River Mist Tales: Found

Welcome traveler, no need for names here. River folk have a way of knowing what needs to be known.

There’s tea in the pot, slices of spice cake, fresh apples and cheddar.

Don’t open the window when the crow taps, nor let the cats out, no matter what they tell you.

I’ll be working in the far alcove if you have any needs or she knocks upon the door with her basket of tales.

Enjoy her photographs and her 12-line tales, though she’s a bit loose with her truths.

Please come again. You’ll always find comfort, refreshment and a bit of magic.

Until next time, may your wonderings be bold and your imaginings be wise.

dragonegg_cwm

Found

“You can’t keep it child.”

“Why not, it’s only a decorated egg, folks lose things in the woods all the time,” said Emily determined this treasure, found unattended, now belonged to her.

“No one lost this, you can’t keep it.”

“Please Granny Morna, just for tonight, I promise I’ll take it back, tomorrow, after breakfast,” said Emily hoping by morning her granny would have forgotten all about the egg.

Granny Morna looked out the window, the coming dark turning the glass more into a mirror than an open view out onto the garden and the wood beyond, the dark forcing her choice, they must care for the egg overnight, not the safest option but the most necessary one.

As she waited upon her granny, Emily rolled the smooth hard egg around within in her small hands, it was larger, heavier than any egg she had ever seen, had ever carried, covered in hues of red and purple, for some talented hand had painted the egg, and there was a symbol, a symbol she knew must mean something, and as she looked and rolled it, the egg grew warmer, almost hot, to the touch, the symbol glowing.

“All right, just for tonight, but you must do exactly as I say,” said Granny Morna as Emily, hiding the glowing egg behind her back, nodded in agreement, smiling, ready to do whatever chore her granny may ask of her, but chores were not what Granny Morna had in mind.

Instead the white haired woman pulled a shovel of ash and charred wood from the hearth, banking the small pile under the bread oven, just a bit back into the dark, where food was often put to warm but not cook.

Not understanding but obeying, Emily placed the egg into the smoldering pile, directed by her granny, she fetched sand from the bucket kept on the porch, spread it around the pile, banked it against the egg.

“Won’t that be too warm?” asked Emily unheeded, wondering why soft cloths in a basket wouldn’t be better, and then she could keep the egg tucked up in her sleeping alcove, keep watch over it.

Satisfied with the preparations for the egg itself, Granny Morna turned her attention towards other precautions, she had Emily gather a large handful of barley seeds and throw them about the porch, from the dark, dry corners of the cottage Emily gathered dried sprigs of betony, foxglove and holly, tying the leaves and flowers together with a gold colored ribbon, finally, her chatter full of questions, Emily hung the beribboned bundle from the heavy door knocker.

Settling her creaking bones beside the fire, Granny Morna let loose a deep breath, a passing of time, old promises, long drained of purpose, needed breaking, her granddaughter needed protection, needed knowledge, it was time for truths, for answers, for Emily must know who she is, what she can do, why all this fuss for an egg, “It’s not a simple thing you have taken from the wood dear child, no you have stolen a dragon’s egg, and we must show it, and any who comes looking for it, hospitality and reverence.”

River Mist Tales: A young dragon

Welcome traveler, no need for names here. River folk have a way of knowing what needs to be known. And soon you will too.

There’s tea in the pot, slices of spice cake, fresh apples and cheddar.

Don’t open the window when the crow taps, nor let the cats out, no matter what they tell you.

I’ll be working in the far alcove if you have any needs or she knocks upon the door with her basket of tales.

Enjoy her photographs and her 12-line tales, though she’s a bit loose with her truths.

Please come again. Here, you’ll always find comfort, refreshment and a bit of magic.

Until next time, may your wonderings be bold and your imaginings be wise.

dragonmug_cwm

 

 A young dragon

“You can wait in here for Lady Morgan, but don’t touch anything. Do you hear?” commanded Mrs. McCurdle wagging a short sausage like finger.

