Archive for July, 2011

#41 Leprechaun

Maggie had brought her little skiff onto the shore, putting down its anchor near a large rock.  She picked up her book bag filled with the plastic bags where she would place plant specimens that afternoon.  The dirt at Moon-Struck Island had magical qualities, and the flowers growing were thought to have been brought there by the wee people of Ireland.  Of course Maggie did not believe in the faerie realm that was passed on through generations of the Muldoon family.  She believed that the unusual flora and fauna came from Iceland one summer during its summer solstice when the moon caught its reflection and passed it along, half way around the world, to the itsy bitsy island.  Monarch butterflies settled over the plantings shortly after, and for the entire summer that year, the flowers flourished under their care.

Maggie was ten, brown as a berry from the sun, and filled with adventure.  She had been rowing her skiff along the inlet of the ocean since she was nine, and this was the first time she had taken it to the island.

The day was splendid, warm, but not too hot; bright, but not too bold.  She sat down on flat rock at the edge of a meadow and marveled at the wave after wave of beautiful yellow and blue, red and orange flowers, some were tall, waving in the light breeze, others were close to the ground, tumbling over rocks and sandy soil.  She was hungry from the trip and took her cheese sandwich from the wrapper.  One bite, and she thought she heard a voice.  Turning in that direction, she heard it again, faintly.  It sounded like, “Give me a bite, give me a snack, help me up, and I’ll pay you back.”

Maggie scrunched up her eyes and saw nothing at first.  She remembered that her glasses were in her pinafore pocket and put them on.  Everything seemed suddenly brighter, and she could see the tiny furrows where something or someone was lying in the tiny blossoms and ferns.  She reached her hand down and picked up an unsightly little man with glasses almost as large as hers.  “Put me down,” he said, “give me some crumbs of your lunch if you will.”  She settled him upright on the stone.

“I’ve been waiting for you,” he bellowed.”  “Don’t shout,” Maggie said, “I can hear perfectly well; how did you know I was coming?”  “I was standing on this very rock, just playing my fiddle, when I saw you in your boat.  I was entirely too comfortable and had taken off my waist coat and top hat and buckled shoes, and as I dressed, a wind took and sailed my hat.  I tried to catch it, but fell off and landed where you found me, face down, so that I couldn’t right myself.”

“You poor little man,” Maggie said, “here, let me tidy you up.”  He had his red coat on, and she found his shoes and top hat atop the fern; the fiddle and its bow lay across a crimson bleeding heart.  Once he was buckled and brushed and fed with crumbs and bits of cheese, he played a familiar fiddle tune.  Maggie knew it well and stepped high and low, lifting her skirts and petticoats, twirling in the meadow.

When the day was spent, and the sun cast deep shadows on the meadow, Maggie said goodbye to her little friend.  She promised to return soon and would bring a bit of corned beef with cabbage for his snack.  She asked, “Is there really a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow that you guard here on the island?”  He laughed and touched his nose, disappeared and reappeared.  “I guard hearts,” he said, “the pot of gold is in your heart, and every time you give it away, it fills again and again and again.”


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Arethusa Farms is comprised of 350 gorgeous Litchfield County acres, a broad portion of it on South Street, Litchfield.  Their newly opened ice-cream shop makes and sells all of its products on site.  In addition to mouth-watering ice cream, milk and goat cheese are featured – everything is just delectable!  I will be posting pictures of the progress of the artist, Richard E. Christian, a Litchfield CT native who is known for his incredible art of realism and impressionism.  The bucolic countryside is being painted on the wall of the crossover between two brick buildings, and is the focal of a wonderfully crafted brick patio compete with water feature as shown.

We moved to Pitch Road in Litchfield when there were three children.  Every school day, regardless of the weather, I would take the carriage with daughter Margaret to meet the bus, and we would cross the road to Arethusa for milk; once a week we would buy their ice cream.  It is so nice to have them as neighbors again in the tiny Borough of Bantam where there is a continuum walk with carriage and school-aged children; a second generation.

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#39 Sleepover

The young doe had dreamy eyes and a thin frame as she nibbled on the tender plants outside the bunk house door.  I had finished arranging a pot of ferns with wildflowers with drooping pink cones in the center of a white circular table with green plastic chairs when our eyes locked through the curtained window.   I turned and reached for the Canon, and she was gone before the flash.

The bunk house had been built against the great retaining wall, in the midst of a hosta and fern garden with astilbe, wild roses and climbing hydrangea.   We would be three tonight, ages seven and eight and the age of wisdom.

Within minutes of the deer’s visit, giggling girls and their moms ran down the timber-framed steps with sleeping bags and pillows; suitcases rolling behind.  The hut was furnished with  army cots,table and chairs for crafts and cards, bookshelves, and a childlike refrigerator.  Outside a chiminea would soon be lit for toasting marshmallows; the perfect foil for storytelling.

