There have been little happenings in our small vale, since the end of summer. Santooshka settles into autumn like Granny getting comfortable in her old rocking chair. The forest is filled with rustling and crunching of fallen leaves. Squirrels and chipmunks race from tree to tree, nuts stuffed firmly between their cheeks. The slightest stirring of air causes a cascade of color to decorate the woodland floor.
After the revelries of Mabon, Juniper and I have been in a recuperation mode. I think we drank a wee bit too deep from the magical reservoir. Despite the clinging green, the past weeks have been cool and crisp. We have spent several mornings curled up in my sitting room, drinking hot spice bush bark tea. In the evenings, we gather in front of the small fire, Juniper has been reading aloud from a purblind novel, such tales that have the changelings huddled tightly together.
The Mabon exchange left us with two wagons full of produce and several crates of goods. We sorted and sifted, inspected and rationed. The root cellar is full, brimming over with Cole vegetables and potatoes. Three boxes of apples dried and braids of onion and garlic hung. We have casks of wine, jars of jams, sacks of grain, crocks of pickles, and there may be just enough maple syrup to last the winter. And like our woodland kin we have stashes too, pounds of pecans, pecks of hickory and walnuts, plus my favorite, from the meadow dwellers, a large bag of filberts.
Being naturally mischievous and a little greedy, the Cottage Brownies and Hearth Sprites love the yearly exchange, and treat the hauling and storing of goods, like a holy ritual. They stand uncharacteristically still, lining the cottage’s nooks and crannies. Tiny mouths curled in smiles as their luminous eyes track our burdened descent into the root cellar, followed by our reappearing with empty hands. When all was finished, the sprites and brownies grabbed hands and spun and danced in small circles. So fast they flew, they became a rainbow hued blur that flickered throughout all the corners of the house.
After the flurry of the Mabon settled down, there has been little else to tell. The afternoon sun is warm on our faces and we have taken to picnicking in the meadow each day. Greystone and Azalea explore the surrounding hills while Juni and I relax quietly with tea in one hand, and book in the other.
Today began like all others, but just as I had really gotten lost in my book, Grey stone came running through a break in the trees. Juniper and I laid our books down and watched him run full speed across the field and slide to a dusty stop in front of our blanket. He tried to speak, but had to place his hands upon his knees and try to catch his breath.
“Geese,” he panted through a large grin, his eyes wide with excitement. Juniper and I burst out in laughter, as Greystone made exaggerated gestures.
“At the pond, come see,” he once again took off running, a little slower this time, down a small path between the trees.
The path wound through a short break of sycamores before revealing a little pond concealed in a natural dip of the land. Azalea was belly down on the leafy shore, her arms extended holding out green rushes to a brightly shining white fowl. She was surrounded by small flock of snow geese.
In hopes of convincing them to stay, we made small leans tos out of brush and covered in scavenged pine branches. The Changlings fetched a bucket of oats, and an apple as extra enticement. As our reward, the geese made cooing rumbles as they scooped the fodder from our hands. They appeared to be settling down for the night, when we left.
Most migrating birds ignore Santooshka, Greystone thinks it has to do with the veil that keeps our magical realm secrect. Something about the birds innate navigation radar bounces right back, so it as if nothing is there. If these four pairs of geese found their way to that small pond near the center of Santooshka, they must have their our own special magic.
As further evidence, I feel completely rejuvenated this eve. I think it was more than their mere unexplained appearance, which caused our heightened gaiety this afternoon. Juniper and I shared similar experiences. We feel more open again, and can easily harness the magical eddies at our whim. I no longer feel partly consumed, but completely whole and refreshed!
It will be very good for all the forest dwellers if the snow geese decide to stay for the winter!