Once upon a time for that is how all good stories begin there was a town called Heart Town. Heart Town was a beautiful place. It was neat and tidy with everything just so and the people were pretty too. They were all made of crystal and where most people’s meat hearts should be they had a heart of red crystal. Those hearts were all tied up with ribbons of every colour because in this town when you were loved by someone your heart got received a ribbon tied in a bow of their colour. Everyone in this town had many, many ribbons tied around their hearts all tied in different kinds of bows. Silly bows, foofy bows, simple bows as individual as the people that had tied them.
A shy witch had moved to this town and her name was Fay. Well, that’s what the Mayor of the town had decided she could be called. Her real name was Penelope Faery Rainbow which was just not a good name for a witch. Names are funny things once you are given them they don’t go away because they define at least part of who you are so somewhere deep inside she was Penelope Faery Rainbow but not most of the time.
Every Sunday night something wonderful happened in this town. At the stroke of seven on the town clock everyone started to sing. First the people’s hearts started to chime with a lovely sweet sound and then the people would sing with their hearts. One person in town wasn’t singing but no one knew this, yet…
The shy and formerly lonely witch, Miss Fay wasn’t. She sat alone in her fantastically turreted and towered house and listened and wished she knew how. Miss Fay had moved to this town as a grown up and had no idea how to make her heart chime or how to sing along with the people. She just didn’t know the song that everyone else had learned as a child. So she sat in her big stuffed green chair and listened to the town every Sunday night.
Once she had known this happened every Sunday night she made sure she was home that night. She didn’t want to be embarrassed about not knowing how to sing or chime her heart. So she sat at home and dreamily listened while sipping her tea and wished she could join in. It never occurred to her she could just ask someone how. She was still new to this friend making thing. She had only just told people her name a bit ago. She thought maybe she could ask the Mayor how they did it but she would feel so silly and stupid she hadn’t done it yet. Maybe she would do it next time the Mayor came to tea. Maybe while he was trying one of her new pastries. He sure seemed to like them and he always took some home with him for his family. But the Mayor came to tea several times just to chat and see that she was all right but she couldn’t seem to get her courage together to ask him but then something changed.
She had lived in this town almost a whole year so she hadn’t been part of all the celebrations and town functions yet and one day she got an invitation in the mail. It was a lovely thing with ribbons and beautifully cut shapes and a painting of a red crystal heart on the front of the invitation. This was a very special invitation. Once a year the town’s people got together on a Sunday night and sang together. Everyone was invited and she could tell from the invitation that she really was expected to go. What was she going to do? She had no clue how to sing the song or make her heart make those beautiful sounds. Maybe she could say she was sick and move away before next year’s celebration? But she really loved living in her cozy funny looking house and she really loved her beautiful garden. She loved the weather in this town. It only rained when the weatherman said it would and stopped right on time when the garden had had just enough. So she always knew she could go up to her tiny observatory and watch the stars and planets. What was she going to do? She worried and she fretted and she put off replying to the invitation because she couldn’t figure out how to answer. And then the Mayor came to call…
Because sooner or later things that you have to do come back around and have consequences if you don’t do them and in this town the Mayor would come to your door to see if you were all right.
Miss Fay answered the knock on the door. The Mayor always knocked. He never poked the door bell. She thought was very strange but she was too shy to ask him why. Maybe on another day she would but today she was afraid it was about that beautiful invitation with the heart on the front. She opened the door slowly. And there stood the Mayor in his crisp black suit smiling at her. “Won’t you come in, Mr. Mayor?” She asked.
“You know I asked you to call me Ben way back before the garden party? “ The witch nodded shyly. She still was having a small bit of trouble calling people their names. It was just so personal.
“Why haven’t you replied to the invitation we sent out?” The Mayor, err, Ben asked.
The Witch looked down at her shoes. They were really quite interesting shoes. They were black and laced up and had a nice blocky heel and an opening where her big toe could peep out but they weren’t that interesting and sooner or later she was going to have to answer the Mayor.
“Won’t you come in Ben? I have some new chocolate pistachio bars for you to try.” And the Witch bustled off to her kitchen grateful she had thought to something to do besides look at her interesting shoes and her big toe.
When she had brought a tea tray back into the front room the Mayor was seated in his favourite overstuffed chair of deep blue. “You still haven’t answered my question.” said the Mayor.
The Witch looked down as she fixed her tea still unable to meet the Mayor’s kind eyes and she said in a very low voice. “I don’t know how to sing like everyone else does. I’d feel silly going and just standing there what if I can’t do it?”
The Mayor looked at her. “How do you know until you try, Miss Fay?” Miss Fay busied her self with the tea set and re-arranged the chocolate pistachio bars into a complex castle.
“Well, what if I can’t sing and everyone else can? I’ll just ruin your celebration and everyone will be mad at me.”
My family will come to escort you to the town square tomorrow night and we’ll just see how it goes. I promise it will be all right.” The Mayor stood up and thanked her for tea and left without giving her time or space to say no.
