Thunder Full Moon
Oh great Ebbing tides, what a turbulent time this is! How can the best and the worst moment in this long life happen on the same day? Such occurrence only proves the balance of Nature.
I have seen Titania on one other occasion before this Midsummer, but I did not share this with Juniper or the other inhabitants of our small valley. I was quite small and my mother was a favorite of the court. Her herb garden was renowned for its rare and medicinal plants. She spent much time traveling from one magical enclave to the next, dispensing herbal health potions, and Still Water remedies. This was a different time; the Purblinds had just begun to adopt their foul smelling, poison belching conveyance. Most traveled slower, lived smaller and so it was safer for the fae folk to roam among them.
On a night so dark, it seemed to seep into our cottage and swallow the illumination from our own lanterns, a great storm broiled over the horizon. The shutters rattled and tea cups clattered on their saucers every time the great thunder elements called out to each other. We thought the storm was upon us when there was a great knocking on the door.
My mother hurried to throw open the latch. From the window, I glimpsed a golden chariot, pulled by three aurulent griffins. A crimson cloaked figure stood in the doorway, a dark silhouette in the lightening ravaged sky. My mother bade them come in, and as the individual pulled back her cowl, her face glowed in our meager domicile. Her unmistakable likeness left no question as to who this royal personage was, it was Queen Titania.
I was banished to the loft-no business for a child, but peered through the floor boards and heard bits of words as they wafted up the stairs. The Queen’s appearance was no consequential happenstance, her paramour had fallen ill, poisoned by water flowing from a large Purblind settlement. The Queen was equally as fierce in my memory as she was this Midsummer. She stalked great circles around our small parlor, while my mother ground carefully selected herbs into a fine powder with her mortar and pestle. As my mother offered Titania a vial full of swirling silver liquid, it makes me shiver now to think of it, the Queen warned, “This had better work, Tasha, or I will curse the Purblind, and make them suffer threefold.”
Weeks later, news reached us that the Queen’s paramour had succumbed, dying before the Queen could return to her bower. The Fae took this very seriously, although our spirits travel to the next dimension, our useless bodies returned to our Mother, an immortal life spent without the ones you love, can be a fate worse than death.
It was at this time when my mother began instructing me in the ways of the Still Water. She believed in the prophecy. A day would come, when our duty of keeping the secrets of magic would end. We would become more than mere care takes, but would usher in a new era, where humans would no longer be blinded from the natural world. My mother taught that it was arrogant to blame all the Purblinds. In every garden, were there not weeds? You did not turn over the whole patch just because there was Horse Nettle in the Feverfew. But it seems Titania has not forgiven the Purblinds for their unintentional transgression.
After Titania’s polemic, she turned to me, glancing down at her talon sharp nails, she hissed “I see your mother in you, but just as she was unable to help me all those many years ago, I will not show you any favors, if you disobey me.” Flicking her hands, she dismissed me as she might shoo a fly. Facing the others, she declared Midsummer festivities to begin. Her temper quick to flare, now dissipated beneath an awesome calm, like that of a windless lake.
As on Titiania’s first visit, the sky opened up and rain began to fall onto our valley. As the others rushed to the shelter of Juni’s cottage, I lifted up my face to the falling drops. Letting the water wash over me as the Queen’s warning swept through my mind. Before I could become completely lost in my bewilderment, a calloused hand rested upon my wrist.
Iron Root stood with his arm out stretched. “Magnolia,” he whispered. My previous melancholy was gone in an instant, replaced by steaming anger. I demanded Iron Root’s allegiances, and accused him of falsehoods. I urged him to tell me why he had come one moment promising hope, only to arrive the next with Titania’s entourage damning all we had planned. I raved until I could not tell if it was rain or tears wetting my cheeks. Only then did I ask him the true bitterness that lay closest to my heart.
Why did he leave? His large blue eyes grew larger still, and his face wrinkled up causing lines engraved by laughter, to gather at his mouth, but he was not laughing now. He wrapped his fingers tight on my arms and pulled me to his chest. Jasmine and hints of May Apple blossom encircled my head, and for a moment our breath intertwined before he pressed his lips to mine. Outrage drained from my body, and I yielded to his soft lips, tasting like raspberries.
“I have loved you from the very moment we met,” he spoke softly, nestling his face into my hair. These words slid into all the other thoughts in my mind, tossing and churning like a raft on the distant sea. But they sank deep into my bones and settled into my heart. He laughed then, shaking his curls loose in the misting rain. He held me away from him, searching my face with his deep azure eyes, smiling he said, “Well?”
Furling my brow, weary of the warmth that threatened to engulf me, I merely replied “Well, then you have some explaining to do.”
