River Mist Tales: The Wheelbarrow

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

Please sit by the window, you’ll have the best view, and easy 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.

wheelbarrow_cwm

The Wheelbarrow

“Is that your wheelbarrow young man?”

Her voice was as aged and full of living as her crinkled face and bent, broad body.

“No ma’am, its not,” said Branden McFarland, wondering how such an ancient creature, unknown to him, would be walking about the countryside, far from village or neighbor.

“What ya gonna do with it?” she asked, her gray eyes watching his posture become first defensive, then relaxed, before turning impatient.

“Use it, after I fix it, fix this broken front brace,” said Branden gesturing toward the front of the old wheelbarrow.

“Don’t ya think you should fix it, and return it,” said the old woman.

“Return it, who to?” asked Branden, shaking his head.

“The woods wife, boy, the woods wife. She’d be grateful for the fixin, not for the keepin.”

Branden smiled at the woman, he had heard the tales, the faery stories of good fortune and ill, from folks who lived within the forest, but he knew the stories were just silly tales told to scare children.

Those gray eyes continued staring out of her crinkled face, she saw Branden’s expression, watched his disbelief growing with each breath he took, and as she turned to leave, she said, “You believe or not boy, the choice be yours, and so the consequences of your choosing.”

The next morning was almost spent before Branden, legs cramping from crouching, saw a young woman, dressed in moss green from head to toe, step beyond the forest edge, glance about, push the wheelbarrow, being satisfied with the workmanship, smile and return to the forest pushing the wheelbarrow before her.

Branden McFarland never saw either the young or old women again, he did see the wheelbarrow from time to time, sometimes broken, sometimes filled with seeds, or mushrooms, or wild herbs and other woodland treasures, prospering from the gifts which he gratefully accepted, never revealing their source to a living soul, and always choosing to repair the wheelbarrow and return it.

River Mist Tales: The Bouquet

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

Please sit by the window, you’ll have the best view, and easy 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.

bouquet_cwm

 The Bouquet

It was a birthday tradition, a bouquet of daisies picked in the morning complemented by whatever greenery was available, and something found.

This year Lessa found a feather, bright blue, from a jay, reminding her of the Stellar jays back home.

Lessa gathered the white petaled blooms, the pale green sprays of fern and tied the bundle with long blades of grass braided together.

She even tucked in a few slender branches sprouting pink tinged maple leaves, finally placing the precious blue feather front and center.

Satisfied with the generosity of the cheerful bouquet, Lessa gathered her pack, climbed down to the crooked streets, and headed towards the shrouded woodland park at the western edge of Bordertown.

Newly arrived, Lessa had been given much advice, and warnings, about the unpredictable mix of technology and magic, warned about how something as simple as mailing a birthday card could go very wrong, so Lessa had procured a translocation spell from a reputable source, at an exorbitant price rendering her cashless and impatient for her first attempt at real magic.

Luckily Blue and Skye, twin musicians from Montana, had been looking for a housemate, someone willing to do the housework, a fair exchange for room and board, never asking Lessa if she had money or not.

Skye had recommended the shop on the busy Eastern Boulevard, across town, had recommended asking the proprietor what sort of spell was needed to send a bouquet of flowers back across the border, back home to Hoquiam.

Lessa had considered a simple card, well simple compared to what the shops here offered, but if she could use magic, well, why not try for something more creative, and a bit traditional.

Preparing the bouquet was a bit tricky, finding the daisies proved challenging, but a stranger, a willowy woman whose age was only hinted by the soft lines around her deep-set, wine hued eyes, intrigued by the recent arrival, allowed Lessa free roam of her terraced garden for one hour, in return Lessa would perform a future favor.

Having memorized the instructions for the translocation spell, Lessa found a secluded shady spot amidst three tall oak trees, she placed the bouquet on the ground, took three steps backwards, closed her eyes, envisioned Tammy’s front door, threw the dust mixture from the tiny linen pouch in the direction of the bouquet and spoke the foreign words, repeating them three times.