Miss Fay sat stunned. No one had ever done that to her before. Maybe she would just stay in her favourite pjs all day and he’d feel too embarrassed to make her go but she decided that the Mayor was a force of nature and just might make her go even in her favourite gnome pajamas. So the next night at a quarter to seven she sat in her white wicker chair out in the garden when the Mayor and his family all showed up to escort her. She went to meet them and walked between the Mayor and his tiny wife Milly followed by all the children. She thought there were six but they kept moving and messing up her count. They looked like three sets of twins but she couldn’t tell for sure and she was too shy to ask.
They arrived after the short walk at the town square where there was a statue of a heart with ribbons tied on it and the whole town was gathered around it in a large circle holding hands. Ben and Milly grabbed her hands so she couldn’t get away and the town clock started to strike seven and a weird thing started to happen in her chest. When the town’s people’s hearts started to chime her heart started to vibrate just a little bit and she heard a small sound from it. The Mayor and his wife turned to her and smiled.
“See, you’ll be just fine. You just have to listen and believe that you are part of all of us because if you are going to live here we are part of you too.” The Mayor whispered this in her ear. Everyone in town was starting to sing and she could feel it all through her body and she started to relax. It didn’t matter that she didn’t quite know the tune in her head her heart seemed to know it and that was all that mattered as she started to sing with the rest of the town. This was a good place to live and now every night she could sing and chime too. She liked that. It was good to be a part of something and the witch smiled and sang.
Once upon a time there lived a witch in a town known as Heart Town. The witch had moved here because she was lonely and wanted someone to love her. She had gotten in a lot of trouble over that. People in Heart Town were people made of clear crystal who had beautiful ribbons tied around their red crystal hearts. These ribbons were all different colours, a different colour for each person that loved them.
The witch had gotten into a lot of trouble because she had tried to hold onto the ribbons so she could be sure of who loved her and the whole town had gotten all tangled up and some had fallen and gotten cracks in their bodies. The town’s people were all made of crystal so that everyone could see their hearts and no one had ever even gotten a scratch before the witch had arrived in town. Some of the people still hadn’t gotten over that. It just wasn’t what they were used to but the poor lonely witch had another problem now. She wouldn’t tell anyone her name and people were starting to avoid her again. This had made her sad again.
Names are important things. When you have someone’s name you could call it and get someone’s attention or ask them to do something. The witch didn’t want anyone making her do something she didn’t want to do so she wouldn’t tell anyone her name. The witch didn’t understand the power of two different words, “yes” and “no”. She was convinced if some one asked her to do something and they knew her name they could make her do it. This was a town of very nice and polite people who would never make anyone do anything they didn’t want to do but the lonely witch wasn’t good at helping and she wasn’t very good at even trying that was why she was the lonely witch after all. Besides that she really hated her name. Her name was Penelope Faery Rainbows. That was just not a good witch name. She thought a good witch name was something like Agatha or Esmeralda or Guisbertha not someone who could be called Penny.
So when she went out she was always addressed as “Miss Witch”. She was getting tired of this but she really wasn’t outgoing enough to tell anyone her real name. She was shy and had a hard time making friends at all. The town’s people had finally had enough of this. They got together again and decided that the Mayor should speak to her again. That’s what worked the last time and they saw no reason to change now. They were a very practical town of people and if it worked once it should work again, right?
So Mr. Mayor went across town to visit the witch. He actually liked visiting the witch because she had a beautiful garden and always had fresh pastries and cookies. The Mayor was very fond of baked goods.
The witch’s house was very strange. It was all higgledy-pigglety. It was full of strange towers and funny shaped windows like moons and stars and had a widow’s walk around the top. It was also painted in many colours. It had a teal tower and a cobalt blue tower next to a turret that was painted emerald green. The porch was painted lavender with white pillars and was covered in pink roses that filled the air with a sweet scent and even though it was all mixed up it all sort of mixed together and was quite pretty.
Mr. Mayor opened the gate on the white picket fence and walked up the garden walk. It was filled with flowers. There were columbines and foxgloves. There were nasturtiums and abutilons. There were violets and lavender and sage and marigolds and pansies. The whole garden was filled with colour and around the edges she had planted pumpkins. There were some of the biggest pumpkins he’d every seen. And as he walked up the walk he had an idea. He wondered if it would work. He walked up to the door and used her doorknocker. It was in the shape of a pumpkin too. She must really like pumpkins.
The witch answered the door wearing her apron. She had been inventing a new cream treacle scone recipe and had flour on her nose and all over the brim of her hat. She wasn’t a bad looking witch. She was round where she should be round and not where she shouldn’t be. She had big blue eyes that twinkled when she wasn’t being shy. “Wouldn’t you like to come in Mr. Mayor?” She asked, “I have some new scones that should go nicely with the raspberry jam I made yesterday or would you rather have lemon curd?” She shooed him into her front room.