“Yes, ma’am,” said Lauren sitting down on the hard couch pushing aside several layers of coverlets, the ivy and leaf designs fading, some threadbare, barely more than a collection of strings themselves, lowering her eyes until she heard the click of the door latch, certain the scowling Mrs. McCurdle has stormed into another part of the house.

Standing, Lauren turned slowly around in a full circle, taking a memorizing glance at the layout of the room, before deciding the small desk at the far end would be as good a place as any to begin her search.

Remember she told herself, it’s a notebook or a bundle of stationery, or loose papers in a file folder, not a book, not a book.

Usually Lauren ignored dares but this particular dare could not be ignored, besides, she convinced herself, knowledge should be shared, and she was only taking a peek.

The desk was a clutter of odd wooden animal figures, ancient leather covered books, stacks of loose sheets of sketch paper, vases of dried flowers, half folded maps, small travel guides for places Lauren had never studied in school, candles, stones, shells knotted onto braided ropes, a crystal ball atop dolphin fins, and one oversized blue glazed ceramic mug.

She picked up the empty mug, turned it around, taking a closer look at the brown raised design when a sudden flutter of wings startled her and something flew close, wing tips brushing her cheek.

Dropping the mug onto the unstable pile of notebooks, Lauren turned away from the chaos of papers, pens, small books and maps sliding from the desk unto the carpet below, instead she looked for the small winged creature flying about the room, landing here, landing there.

Entranced, Lauren gave no heed to lamps falling over, pillows being knocked onto the floor, paintings tilting on the wall, her eyes were on the petite creature soaring around the room.

Following first with eyes only, Lauren found her courage and began scrambling, awkward and stuttering like a baby’s first steps, stumbling over fallen objects, bumping into chairs, eager for a glimpse, a touch, of the creature that had been hidden on the desk, wondering how it could be.

With her attention flying about the room, Lauren did not hear the carved oak door open, nor the demanding quick steps, nor, at first, the commanding voice speaking words unfamiliar and unknown, as a glinting blue and brown winged beast flew over her head returning to his home aside the oversized ceramic mug.

As Lauren spun around once more, her gaze following the rush of blue and brown, she faced a tall plain woman, who was smiling, holding the ceramic mug and speaking, “After you straighten this mess, you can explain to me why you were chasing a very young Welsh dragon around my library.”

River Mist Tales: A Farewell

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.

snow_dragon2_cwm

A Farewell

Lily smiled as she watched her aunt perform her morning rituals, rituals as ancient and as reassuring as the sun rising high above the far mountain ridges, watching every movement fill with appreciation for each object touched, each sip swallowed, each sun beam felt, each breath taken as if each would be the last.

“You were in my dreams again, well, that same dream, three nights in a row now,” said Lily sipping milky tea from a cracked tea cup, its rambling roses and leaves faded from years of being held by loving fingers.

“Don’t you think its time for a brighter tea cup, a stronger one with less years rubbed from it,” said Hazel as her crinkled fingers folded the soft blue linen napkin that had laid upon her bony lap, pressing flat the upturned corners, tucking it under the edge of her empty tea cup and saucer.

After draining her aging tea cup of its warming contents, Lily said, “I must tell you the dream today aunt, please, before the day ends, before this year ends, I know you can tell me what it all means.”

“Only you can determine the meaning of snow capped trees, a quiet expanse of lake, a high flying dragon, only you can go into the future child,” said the stiffly moving, gray haired woman.

“How, but,” stuttered Lily, “ did you send me the dream aunt for I know you are the woman standing on the shore, although your hair is red, your arms are strong, the voice powerful as that woman stops the snow dragon from landing?”

With a growing smile, erasing long held wrinkles upon her face, Hazel moved away from the table, stepped through the kitchen doorway, walked along the bare worn path beyond the sleeping beech and birch trees, beyond the stately spruce and pine, towards the shore of Lake Crescent, glancing backwards knowing her vibrant, if sorrowful, niece would be following.

“But in my dream you leave, you leave with the snow dragon, it all happens as the west wind gives way to her sister the east wind, as the old year ends,” said Lily her voice pleading for an explanation, for the comfort an old voice filled with the wisdom of old ways and echoes of her mother.

