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.

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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: 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.

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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 Horses

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.

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The Horses

The night was calm, except for the thick billowing clouds hiding, revealing, and hiding again the rounded moon, a moon dancing shadows across the yard below her bedroom window.

When the night shadows lingered, Jessie Woodbridge retreated from the window, sitting, statue like, on the edge of her still made bed.

Silently, she reviewed the day’s events, the preparations. She had filled her large canvas hiking pack with clothes, camp knife, matches, water canteen and an odd assortment of small tools Brian had listed for her.

Brian Murphy, with his swirling blue green eyes, had planned everything.

Brian knew the reason Jessie had been hearing the horses, at night, in her dreams when all the other creatures of the day were deep in slumber.

Jessie trusted Brian, even when he told her the story about the tiny horse on the high mountain trail, about trading tools for passage across the river, about the two gray horses, well, the horses’ heads.

At the beginning of the long drive leading towards Jessie’s home rose two wooden columns, each capped with a carved gray horse head. Their sorrowful eyes capturing Jessie’s attention, haunting her sleep, her days, no matter how many times Jessie told herself they were just carved pieces of wood.

A soft dull thud, a stomp of hoof, floated through the open bedroom window. Jessie, with boots in hand, slouched though the sleeping house, creeping into the side yard where Brian, holding the braided reins of two mottled gray horses, stood waiting for her.

With a quick nod, Brian led the small expedition down the driveway, passing between the two columns.

Clouds parted, the moon lit the night, Jessie looking up, gazed at the top of the columns, now capless, and smiled as she turned her silent mount north toward the mountain ridge.