Once again his smile dropped from his face. “I cannot tell you many things. In part, because my past is a tangled mire with my future and I play small roles in many games across the land, but mostly it is my desire to keep you safe from the Queen’s wrath. There is much that your small haven has been fortunate enough to evade, and is it my deepest desire to keep you innocent of such perils.
“I implore you to trust me. I am the same man who was here not a fortnight ago. You must trust me in this. Above all else I am loyal to you, Magnolia. I am loyal to Santooshka. There may be times in the future where my motivation for certain actions may be called into question, but please believe me when I tell you I love you more than any creature has loved another. I will protect the Still Water way of life even if I must give my last breath in doing so.”
“Well…I suppose there is little harm in mystery, if your intentions are true. I will try to keep my curiosity at bay. However, one day you must empty all that you keep locked inside that handsome head of yours, and I hope to be there. For now, I will only ask one thing of you. Tell me again.”
“I love you Mistress Magnolia Magpie.” He hoisted me up and we spun in lazy circles beneath a dark gray sky. His strong hands clung to my arms as we embraced.
“And that will have to suffice me on this strangest of MidSummers. Let us join the others to celebrate this season and your proclamation.” I pulled him towards Juni’s cottage. I do not know all there is to know about the one named Iron Root, but I believe him when he says he loves me, and Santooska. I may not trust him on all things, but I do not fear giving him my love. A chance to be happy with another, is worth the risk of a broken heart.
Mid Summer night was magical. Juni’s cottage was lit by tallows on every shelf, table or surface that was not covered by food platters or drink cups. Her humble dwelling was transformed into a great royal hall. The musicians played many reels, sprites and nymphs held hands, dancing and spinning between the chairs. At some point early in the evening Juniper’s Cottage Brownies took over the labor of serving, so Juni and I were allowed to join in the comfortable chaos.
The Queen completely assured of our acquiescence, played the role of honored guest graciously. She tittered over meadow wine with some young dryads discussing this century’s courtly fae fashion. She gave belated royal blessings to many woodland folk. She graciously accepted gifts and goodwill. Once, Titania even declared an acorn from one of the Old Oaks, the fairest she had ever encountered.
As the new sun’s rays began to peek through the slender trees the Queen readied to return to her bower.
She did not remind us of her will, but gave us a steely
glare. “I will leave Iron Root here, as he wishes but, know that I may again be in need of his services. I bid you Good Summer.” At that she stepped inside a large blue flame and was gone, just as the last of her caravan rounded a corner and was out of sight.
Juniper and I looked at each other in deadly serious silence. Then my eye twitched and her lips quivered. A smile grew on my face and was matched by hers.
“Holy Still Water, Did that just happen?” Juniper asked around a widening grin.
“I am not quite sure I can say.” And I started to giggle.
Iron Root looked between us, shaking his head. “Do you ladies take last eve’s warning as jest?”
“No, but oft times, laughter is better than any other options.” Juniper tittered.
“I think it may be too late for the likes of you two.” Iron Root’s face cracked into something that almost resembled a smile.
“Come on in, let’s have ourselves the last of this year’s Ambrosia, I saved back one bottle of honey suckle Cordial just for us.” Juniper smiled, but this time it did not reach her eyes. “We have many things to think on.”
It is hard to comprehend that Mid Summer was nigh a fortnight ago. My days are so queer now, with laughter and happiness, but always a nagging of uneasiness. Iron Root and I have spent every moment together. It is almost as if we are the only ones in existence and all else is faded like an unreal dream. It is no wonder Juniper and I have only touched on the subject of Titania and the Purblinds. It has been too easy to forget the troubles that lay beyond my love’s embrace. I must make time to speak with her.
I do not know what the future holds, but for now I am content in my mother’s teachings. I know in my heart there is hope for the Purblinds. That is not just our duty but our right to share the wealth of magic with them. But I cannot yet reconcile this inner knowledge with Queen Titaina’s warning. I think I would surely perish outside the enchanted veil of Santooshka.
Mid Summer Santooshkan Hand Pies
For unexpected entourages
The Still Water Grimoire for Crust and Honey Basil Berry Jam Recipes
1. Mix an ounce of goat cheese (from your best Nanny) with freshly chopped basil and rosemary.
2. Remove chilled crust from larder, roll out to 1/8″ thick
3. Use Granny’s large biscuit cutter to make as many mini crusts as will fit.
4. With a small fairy spoon, dip a teaspoon of berry jam into center of “bottom” crust
5. Add a dollop of goat cheese mix on top of jam
6. Place a second crust on top of entire pile
7. Using a fork, press around the edges, squishing the two layers
8. Don’t forget to poke some holes on the top, so it can vent steam
9. Place in jelly roll pan
10. Cook in hot oven for eighteen minutes or until center crust is a golden brown