The Call of the Raven

Cat for Friday 13thThe Call of the Raven
By
Russell Loyola Sullivan

It seemed like ages since he had been up this way. It crossed his mind that in many ways it had been ages. Years had piled on top of years, too many seasons had let go to new seasons; he had hoped all of that time would wash the memories away. But for all the years he had lived, if anything he learned there was no running away from what you were, or from the things you had done.

He stopped now, more to take in the landscape than to catch his breath. The mountains off to his right were like old friends. He had fished the river running down from the foothills, and enjoyed many a dip in the big lake when he needed to cool off on a warm summer’s day. And she … No, not that. He would not allow it.

Catar trailed along behind him as he resumed his journey. This was new territory for the big cat, and Garand gave him all the time he needed to mark his passage and explore for any possible danger. Garand also knew that his companion was linking into his own thoughts as they walked along; emotions that Catar no doubt took as warning signs for some danger to come. If he did find danger, it would not be their first fight together.

Garand suddenly realized he was holding his staff with as much force as someone climbing a rope. He chuckled. It might be he was climbing a rope of sorts, climbing back into a past that was best buried and forgotten. He stopped again as his peripheral vision caught his black furred friend having done the same; Catar lowered his body ever so slightly; Garand all but saw the leap into action that was to come. He readied his staff, and Catar sprung into the air towards a thicket of bushes just ahead. Garand followed swiftly behind, his staff glowing with energy.

The bushes erupted in a mad fury of lashing, screams, and snarls. Garand moved round to where he could see what was happening, six men armed with swords, and screaming obscenities as Catar mangled one’s leg and deftly leaped to avoid a sword meant for his eye. Garand let go a burst of energy and a man toppled over, the others now turning their attention to him. Catar seized their moment of confusion and bounced into one of the men, and leaped to tear at the neck of a second man; Garand let go another burst of energy and a man fell. Only two remained now, and both decided running was a more profitable possibility. Garand gave a low whistle and Catar ceased his chase.

Catar came up beside him. Garand bent down and scratched the big head. “Well then. It would seem one of us is most unwelcome here.”

Catar sat. While it well might be that he could not talk to his human companion, they both knew what he was thinking. He took his job of protecting his friend seriously, his slow movements on the journey, his constant alertness. Now, perhaps his friend would see why it had been necessary.

Garand sat next to him. “Yes, I know you are all about protecting me. And I’m grateful.” He pulled a small treat from his pack and gave it to Catar. He took one for himself. “I hope you appreciate I stopped when you stopped, all because I know your senses are so much keener than mine.”

Catar gave off the tiniest of growls.

“… yes, I know you are warning me that this entire journey is a bad idea.”

Catar rubbed his head against Garand, and Garand passed him another treat. “… and yes, I know you love me. I love you too, my friend.”

Catar looked up. And if a big cat could smile, then here it was, and so Garand smiled back.

The two finished their treats. They moved down to where the road met the lake; drank, and cleansed the blood and the fury of the short battle from their bodies and their souls, the one perhaps much easier than the other.

So, they were expecting him. There would be no way to avoid a confrontation. What he would give to have a few of his kin along with him, but he was the last, even as Catar was the last of his kind. He recognized the two were joined by more than being the last of their line, they also represented the last Druid and Sentient Cat to be bonded by the Magic. Garand had hoped that when he disappeared after the war he would be forgotten.

Seven visits from a raven, all in one night on the waxing of a full moon, told him his ancestors required his return. Some great desecration was imminent if it had not already happened. Even in the Keep there was no record of such a visit for at least a millennia, and that call had been to seal the world against an evil that even the records was scarce in fear to describe. The war where he and Catar had found each other, bloody and evil, massacres on both sides, even then he had never been summoned to the Keep; and now here they were about to climb into where he had received his training, long ago; a young boy who knew nothing, even before Catar was born. That land was now a place where only the spirits rested, the Keep a place which knew only silence, the days of Magic where over. Or so he had imagined.

Here he was, he and Catar. The raven told him in each of the seven times; he must return to the Keep.

Their short battle told him someone else was aware of his journey. Worse still he realized that those few they had encountered had been sent merely to deliver a message, a message that they knew he was returning.

“I am so sorry, my old friend. I may be dragging both of us to our doom.”

The big cat purred.

Garand nodded. “I knew you would say that. Yes, there will be plenty of food in the Keep.”

