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: The Cauldron

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.

thecauldron_cwm

The Cauldron

“This will never work,” said Dorcas shaking her head.

“Not with that attitude,” said Lynney, wondering why her cousin was giving up so soon.

“She’s right Lynney, we need the cauldron, we need Granny Briar’s cauldron,” said Tanith, “ she infused it with wind energy, and, well, we could use her help.”

“The dead Granny Briar, the woman none of our mom’s will talk about, the woman whose cottage disappeared in a dark fog, that woman’s cauldron,” said Lynney beginning to doubt her own abilities, her own attitude.

“Yeah, that woman, but I’ve been reading her books we found, all we do is ask, give thanks really for already receiving the cauldron, and, and it will reveal itself to us,” said Dorcas, confident that her studies were leading them in the right direction, “so let’s go.”

Without another word, the three girls packed away their jars of dried herbs, their collection of bird feathers, dried leaves, sky blue candles, braided ribbons the colors of summer sunsets and storm laden winter skies, placing everything with care into a leather and wood travelers trunk, locking it shut, shoving it against a shadowed wall, placing their alder handled brooms, broomcorn bristles upright, into a dark corner of the hay loft.

“My mom’s not happy about all this, about us, about me, she’s asking more and more questions” said Tanith as the three climbed down the ladder, left the barn.

“Don’t lie Tanith, you have a gift, don’t lie about it, none of us need lie if anyone asks anything,” said Dorcas, “speak with care though, for now focus on the cauldron, practice the incantation, remember our words have power.”

Anyone following the cousins might have wondered why three teenage girls were walking in deep silence, only the rising breeze, the crows, the bare-limbed trees, heard the growing song of enchantment, heard the strengthening desire, the overwhelming rise of gratitude, and willingly added their own energy to the call.

It was Lynney who stopped first, having raised her eyes from the familiar path through the field, around the out buildings, of her father’s farm.

“Look,” said Lynney grabbing Dorcas’ arm, “look, there by the old storage sheds, you are gifted, scary but gifted.”

Leaving Dorcas standing guard over the grounded cauldron, drawing the circle, invoking the wisdom and blessing of their Granny Briar, Tanith and Lynney retraced their steps back to the barn, collected the feathers, candles, ribbons and other items they considered supportive for the spell work, the enchantment they were calling, the flying spell the three were casting upon their brooms, upon themselves.

River Mist Tales: The Letter

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 apple 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.

theletter_cwm

 The Letter

She had found the first letter quite by accident, during a game of hide and seek in the wood, waiting silently for hours, believing in her cousins who told her to hide, unknowing they would not bother to seek her out, except when it pleased the pair to steal into the secret lives of others.

Maxi had never been alone in a wood before, there was so much to explore, to hear, to spy upon and in turn, learned she was spied upon by unknown others, she liked that best of all.

The letter was in the remains of an ancient tree trunk, resting upon the softest pile of vibrant green moss as if on a velvet pillow, as if it were being presented at a royal court.

During that day of discovery, Maxi sat and watched the weather smoothed trunk, the still letter, for hours, at a distance in case someone showed up, but finally acknowledging her cousins cruelty and surrendering to her own hunger she abandoned her vigil, taking the letter home, hidden inside her jacket.

The paper was roughly textured, embedded with violet petals, covered in an indigo colored ink, a flowing cursive hand, a short introduction, a request for a response, the asking for a pen pal.

Maxi had always wanted a pen pal, someone from Scotland or Ireland or Wales, someone who lived in a castle or near a castle or within sight of a castle, or a crumbling old keep, someone living with history and magic all around.

Here was an opportunity, so she began a correspondence with an unknown writer of the wood, someone who knew the wood, who spoke with trees and foxes and owls, someone who would not reveal their name.

Maxi spend many days composing her weekly letter which she left on the moss pillow inside the old tree trunk, sharing adventures and stories, hers seeming gray and shallow, lacking excitement, knowledge, lacking magic when compared with the missives she received.

She was certain her pen pal was full of magic, for the letters revealed gossip from crows, gossip about Maxi’s cousins, and revealed transgressions voiced be the trees, the river, the meadow flowers, transgressions committed by villagers, and there were questions too, such as why horses were imprisoned by fences, some dogs chained and some cats never allowed to roam outside even though all asked for their freedom.

Maxi began to wonder too, wonder about fences, about the possibility of trees having conversations, about crows chiding, about time expanding in directions not understood and how could she learn to hear and speak to the wood and all those who lived within it.

Keeping the correspondence secret had taught Maxi how to walk softer in the world, to know the differences between the sound of paw and human footfall, the song of bird, the rustle of short and long leaf, for it was the one condition from her unnamed pen pal, no one must ever see the letters but Maxi herself.

