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.

River Mist Tales: The Faery Door

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.

faerydoor2_cwm

 The Faery Door

“You’re not gonna believe what I found,” said Marion catching her breath after running up the hill. “I’m sure it wasn’t there yesterday.”

Marion turned, hesitated, then began moving back down the hill expecting her sister, Fiona, and their brother, Sean, would follow, but her elder siblings stood silent, paying her no attention.

“You have to come now, before it’s hidden again,” said Marion.

“If it is hidden again, you don’t win the bet,” said Sean.

“Don’t care, come on, come on, before it’s too late,” cried Marion, moving down the hill toward the thicket of trees at the edge of the forest.

“We’ll follow,” said Fiona, smiling, giving Sean a conspiratorial nod, eager for the moment when she would reveal the truth about Marion’s discovery.

Sean and Fiona, tired of their younger sister’s obsession with finding a faery door, hatched a plan, a simple trick made of wood and moss.

The bet was Sean’s idea, whoever found the first faery door would be free from chores for one week, the other two taking on the extra work, but only if it were a true faery door, otherwise the finder of the false door must do a week of chores for each of the other two siblings.

Following the fast moving Marion closer toward the edge of the forest, the older brother and sister looked one to the other before Fiona asked Sean, “Did you move it?”

“Look, isn’t it wonderful,” said Marion pointing towards a small door among the tree roots, unaware of the confusion her brother and sister were experiencing. Standing in disbelief, the pair were shaking their heads as they saw the remains of their false door scattered about the floor of the forest.

River Mist Tales: The Tower

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.

thetower_cwmThe Tower

“This is our inheritance, this decrepit old tower in the middle of nowhere?” asked Deedee.

“This is it,” said Rachel grabbing a flashlight out of her backpack and the large curving silver key. “Come on let’s see if the amazing stories the aunts told are true.”

“Really Rachel, not the aunts again,” said Deedee slamming the car door shut, slipping her pack onto her right shoulder.

“How do you think their business flourished, it was all because of this place, and where it took them, what they returned with,” said Rachel.

Only recently acquainted with the younger woman’s vivid imagination, Deedee followed her cousin across the field towards the tower, shaking her head, asking “And where exactly is that, and where are they now Rachel?”

The key fit easy and turned even easier stopping at the sound of a loud click, hesitating Rachel said, “You don’t need to follow me inside Deedee, just having you here, believing me after all those stories, all the stuff your mom told you, I mean, well me too, I didn’t know I had a cousin.”

“You’re too sentimental Rachel, just open the damn door and check this place out, but one loose step and we’re back to the car, okay?”

Nodding her head, gathering her courage, Rachel turned on her flashlight, pushed down upon the latch, nothing, she pushed hard against the door, it was heavier than anticipated, it didn’t budge, so Rachel pushed harder nearly falling inside as the door gave way against her effort, but steadying herself, she stood tall, slipping the large key back into the pocket of her jeans.

There was a staircase, nothing else, not even cobwebs or dust bits catching what little sunlight fell through the small windows, some with broken panes, some missing altogether, leaving gaping holes in the walls of the tower like empty eye sockets.

In silence the cousins climbed the staircase round and round as it rose toward the square room at the top of the tower, a room also clean and appearing empty, except for a soft mist which swirled and moved about revealing windows, hiding them again, finally revealing a door.

Deedee saw the door first, her involuntary gasp brought Rachel to her side, and both cousins stood for several minutes just looking before Rachel reached out to run her fingers along the intricately carved designs of knotted circles entwined with thyme and angelica leaves and a tiny petaled flower she did not recognize.

Music and voices grew louder as the two women opened the door revealing a full moon illuminating a most unusual marketplace that spread out in all directions in an alluring chaos of colors, sounds and curiosities.

River Mist Tales: The Butterflies

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.

butterflies_cwm

 The Butterflies

“Your aunt is touched,” said Sorcha.

“She’s different, and yeah, she’s visited with the other crowd,” said Devan ignoring the heavy sighs billowing around Sorcha’s head. “Besides she’s not really my aunt, as you well know.”

“Right, I thought she said a short walk in the woods. It’s been two hours, and these shoes are killing me,” said Sorcha.

“We can stop for a few minutes,” said Devan moving off the dusty woods road toward a fallen tree trunk.

Dropping her knapsack onto the ground, placing one leg on either side of the massive trunk so her feet dangled, Sorcha said, “Maybe we misunderstood the directions, I’ve never heard of a kaleidoscope of butterflies, never seen more than one at a time, well close together anyway.”

Devan smiled as he sat beside his girlfriend, a multigenerational urbanite who was proving more country girl, more of a believer, than he had hoped for.

“You’re loving all this, aren’t you?”

“Yes I am, all those stories your aunt tells, all these trees, the birds, the unknown, so much unknown, so much space, and quiet,” said Sorcha. “Except these shoes, shouldn’t have listened to your sister.”

“Look,” said Devan pointing back towards the road, “look, there’s your kaleidoscope of butterflies.”

Jumping down from her resting place, grabbing her knapsack at she stepped, Sorcha said, “Let’s go, don’t want to lose those guides.”