I am looking for ideas for my next book, book five. As I finish editing book three, and writing book four (some 50,000 words in) I continue to look for new ideas. The above in one such idea. I would love your comments on this opening scene. Is it enough to make you want to read more.

One of these scenes will most likely be the beginning of my fifth book.

Echoes of the Ancient Winds

pig

Echoes of the Ancient Winds
By
Russell Loyola Sullivan

The sun hangs low upon the evening, shadows long, stretching off to where they meet with other shadows, enjoining themselves in the darkness to come. The smell of lavender, and something else, perhaps a breeze carries it, though not a blade of grass stirs. The tip of the mountain off to the east still holds the light in its grasp. It reminds him of something, as well.

He stands and places his sword in its scabbard. To his left his horse still grazes, looking well rested from the long ride. His gaze sets upon the waterfalls, cascading down over the foothills, too far away to give up any sound, yet anyone watching would know the thunder of the water crashing over the rocks and pounding its way into the basin, mist rising as the clash of torrent against torrent doles out the infinity of each drop’s direction, sorting themselves out at the other end of the pool, where the water once again becomes placid as the evening itself.

The only other movement, much closer than the waterfall, a few birds hopping about the small grassy plain that butts up against the thick forest stretching on back to the foothills. The birds are finding things they like it would seem. They continue even as the sun sinks low, giving up its last gleam of light. Not a total darkness yet; though that will soon come. Day and night never join any more that light and darkness might; twilight is there to ensure they never meet. Such twilight tells the birds it is time to move on, no matter the delights they have found.

The lavender is stronger now, and the other scent is all too familiar: human. Well, not quite human. There are many who would say she does not exist. They are many who swear she does. Of course it matters little what either group has to say; she is here now. He should have known it was her. But, he was still asleep when the fragrance and the essence touched his senses. Somehow it mixed with a dream he was having about purple flowers and dead bodies. He had not meant to kill them; and some pang of regret hits him; his intentions did not always go as he envisioned.

She would find him here of course; she always did, and more so, it is he who always comes back, no matter what the cost to his soul. How long had he been asleep? It was not quiet afternoon when he lay down, so, a needed rest of sorts. An ache or two would need some time to mend; nothing he could not push aside. He touched his hand against his side, not as painful. Still, it seeped blood. He was not quite ready for another hunt.

She was before him now. No foot steps to announce her presence, only the lavender and the incredible power of her being; the Magic she carried hummed in the air, not a sound, rather a resonance of overwhelming power, a power that probably matched his own, a match he would not care to test. A few steps behind her came Danser, his eyes as dark as the night to come, his devotion to his master forged in battle and kinship, and sealed with the years that should have long ago taken any wolf to its spirit pack.

She smiled before she spoke, her emerald eyes sparkling even as the first stars came to join them. “Ah, I see you have rested. I was hoping to find you still in your dreams where I might join you.”

A breeze, as light as down feathers upon his face; it must have followed her in. He remembered now. Her hair, red like the last glimpse of sun on the far mountain peak, shimmered ever so slightly again her cheek. She reminded him of a war horse with all its power, yet she retained the exuberance of a new foal strutting with life, fragile and filled with vitality. She was neither, of course; but a more beautiful woman he had yet to meet.

Danser brushed against his legs; he reached down and scratched his ears, but kept his eyes on Merrian. “I’m pleased you’ve come to join me. How did you find me?”

“You weren’t so hard to find, my dear Gerand. I have Dancer, and he likes you for some odd reason.

He knew well to not press any further; her answers would only turn into riddles. “The hunt did not go well,” he offered.

“No, I didn’t expect it would. But you gave me valuable time to save the Woodling. For that we should all be thankful.” Merrian touched his face with her hand. “You are a brave man. I don’t know what we would do without your Magic and your sword.” She began undoing the bandage around his waist.

“Or, yours,” he quickly added.

She wiped the wound with a small cloth she took from her satchel, and pressed her hand over where the blade had found him. He felt the surge of energy and the healing she offered.

“There, that should hold you together for a few more days. … I fear our Magic and your sword might not be enough. We may already be too late.” She pointed to where the waterfalls where now shrouded in the darkness, and above a crescent moon sat just above the horizon. “If we fail, all else will ultimately fail.”

Gerand put his arm gently around her waist. “We’ll find more Woodlings, I promise.”

“You cannot promise what might not be possible.”

“It’s no longer only about Magic, is it?” he asked.