“The world is changing Lily, it is time for me, for those of us who practice the old ways to step aside, allowing vigor and fresh magic into the world, you must give way to your dream, nothing will be lost in this ending, and all will be made clear, as clear as the water of this lake, as sparkling as the snow upon the trees.”

“You can’t go aunt, I’m not ready, I have so many questions for you.”

“Hush child, we have this day, this last day of the year, besides you are ready, you are strong, you carry the wisdom of generations of Harlow women in your heart and your mind, and when you need us, if you need our ways, we will come, but only in support of your recreated world, of your invigorated ways.”

Leaving her aunt at the shore, Lily returned to the kitchen, eyes clouded with tears, and began her morning chores, putting away the butter and blackberry preserves, placing her aunts teacup, saucer and plate into the sink, finally, reaching for her own tea cup, her mother’s tea cup, she found the roses had turned deep red, the leaves dark green, the handle had become whole, no crack could be found, with a sense of astonishment, of fear, Lily ran out the door and into the strong and sure arms of her aunt, whose gray hair was once again swirling strands of auburn.

River Mist Tales: The Fountain

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.

fountain_cwm

The Fountain

At the age of twenty-seven, Maxwell Cotton, tasked with creating the sculptures for the 12th District’s center fountain, became the youngest sculptor ever commissioned by the city of Praatonia, an honor traditionally, and politically, bestowed upon the senior artisans of the Praaton Sculptoriaum, particularly artisans from loyal citizen families.

Turning his back on the gossip, the demeaning speculations, the very public whispers, focusing instead on the demands of his first major public commission, desiring to bring honor to old Malvern who first accepted him, against much derision, into the Sculptoriaum, Max reached back into his own family’s traditions, his inheritance of design and language, and the blessings of the Dragon’s Breath.

More than a century ago followers of the Dragon’s Breath had become outsiders, travelers mostly, feared for their ancient knowledge, and respect, of land, air and water, feared for their melodic language, their refusal of state citizenship, feared for their protection of the last remaining dragons.

Honoring the history of his merchant neighbors, the collection of fountain sculptures Max proposed was accepted without much alteration by the Overseers, and with much relief by the merchants.

The stone was collected, carved and placed, the water system installed and tested, the fountain was on schedule for its grand unveiling, readied for use.

With the dedication two days away, Max visited the silent pristine fountain, the water reservoirs empty, the polished stone hiding underneath a covering of purple canvas, tented so none of the ornamental sculptures could give themselves away.

From his hiding place under the canvas, the young sculptor heard the comments of those passing by, their curiosity, their criticisms, voices washing upon the canvas, rising and falling like a tide against a sandy shore, fading into the day, except for one voice, having spoken from the moment the fountain’s cornerstone was placed, returning again and again, growing louder, more demanding, now commanding Max, speaking in an ancient tongue.

Invite me, the voice said with growing imperialism, invite me to live among these people who have forgotten their old neighbors.

Max looked out from his hiding place amongst his sculptures, he looked for the man whose deep fierce voice was speaking with the language of his ancestors, speaking the language of the Dragon’s Breath, but no such man could be seen, and Max trembled as the voice circled around his body, flowing through the fountain like water, bubbling from some hidden deep cavern, pushing for the response Max knew he was unable to hold back.

On the day of the dedication, under the glare of a hot high sun, the merchants with their storefronts gleaming, making last minute demands of their overwrought clerks, smiling at the groaning crowds come to witness the promised homage to commerce, finally joined the citizens filling the five avenues leading away from Praatonia’s newest fountain.

As the canvas was removed, the water rushing in its exploration of the carved basins, the crowd delighting in the curve and shape, the sheer number of the polished figurines, young Maxwell Cotton was chanting, in an ancient tongue, calling, calling, calling.

Before the first drops of water rested in their new home, Max saw the water dragon, as gray as the hand-polished marble, wrap around a column and disappear into the swirling water.