The Mayor looked around in wonder. There were always so many things to see here. She had bookcases full of books. She had things made of glass that spun and twinkled and made rainbows all over the room. She had an enormous desk that had a huge open book that he saw had a recipe written on it. She also had the biggest cat he’d ever seen sleeping on a foot stool with one eye half open studying him quietly. Mr. Mayor sat in a big overstuffed chair next to the tea table that had a large steaming tea pot in the shape of a big green cabbage.
“So Mr. Mayor, what brings you over to my house on this bright sunny day?”
“Well,” Mr. Mayor started just a wee bit uneasily, “It’s about not knowing your name and I bet you don’t even know mine, do you?”
The witch looked ashamed. “No, everyone just calls you Mr. Mayor and I’ve never heard anything else.”
“You should be around my wife. She uses it a lot.” Mr. Mayor laughed. “My name is Alyious Benjamin Honeydew but you can call me Ben. We would like to know your name so we don’t have to keep calling you Miss Witch. People here in this town are very kind and won’t make fun of it no matter what it is.”
The witch was blushing and fidgeting in her chair. “I have a awful name for a witch. My mother had no sense of a proper name for a witch so I never tell people my name. I’m afraid I’ll become my name and it’s just too silly.”
“Surely it can’t be that bad, can it?” asked the Mayor.
“Well, you be the judge, it’s just not a proper witch name. It’s Penelope Fairy Rainbows.”
The Mayor choked back a giggle. He could see that maybe a witch wouldn’t like such a foofy name. “I can see that that might not be a name a proper witch might like or even one you could grow into like Aliyousus. Have you tried shortening it?”
“Do you think ‘Penny’ is any better?” the witch asked.
“Maybe not.” The Mayor was thinking quickly. “How about Fay?”
“That isn’t too bad.” The witch thought that wasn’t too awful a name. It didn’t make her cringe like her real name in fact that just might work. “Miss Fay? That isn’t too bad but how do I let people know nicely what my name is? I’ve been here almost a year and it seems kind of late and embarrassing to spring it on people now.”
“I have an idea.” said the Mayor. “Why don’t you have a party and invite people to your garden and you could share some of your wonderful pastries and have tea. You could send out invitations and just put your name on them and that way you don’t have to walk up and tell everyone your name. We could also put a pretty sign out on your fence that says ‘Welcome to Miss Fay’s Garden’. Would that be all right?”
The witch sat back in her big chair and thought and thought while the Mayor took another scone and heaped lemon curd on it. She wouldn’t have to leave her house except to go to the post office to mail the invitations. She could just stay in her garden and welcome people in but what if they wouldn’t come? She worried.
“What if no one comes?” She asked fretfully.
“Oh, they will come. People are always curious and they know from taking walks that you have a lovely garden from the outside. They will come, trust me.” The Mayor got up to leave and shook the witch’s hand. “It was nice to see you again Miss Fay.”
The witch sat in her chair for a moment. She got up and got her special feather quill and a packet of stationary and sat down at her desk. She dictated the invitation to the quill and let it get busy writing the invitations out. What was the good of being a witch if you couldn’t let something else do some of the work? She went back to baking. She had just thought of a new raspberry cookie recipe that would be good. She might as well use that jam she had just made for cookies for the party. Later that afternoon she mailed the invitations.
She woke up bright and early on Saturday morning and looked out her bedroom window at the sky. It was going to be a beautiful clear day for the party, so far so good.
She had been tidying her garden all week. The gnomes that lived in an oak tree in the back had been helping and she knew the dryads, devas and faeries had been helping too. All the colours of the flowers were perfect and there wasn’t petal out of place. She was going to set up tea in the side garden wear she had conjured up some comfortable garden chairs. So much to do and what if no one came?
Three o’clock came and people started to line up at the gate. Their heart ribbons tied in gay bows and their crystal all shiny. The witch relaxed. People had come. She went out to greet them. The Mayor’s family was first in line. “Hi Miss Fay! We’re here!” they cried!f
The witch went eagerly to greet them. She shook hands with everyone and remembered most of their names. They all greeted her happily and called her Miss Fay and she didn’t mind the name a bit. The witch learned a lot that day. She learned that if she was nice and friendly people would want to be her friend too. Now if she could bring her self to share the scone and cookie recipe…
Once upon a time there was town where the people were all made of very strong crystal and if they fell down they didn’t break. They were a very beautiful people and the most beautiful thing about them was their hearts. Their hearts were made of red crystal and looked like Valentine hearts. And one of the many unique things about this very special town is that they were all well loved and every one knew just how loved they were.
How did they know how loved they were? When some one was loved in this town their heart would have a lovely ribbon tied around it with a bow because love leaves a mark on your heart. Everyone always made sure that their ribbons were tied with a bow so that everyone was free to walk around. Because everyone in this small town had a different colour ribbon the hearts were full and amazingly colourful. And in this lucky town no one ever tried to see how many ribbons were on the hearts they just enjoyed their beauty.
