River Mist Tales: River Spinner

Hurry, this way, before the river mist settles upon the dooryard. It may be a while before your path home is revealed.

The seat by the window is most comfortable and there’s tea in the pot, if you haven’t brought a wee dram of your own.

Ignore the cats, don’t open the windows when the crows come calling.

I’ll be working in the darkened alcove across the room if you have any needs or she knocks upon the door.

She doesn’t like to be kept waiting. Enjoy her photographs and her 12-line tales. Though she is a bit loose with the truth and a bit too revealing with magic, as your kind calls it.

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

spinner_cwm

River Spinner

On Monday, Matilda, wandering aimlessly along the river bank, found three flat river stones stacked one on top of the other, on the largest stone was a black inked drawing resembling the far bank, almost, on the middle sized stone another inked drawing of the railroad bridge a few hundred feet down river, and strange symbols ran across the third and smallest stone, the masterful illustrations focused her drifting thoughts, of Seamus, his leaving, his weaving unraveling, her paintings fading, their studio abandoned, locked shut.

Although the stones lay near the edge of the flowing river, threatened by the slightest surge in the water, they lay dry, surrounded by settled dust after weeks of cloudless skies, the endless sun browning, and, like the stones, Matilda was dry and dusty, living deep within her grief, the loss of her husband, her planned life, blaming her rabid focus upon an imagined covenant, her pursuit of the realm she had glimpsed in his eyes, heard in his stories, witnessed in his weaving, chased in her dreaming.

On Tuesday Matilda could not find the illustrated stones, she searched north and south from the spot where she knew the stones had laid, it was the view of the bridge which held her in place, the changing view of the far river bank, and as she searched she realized an unknown artist had given her a marker, revealed a thread, strong, inspiring.

I should have taken the stones Matilda told herself, they held the answer, they showed the way.

Sitting on a fallen tree trunk, Matilda, quieting her mind, turned her attention towards the river rushing over rising rocks, fallen trees, observing how the river, stilling itself, gently pushed against the smaller stones along the bank, and becoming still herself, Matilda softened, tears fell from dry eyes, spinning into twisting river flows, twining into the living tapestry before her.

A gentle breeze, slow, mischievous, rustled the leaves overhead, bird song drifted from the dense canopy dissolving into the flow of open air spinning above the interlaces of light and water forming the river.

With her thoughts flowing through time, today, yesterday, pushing against stilled moments, Matilda closed her eyes, conjuring up the memory of where she had stood, trying to see what lived unseen.

Another sound rose above the roar of shuttling water and fading bird song, a sound of squeaking, of dull plodding, rhythmic, familiar, a sound braiding into her heart, coiling around her memories, when Matilda opened her eyes, silence.

On Wednesday Matilda found tufts of silken fibers, glistening white and gold, collecting at the edge of the river as if the river herself was plucking and carding the course foam splashing over jutting rock and fallen trunk.

She gathered the soft damp tufts, draping them over the fallen tree trunk where she had sat the day before.

The more she gathered, the more appeared, and as she gathered she heard the click, the squeak, the dull whoosh of, of some knowledge her mind did not grasp, all the while the humble rhythms grew louder and louder and louder.

Clouds shifted the fall of sunlight, shadows deepened, moved, the tufts drying upon the log vanished, the river grew silent as the air grew thick, sweet, Matilda, straining to know, was rewarded, stepping away from the river into the trees, Matilda saw the bark encrusted loom, and the leaf hidden weaver, a voice weaving itself into the trees, “You have done me a great service Matilda, come tomorrow and you will find what you seek.”

River Mist Tales: Seaside Faery Door

Come in, come in. The mist has settled, you may as well sit, sip a cup of tea, read a few tales.

No introductions are needed, river folk know what needs to be known.

There’s spice cake and cheddar if you’re hungry. Milk and sugar for the tea, unless you brought a flask of your own.

Don’t open the window if the crows tap and call, nor heed those gossiping tabbies.

I’ll be working in the far alcove if you have any needs or she knocks upon the door. Don’t want to keep her waiting.

Enjoy her photographs and her 12-line tales, though she’s a bit loose with the truth, too revealing with the magic.

Until you visit again may your wonderings be bold and your imaginings be wise.

fearydoor_cwm

Seaside Faery Door

“What are you looking for?”