Finding the cousins at the trunk, Maxi hid from the raucous pair, she could hear their voices rising, daring each other towards the stump, daring to pluck the letter hiding there, laughing satisfied they had discovered Maxi’s secret, stealing something belonging to her, and as Maxi watched, her heart beating quickly, her stomach growing tight, the elder cousin reached for the letter, only to have it catch fire, cinders floating away into the the tangling branches overhead, then reaching into her pocket, fingers protecting the letter hidden there, Maxi touched not her own smooth stationery but a roughly textured, violet embedded envelope.

River Mist Tales: The Notebook

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 apple 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.

notebookleaf_cwm

The Notebook

It was 2 am when Bronwyn sneaked out of the long closed library, walking home to the studio apartment she shared with fellow student, Deidre, a quiet and slow walk, hoping she might meet one of the woods folks as they were called by the locals.

Not wanting to wake her roommate, Bronwyn slowly opened the door, stepping inside without turning on the light before remembering Deidre was away for the weekend.

Flicking the light switch, Bronwyn took a step forward and stumbled, books, clothes and dishes were strewn about the floor.

She dropped her knapsack, every muscle tightening as she looked around the room, moving backwards, bumping into the front door, slamming it shut, rushing back against it.

Cupboard doors lay open, drawers were hanging empty, the beds were piles of sheets, blankets and pillows, from the closet, jeans, skirts, shirts and shoes spilled out like the insides of one of the road killed foxes she mourned earlier in the day as she returned from the forest trails.

Instinctively Bronwyn reached for her cell, began punching in the emergency numbers, stopped when she saw her desk, the chair in place, her notepads piled neatly, her pens arranged in a row side by side, reference books stacked by size, it was an oasis of tidiness, calmness among the chaos of the rest of the apartment.

Instead of calling the police, she called Ryan, waking him up, demanding he come immediately, there was something he needed to see.

While waiting for Ryan, Bronwyn checked the windows, all were closed, all were locked and she looked for any sign of who might have tossed the place, most thoroughly she examined her desk, the organization, what remained upon it, what might be missing.

Three of her favorite writing notebooks, hard covered, heavy smooth pages, had been placed in precise positions, side by side, on the short end of the desk, a pen placed upon each one, dead center, with a space on the desk for a fourth notebook left empty.

Bronwyn glanced towards her backpack where she had dropped it by the door, wondering if this invasion had anything to do with what she had found, what she had taken from the wood that very morning.

She had found it on a moss covered rock, tucked under a leaf, hand tooled designs filling the four quadrants of the front, back and even running along the spine of the leather cover, a filigreed fountain pen lay uncapped beside the notebook, its pages unwritten to her eyes.

As Ryan opened the door, pushing against the backpack, Bronwyn smiled, she had made the right decision, for Ryan believed the tales, and he would help return the notebook before any other mischief invaded her life, before something would be demanded in return, something not as easily returned as a blank notebook.

River Mist Tales: The Teacup

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.

teacuprasp_cwm

The Teacup

Arabella jumped out of bed and ran to the arching bedroom window.

It was there, the mist moving with the river as if the river itself had flowed into the sky and was continuing on its way meandering through tree tops and along cloud canyons.

Knowing she must hurry, Arabella pulled up the blankets over the pillows, dressed with haste, being as silent as a swiftly moving cloud.

She had already packed the teacups, the forks and spoons, the rose flowered plates, her grandmother’s blue trimmed linen napkins into the old woven picnic basket.

The tiny tea sandwiches she made fresh each night were hidden from her brothers at the back of the refrigerator, along with two small applesauce cakes she had baked alongside her mother.

Arabella had been watching the signs like the old woman had taught her, the change in the night temperature, the return of the stellar jays from their summer roosts, the changing colors of the elm, maple and oak leaves, all these signs of the coming autumn gathering.

And most importantly, the mist on the river, not a static melting mist, but a rising floating mist following the course of the river below it.

She had found the remains of the gathering last year, and the year before, and the year before that, she had tried to join in the festivities, especially what she considered tea time, arriving without treats to share, without tea or cups, without being invited.

Obtaining an invitation, the old woman said, requires a bit of bravery, them folk don’t allow just any daughter to sit with them, and they won’t ask ya, ya got to find them, be as if you’d already been invited, and they’d be expectin’ you, and don’t forget treats and tea.

Today would be Arabella’s third attempt in joining the tea time revels with the woods folk as the old woman called them, as she said they called themselves, not caring for any other of the human names, not revealing the sparkling language of their own.

Arabella slipped out the kitchen door, the picnic basket heavy with delights both sweet and savory, a flask of tea, a pot for serving, teacups for drinking, and walked quickly, confidently towards the river.