One day a new person moved into the town. She changed the balance of things. When she met people she liked she put her ribbon on like every one else but because she was afraid of losing people she held on to the ribbon and tied a knot instead. She was afraid of losing the love she had collected.
Pretty soon people in town were falling down because she hadn’t let go of the ribbons. For the first time in their lives they were showing cracks. It was terrible. The ribbons trailed all over the street and got tangled around street lamps and cats played with them, dogs tried to bury them and birds tried to carry them off to make nests.
The town’s people got together and decided something had to be done. Their children would never make it to adulthood if they started having cracks like this. Some day they might break. So they decided to do something for the witch, for a witch she was. They normally liked witches. Witches did a lot of good work in town but this one needed help badly. She just had the wrong idea about things. So they went to the witch with a pair of big scissors.
“Dear Miss Witch,” they said, for they were always polite to each other in this town. “Would you let us cut the ribbons you are holding and tie you some beautiful bows?”
“No!” said the witch. “How will I know who loves me and who I love if I cut the ribbon and don’t hold on tight?”
“You will just have to trust like the rest of us that you are well loved.” said the town’s people.
“But that’s not right. What if someone doesn’t love me? What will I do?” wailed the witch.
“Not everyone is always loved by everyone. We all leave marks on people’s hearts. We just always try here to make a beautiful mark. We let go and let people come back and tie a bow on our heart when we are ready for them. And if they are never ready to do that we find other people in town who will love us. Tripping people and holding on to their heart ribbons is wrong and makes people like horses on reins in other towns. Even our horses here don’t have reins. You need to let go and trust and I as Mayor of the town will tie the first bow.” He picked up his ribbon and followed it back to the lonely witch and as she cried and shivered he tied a beautiful bow. One by one the people who had met her and cared for her tied bows on their ribbons. She was shivering so hard they thought she might crack herself. Not every one tied a bow, some people didn’t know her well enough and some people didn’t like her very much so they cut their ribbon. This made the witch cry with the loss but not everyone as the Mayor had said is loved by all. Some people just don’t like being held on to so tightly. You just have to grow up and accept this as fact.
The witch looked down when they were done and stopped crying. There were simple bows and frilly bows and silly bows but still there were enough bows to show that she was loved and liked. The town’s people had made their point and she was just going to have to trust that she was loved as much as her heart showed. And from then on there were no more cracked crystal people in town from tripping on ribbons and this made all the town and the witch happy.
Once upon a time and now and again something happens in the heavens, the Sun and the Moon dance always twice in the same month and then they rest. The astronomers on Earth have explained this away as an eclipse and they think it is nothing more than the Sun or the Moon blocking each other’s light in turn always two weeks apart but it isn’t for the Sola and Luna have fooled them all. Puny humans that think they have to explain what they see. The Sola and Luna have had many a giggle over this.
What is it that Sola and Luna are doing? A Dance and it is a dance that moves the Earth and changes the seasons as they go their way through the milk of their galaxy. You may even have seen this dance down here on our shining blue marble and not recognized what it was. Have you ever seen two lovely women face each other and dance during a belly dance? They move their way facing each other in a carefully marked distance apart. They dance their love for the Goddess and each other and all the world and the ripples move out and if it’s during the day Sola watches and remembers to tell Luna before Luna starts her watch and if it’s at night time Luna returns the favour.
They have been doing this dance since the beginning of our time and before. They will continue to do this dance until our time or theirs ceases. One dancer who beams brilliantly yellow and orange facing the other beaming with a white and blue glow. Scientists tell us that this white and blue glow is a reflection and in part it is the reflection of Luna’s love for her sister Sola but some comes from deep with in just as love flows through us.
So next time you see two beautiful belly dancers dancing across from each other look up and remember the greatest dancers of all, Sola and Luna.
Once upon a time there was a tree on the side of a hill and on this tree there was a bud, the bud of a new spring green leaf. This leaf was soooo excited to be on the tree. As spring went on he slowly unfurled from his tight bud. Each day he was a little more open. He was going to be the best leaf that ever was! He was going to be greener and prettier and he was going to see everything there was to see from his tree.
Everyday he looked out on the Earth. He felt the sun on his surface. He liked the way that felt. All warm and wonderful, he could feel the warmth turning to sugar to feed the tree and it made him proud to be able to do that.
He liked being near the other leaves and the rustling sounds they made together when the wind came. It was a soft lovely noise.
He liked it when the rain came and got him and his friends all wet and how the rain slid down from one leaf to another before it hit the ground. The leaves liked to play a game to see how long they could hold a drop of water before they had to pass it on to the leaf below.
He liked all the weather although thunder and lighting was kind of scary with all its loud bangs and bright lights. He was a little afraid of being burnt.
He liked talking to the squirrel that lived in the tree. The squirrel was always so busy. Running up and down, gathering nuts from nearby trees and talking to other squirrels. He always had the latest news.