She pulled him close, “No, and the dark possibilities now loom large if not imminent.”

I am looking for ideas for my next book, book five. As I finish editing book three, and writing book four (some 50,000 words in) I continue to look for new ideas. The above in one such idea. I would love your comments on this opening scene. Is it enough to make you want to read more.

One of these scenes will most likely be the beginning of my fifth book.

The Girl who Talks to Trees

The Girl who talked to Trees

Not all things of importance have their beginnings etched in purpose or design. Some findings are a chance meeting with opportunity and coincidence. Falling apples from trees, mole on old pieces of bread, daydreams about speed and distance, much of what we know, much of what we discover, is but a contrivance of accident, imagination, and study, coming together in some inexplicable combination.

Kayleigh’s purpose was merely to get outside; her intent was to enjoy the sunshine. She finished up the last of her breakfast and placed the dishes in the sink, chores for a later time. She stepped in front of the picture window and held her face up to the sun waiting for her outside. The warmth on her face brought on a smile. She moved to the side and opened the curtains all the way. She smiled a second time on noticing Darwin already sleeping in the rays. She bent down and scratched his head; he was too content even to purr.

No need for a raincoat today. She doubted it was even dry from the long walks she had taken in the last few days, when the rain had all but washed her away. Not today. This was her last day off before going back to work, and she wanted to make the most of it. Two years in the city had been enough; the job there had been a lucky find, but the opening that allowed her to transfer back here was a godsend.

She closed the door behind her and placed the key under the mat. She limbered up, walked a short ways, and moved into a slow jog out the pathway and down towards the forest. As she ran the sun glided along beside her, darting in and out of the trees that lined the road. No cars, no other people, she was an early bird for exactly that purpose.

Twenty minutes into her run she hit her stride, that wonderful place where she always found she could run forever. She checked the timer on her wrist, the pace as near as she had intended. No sound from her sneakers, this was so different from when she ran on the city sidewalks. A few birds bid her good morning, the easy breathing the only other sound.

She was now well into the forest; small paths went off in many directions; she knew most of them from when she had lived here in her younger days, and felt safe and secure in taking any one of them. The spring growth had already begun its profusion of colors, but many dead leaves were still scattered about and yet to be consumed by the season’s insatiable appetite.

Ahead she saw what was a park of sorts where people would come to picnic on the weekend, or children could be found playing. To one side was an old stone bench that had been there for as long as she could remember. It looked lonely now. She had been lonely the last time she sat on it. She shook her head, how could an old bench be lonely?

The path she needed to take went off to the right of the bench, a half mile beyond that and she would swing around and make her way back. She stopped running. She pressed the timer on her arm, not at all sure why she had stopped. The urge to sit and enjoy this remarkable place was overwhelming. It had been so long. She was home.

The bench awaited her. She placed her hands on the stone as she sat, the stone cool to the touch. A few squirrels were busy scampering about, swirling their tails. So peaceful here, it had been such a long time, too long. She was home again. The sun poured out from behind a tree and she squinted her eyes as the light hit her. She lifted her face and closed her eyes, and let the warmth of the sun embrace her.

“You have returned.”

Her eyes shot open, and she all but flew from the bench. She looked around, searching for who had spoken. No one was about. The tree line was a distance away on either side, other than the tall black oak that was but a few yards from the bench. It was big enough to hide someone; someone was hiding behind the tree. She crept forward, not sure whether she would fight or run. Her heart pounded with the idea that someone might be hiding, and somehow knew who she was. Step after step she circumvented the tree; there was no one.

“I’m sorry I startled you.”

Kayleigh took a step back; she spun around, looking in every direction possible. Nothing.

“Please sit, and we will talk.”

“Who is this? Where are you hiding?”

“I’m not hiding. I’m right in front of you.”

She reeled with the impossibility of what was happening. There was no one in front of her. The voice she heard was not a shout; they couldn’t be far away. It must be a joke; someone is playing a recording and it is hidden in that tree. “Very funny, whoever you are. Now stop with the joke and tell me who you are.”

“I’m an old friend. You gaze upon me, even as you speak. I will agree it is not so usual to speak with a tree. If I were to name myself it would be Ezra; he was the little boy who many decades ago planted the seed of my growth without his knowing. He was merely walking along, but in doing so he walked on the small seed that made me who I am today.”

