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.
Not very long ago, before the time of your grandmother, lived two sisters.
The sisters, one with hair as red as the flame of burning oak, the other with hair as the shimmering silver of twinkling stars, lived in a cottage at the meeting place of a sunlit plain and a darkening forest, a few steps beyond the reach of the shade cast by the guardian trees of the forest.
Living with a woman they called grandmother, the sisters learned spinning and weaving, their threads as gossamer and as strong as a spider’s web filled with longing, filled with dream.
The sisters learned songs calling the sweet rains which rode with the west wind, and the sisters learned to be wary of the deep knowledge hidden within the shade of trees.
Blessed with even temperaments, happy and hard working, the sisters learned all the grandmother could teach them, never challenging nor causing worry or concern.
When the grandmother heard the time song, she sent the sisters into the forest, telling them they must learn from those who wear feathers, learn from those who wear fur.
During the day the sisters ventured into the forest returning to the small cottage each night, sharing their conversations, their adventures among furred and feathered friends with the grandmother as she sat by the hearth listening, never speaking a word.
Eager and enthusiastic, the sisters asked many questions of the creatures living in the forest, but the sisters never asked the questions which the two spoke when they thought no one could hear.
The questions the sisters hid from the grandmother, from the feathered and furred, were few: where is our mother, why must we protect ourselves from the shade at the edge of the forest?
What the sisters had not learned, could not ask, was how deep into a heart a forest can penetrate, how dark the shade can truly be, how far from home curiosity can lead.
The long shadows of early morning began calling the sisters, soon the growing afternoon shadows of the forest edge also began whispering as the sisters passed, tempting their untempered hearts, telling where the woman with red flame hair streaked with silver starlight was living, was waiting for her daughters.
Then the day came, lit by a bright clear sun, long shadows almost touching the cottage door, the grandmother inviting a young woman, her belly swollen, into the cottage, smiling with a kindness the young woman had never known, all the while beyond the dooryard as the tree shade deepened, two sisters hearing a sonorous voice calling, calling, calling, stepped into the shade of the trees and disappeared.