He liked talking to the raven with his deep hoarse voice that came by occasionally. He had wonderful stories of the places he went in winter. Those stories were scary. All the other leaves told him they would be gone by winter but he decided he didn’t want to leave the tree so he listened to those scary stories carefully. What would this winter be like?
He talked to the owl that flew silently in at night. The owl made him jump and shake a little because he never heard the owl coming. Once the owl dropped a feather when he took off quickly to hunt and it landed on him. It was so soft and warm. It made him feel special to be able to touch the owl.
But time was passing every day and the days got longer and then one day they started to get shorter and shorter and he felt a change inside himself. He noticed that he and the other leaves had started to change colour. This wasn’t good at all! He wanted to stay green on his tree forever and he tried to stop is but it just kept happening and he got redder and redder each day. The other leaves started talking about some one called Hecate and they were very excited. All they talked about was going to be with Hecate and would she choose one of them. “Choose them for what?” he thought. “I’m staying right here. I want to see winter even if it is scary. I want to see snow. I want to see things turn white. I want to see the animals go to sleep.”
The leaves around him started letting go. One by one they dropped away with an ecstatic “Whhhhhheeeeeeee!” and away they would spin in the fall breezes and gales but the leaf held on tight to his branch. He started to get lonely but he waited and waited. Soon everyone was gone. Maybe this was going to be lonelier than he thought but he knew it was the only way he was going to see winter. He could see the leaves on the ground under the tree. Most of them blew far, far away, farther than he could see. Was that where this Hecate was? Was that where they really went?
One day he had a big surprise. A woman appeared below his tree, a woman with deep lines in her face and long wavy hair the colour of clouds after the rain. She wore thick clothes in all the colours of all the trees in the woods. Her shawl alone had the deep green of the firs and the yellows of the cottonwood and the reds and oranges of maples, beeches and birches. She stood looking up at him with a kind look on her face. “Time to come down now.” She said quietly.
“Why should I leave my tree?” the leaf asked. “I want to see winter.” The leaf was going to stay right where he was, he thought stubbornly. “What does this woman know anyway?”
“You need to come down now, it’s time.” she said firmly.
“Time for what?” the leaf said sullenly. “I see no good reason to go. I want to see winter!”
“No leaf can see winter from their tree. It’s just not possible and it’s not the way things go. You need to come down here and be nourishment for the Earth. Leaves have just as big a job when they leave their trees. They fall to the Earth to make her strong and so trees will grow new leaves in the spring. If you see winter it must be from down here.” She said softly.
“Who are you?” asked the leaf. He wondered how this woman knew what happened to the other leaves and why she cared.
“Didn’t you hear the other leaves talking about me before they jumped? I’m Hecate and you really need to come down here to me.”
“Don’t wanna.” The leaf said. “I’m gonna stay right here. I want to see snow and see the animals go to sleep and I want to see it through to spring.”
“Well, you can’t.” And Hecate started to rise up through the air to him until her eyes were level with his branch and she could see him clearly. “I’ve never see such a stubborn, curious little leaf “
She looked at him carefully and she could see him shivering in the breeze. He could feel his anchors letting go. “No! NO NO!” he cried. “I won’t go!
“All leaves go sooner or later. This is later for you. It won’t be so bad. It’s just a new adventure.”
He let go of the branch and floated free. Hecate floated with him. He slowly spun through the air, whirling and turning. He could see he was going farther and farther from his old tree.
“Where, oh where was he going?!” But he saw that Hecate was going with him. Maybe it wasn’t going to be so bad if she went too. He liked her kind brown eyes. They were the same colour as some of the nuts the squirrels collected and he could see the whole wood reflected in them.
“Will you be there with me?” he asked her.
“Always.” She said. “I’m always in the winter wood. I watch over everything and all things and make sure they go at the right time and the right place and I make sure they aren’t alone on their new adventures.”
“Really??” The leaf asked.
“Really!” Hecate replied.
“Then maybe it wouldn’t be so bad after all.” And the leaf floated away on the fall winds with Hecate next to him all the way.
Once upon a time there was a little black ant. He was an ordinary ant or at least he thought he was ordinary. The other ants didn’t seem to think so though. He did seem to do things a wee bit differently.
When the ants found a cache of sugar to bring back to the nest he always seemed to find the one that was the shiniest or had a pink sheen. When they found some leaves to bring back to the nest he found the one with the veining pattern that look like the tree it came from. He liked things to look pleasing. He liked to go out with all the other ants and find things to bring back. It was fun to explore the world under that huge sky but sometimes things happened. Sometimes while he was exploring the other ants would quietly leave him behind and he would turn to follow them back and they would all be gone. He had to find the trail and follow it back by himself and he’d get scared that he would be stepped on and no one would know.
One day while he was out he made his way back and they had moved the whole nest. Some big person had watered the flower pot they were living in and they’d had to make a quick get away. He found the scent trail and found the new nest but he was so scared that he wouldn’t he was breathing really hard when he found it. He knew they hadn’t meant to leave him behind, he thought.