Accustomed to speaking with the casual visitors walking along the mud flats, Evie stood up, pulling her hands out of the gently moving sea water, giving them a shake, unbending, looking up into the face of the woman standing beside her.

“Mostly sand dollars, sea glass,” said Evie, studying the woman, her curiosity growing for she was unlike any adult Evie had ever seen.

“May I join your search,” asked the woman lowering her voice to a whisper, “I’m rather good at finding things, especially unusual, well-hidden things.”

Evie smiled, nodded her head in agreement, unsure how to answer, unsure if this woman with her untidy curls falling across her face, riotous patterns moving across her disheveled layers of dress and coat, seeming her mother’s age, was being polite in that way adults can be, or was she genuinely interested.

The woman turned sideways, facing toward the shore, the cement seawall, the steps leading from the beach to the tiny patch of backyard, “Which way shall we proceed Evie?”

Disheartened, Evie said, “Towards the shore,” this must be the sitter mother was hiring, she thought, that’s why she knows my name, although the woman hardly resembled any sitter Evie had ever suffered before, and besides at eleven Evie knew she had outgrown any need for a babysitter.

“Excellent decision,” said the woman, “and will you tell me about the door Evie?”

“It was beautiful,” Evie said, stopping herself, frowning, searching the woman’s face before continuing, scolding herself for being eager, open, “how do you know, I didn’t tell anyone, didn’t tell my mom, and, and she won’t want to know.”

Smiling the woman said, “I haven’t spoken with your mother Evie, anything you tell me is just between you and me, our secret, and I believe you can tell me all about the door, you have a strong memory and a keen eye, so, please, tell me what you will, and what you won’t.”

Perhaps thought Evie, wondering, then pointing towards the cement seawall she said, “It was night but more morning, there was a full moon, I had sneaked outside, I heard music, fiddles I think, lively but far away, like the music was flowing on the moonlight, the door was there, closed, I watched it, until I heard mom moving about, when I came back after breakfast, the door was gone, and haven’t seen it again.”

A stern voice bellowed from the house, Evie turned to go, the woman said, “I’m staying at the blue cottage, Shore Side, only two doors north, come for tea Evie, we’ll make plans for the coming full moon, I’m called Miss Plumworth,” then lowering her voice once more, “and I know a few things about feary doors.”

River Mist Tales: The Rose Garden

Come in, come in. The mist has settled, you may as well sit, sip a cup of tea, read a few tales.

No introductions are needed, river folk know what needs to be known.

There’s spice cake and cheddar if you’re hungry. Milk and sugar for the tea, unless you brought a flask of your own.

Don’t open the window if the crows tap and call, nor heed those gossiping tabbies.

I’ll be working in the far alcove if you have any needs or she knocks upon the door. Don’t want to keep her waiting.

Enjoy her photographs and her 12-line tales, though she’s a bit loose with the truth, too revealing with the magic.

Until you visit again may your wonderings be bold and your imaginings be wise.

rosegarden_cwm

The Rose Garden

Even though the crusty blackened edges of the piled snow had long been pulled from the noisy streets, winter’s hand remained upon Suzanne’s heart, evidence of those heroic bits of stem and bud, those tiny jewels promising spring, remained unseen as the calendar pages turned from April to May.

For many long winter imprisoned weeks, Suzanne, having arrived without reference, without an introduction, had walked the gray sidewalks, desperate for employment, any work allowing her to live inside, eat every day, promising a return home, to her home, the hope of reclaiming her inheritance.

With no commercial skills, as she was told during countless interviews, Suzanne watched in growing silence as her written applications were quickly discarded without being read, until she found work on a night shift, as an office cleaner.

Hardly seen, searched every time she entered or exited the building, Suzanne discovered an unexplored solace in the night, in the empty rooms, the empty streets of the slowly illuminating dawn, her memories remaining strong though her heart and body slowly weakened.

Yearning for the clean crispness of the wood in winter, the softening as spring crept into the meadows, the cottage garden revealing hidden secrets as it awoke from its crystalline dreaming, Suzanne looked for any portent of nature among the steel and concrete, any terrain for breathing, for healing.