The mist changed the world, hiding, revealing river, tree and footpath, changing what is seen, pulling Arabella further from home, further from what was known, until she found the sign she was looking for, a teacup turned on its side into its saucer, keeping a few feet away Arabella set her tree trunk table with cloth and napkins, cups and saucers, plates and piles of sandwiches, scones and cakes, and waited, knowing today they would come, for she heard the soft foot fall, the tinkling laughter flowing out of the mist.

River Mist Tales: Jack in the Green

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. And please, ignore the cats, don’t open the window 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.

jackgreen_cwm

 Jack in the Green

Come, come out of your houses

Come, come out into the green wood

Come, tis time for Jack in the Green

The voices flowed along the cobbled streets, perching upon door steps, tapping on windows, moving above the reach of passersby.

Snuggling in blankets, knees pulled up tight, Sophia sat alone, tucked into the curving window seat of her second floor bedroom.

Disobeying her mother, Sophia had opened the window, allowing the gathering voices entry, as well as the rush of cool May air.

Spring was taking her time coming to the northern woods, but Jack in the Green would lure her, dancing her into the fields and meadows, along the streams, and across the lake, or so the village children had told Sophia.

“And if Jack stops at your house, smiles upon your garden, a small gift must be offered or he will curse your home and all you grow,” said the village children.

Nonsense, Sophia’s father had said when she told him about the celebrations, about the village traditions, about the visiting forest sprite Jack in the Green.

The old ways were of no importance to our modern lives, Sophia was told, and having a cold, she was ordered to stay in bed away from the cool May air and the raucous wanderings of Jack in the Green.

Tall, a walking collection of green leaves resembling a tree often seen on the north side of the village green, Jack was surrounded by dancing children and vibrantly dressed adults brandishing flowering branches of apple and pear, voices rising and falling as the ever growing parade moved closer and closer, finally stopping below Sophia’s high stone-framed window.

Turning a leaf clad, green face skyward, smiling, Jack gathered the braided ribbons tethered to a single silver oak leaf Sophia lowered from her towered perch, allowing a silent exchange of gift and blessing.

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: Red Ribbons

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.

ribbon_tree_cwm

Red Ribbons

Maggie O’Brien sat on the edge of her bed swinging her legs back and forth, her hands resting upon the quilted covering, her fingers tracing the hand-stitched lines between the kaleidoscopic misshapen pieces of fabric.

The house and every other creature inside it were still asleep, slumbering in the early morning twilight more dark than bright dawn.

Beside Maggie, laid out in straight lines, were two pale red ribbons, tightly woven, strong and sure, edges untattered, their satin finish catching the rising light.

It had been exactly three hundred and sixty-two days since Maggie had asked her aunt Rita if she too, could knot ribbons onto the hawthorn tree on May Day, giving both petition and thanks with the weaving of branch and ribbon.

For years Maggie had watched her older cousins, the aunts, their friends, gather in the back meadow in the dew kissed dawn on the first day of May, cheerful, sharing very particular gifts received from the wild wood.

She spied as the women, dressed in vibrant hues of yellow, blues, greens and purples, gather the low growing violets, the trailing ivy, the tiny wild daisies and blossoming thyme, weaving flower and leaf into circlets for hair and neck.

She spied, moving with soft footstep and quiet breath, amidst the dark blue shade of the yellow green leaves, the pink and white petals of the spring dressed cherry and apple trees, the woody thickset hedges forming the border between sunny meadow and shadowed wood.

From her green haven, Maggie never heard complete the chants whispered, the petitions given, until the women’s melodic voices joined together into a raucous chorus of joyful thanksgiving.

And she never saw the annual celebration in its entirety, for Maggie always crept back to the house, arriving in the warm kitchen long before her mother, who was wary and critical of the old ways practiced by her sisters and nieces, could discover her daughter’s interest, her daughter’s desire, her daughter’s yearning for the mysterious fellowship of ribbon and blooming hawthorn.

The bedroom door, which Maggie had left unlatched and just opened enough for a mouse to slip through, was pushed with a strong and sure hand as an invitation to join the revelry.

Maggie, finishing her silent invocation, her memorizing of petition and thanksgiving as instructed by her cousin a mere one year older, smiled at her retreating aunt, grabbed the ribbons, jumped down from the bed and ran with lilting footsteps down the front stairs and through the opened front door.

Falling into step behind her youngest cousin, Maggie walked solemnly even as her heart was skipping, her mind joyous, her face beaming with anticipation, giving thanks with each step, and wondering where her place would be in the circle around the hawthorn, wondering how the celebrations end, wondering if she too, on the next May Day morn, would hold dear a gift from the wild wood.

River Mist Tales: The Wheelbarrow

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.

wheelbarrow_cwm

The Wheelbarrow

“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.