One day one of the other ants asked him, “Why are you so different? You always have to do something the rest of us aren’t.” The ant looked at him with disgust his antenna waggling with contempt. “Why can’t you be like the rest of us?”
“But I am like the rest of you, when you bring back sugar, I bring back sugar. When you bring back leaves I bring back leaves. I just like to bring a pretty one back or the one that fits the best not the first one I see.” The little ant was puzzled he couldn’t understand what he had done wrong. What was wrong with bringing the one that caught his eye? It didn’t take any more time and he did the same share of work.
“Well, Stop it! It’s stupid, none of the rest of us do it. Next time someone might not leave a trail for you to follow home.” The big ant looked behind him at an ant that was hiding behind some ants. That ant just shrugged and looked a bit sheepish.
The bigger ant stomped off down the tunnel and the rest of the ants followed. The little ant lay down in the tunnel and cradled his head on his front arms. “Why are they so upset? I didn’t do anything wrong.” he thought to himself. “Why does it hurt him when I bring back one that looks all pearly? Doesn’t he see how pretty it is?” He lay on the tunnel floor his head sinking lower and lower. “What was the point anyway and were they really leaving him behind on purpose? And would anyone miss him if he got stepped on and didn’t come back?” He flattened himself on the floor in misery and lay there for a long time when he began to smell a really good smell. It was a smell he had heard about from the other ants. They longed to smell that smell but knew none of them ever would. The smell got closer and closer, it smelled clean like after a spring or fall rain but much, much better. He also got very scared because something was very wrong if he was smelling that smell, SHE was coming and he didn’t know what to do so he flattened himself some more.
“Get up!” He heard a calm but very firm voice. “Get up and look at me! Why are you lying here and not in the nest with the others?”
The little ant started to shake. Why was she here looking at him? Didn’t she know he was nobody special? The other ants had been quite clear about that. So he stood slowly with his head hanging down. “I’m not wanted.” he whispered.
“Speak up! And hold your head up! Why are you lying here?”
“I’m not wanted.” He said a little louder.
“Who says you aren’t wanted? The Queen asked, for queen she was and worker ants never ever saw the queen and she smelled so good.
“The other ants. They even leave me behind when we go outside. What if I get lost or stepped on?” He cried.
“Why do they leave you behind?” She asked.
“I like to bring back the pretty stuff or the things that look a little different. It doesn’t take any more time and I always bring my full share.” He said in a rush. He needed her to understand that he did do all his work.
“So you’re the one. I wondered.” The Queen said. “You need to keep it up. I like it. It keeps things from being so boring when I’m inspecting the store rooms at night. I think it’s important to have some one do things differently. The ants who do things differently are the ones who find us the best homes. They’re the ones that keep us from being washed out or stomped on by humans. They are the ones design the spaces so everything fits. I need those kinds of ants that don’t just do the same thing over and over.”
“You do?” asked the ant.
“I do.” She said. “Come with me.” And she led him into the part of the nest he never got to go in. She introduced him to some other ants, the ants that did the things differently. He was overjoyed and started talking to the other ants about what they did for the nest and when he turned around SHE was gone. He felt a bit guilty about not saying goodbye but here he was and he belonged. He never he even knew there was a group like this.
The ant joined in with the engineering project they were working on and he was very happy.
As he huddled he started to listen, he started to hear small sounds in the grass near his hole. His eyes started to adjust to the light of the setting sun. Maybe it wasn’t so dark after all and most of all he started to get hungry. He had a feeling that the woman with a nice face wasn’t going to be back to let some nice fat mice run in the grass. He was on his own and he was hungry. He was getting really hungry. He hopped a few steps and leapt up into the air.
Wow! This was a lot different from the grass around the rehab center. He climbed a bit higher. He could see where the sun had set. It was still a little pink far in the west. He widened his eyes a bit. He hadn’t opened his eyes fully in darkening light in a long time and he was so overwhelmed with what he was seeing he forgot to be afraid for a moment. He glided on the breeze and looked down on the waving grasses and the trees that were moving slightly in the breeze and he saw something moving in the grass. Dinner! He thought and he dove without thinking about it. He grabbed the running mouse and headed back in the direction of his hole and landed. He made quick work of his dinner. He wasn’t cruel he just needed to do it quickly and not hurt the mouse more than necessary.
And then he started to shiver, with his stomach full he started to worry again. It was getting darker and darker. Things were in the dark, bad things and now he was one of the things in the dark. It was weird to think that some one might be afraid of him in the dark.
But you can only be scared for so long and then you start to think and Hermes was thinking hard.
Last time he was out here alone he was small and didn’t even have feathers. Now he had feathers so he could fly if he needed to. He had nice long talons. He sat there flexing his claws. They were a lot bigger too and that nice lady had taught him how to catch his dinner, maybe they could do other things too.