It was near dusk when we changed into night-clothes and gathered our flashlights for a trip to the bathroom, topside.  We walked the mothers to their car and spent little time saying good nights; our thoughts on the sounds of the river, the hoot of the owl, the swish of the bats.  Nightfall.  All that was nocturnal awakened with it.  We hoped the skunk was far away and that our door and window latches held against the night’s predators.


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#38 Like Soft Rain

Yesterday, my niece washed my hair.  It was different that any other hair dressing appointment.  She washed it with an intimacy of love.

Hair washing with love demands that the temperature of the water be correct, that gentle pressure be applied to the scalp, intuitive  knowledge for the  rub and rinse.  It requires nothing of the person in the chair, but when applied with love, there is a sweet compliance, a release.  In silence, tender images flash with fleeting memories that beg to be touched.

As Terri applied the color to my hair, we talked about the ritual of hair washing between mother and child.  She told of her experiences with her children, and I told her of mine with my mother.  Often, long years ago, when I was moping and out of sorts, perhaps something had gone wrong at school or my boyfriend hadn’t called, my mother would sense the need to stop the world and allay my hurt by washing my hair, an intimate act, like summer’s soft rain falling on skin warmed by the sun.

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I was starting to say my goodbyes when I noticed the pan of marshmallow stuff on the counter.  The gracious daughter of my host was pointing to it and saying, “But you can’t leave yet, we haven’t had dessert, and you need a s’more.”  I thought that’s what they were, and I really wanted one, but I was choking and starting to cough.  My allergies to cats and smoke were getting the best of me, and I needed to leave before it was full-blown.

Nate had already started the jeep when I climbed aboard, and the air conditioning would soon sooth my bronchitis-type laboring.  Lying back, I breathed the shallow, quick breaths they had shown me at the clinic.  I could feel the tenseness leaving my body, but my thoughts of the s’mores on the counter were making my taste buds hop around.   “Nate, I need a sundae, a hot fudge with marshmallow topping.”  “I thought you wanted me to stop for a bottle of water?” he said.  “No, find a Friendly’s.”  Ever willing to accommodate me in the small things of life, he took a sharp left through Canton.

Somewhere between Canton and Unionville, I fell asleep, and Nate did what he thought was appropriate.  He took me home.

As I always do, I woke just as we turned the corner into our driveway.  Disappointed, I went off to bed with visions of chocolate and marshmallows and graham cracker sandwiches.  I awoke fresh and gave no more thought to what I had missed; this was a new day.  I decided to have a healthy, meatless meal and invited friends to try the stuffed, grilled red peppers with salad, basil infused bread and iced tea with a hint of freshly squeezed lemons.  For dessert I served a compote of beautiful strawberries with fresh whipped cream.  We enjoyed piping hot coffee with a touch of cinnamon at the river’s edge, calling it a day at the first bite of mosquito.

Chocolate could not have been further from my mind  when the late movie paused for an ad of Hershey’s kisses.  I rationalized that I had imbibed late-night caffeine, and should certainly not eat the Hershey’s bar in the cupboard.  That lasted for half a second, and my irrational self, the side that is slightly – well considerably – overweight said, “Go for it.”  I tried not to disturb the dogs who were lying on either side of me; glad that Nate had retired early.  We had a mouse the other night, so I had to bypass the sticky traps that were arranged as only a military man can.

Success!  I plopped on the couch and tore open the familiar packaging.  I thought about having one of my super-sized marshmallows with it, but couldn’t justify the excess calories.  I turned off the television, checked the door locks, and switched off lights. The minute my satiated body hit the temperpedic, I was out – until the caffeine and sugar found each other.  I knew it wasn’t time or the right day for zumba, but my nerves were playing a rumba beat.  I laid down; I got up; I had water; I laid down.  My mind could not turn off.  I went back to the kitchen and chugged down the forgotten calcium chaser.  Bliss! after 3 p.m.

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#36 Vacation

Not that you’ll remember, but my name is Charlie, and I’m nearly 10 years old.  In people terms, I’m approaching my 65th year.  For the past week and a half, I’ve been running away whenever they (my family) leave the screen door open.  I’m tired of the same old treats, and they just don’t understand how boring life can be when it’s the same ole…Because of this new condition – they call it senility, bordering on Alzheimer’s disease, they’ve decided to leave me this week with my cousin OJ, a rambunctious two and a half-year old.

I love this place! they have beds at every level, plush with pillows and loaded with toys – not that I play anymore, but I do like to sleep with OJ’s Teddy.  And the treats!  Have I mentioned yet that the little woman makes her own biscuits.  Quite a difference from the health food, low cholesterol stuff I’m forced to eat at my own home.