Tammy didn’t have the courage of her childhood friend, backing out at the very last moment from running away to the legendary Bordertown, still she missed Lessa, and missed their birthday rituals, all this she considered as she opened the front door finding a withered bouquet of daisies and ferns, tied with long grasses braided together, and a bright blue feather tucked front and center.

River Mist Tales: The Glass Ball

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

Please sit by the window, you’ll have the best view, and easy 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.

glassball_cwm

The Glass Ball

The child stood three feet tall, with tight curls, golden red, coiling around her head, falling down her back.

Her eyes, wide with curiosity, glanced around the small group of children whose loud cries of play had been silenced as gaze met gaze, and small hands hid a small ball behind a small back.

The child appeared without warning, without sound, without disturbing the birds or startling the dozing cat, appeared beside the tallest evergreen in the back garden of number 38 Winborne Gardens, appeared as is she had stepped out of the tree itself.

Arabella, the eldest daughter of number 38 Winborne Gardens, took a deep breath, smoothed down her skirt, slipped the small glass ball into her pocket, and walked toward the unexpected guest, a practiced smile upon her lips in welcome.

“Hello,” said Arabella, “what’s your name?”

With a quick glance backward over her left shoulder, her gaze flowing into the trees, then returning to face the approaching daughter of the house, the child asked “Are you a human girl?”

Laughter filled the air from the assortment of children now standing in a crooked row behind the eldest daughter of the house.

With a stern glance from Arabella, silence fell upon number 38 Winborne Gardens, as Arabella, again smiling, said to her guest, “Yes, I am, and, please, if you are not, what is your reason for visiting my garden.”

Shuffles and sniggers were heard creeping across the lawn, stopping as they met the back of the eldest daughter.

“I’ve misplaced a gift from my father,” said the curly haired child, “and I must have it back.”

“Perhaps if you tell us what the gift is, we can help you find it,” said Arabella feeling a heavy pull in her pocket, a growing warmth.

“Oh eldest daughter, you have my gift, and I will have it returned, for the glass ball has its own desires and you will not be able to control it.”

River Mist Tales: Crow Stories

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

Please sit by the window, you’ll have the best view, and easy 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.

crowstree_cwm

Crow Stories

I haven’t learned the language of the trees, not fluently, not for lack of trying, but all that is going to change, and very soon.

Trees speak in a slow, soft voice, full of poetry with an acceptance we humans find hard to hear.

During the day, no matter where I roam, there is an old gnarled woman, her feet rooting in the soil, her hair growing lush as the summer progresses.

She says I must learn the language of the trees if I am ever to hear the stories the crows tell, if I am ever to understand the truth about who I am.

She says the crows, gossiping creatures that they are, don’t like telling their stories to humans, preferring conversations with the trees.

I have seen crows talking with trees, and I have seen the old woman listening, her ancient voice asking questions of both tree and crow.

She cackles, deep and lovely when I approach, the crows fly away allowing the trees alone to offer me both instruction and solace.

During the night, no matter where I roam, there is a young woman, lithe, a fair maiden, her skin glows in the echoed radiance of the moon, her voice is as sweet and soothing as a shaded creek on a hot summer’s day.

The maiden knows where the crows sleep, chiding them even as she beckons the crows to tell her their tales, and answer my questions.

Tonight the maiden has promised an introduction, a man who could help me learn the language of the trees, help me understand the crows when they talk with the trees, since that is the only time crows are full of truth.

She says I have simply forgotten how to hear.

I have been sitting in the heart of the forest, kept company by a single crow and a solemn red fox as night dances into the forest, listening as the maiden approaches, catching her smile, transfixed as she waves the crow down to the forest floor, watching as the crow shakes, unfolds and grows into a man, tall with long black hair, wearing black leather and black feathers, a crooked grin spreading across his bony face, and I, I tumble backwards.