Finding the celebrated window displays disheartening, their sprouting metal flowers and jagged trees, spindly and incomplete, an unfinished reference to the wonder, the true magic of flowers and trees, Suzanne witnessed the spectacle of both the real and artificial being dismissed in equal regard, and so too, was she.

Here concrete, uncolored companion to the gray black of the road, holding court with the color-drained sidings of the ever reaching buildings, every surface straight, smooth, featureless, remained unchanged as days grew longer, winds grew drier, warmer.

As more and more sunlight fell upon her morning ramble back to the dorm where she spent dreamless days, Suzanne growing weaker, her steps slow, her breaths shallow, began shuffling along different streets, zigzagging her way, spying through closed gates guarding private spaces, hoping for a glint of growth, of petal, of leaf, a saving grace.

All appeared without character, untended, some spaces rigidly shaped, emptied of all flowers, shrubs and trees, except for the idea of grass, grown as a green carpet for a tiny unfurnished room, a buffer zone between buildings, dying a slow death in shadow.

This morning as she stepped onto an unfamiliar narrow lane, the prevailing scent, mineral, damp, and dirty, rising from the street was tinged with a sweet, fruity bouquet, Suzanne stopped, taking a longer breath, and another, and another, each breath deepening, as the scent expanded, filling her, calling her.

Looking for the source of this strengthening wonder, Suzanne approached a high built, rough textured brick wall topped with smooth granite stones, an archway held a recessed carved door, oversized, well matched by a dragon shaped door knocker and hand latch, raising her eyes, she saw shafts of sunlight rising from, not falling down onto, whatever lay beyond that wall, behind that door.

Without hesitation Suzanne lifted the latch, she pushed the door open, warm bright light crashed upon her as a wave to shore, her mouth slowly forming into a smile, a motion she found almost foreign, roses spilled about before her in every direction beside an aging brick pathway, and a voice like a spring breeze called out, “Come Suzanne, you are most welcome, close the door behind you, here you will find your way back home.”

River Mist Tales: The Boy

Hurry, this way, before the river mist settles upon the dooryard. It may be a while before your path home is revealed.

The seat by the window is most comfortable and there’s tea in the pot, if you haven’t brought a wee dram of your own.

Ignore the cats, don’t open the windows when the crows come calling.

I’ll be working in the darkened alcove across the room if you have any needs or she knocks upon the door.

She doesn’t like to be kept waiting. Enjoy her photographs and her 12-line tales. Though she is a bit loose with the truth and a bit too revealing with magic, as your kind calls it.

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

pirateboy_cwm

The Boy

The first time I saw the boy was during a free concert held on the docks downtown.

He was standing a few steps into the water, from a small stretch of sandy beach below the docks, a bit of open space between the docks and one of the historic buildings built along Water Street, this one housing a cafe and art gallery.

I decided he had arrived aboard the graceful wooden schooner hoisting red sails, sporting a flag of skull and crossbones, anchored not far offshore.

His feet were hidden below the water line, he was wearing his long clothes, his pirate costume, pants cut off, shirts and vests hanging in crumpled untidy layers, ill fitting, salt air and sun faded, his tricorn hat appearing too big for his head, a head he kept bent, giving all his attention to the small model boat he was moving through the calm water lapping the shore.

After watching the boy for a few minutes I returned my attention to the band, listening to the raucous, toe tapping music, then following a few songs sent afloat, I drifted back to the far side of the dock, the boy pirate and his model boat were gone, the schooner was still anchored nearby, but there was no dory heading out to it, or tied along side of it, or anywhere within sight.

The second time I saw the boy pirate was during Pirate Days, among the artisans, musicians and actors, young and old, dressed in costumes, he appeared part of the crowd, just another kid enjoying the festivities, except this time I watched him with obvious attention, and yet he disappeared once again in a fleeting moment of distraction.

A few days later, I found the young pirate on a quiet autumn dawn, when the streets were empty of people, instead fog roamed along the sidewalks, dipping in and out of doorways, rushing around the corners of buildings softening the strong edges, shrouding the still-lit street lamps, hiding from view the water lapping the shore only a few steps away yet seeming miles in distance as if we were moving through a dream.