How do you like the picture at the top?  That’s me, the handsome, white fluffy guy on the pillow.  OJ is a spoil sport.  Just because I got there first, he’s pouting at the edge.  Isn’t this couch great!  It’s leather, and they let me watch television on it.  At my house I’m banned from the couch and have a girly, decorative floor pillow.  Try snoozing on that when there’s a two-year old running around.  OJ at least has a bed that’s big enough for both of us.  It has plush sides and sits in front of the garden door.  Did I tell you earlier?  I’m on vacation for a week and loving it.

Let me tell you about OJ’s yard.  He lives on the river and has a waterfall.  There are two lounge chairs outside with thick cushions, and we each have one.  Sometimes the little woman comes out with a book.  I don’t fuss – if she wants mine, I’ll give it to her and join OJ.  If she wants his, I’ll let him share mine.  We’re pretty good that way.  The yard has some kind of electronic wiring underground.  I know because OJ wears an orange collar.  What kind of pug would wear orange if he didn’t have to?  I get hooked up to a smart red iron pole, with a classic lead, not like the rope at home.

I don’t want you to think me ungracious or anything.  I love my family and look forward to their return.  Have to run for now.  We’re taking a road trip for frozen yogurt and a genuine, half-hour walk in White’s Woods.  Don’t wake me if I’m dreaming.

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#35 Paint Hollow

I was taking a walk by myself.  I had my bleached, tall walking stick that I had found on the beach of the Cape.  It was quiet, only the birds seemed happy that I was there on the narrow trail of Greilsheimer’s Woods.  It was my first walk in those woods, and I found the terrain to be quite challenging.  I was not as young as I used to be, and not too old to forget how good it was to be that young.

I was thinking about nothing, nothing of importance, that is.  My mind is always working, and sometimes I just want to turn it off.  For instance, I saw a stone that looked like a frog, and I imagined that it could croak.  Silly me! a stone that croaks.  Suddenly I lost the sun, and  was walking through a bright green grove of ferns under a canopy of ancient trees.  I wondered how they could be so green with so little sunlight until I discovered the small stream that fed them.

That’s when the path turned to an open meadow. I didn’t remember a meadow showing on the map, so I thought I was lost.  As far as my eyes could see, there were little girls practicing face painting.  There were some in groups of four, but most were practicing with one another.  They were taking turns with the designs.  Some were painting face masks of lions and tigers and dogs and cats; others were mastering vines and flowers on legs and arms.  The strangest of all, though, was the little girl who was painting her feet.  All alone, she sat on a giant toadstool near the large, round table fashioned from a tree that had fallen.

She looked so determined, I thought not to stop, but something about her told me to stay.  I put down my stick and quietly sat on a log fallen over.  We exchanged glances, but nothing was said.  I watched while she painted one toe, then all five, the top and bottom and then onto the other.  I heard in the distance a cow’s bell or was it a clang.  There was a single clap of hands and everyone disappeared.

Magic! I thought, the enchantment of the forest, that’s all.  I stood up from my log, picked up my stick and followed the white footprints.  They walked and then seemed to run, they leapt and then kind of shuffled; they led me back to where I’d begun.

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“Jack Sprat could eat no fat, his wife could eat no lean.”  Marcia told me that when she looked into the revealing mirror, she felt the first stanza of the child’s limerick was invisibly written across her forehead.

“It wasn’t always this way,” she mused, “I think it was the invention of elastic waist jeans.”  She shared years past when the tables were turned, continuing in her soft voice, “After he retired from the Army, John gave up his five-mile run.  He did not, though, give up the overflowing plates of Chinese food with double desserts at the ‘Oriental Buffet;’ I preferred the shrimp dishes and jello desserts.  It wasn’t long before he was loosening his belt, buying new pants and packing away the uniform he loved, a bystander to the parade.”

“So how is John now?” I asked.  “He’s like a teenager,” she said, “weighs himself every day, goes to the gym, and counts calories.”

She went on and talked about her retirement.  “Early, without warning”, she said, “I woke up one day and thought, I’m not going to work and began to sleep in.”  Continuing, she told me she  gave up her gym membership and took to gardening.  “That made me very hungry, so I began to freeze Snickers for a snack.”  It was menopause that had bought her to my office.  “It,” she said, “the menopause, was the end of the old me.”

In our session we talked about the day-long cravings for chocolate, the thickening waistline, the drooping bustline; the flashing, intolerable heat.  We discussed her feelings for John.  “It seemed,” she said, “as I started to crave more food, he desired it less.  As my stomach and thighs expanded, his contracted.”

Trying to get to the crux of the problem before the sand ran out of the glass, I asked if she remembered the second stanza of her little limerick.  “So betwixt the two of them, they licked the platter clean.”

“That’s it,” she brightened, “limericks always have a moral; an answer to life’s mysteries.   I have to cook less; use smaller plates and never, never, put the platter on the table.”   “Ah,” I breathed, “another client finds the answer within.”