River Mist Tales: Red Dog, Green Dog

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.

redgreendog_cwm

Red Dog, Green Dog

Miss Plumworth sat down on the sagging couch, took our her notebook, a silver and gold pen, and said, “Tell me about the red and green dogs down the street.”

Tenny studied the woman sitting before her, the eyes looking kind, but deep, pulling, as if the woman could read her mind, as if the woman would know immediately if she told a fib or not.

The woman smiled, raised one eyebrow, tapped the pen on her notebook, just once, softly, bringing Tenny’s attention back from where it had wandered through embroidered linen falling from knees closed together, and heels too, heels supporting one green boot, one blue boot, both boots tied round with bites of patterned fabric and narrow leather belts.

Uncertain Tenny glanced back over her shoulder towards the kitchen where her mother was busy preparing iced tea and who knew what strange bite sized offering.

Miss Plumworth leaned forward, whispered low, “I know you saw him, tell me about him, Tenny.”

“No one believes me, they, they all think its just one of my stories,” said Tenny, listening for her mother’s approach.

“Well then, you had better speak quickly,” said Miss Plumworth. “Now Tenny.”

“It began with sounds of the dogs, barking, rumbling, late at night. Everyone thought someone was moving the green dog about, so he was chained, but no one was moving the dogs, the dogs were being walked, by a small man, in the night.

“I was walking home, not too far, I’d been babysitting, the dogs were missing, but I heard them barking, and a voice talking with them, bringing them back from the river.

“The man was only about three feet tall, wore a hat stuck with feathers and sticks, with a gold pocket watch stuck one side, and he had boots, full of patches, and his pants and jacket were patched and covered with twigs and leaves like he had fallen through a tree or rolled around in a pile of brush, and all of them, the man, the red dog, the green dog, passed by as if I weren’t even there.

“When I turned the dogs were back in place at the end of that driveway and the man was gone, just gone,” said Tenny leaning close to Miss Plumworth whose hand had stopped moving across the page, whose face had lifted to welcome Tenny’s mother carrying a ladened tray of tea and sandwiches.

 

River Mist Tales: The Three Caves

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.

threecaves_cwm

The Three Caves

“It’s the three caves, well one of them, the answer has to be in there somewhere,” said Declan. “Let me read it again.”

“Okay, but I think something’s missing or misspelled or…,” said Maeve shaking her head, pushing the letter across the worn wooden table.

The letter began, “Dear N,”

“I am sorry my curiosity, my yearnings, my broken promises have brought such a terrible fate upon your head. Though I must leave you, here is everything you need, just as he promised me. The Three Sisters, solemn and dangerous as they are, each hold comfort for you, but look to one alone, for the way of truth.

“As this life flows from my body just as the tide flows from the shore, a new life will be revealed and so too, will be revealed the treasures the Sisters now hide.

“Go to them, time will not diminish nor moonlight hide the solace you will find there.

“It is with a soft voice and a slow turn, and my regretful shallow heart that I leave you at all.

“Find lay you will meet, speak his name, and he will guide and bless you with my last gift, Fearghas.”

Smiling, Declan finally understood the message, then letting out his long held breath he said, “It’s the cave with the shallow turning, and its not find, lay, but the name Findlay, and it is Findlay who will be our guide to the treasure hidden in the cave, and if we have any luck at all that treasure will be a door.”

River Mist Tales: The Ferry

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.

ferryride_cwm

The Ferry

A timid knock brought forth a bang as a small wooden door opened, and a seated man asked, “How many for the Breasal Isle Ferry?”

“Two.”

“Round trip or one way?” asked the ticket seller keeping his eyes lowered.

“How much time, I mean is there a time limit on the round trip?”

“A year and a day in your time,” said the bowed head, repeating, “one year plus one day of mortal time. You can return by whatever ferry may be running.”

“Okay, then two round trip tickets,” said Phoebe ignoring the deep poke from Samantha who couldn’t hear what the ticket seller was saying, and repressing her own questions about mortal time and whatever ferry may be running.

After a flash of light, after a flurry of stamping and shuffling of countless pieces of what looked like paper or, maybe, various tree leaves, the ticket seller handed Phoebe two deep red sugar maple leaves, supple and full.

Holding the leaves, Phoebe, confused, unsure, her breath stuttering, wondered if she should ask anything else of the man sitting on the other side of the wall, when as abruptly as it was opened, the small wooden door was shut with a slam.

Not what I thought I’d receive Phoebe admitted to herself as she took a deep breath, made a quick self check, then turned around to face the ever doubtful, nervous, eye blinking Samantha.

“Well Sam, here we go, tickets in hand, and a full year before we must decide if we stay or return,” said Phoebe, forcing a smile of assurance.

Moving toward the small huddled group of fellow passengers silently waiting as the fog wove her spell hiding the world they all knew, Phoebe, sure of her choice, having seen the Breasal Isle Ferry before, having heard both delights and warnings from other travelers who yearned for another trip but somehow could not find their way back, smiled as Samantha asked with a loud voice so those around them would hear, “Will he meet us at the pier, the old man, will he welcome us, will he help us?”

“I’m sure he’ll meet us, yeah, he’ll meet us,” said Phoebe trying to convince herself.