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.
“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.