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#33 The Giant

Gina sent me this post today from Nystrom’s Pond.  She was taking an early morning run around the rim of the lake where there is a thin trail, enough for one or two very thin walkers or runners.  She sent it with these words, “STAY AWAY!  I’M SAFE, TUCKED INTO A LITTLE CAVE WITH RABBITS AND FAWNS, SKUNKS AND SNAKES.  THE GIANT OF WHITE’S WOODS HAS BEEN AWAKENED AND I BARELY ESCAPED HIS FOOTSTEPS…I AM SAFE.  THE ANIMALS AND I WILL WAIT FOR THE SILENCE AND THEN I’LL BE HOME.”

“This is incredible,” I thought.  Ronnie was away for the weekend, and there was no one else who knew about the giant except for the woman.  We three had been camping at Nystrom when the wizened lady visited.  We were telling stories and roasting marshmallows when the four-foot eight, hump-backed elder appeared; her long white hair framed her face, an apparition, in the firelight until she spoke.  She said she was tired and asked, “May I sit down and join you?”  We said “yes,” and gave her a stick with a marshmallow.

The story began:  “I was a young girl when my family and I camped on this mountain.  There was no lake then, only a waterfall.   One early morning I decided to wake early, before anyone else, and pick blueberries in an opening I had seen on an earlier walk.  I was hungry for pancakes and wanted Momma to put the blueberries in the batter.  I had my own  tent, so no one woke as I dressed.  Grabbing the little tin pail, I followed the sun in the sky; just rising, I knew it was east, and that was the direction of the patch of berries.

I had been picking for only a few minutes, and the blueberries were so large that my pail was nearly filled.  It’s then that I felt the earth move.  Little animals came running out of their holes and nests and scurried by me.  I saw a cave in the clearing, and dove into it with the skunks, the snakes, the fawn and rabbits.  We were all quiet and huddled together when the earth shook again, a footstep closer.  Of course, I didn’t know it was a giant.”

“What happened?” we three asked the question together.  “For a long time we heard the thud of trees falling, another footstep and suddenly the sound of roaring, tumbling water.  The little animals sat very still, and I was trembling when a white rabbit hopped into my lap.  He let me pet him, and the fawn came over to lay beside us.  The skunks and snakes and other rabbits were in the back of the cave where bats were lying upside down.”

“What was going on outside?” we three asked. “When the sound of water subsided, and we could not feel rumblings any more, the snakes were the first to leave, followed by the skunks and rabbits.  The little fawn looked at me with his deep brown eyes as if to say good-bye, and the white rabbit jumped down and thumped his little back paw, gazing for just a moment and he was gone.  I thought it was a dream.  That I had fallen asleep in that little cave and had a dream until I crawled out.

“What, what, what was outside the cave? we asked.  “The sun was high in the sky, and I thought it was noon.  I picked up my little tin pail and ran to the campsite.  My tent and the big tent were gone;  a pond stood instead.  A beautiful, gleaming, roundly seeming lake.  Footprints in the sand, larger than life, showed 20 toes at least, confirming my suspicion; it was a giant I heard.”

“What about your parents, were they okay?” Gina asked.  “Yes, they, too, had sought refuge in a cave on a high ridge above the campsite, just beyond the waterfall.  They shared it with a mountain lion who had not yet wakened.”

At that moment, the wizened, white-haired lady disappeared, and we thought it was just our imagination until today when Gina sent her note.

Inspired by S. Ersinghaus #43

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We built a fairy’s house yesterday morning when mist rose from the river and the sun was hidden in fluffy white clouds.  The early morning serenade of a bird’s song woke us from a fretful night’s sleep, and we dressed before breakfast to build her a suite.

The grass was wet and tickled our bare feet.  We winced when we crossed the stone path to the tumbled-down tree.  Inside its shell of bark was the perfect start for a fairy’s house; a tree house.  We hammered and fashioned stairs using splits of wood.  Next was the platform for the rooms.  It didn’t need a roof, nestled so snug in the hole of a tree, so we gave it a canopy instead.  The kitchen, bathroom and bedroom had a great room effect, but we sectioned the bathroom for privacy please.

Our furniture we carried in a wired wicker basket.  It was miniature and beautiful; there was even a vase.  We decorated and feng-shui(d) and made it just perfect.  A vision of purple wisteria popped in my head, and I thought of it sitting alone in the shed.   I left you to pick some violets and daisies and went to retrieve them knowing you would not see them.

We laughed at our work when the magic was done, and danced near the frog pond, our wits near undone.  We festooned our table with paper red hearts and sat down, so happy, with blueberry tarts.  We waited and waited and waited some more, but fairies don’t come in a morning of sun.  They ride in the evenings on backs of butterflies and light their homes by the twinkle of  fireflies.

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