The lad was walking along the sleeping street carrying his model boat, his feet bare, his head tilted down so I couldn’t see his face, but I saw him, and so I followed him even as his stride became more purposeful as if he knew I was there, behind him, as if the fog was pushing him up the street, and like the fog his form would rise and fall from sight, fading, becoming wispy, thin, almost transparent before becoming solid again.

There was a whispering current about my ears, stay back, stay away, you must not follow, it said over and over, growing loud and strong before fading away soft and loose, as if it were the fog’s voice swirling around me, rising and falling like waves crashing, crashing between me and the lad.

But I could not stop following the pirate, I could not turn away, my curiosity was rising, breaching my cautious mind, where was this young pirate going, why did he always appear alone, who or what, was he.

As we continued north, heading toward the boat docks, the headland, the end of the street, the known storefronts, window displays, and those steps leading to glass fronted doors disappeared into the ebb and flow of fog, landmarks faded from sight, only the lad, his clutched boat, the darkened road, the sound of surf, anchored me in time, stirred my courage.

The ground beneath my feet changed tone, the pirate and I had walked onto the wooden pier, heading down a gangplank towards floating docks where fog shrouded boats slept lulled by the rhythm of tides, the fog had wrapped itself tight around me, and through that blinding wet dark a gentle song of salt crusted rope, of metal, of water hitting wood rose up, I could not see beyond the ghost like figure of my pirate, until tripping over an transom I found myself onboard a schooner hoisting red sails, and high up a fluttering Jolly Roger, as the sun rose into a clear blue sky, with nothing but vast ocean all around.

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: The Birthday Guest

Don’t be shy. Come in, the mist is settling over the river, the dark will be upon the forest any time now.

Here you’ll find some small comforts, a pot of tea, some spice cookies, a soft pillowed chair tucked between the window and the fire.

Ignore the cats, gossip mongers all of them.

I’ll be working at the desk tucked into the far corner if your any needs or she knocks upon the door.

Enjoy her photographs and her 12-line tales. She’s a bit loose with the truth, a bit too revealing with her magic.

Until you come again, may your wonderings be bold and your imaginings be wise.

birthdayparty_cwm

The Birthday Guest

“I know somethin,” said Gabby, her voice singing, teasing, “ I know somethin, ya don’t need to tell.”

“Hush child, she’ll learn soon enough” said Hannah straightening the knives and forks, turning the plates so their tiny jeweled morsels were further from the table edge, the long view showing off her culinary handiwork.

“Can I ask Miss Plums…,” the young girl stopped mid name.

“Miss Plumworth, Gabby, her name is Plumworth, yeah after we eat you can, if mom hasn’t asked her to leave,” said Hannah.

“Mom won’t ask her, she knows’er, that’s what I know, mom knows Miss Plums, Miss Plumsworth.”

“Plumworth,” Hannah glared at her sister, her mind moving back in time, the late night conversation with her mother, words knotted with anger and fear, until Hannah had made a promise she would never keep.

How did their mother know the traveling collector, Hannah hadn’t heard about the woman until months after the encounter with the boy, when the letter arrived, its author requesting a visit, a simple conversation, a few questions, providing the date and time of her arrival, there was no return address.

Maybe the boy told the truth, maybe he had met their mother, years ago, when she was a mere girl herself.

And if the boy had told that truth, maybe all his other stories were true as well, maybe their brother, Paul, was away, not dead, maybe he was living with family, their family, maybe he was celebrating his birthday just as Hannah was celebrating it here today, but none of it made any sense, why would mother lie, and where does she go when the moon is full and the woods hide her steps, her path, preventing Hannah from following.

A firm knock on the front door pulled Hannah from her thoughts, from her confusion, her speculations, taking a deep breath she smoothed her dress, took another glance at the celebratory table satisfied Paul would have liked his birthday tea, and wondering if everything was about to change, again.

She was tall, more curving, wearing so many different colors and patterns and textures, her boots well worn, her hair a constrained mass of curls pushing hard against tightly braided ribbons, both curls and braids trying to free themselves, she carried an oversized carpet bag, a smile brightening her face, not at all, Hannah thought, as formal in appearance and stature as her handwritten letter had suggested.

“Hannah, I see your mother in your curiosity, especially when she was your age,” said Miss Plumworth, “though I hope you are more imaginative, possess more courage, a more open heart.”