Kayleigh searched the tree for anything that might deliver the voice; the spring leaves were still little more than buds, and she was able to see clearly that no one was hiding there, and there was no evidence of any unusual items or recording devices. Her heart continued to beat fast as she continued searching for any possibility other than the notion of actually talking to a tree. One idea came to her: escape from here as quickly as possible, and sort things out later.

“Tell me who you are now.”

“I’m what I say I am. I only ask that we might talk. Then you can make up your mind.”

A couple of years of living in the city had taught her to listen to her senses and follow her gut. She felt no such alert here. For whatever reason she had no signal of danger; whatever this was, the sound of the voice told her she was safe from harm. She moved to the bench, sat down, and looked at the oak. At best she thought herself going mad.

“You are Kayleigh Mertin. The last time you were here was two years and three months ago. You sat on this very bench and you cried. It was not the first time you had been here; for all the years you have lived in this place you have come here with your family and friends, and as you became a runner I would see you here in early morning before others came this way.”

“How do you know all this?”

“Not all trees are sentient. We are but a few. Not all humans can hear the trees; they are indeed a rare few. Sometimes even though we can talk to humans, there’s no reason to do so. This time it’s imperative we speak. For your world, and ours, is on the verge of extinction. What you do next will be all there is to tip the balance.”

Kayleigh looked to her left; two other joggers were making their way into the forest. The black oak went silent.

I am looking for ideas for my next book, book five. As I finish editing book three, and writing book four (some 50,000 words in) I continue to look for new ideas. The above in one such idea. I would love your comments on this opening scene. Is it enough to make you want to read more.

One of these scenes will most likely be the beginning of my fifth book.

Cycles

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image22414277

Years get carved like buried blocks of old ice on some forgotten continent; pressed down and heaped upon by: joys and woes, happiness and pain, beginnings and endings, growth and dying.

So buried, one can no longer see the minutes and the hours that poured down from creation to allow such life. So still, that reaching back, no matter how prolonged or purposeful, will not awaken it from its slumber.

Yet there is a yearning, a connection of some kind that will not allow all that has been done to merely slip into oblivion. One day the light shall come, when all the hours and days have done their work. The light will bring all that sleeps out of slumber, so it might begin again.

Each New Year, we do this with our soul, as we repeat the cycle over and over; perhaps in anticipation of an even greater cycle.

Happy New Year’s

First Ice

DSC00485First ice on the water, dark as the water itself. It appears only in the deeper parts of the pond, still not thick enough to hold much more than a fallen leaf, one that has stuck to the tree well into autumn.

It will not last long, the ice I mean. The sun will have it. Presently it is still fighting a few clouds on the eastern horizon. Only a few minutes ago it flashed its deep pink—almost a red-hot glow really—upon the clouds. The sun likes to announce its arrival; it often uses clouds to do that; maybe an irony of sorts. The rage of color has since settled down to a few streaks of light and dark grays, with only a hint of pink—the clouds don’t like being used for such a purpose; their purpose is to darken.

You know first by the bubbles in the water, then of course the ripples across the surface, small waves lapping onto the thin slice of ice. But there is more to tell of the invasion of these otherwise quiet waters—the trees have the story.

You would think trees do not have enemies. For even old dead trees can be seen in the woods, plenty of them, branches long ago fallen, no leaves, though it be in the middle of summer. Still they stand, nor does the wind take them down. Such old trees are a godsend to woodpeckers, as they stomp about opening up holes where they will come again to find what is stored there.
I have no understanding why a hawk would perch upon such trees, yet they do; I have seen them. Perhaps they are merely resting and not hunting, as surely they would be seen with their naked gaze to all that moves.

These old trees are not what I am referring to.

Fire is a mad killer of trees, but there has been no fire here. And it would be easy to understand should it be the axe, or saw; that scar would be obvious, maybe no less acceptable, like many things that are the way of men. No, this is much more, an intentional killer of living trees, killing them long before they are dead. Yes, an odd thing to happen to a tree.

What is even worse than the killing, is the way of death. Trees chopped or sawn, or burnt by fire, go their way quickly; one moment that are there standing tall, some for decades beyond the brief existence of mortals or beast, and then they are gone. But the trees I am referring to announce their death to come. You might not readily see it in a thick stand of trees, as they still appear to stand tall, and if it be summer their leaves would still shimmer in the sunlight and rustle with the breeze. However in the stark bareness of autumn it is all too clear. A foot or so above the ground a ring of gorging teeth has left its mark; the tree sits like a spin top on its own base. Day after day its supply of water becomes less and less, balance now an act a man on a high wire might well admire. And then it tumbles

.
They slap the water with delight for what they have done, little water rascals, experts at damns and wooden houses, at swimming under ice, at doing in the night what should be left to ghouls and the like.