He launched himself back in the air. He floated silently over the meadow. It wasn’t as dark out here as he feared. He saw little sparks of light everywhere. He floated close to where some glow worms were making a path. He saw some mushrooms on a tree that glowed faintly and slowly he noticed something else making light. The moon started to rise in the east. He landed on an oak at the edge of the meadow. He sat and watched as the moon rose higher and higher in the sky. It was big and full and beautifully bright and white with just the right of spots to not be perfect and still feel friendly. He felt it was here just to be a night light for him. He flew up and up and up across her face and then he heard a kind voice in his head.
“Enough, little owl, that’s high enough.”
He stalled in flight. “Whooo was that?”
“Hermes, It’s me, Luna. I’m right in front of you.”
“Luna??? The moon???” the owl hooted.
“Yes, Hermes. Me. The moon.” It was a soft loving voice.
Hermes shivered a bit. “Is it alright for me to fly here?”
“Always, little one. Just don’t fly so high you can’t get back down. I’m always here even if I shrink so small I’m hard to see. I’ll be your night light. Now go!” she said firmly.
Hermes slid back down on the moonbeams until he was back over his meadow.
He felt safer now. He had a night light. Whooo knew? Maybe he was going to be alright after all. He waved at Luna and glided over his meadow. It was time to hunt again. Tags: stories
Once upon a time there was a tiny, tiny owl. He wasn’t a big, majestic Great Horned Owl and he wasn’t a beautiful barn owl. He was a burrowing owl and he had a very strange problem, he was afraid of the dark.
The first thing he ever remembered was being rescued by some nice ladies one night from a big field. He couldn’t remember his mother and he couldn’t remember his father. The ladies took him out of the cardboard box he’d been in and put him in a cage and turned the light out and left.
When he was put in a cage at the rehab center he was placed between two other owls. They scared him. They scared him a lot. The huge owl next to him kept clacking his beak and twisting his head to look at the little owl.
“Whooooo are yooooouuuu?” The big owl said in a breathy voice.
“Nobody, nobody at all.” The little owl barely breathed out and went and huddled in his corner and started to cry. He cried and he cried. He didn’t know where he was and he didn’t know why he was here and that big owl made him feel like he was there to be lunch.
One of the ladies heard him and came in and saw where he was. “This won’t do.” And she picked up his cage and left the room. “What are we going to do with you?” she asked him. I can’t put you back in there and the other rooms will think you want to eat them and she carried him back down the hall to an office. She placed him on an open space on a filing cabinet. She sat down and looked at him. He looked a right sorry mess. He still had mostly pin feathers and not his real feathers and they stood up around his head and made him look quite silly.
“I guess you’ll just have to stay here.” And she dropped a cloth over his cage but he started to cry again. He didn’t want to be alone and he didn’t want to be in the dark. Bad things happened to him in the dark. He thought he remembered having brothers and sisters and not being alone. He started to remember a nice warm nest and nice warm mice for supper. He remembered bumping his head on his mom and dad when they stood in the nest. And he seemed to remember a burrow and a tunnel. Where, oh where was everyone else?
The cloth came off the cage. A kind face bent in to look at him. “Are you hungry or do you just want company?” The face asked. The woman disappeared out the door and came back a while later with a very small mouse. The little owl looked up. “This was better” he thought as she dropped the mouse down into the cage. Luckily the mouse was dead. He’d never killed anything and he had no idea how to do it. She turned away as he ate his dinner. She started to put the cloth on the cage again but he hooted at her desperately. “Please don’t do that. Please! Please!”
The woman didn’t speak owl but she seemed to understand his distress. The last time he had felt safe was with his mom and dad and now it wasn’t safe anymore. He never wanted to be in the dark again, never, ever, ever.
This went on for weeks. Every time the woman tried to cover the cage he hooted in distress. If she turned out the light he huddled in the corner and hooted softly until they turned the light on again.
Meanwhile he was growing into a handsome young burrowing owl. He was fully fledged in a few weeks and the woman began to take him outside to try his wings. Soon she was letting him fly after small mice to see if he would try to catch them. He did very well. She began to let him do this in the early evening and she did it early in the morning before anyone else was at the rehab center. Though when she came in the morning she did it with a cup of hot tea close at hand and muttered to herself a lot. This made the owl chuckle. Soon he caught every mouse she let loose but he always came back to the woman. She had been hoping maybe, just maybe he would feel brave enough to leave on his own.
Finally after several weeks he was put in a big wooden crate and taken for a truck ride. He hooted and clucked to try to talk her out of it but she shook her head and said to him “Hermes, it’s time for you to go.” And she carefully had placed him in his box.
He was so confused and he was scared and it was starting to get dark. What was happening to him? It was getting really dark and he hated that bad things happened in the dark to him. But it didn’t stop the truck as it bounced along the dirt road. The truck stopped and the box was opened. Two gloved hands reached carefully in and grabbed him. He was walked for awhile and then set on the ground outside a cozy looking hole and the woman walked away without a glance back. He was on his own and it was almost dark. He huddled down. Now what did he do?