Hannah glanced from Miss Plumworth towards her mother who was standing quiet, head lowered, eyes downcast, a posture she had never seen her mother take before, then returning her gaze to their guest, Hannah, her mind galloping ahead, asked, “Are we related to faeries?”

River Mist Tales: Tree Face

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.

treeface_cwm

Tree Face

“Where are you taking those?”

The voice was deep, resin filled, slow, full of the east wind and short sunlit days.

Connra placed her willow basket on the ground, stood tall and looked around.

She saw no one, only the pine, spruce, and western hemlock, her gaze moving along a patch of cedars leading toward the river.

Shrugging her shoulders, taking one more glance around her, Connra bent over and resumed picking up the fallen cones scattered about the ground.

“Where are you taking those which are not yours?” came the resonant voice, again slow, filled with patience and understanding.

Connra stood, again looked around, moved so she could see along the narrow woods path before saying, “Home, taking them home. Who’s there?”

“What will you do with them?” asked the voice speaking with rooted strength.

With a slow turn Connra answered, “I use them in the hearth, and for the arrangements we sell at the next Yule markets.”

“I would like to see those arrangements, can you bring one to me?”

Bewildered, Connra stared at a tall pine a few feet away, stared at the barked face returning her gaze.

She had heard many old tales about the creatures who live in the forests, in the trees, creatures who can bless and curse, creatures who can teach and destroy, now, finally, Connra had met just such a creature, and she was eager to befriend the inquisitive tree spirit.

River Mist Tales: The Unicorn Trophy

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.

unicornb_cwm

The Unicorn Trophy

It wasn’t Miss Plumworth’s first visit to Maine, but this was the first time an object was being offered, and only her second visit in her own time.

Before her, centered upon a slight rise, stood a plan rectangular, white clapboard farmhouse, extending out back towards the barn, until house and barn merged into a single structure.

Small single-step porches held court outside both the front and side doors, both looked unused, lonely without any bush or flower, the side door catching a small bit of shade from the single elm which stood in the side yard just beyond the end of the dirt driveway.

Before Miss Plumworth stepped into the kitchen dooryard, the creaking wooden kitchen door opened wide revealing a petite fair haired girl who couldn’t be more than ten years old, hesitating, keeping her eyes toward the ground.

Miss Plumworth smiled, raised her face sniffing the air, a jumble of lavender, lilac and rose, and fresh baked rhubarb cake full of cinnamon and, surprisingly, cardamon.

A few quick steps and she was in the kitchen, the wide wooden planks scrubbed smooth, and the petite fair haired girl said, “This way please, miss.”

Settling into the living room whose only visual reprieve from a vast collection of objects, were two sets of windows, one pair looking out towards the street which ran parallel to the short end of the house, the other pair looking out toward the dirt driveway, the solitary elm tree, across spotty grass towards the neighbors fenced garden, Miss Plumworth wondered how any object, magical or otherwise, once brought into this overflowing house would be noticed at all.

The answer arrived when Tilda Miller sauntered into the room, wearing a bright floral dress, a plaid scarf wrapped around her shoulders, purple shoes matched by large purple and silver earrings, her curly hair a rising mass around her angular, eager face.

The gregarious woman answered another question as well, why her daughter chose simple, plain and quiet.

As Tilda raised eyebrows, inclined her head, visually instructing her daughter, the girl sat down beside Miss Plumworth on the couch, pulling a small silver unicorn from her pocket, offering it on her upraised palm.

“I found it, hidden in a tree out back, in a small broken box, well, the lady showed me where to look, told me she couldn’t touch it, told me I needed to give it to you, so you could return it, and then she could go home too,” said the fair haired daughter, all in one breath.

“Jilly is it, why don’t you hold the unicorn while you describe the lady to me,” said Miss Plumworth, slow and calm, replacing her notebook into her bag, pulling out an scarred black leather bound book with a tiny silver unicorn embossed in the lower front corner.

River Mist Tales: Tree Shade

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.

treeshade_cwm

Tree Shade

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.

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, or maybe I am,” 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, my feet hurt and these shoes are ruined,” said Sorcha.

“Come on, we can rest for a few,” 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 born and bred 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, I guess, I really want to believe in magic and more,” 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.”

 

 

©2017 Catherine W McKinney