail could not hear.

You can capture the song of the moon, her aunt had told her. All you need is a strong piece of driftwood and an empty lantern.

Following her aunt’s instructions, Abigail had painted the found lantern, painted it a pearly white. She had removed all the dead electronic bits and pieces, polished the glass panels.

Abigail hung the lantern from a large thick upward shooting boney root, and began her vigil.

As the night grew strong, the moon rose full, dropping her silvery viels across the backyard, taking up residence upon the massive, lonely, silent driftwood.

The lantern glowed bright disappearing into the embrace of the drifting wood, dancing with the moon.

Abigail, stilling her breath, listened, watched, but all she witnessed was the the passing of the night.

Waking to the touch of dew, Abigail retrieved the lantern, delighted with the blushing silver white blooms and the midnight blue leaves growing inside, finally hearing the distant chime of sweet silver bells.