The Screen Door

lonelyThe weathered gray door hung askew; the many holes in its screen told of uselessness; the middle hinge was still at work with what the top hinge had accomplished—separation from the old house frame, though the screws in the top hinge still met some wood. It had hung there for a long time, a long time serving a need, letting in what needed to, and keeping out what best be kept outside. Now it squeaked from the small gusts of wind that sent in twisting on its hinges, perhaps asking if anyone was home, a silly thing to aspire to a lifeless door which no longer had purpose.

It had been some time since anyone had yanked that door wide open. Even as it shut now and again, resting from its battle with the breeze, it scarce stayed closed long enough to keep any mosquitoes out; its only effective job now to hang there and be the mocking cry to all of silence.

The bits of early autumn leaves, curled with the sun’s heat, and the tumbleweeds of disregarded things, in the dry dusty garden, moved like the misty smoke on the surface of a warm pond in the chill of early morning; no sound; and, as if in irritation, the breeze would stop and sit them down again. Such things a man would do when all that needed attention also needed repose.

The windswept barn, its doors wide open, splayed, incapable of any protection to what might live there, the worn wooden latch and the frayed piece of rope that held the slider in place, now hung loosely, most likely beyond fixing, a puzzle to anyone less familiar with old things; best forgotten. The stalls sat empty, the scent of who might live here was now a distant glow of sanctuary having been abandoned; the water buckets rested on their sides, empty; the swarms of flies settled on what remained of discard, nothing new to attract their attention. Two stall doors were beaten down as if something had wanted desperately to get out. There was blood mixed with the splinters of wood, not the blood of the prey to the predator, rather the blood of desperation. What had been here was now gone.

Not all though, some had still a ways to go. A couple of horses grazed in the lower pasture, their backs to the farmhouse; a few sheep kept their heads down, far from the old barn, to the right of where the two-track dirt road curved off into the distance, next to the river which gave what water they needed. There was no sign of hens or ducks. The tops of corn stalks in the upper field moved slightly; not likely the wind would move them in such a manner, perhaps the cows had made their way there.

This old farm was different that most; a sparsity of machinery here, save the old John Deere with more rust than green. It still ran, by the looks of it, and parts that never again would be attached for sewing or reaping lay sprawled about, the tall grass doing all it could to hide they even existed.

An old wagon wheel hung on one side of the barn, maybe a link to some other time; and down along where the rains would tumble from the roof during the summer rainstorms, links of old chains lay curled, for a purpose only who had put them there would understand.

It wasn’t time for harvest, nor was it time for planting. It was sometime south of where all the work was done, and the work yet to come was still a few paces north—an interlude of sorts. Not that anyone would come this far to look for anyone who entertained such notions.

Those he loved had long departed. The separation had not been done with any intention of ill will. Nor was it done with any particular grand exodus in mind; first one, and then another, and then, only he was there as the old screen door began pulling itself to be free of the house.

It was fair to say that hugs and laughter, waves and smiles, came with each exit, each small step to being alone. That part was lost to memory devouring memory. There came a time when he had no need to even recall their names. Still, he held on to a desperately needed recollection of love, and he watched the road each evening when his work was done, the seasons doing their best to end his vigil.

He was not an angry man, nor was he lost in some world where humanity was not needed. He was not too kind, too selfish, too brave, too lost, too anything, other than being what he was. He understood deeply that his ways were just that, his. He understood that all things must come to an end. A way of life is merely adopted. His mother and father, their parents before them, had passed that way of life onto him. His intention was nothing more than to pass it on, father to son, mother to daughter. That was not to be; and even in that he understood and accepted the reality of all things; there must be a last.

The old screen door slammed itself once more. This time the top screw fell out and landed on the porch, bounced once, and slid down a crack and out of sight.

Just a week or so ago when he had come inside to retire, he had marked his intend to fix that door, bring it back to as it once had been. Even from where he slept, the distraction was loud enough to wake him.

But that was before he let the door close behind him one last time.

