Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Practical Magic Blogger's Party!

Once upon a time, in a land where trees grew tall and housed all manner of strange creatures, a girl named “Yellow Hair” went out for a walk...
Enthralled by morning light and bird songs, Yellow Hair walked and walked until she finally found herself lost in the woods.
Rainbow feathered birds of green and blue and yellow flew down from the tree tops as Yellow Hair sat on a fallen log to ponder where she was...

Too late she realized she ventured onto "Perdition Trail"! What she thought was the path petered out into dense brush and a tangled web of trees so thick you could almost see the sky, and now she was lost! Worse yet, as she oriented herself she realized this wasn't any forest. Oh no, it was a land of witches! A land of many fear! The legend said that all sort of supernatural creatures abounded there, some dating back to the long lost ages before man could write. Not even the most courageous heroes of Hollow Village would dare walk that part of the forest.

It was well known that for centuries a coven of witches met secretly each fall to practice their magic in that part of the forest... everyone in Hollow Village was aware of this, and not a soul would dare go into the woods when it grew dark and the witches of the night began their rituals...

Yellow Hair sat on the log trembling with fear... The beautiful birds of the forest heard her cried and settled down on her shoulders. They told Yellow Hair of a witch woman who lived in a lovely stone cottage deep within the forest. She was a good witch and Yellow Hair would find asylum in her cozy stone cottage. Over there... over there is where you would find the cottage!", said the birds signaling the far-off distance with their shinny wings. And so Yellow Hair followed the path dictated by the birds; hurrying in her steps before the forest grew dark and the night creatures began to come out...
A sound of wings fluttering above her made her look up and there, before her, was a man and his dog... or was it more like a gnome and his dog? At first Yellow Hair was afraid that he was one of the creepy men that inhabited the forest, but it was said that they all had hair of the darkest black, and although this man had a huge sombrero that covered most of his head, she still could tell that the gnome didn’t have hair--not a single hair in all of his round head!
Yellow Hair asked the good gnome if he would help her find the little stone cottage and the good witch who lived in it, but the gnome just looked at her in total surprise... he had to sit down for a minute to put his thoughts in order... he looked very perplexed.

The good gnome told Yellow Hair that he had traveled from far away in the forest, where he lived up in the treetops with his dog and had never ever seen a stone cottage in that part of the wood, or heard of a good witch before. “Nonsense”—he said. “There are no such things in this ominous forest”. And to prove he was right, he took Yellow Hair to look out over the canopy of trees... Yellow Hair was afraid to climb so high, and at first she had a lot of trouble maintaining her balance, but after some struggle and much giggling she finally felt very comfortable up in the tress, and was able to see a forest that stretched out to the ends of the earth in every direction...

And what do you know! Ah yes, a cottage indeed!! Yellow Hair could see the small white stone cottage nestled among wild roses in the distance. It was the most precious thing she had ever seen... a cottage swathed in mystery, yet so enchanting her heart was bursting with joy. The strangest and purest of light was falling down from the sky right onto this little cottage; like a magical veil, and there were myriads of flowers growing in the shade. Calendulas, poppies, love-in-a-mist and bachelor’s buttons grew like rich, flourishing grass... the soft lights of candles flickering on the windows of the little cottage made her heart sing... she was thrilled!

The old gnome saw the cottage too and was baffled by it, but wary of an evil presence that had already grown too strong, decided to go along with Yellow Hair... They walk together by dangerous waterfalls and through the thickest of forest. They could not even see each other because of all the trees... They tried to stay together, but they could not. The gnome went this way. Yellow Hair went that way.

When Yellow Hair finally reached the cottage she raced to it... as she reached the half open front door, she called out: “Is there anybody home?” Total silence. It was such fascination entering that silent cottage. As Yellow Hair came into the house she was pleasantly surprised to find that it was nothing what she had expected to be--a cottage filled with dust and cobwebs and stuffing falling out of the sofa cushions. Everything was in perfect order!

Hurrying along, Yellow Hair found another room filled with lovely objects. A feeling of peace embraced her. It was almost like being in her own home!

There was a table and on it there were beautiful fresh cut roses on pretty wee crystal vases, and there was a romantic looking milk glass lamp with a white shade that reminded Yellow Hair of a bride's perky skirt. Yellow Hair was particularly enthralled by an old photograph of a lovely maiden. Who was she? She pondered nostalgically. The lovely maiden reminded Yellow Hair of someone she once knew, but couldn't remember who.

