Ides of August
I woke to the warbler’s song this morning. It’s sweet song trilling between my covers and into my heart. The sun was just peaking over the hill as I poked my head out from my cottage. Thick mist rose from the dewy grass and clung to the branches over hanging the commons. Spokes of light persisted in sheering through the fog and dappled my goose pimpled arms. A slight breeze blew over the stream, sweeping cool air across my face.
Untold days had passed since I had last really paid attention to much else than my wounded heart. I suppose I have been out of sorts, mourning Ironroot’s sudden departure. However in the light of this new day, I finally felt a little reprieve. The metal vice that had gripped my heart, not vanished, but had at last loosened. I could finally take a deep breath. And, as I already know, but must keep learning, the wholesome Santooshkan air lightened my heavy burden into a load I could bear.
In the last fortnight Summer had cloaked our little valley in bright green. Curly locked moss had over taken the rock path, and tickled my bare toes. I meandered down to the creek’s edge
All my favorite late summer wild flowers were in full bloom and the Bell Flowers filled the air with a grape like fragrance. The clear running water was cold against my skin, and as I splashed water upon my arms and legs, the icy rivulets further revitalized me and swept the darkness into the far corners of my mind.
Suddenly I heard a loud whoosh, as if a concert of giants had all sighed at once. Out of the corner of my eye I caught just the hint of the Wandering Woolgather’s hot air balloon. I jumped up and ran down the path back to the cottages.
Having caught the wind, the balloon bobbed gently over the clearing. Wandering’s balloon is not only a most welcomed sight, but proof of magic-if there was one. It appeared to be always landing, but swooping up at the last moment over a stubbornly large tree. Its lopsided dome is a literal quilt of patches. Squares of all sizes, layered madly in an eye wrenching kaleidoscope of colors. The rag tag balloon leaned precariously towards the bow, so it was often that you could spy Wandering, hanging nose down over the stern, with his long toes anchored through the rope, in a poor attempt to straighten the flying contraption’s path. Though, he says he does it that way, so he can see where he’s been.
Wandering Woolgather likes to make his drops in the smack dab center of the meadow. It is a good soft place for the packages to land, and free from tall trees to snag woolgather’s wonderful balloon.
Juniper and the changelings rose a little later to the whistling of the tea pot. Sleepy eyed and wrapped up in her summer sheets, Juni stumbled over with her hand outstretched, reaching for the cup I offered her.
“My, you’re up early,” she smiled through golden tresses.
“It’s such a beautiful day! I feel like I have finally woken up from a dark dream I’ve been living in. Summer is slipping by and I will not spend the rest of it with my head buried beneath my pillow! The sun is shining, birds are singing, and I can feel Santooshka soaking into my bones!
“It is good to see you in high spirits, not mention the clean smock,” Juniper kindly chided. “And with hot tea.” She put her face over her steamy mug and took deep breathes. “But for truth, I am very glad to see you smile.”
“Thank you for helping me tend to my wounds. Hot tea, is the least I can do. Plus I have even better news! Guess who I saw careening by?”
Juniper’s eyes lit up and she said, “I thought I was just dreaming, but I knew I heard the wandering woolgather’s balloon clunk by.”
After tea, the changelings, Juniper and I set out towards the meadow. The morning had shed its early chill, and the sun warmed our faces as we crossed into the field. Marked with colorful flags on long poles, several boxes lay in a neat bundle tied in blue string. Juni and I took turns carrying the large box back to the cottages, while the changelings juggled a few smaller packages and ran ahead.
We reached the clearing just as Azalea and Greystone opened a package bearing their names in the curly script of Honey Bower. They both let out a little whoop of delight, as they each pulled out a small peach pie
“It’s still warm too,” Azalea giggled.
“I will put the kettle on, and we’ll all have tea and pie,” Greystone stood up, dusting off his breeches, mindful of the pastries.
“Honey’s peach pie for breakfast?” I laughed, “This day keeps getting better and better!!”
Having been decently fortified by Honey’s gooey, delicious pie and Greystone’s steaming tea, we attacked the unpackaging with celebratory fervor.
Other than the pies, Honey Bower had also sent a few taffy candies, a handful of licorice, and a jar of this year’s maple syrup. Colored wax sticks for Azalea, a child size set of silver hand tools for Greystone, and new shiny pins and needles and pair of sharp shears for Juniper and me, all lovingly wrapped in crisp colored papers. There was letter for Juni, which she tucked into her pocket, for later scrutinizing.
We all turned our eyes to the last unopened box, it stood unmolested in a sea of crumbled papers and gaping packages. Greystone attacked it with vigor, diving in head first, as he pulled wide the folded flaps. He dug around for a moment only to reappear, with a rather less than pleased look on his face, “Its only cloth.”
Juniper and I looked at each other with matching enthusiasm, “Fabric!” We grinned in unison.
The last parcel was indeed filled with magic; shiny blues and calicos, soft muslin, and rougher linens, bits of lace, and bobs of thread. We pawed our way to the bottom, rubbing the silky ones on our faces, and running our fingers along intricate designs, holding up bolts and waving things in the air. This continued in such a manner for so long the changelings had run off with their prizes and the sun moved across the sky by the time it was finished.
Alone, I was able to tell Juniper that the hole in my chest had become smaller. I was able to enjoy the moment once more. We chatted until our soft tones had turned to merry banter, discussing one fabric or the next.
We took the bolts of fabric bundled in our arms and placed it in the clearing between some oak and cedar trees next to Juniper’s Moon Garden. Juniper fetched the Still Water Grimoire, blue moon fairy dust and some sage, while I arranged the newly acquired material.
Queens, from each direction. We called upon the meadow’s flowery breath, the stream’s clean spirit, we asked the mighty Oaks to lend their strength to the threads, and the wild flowers to share their colors. We asked the Mother Earth to enchant these mundane items with magic of the forest, binding the destiny of the each garment to that of Santooshka.
In a final crescendo of forest buzzing, the piles of fabric began to slowly move. It gathered speed until it was a blue swirl with magic being released in azure popping sparks. One fabric rose above the rest billowing and rotating to its own tempo. Two corners extended outward and the top formed a sphere. Then suddenly the wood was quiet, and the gold flowered material fell to the top of the still pile.
Juniper and I rushed forward each picking up the silky fabric. It was no longer a simple square of fabric but a beautiful caplet.
“Ooo” we cooed together
“I have read about this in the Grimoire,” Juni said. “We must be Creatrixes!! The Grimoire tells that in some cases where extraordinary women work together, their individual magic expands exponentially. They have been known to be create magical artifacts out of single particles of forest matter!
“Mags, do you know what this means? There hasn’t been any Creatrixes in Santooshka for a thousand years! The forest could read our desire for creation. It fed upon our ideas and gave us a gift.”
Even as I write, the smile plastered on my face has not faltered. It is good to be here with Juniper and Azalea and Greystone! I now know my heart can be in two places and not break into pieces. I am Magnolia, a Lady of Santooshka, a married women, a friend, and O holy Still Waters, I am a root’n Creatix! And I will not wallow in brokenness, but will live my life making magic and laughing.