Once upon time there was a small bear named Bjorn. Bjorn was born in a far northern forest up where it was very, very cold in winter. Bjorn had been born in the dead of winter with his brother and sister, Berta and Esben. They spent that first winter cuddled close to their mama and as they got older she started to tell them stories about the outside world.
Deep in their den she told them about tall trees they would see and deep, cold lakes and about the high mountains around the place they lived. He heard about the salmon that swam in the rivers in spring and about the rabbits and squirrels that lived near the den. His mom told them where they could find a honey tree and where the best back scratching trees were.
When spring came there were no more stories, Mama led them out into a world of wonder. To the bears eyes the world was born anew just for them. The snow was gone and the water ran clear. Mama taught them to hunt and to fish. She taught them how to hide in plain sight as they grew. She taught them to stay away from people. People had guns and guns hurt bears.
They grew quickly ambling along in the forest and the summer passed in beautiful days of deep burning blue skies and sunlit days in their northern forest. As the days got shorter Mama showed them where the best blackberry bushes were and the cubs stuffed themselves fat. They got so sticky Mama had to dunk them all in the spring and in late fall they went back to their den to sleep. This year, when they woke up in their long sleep Mama would tell them about a tree that she had seen one winter not far from their lair. She had woken in up on Solstice night and had felt the need to walk in the quiet of the forest. It had been silent except for the owls and she had seen a bright light.
Mama bear followed the light across the forest and watched it land in a little pine trees branches. The tree had stood there bearing the star in its branches and had lit up their forest. It was so beautiful. The bear had gone back to her den to sleep after the lovely sight and had never managed to wake up again on Solstice Night. The cubs bothered her the rest of winter for that story. It became their favourite winter story and Bjorn began to have a dream. He wanted to stay awake and see the tree and the star but that winter was deep and cold and the bears slept most of the winter and didn’t come out until the next spring.
The bear cubs were bigger that year and Mama spent most of the summer teaching them how to be on their own. That fall they would have to make their own dens for the first time. She taught them how much they needed to eat to store enough fat to make it through the winter. She taught them how to make it cozy and she taught them how to stay away from other bigger bears. Soon it came to be fall and the cubs split up for the first and last time. Each of them choosing a different direction to go and seek a place to make their own and all the time he was choosing and making his own den, Bjorn day dreamed. He was going to find some way to wake up and see the tree and star.
He kept trying to figure out a way to wake himself up. His mother had told him that just wasn’t possible, that if he was meant to see it he would wake up in exactly the right time to see it, otherwise it just wasn’t meant to be. She had supposed that it was something most bears would ever see once in a life time and then only if they were very, very lucky. She didn’t even know if it happened every year or if it had happened only once. She had never heard anybody else in the forest ever talk about it.
Bjorn swore he would be that lucky bear! He would wake up on Winter Solstice and he would see that star and his friend, the tree. He wanted to know what that special night was like. He wanted it with all his heart and he kept whispering to himself as he lay down for his winter nap to “Remember to wake up! Remember to wake up!”
He extremely disappointed to wake up and it was almost spring. It was different in a den by yourself with no brother and sister and no mama to tell you tales. He had slept the winter away and missed it. He was horribly disappointed and fell back asleep until spring had truly arrived.
This went on for several years and Bjorn had decided it just was a dream his mom had dreamed and maybe he should just give it up. Bears belonged in dens in the winter sleeping not roaming around in the cold and dark forest.
Bjorn was making his den again one fall and he remembered the story but just shook his great black head. No point in wishing, he would just sleep anyway and tucked himself into his lair but this year was different.
One cold, cold clear night Bjorn woke up. At first he was disoriented. What had woken him up? And then he heard it. He could hear a faint chiming and see a bit of light filtering in the entrance to his den. “Could it be? Could it really truly be?”
Bjorn shot out of his den and pushed the heavy snow way from his den and stood up. The light was coming from the north but not very far away at all! He started to move quickly through the snow. He saw other animals around him, a small herd of elk. Snow hares that should have been asleep were lolloping through the snow. White owls that flew silently over head hooting softly. “Come, come celebrate with usssss”
And they came. They came to a tree that was standing all alone in a field of deep snow. In the tree’s branches a star hung nestled at the top and shedding star dust all around. The snow sparkled and shone all around. The animals crept closer and closer and soon it seemed every kind of animal was there and on this night it felt like they were all friends. A deep peace hung over the forest and the only thing that could be heard was a soft chiming from the star.
Bjorn had never felt this way before. No hunger, no need to hunt, just a need to be with other creatures and to maybe, just maybe have friends and be at peace. He looked at the other animals. They seemed to be feeling the same thing as they sat in large circles around that tree absorbing the blessing of the tree and the star and Bjorn thought to himself, “Sometimes having a dream come true is better than any dream.”
He sat in the snow and a small hare snuggled up to him and then a squirrel. A great deer lay down near by and an owl sat in the rack of his antlers. For this night there was peace in the forest and the blessing of a star from far away and a lonely little tree that was his friend.