A growing sense of being watched overwhelmed the girl. Outside the cottage, a sudden boast of footsteps was heard on the flight of steps leading nowhere. Yellow Hair remembered seeing those very odd stairs outside the cottage when she came in, and had wondered why they were there. It was the most curious stairs she had ever seen because it consisted of only four steps that lead nowhere...

Indeed, someone was approaching!

The footsteps became louder...

Faster.... terrifying!

Stricken by fear, Yellow Hair bolted from the room and down the hall. As she looked over her shoulder she could see the most mysterious figure swathed in black...

Yellow Hair was petrified! Oh she so wanted to believe this mysterious person was the good witch! But what about if she wasn't? The woman entered the cottage. Yellow Hair could hear her mumbling some sort of a spell in the kitchen: “One tablespoon dried wormwood, three teaspoons ground nutmeg, one teaspoon powdered mandrake root, thirteen drops of pine oil....”

She was probably working on some weird spell potion. Yellow Hair was sure of that! There was a variety of complicated bottles there in the kitchen. Poisons and healing concoctions and love potions maybe? Yellow Hair saw the woman place all her ingredients in a glass jar. She gently swirled her potion in a clockwise direction, sealed the jar tightly and then took the mixture to a cool, dark place. The potion was to be let there for 13 nights and then it would had to be filtered through a cheesecloth. The woman would use this potion to anoint her candles for wish-magic, jinx-breaking and spells to attract good luck, but Yellow Hair didn't know any of this...

Yellow Hair was fascinated by all this when all of the sudden, as if she knew that Yellow Hair was spying on her all this time, the woman turned around and said: Now then now then!... don't you stand there till the tea gets cold! Come help me carry the tray down the hall and we'll have some tea". Yellow Hair couldn't do a thing other than to carry the tray down the hall as she was instructed...

And what she saw there in that room gave Yellow Hair total confidence in the woman! She was for sure the good witch she was looking for! There was a table magically filled with all sort of goods. From the china to the tablecloth to the flower arrangement, everything was just beautiful, and there were eye-appealing dishes too, such as mushroom and chestnut soup and maple-orange cloverleaf scones alongside sweet chocolate and peanut butter mousse trifles and creamy pumpkin-custard tartlets and this and that...

After the tea ceremony was over, the good witch said to Yellow Hair. “We must hurry and send you back home before nightfall”. And so, the good witch took Yellow Hair straight to the curious flight of steps that took to you "nowhere". Or so Yellow Hair thought! The sky was already turning dark, and if you would had pay close attention to details you could had seen the witches already at work through the trees, as sparks from their spells and cauldron fires filled the night sky...

"Listen well”—said the good witch. “A memory can guide you home like the arrows that say “Path” can lead you through the thickest forest to the bright clearing... do you believe this? Yellow Hair said she did and closed her eyes as the woman instructed her to do. She looked inside her head for a memory of her very dear home and the minute she did this something wonderful and magical happened! When Yellow Hair opened her eyes again she knew exactly where she was! In her garden!!

Ah yes... ah yes!! She was indeed in her garden, the happiest of place of all places!! It all had been but a bad dream! Yellow Hair remembered having fall asleep under the warm afternoon breezes. Now. Finding herself there lying down on the carpet of green of her very own garden was just pure bliss. She was safe home and there was nothing more satisfying or rewarding than that!

The End! I'm linking this post to the Practical Magic blogger’s party going around blogland! The party starts on the 24th, but since I am busy entertaining some very dear visitors, I had to post a little bit earlier... hope you enjoyed the story!

As an addendum, I’m adding here some details about this post (which also apply to almost all of the post you’d find here), that I thought might be of interest to some of you.

I believe that a blog is an expression of one’s self, and thus I prefer to use my own photographs whenever possible. All of the images you see here are my property. Most of my stories take fly here, in my very own garden, but I immensely enjoy taking pictures of people and interesting things I see during our joyful walks in local parks and while camping. The moment I see a peculiar thing, such as the flight of stairs leading nowhere that I discovered in the middle of a campground this summer, my mind starts fantasizing a story that then becomes a new post.

Some of the people you’d see in my stories are just the lucky passerby or people that I don’t know and would probably would never see again. I just hope that these characters wont ever had the joy of finding my blog just to discover that they’ve been given a new roll in life as little gnomes and bad witches. We visited Multnomah Falls this summer and then the beautiful Oregon Coast, where we stayed for a couple of days. Some of the lush woods and waterfalls you see here came from there...

Also, I don't know of any witch or fairy (real or unreal) that would agree posing for my stories, so if you believe you’re seeing me way too much flying in brooms or flapping fairy wings around here, please pardon my "silliness".

More sappy stories to follow!