Choose Darkness

me_as_a_raven_nightThe twilight, which brings in the evening, offers immutable intention, so different from its left-handed twin on the other side of day or night as one deems best to look. With the evening’s push against the day the crickets rub their wings together in anticipation of the trepidation that might follow them into night; for now as the sun blinks out, all the heat, so immensely stored all about the earth, must leave the land. Such departure has little to do with how cold or warm it might be; the vastness above pulls it like a blanket for its own warmth. And there is a chill left behind, which sits waiting for the uninitiated.

Nor does the heat simply rise into the air. For the twilight of evening also frees the druids from the tall black oaks. The druids ride the rising heat of the earth to do what nature demands of them in the darkness to come. It is the druids who make the leaves rustle even though there is no wind; the bending of the tuffs of grass bears witness to their passing; and should there be a moon upon the water, faint ripples can be seen where none should be, that too, the sacred priests of nature well about their work. They join the young wolf on the cliffs overlooking the forest and teach him to howl his presence that all might know he has moved to find his pack and a new territory. They lead the deer away from stream and open field to lay quietly tucked behind a screen of brush; their ears ready for any sound, and the place ordained that it provide ease of escape, should that be necessary. A druid sails with the Screech-Owl, and brings her to a perch, where they sit together, so she might learn silence and the way of the night.

All creatures understand this is time to be the hunter or the hunted, and it is the druids who guide all who dwell here. Evening twilight is the toll of life’s bell to meet the druids, to rehash what the day did bring, to plan what must be accomplished tomorrow, to survive the night.

The twilight of morning does not care to grip the day in any dark embrace; its concern is all about unfolding. It comes as a whisper in a lover’s ear, or a soft caress against a breast to stir the flames of a new passion. There is a misty shroud of softness all about; the trees, the grass, the water, stretching throughout the land; the entirety appears joined as one; each blending into the other, impossible to tell where one begins and the other ends. It is a time of awakening and ephemeral wonder: First, it is the sky that breaks away and offers a sleepy eye; ill-lit, it scarce can make out the small stream of clouds to the eastern sky. Then somehow, stretching, as does a great woods animal when it first rises from sleep, and then with great majesty moves to the bank where it takes its first drink, the light, in its fashion, sets pinks and greys against the far horizon, a vivid and glorious display of the light to come; and just as quickly as the tall antlered buck leaps from the bank at the sound of a branch breaking; the colors dissipate, and the day has arrived.

Morning is what we crave most. It offers a new start, and that is indeed a glorious purpose. But, dare you not forget the “dark night of the soul,” for learning is all about darkness, not light. The best of insight comes from the dreams that stir to us in the depth of night. Few ponder such dreams, and so they are bid to repeat them. Those who do ponder, do so with their eyes shut against the light; that they might touch the reason and the why of a matter. In the best of deeds and accomplishments, there are crucial times of darkness which test the resolve to continue. That darkness should not be feared or ignored; it is merely the time to know how well you might want the outcome.

A myriad of great teachers have long ago slipped into the dark shroud of our past. Yet they reach out to teach us in books, poetry, paintings, music, and the crafts they explored; and so we may move forward with their knowledge. The best of the teachers who even now dwell among us have already lived a life of discovery and learning; and their light too might bend towards the twilight of evening as they impart their knowledge to us. It seems a trade of sorts; we move into the light as they move into the darkness.

Yes, the light is the best of what is yet to be; know well however, it is the darkness which will give you the power to best explore the light.

Fantasy

cats_kittens_reading_books_03

I was pondering some time ago, the loss of innocence. No, no, not that innocence—I mean check out a picture of me at twenty or so – I was far from innocent long before I was able to lose it.

I am referring to “wonder.” Perhaps that’s not the correct word, so let me explain. I recall watching the Walt Disney channel on Sunday nights at seven; the cartoons were best; I got lost in them, I mean totally immersed, to the point of being a real part of the adventure unfolding. I was similarly able to let the real world slip away when I turned the cover of a new Superman comic.

Then I turned thirty. Okay, maybe a bit younger, and it all slipped away. I did not intend it to. It happened without any real awareness, certainly not a conscious effort on my part. I found myself down the road somewhere, a place where cartoons and comics were for children. I remember trying to climb back into one of my favorite Saturday morning cartoons; and of course you know the outcome, it’s like trying to believe in Santa Claus again.

If childhood should teach us anything—yes, I’ve noted with some distain that we tend to view childhood as a time to learn and grow up and turn into good adults; we tend to give no measure to what childhood might teach us, the adult—if it should teach us anything, I repeat; it would be that such ventures into fantasy are spiritual in nature, precious, and euphoric to a healthy well-being.

Perchance we make a mistake when we label such episodes escaping from reality. Story telling is very much a part of human kind, and might even be hard-wired to some degree. The Myths, the lore, the gods so invoked by our ancestors point to rich imagination and a grand connection with a spiritual existence. Some folks lament the loss of the hardcover book to the digital. I for one offer no such affirmation. It was never the physical book; it has always been the story; and now with digital we can have a world of discovery, learning, and adventure waiting in an inside pocket to be pulled out any time when the part that calls itself the Real World needs to have its light dimmed for a short time.

The Joining

DoveI must separate from the matter and rejoin again; return to the essence. It is more awareness than any knowledge I might have of what I must do; Somehow I know it to be true. All I have now is a muddy connection to people and places; the muddy of murky and cloudy, in no way grimy—though of the earth I believe. Ideas and worn out dreams; I can’t seem to grasp they are any longer mine—maybe they never where. There are those who belong to me, or me to them, whichever—I must leave now.

Some of this has to be me—other than a dream—or else I am nothing. No, the truth lies somewhere else; I am slipping away, something new, well different. No pain now. There was pain once. Yes, there is connection to pain, or rather the memory of pain.

I feel a strong urge to go back, as if I am floating far above some plane, and the string is broken, such that I can never return. Return to what I wonder? Those memories again; before when there was attachment it was real; now, they stretch into the distance. Yes, memories best describe them.

There is weeping and laughter, perhaps in another place, for I cannot make out who the emotions belong to; that too has slipped. Is it because of having separated? I am but a watcher and a seeker, both adrift in some place of impossible rest and peace. No need to search, still an urge pushes me on; on to where I cannot even imagine. I need to be more than the watcher and the seeker. I must have all of what I was supposed to be.

A new string, no, a series of strings stretch before me and I grasp each one. They all pull me the same way. A flood of happenings wash over me.

First there is the Druid. He protects the children from the barbarians. They sit in a circle now and listen as he imparts the ways of nature and how they best survive. He keeps them hidden in this woodland, lush with plants and berries for eating, plentiful in herbs for medicinal purposes, and teeming with creatures of all sorts. The air is fresh and the gentle breeze that brushes the grass by the waterfall is warm and intoxicating with the many fragrances of flowers, a most wonderful place to be if not for the terrible danger.

Next a vast ocean, a deck-hand perhaps. No, someone with much more freedom to roam the massive ship as her sails rattle in the wind and her bow crashes into the waves that come rolling in from one side. She is making for a new world where hope and opportunity blossom. It was by chance I found my way on-board. One of the Wild Geese, it was not my choice to be here. My comrades insisted my time there was long past the hangman’s patience.

Two red moons dress the night in light. Endless stars fill the sky. I am sitting on a floating disc, no sound from it. It hovers just feet above the fast moving stream as the water gurgles and cascades over the shiny moon lit boulders on either side. I am playing an instrument and singing the song of the magic swan, a bird with the power to change between an animal and a marshland creature—of which I am one. My lover is sitting on the bank of the river, his feet in the water. He bids me come down where he might teach me things about the moons. I tell him he must wait until the song is over.

“Oh my. There you are. It’s been so long.”
“Oh, that was not what I meant to say.” Some connection still to what I was so soon before.
“Yes, thank you. Merlin, you were the best of Danes.” Merlin sits upon my lap as he was prone to do. All enjoy the reunion. Here there is no master. We are two venturers.

It is all in focus; I am no longer adrift.

“You are welcome. I could not have hoped for better.” Some here were part of my particular last garden and now reach out. Others are joining as I am once again, and opening up their experiences that we all might touch, even as we hold onto our own.

This group was formed as the Gardens of Matter-born, not dark matter; instead earthy, carbon, things of stars in some universes. Our group is never complete, as many are away, visiting one such garden or another, while the many of us return here to add and grow.

So much to share and learn. Old friends, family, extended family, lower forms rising, higher forms pulling us along. It is good that time has no meaning; there is so much to be accomplished. All that we have even been can be accessed. Still it is very much like a new unfolding as all that has happened in my last garden has been added to what I was; and all that has been experienced by the others who are part of the Gardens of Matter-born has been added for each to weave with their own.

Such wonderful things to do and share with all to who I am joined. And so much, much more to come. “Yes Pal, I love you too.” His memory licks my face—the reality precious.