Sunday, 23 February 2014
This young one, flame of hair and wild of spirit enjoyed tremendously to scamper up the crags and chase the goats onto the highest precipice. Arms outstretched to the blowing winds she would laugh and twirl around. Perhaps, not the most sensible of pastimes but for Nuala caution was something to be fed to the wild wind. To stand high up on the crag with hair blowing one way and her dress the other was one of life's joys. Nuala would call out and listen to her voice disappear and in wonderment of where it would land, she chased all the way back down to try to catch it at the bottom.
Mostly the goats tried their best to ignore her, though on better days they humoured her shenanigans as she ran at them and shooed them ever upwards.
On a day much like any other, Nuala ran the goats up to the top of the crag, the goats took to grazing and Nuala to twirling. High up in the sky another was twirling, or perhaps it would be more accurate to say circling. A huge eagle had seen the goats and was carefully choosing lunch! The goats at once recognised the fast approaching shadow and in a panic of hooves and horns sped hastily over rock and tussock to save themselves from the winged devourer. Nuala spinning with eyes shut was blind to the kerfuffle, laughing and giggling as dizziness took her. Except dizziness, this time had a very firm grip and if she was not mistaken was taking her higher and higher! Nuala opened her eyes to see the ground fast disappearing from below her feet, oh the joy! She had never been up that high before and let out a little shriek.
Confused by the sounds emanating from his talons the eagle looked down, imagine his surprise to see not one horned and bleating but a human child wriggling and shrieking. He dropped her right away!
I never did find out if she managed to catch her voice at the bottom but perhaps you could ask for me at the roots of the old Willow tree...
Friday, 21 February 2014
These quarrelsome sisters are chalk and cheese. A seemingly trivial matter has the two siblings locking horns and even pulling hair, which only serves too bring out the very worst in Fidelma who rather prizes her silken, auburn tresses.
Ena, on the other hand, is nothing short of a stranger to a comb or even a soft bristle brush. What gets her goat is being told what to do, something that Fidelma particularly excels at! So you see, these two can barely spend a moment in each other's company before all hell breaks loose.
Something they did have in common was the love of collecting smooth, shiny pebbles and so they would wander coastal paths bickering and fratching all the way to and from the beach. They would argue over who had the most sand in their shoes, or whose turn it was to walk on the outside of the path and even about the colour of the sky!
But when they arrived at the shingle, the sheer joy of pebble hunting took away all their differences and my how they giggled and delightedly shared their cache.
At the end of one of these glorious outings arose a peculiar incident. I say peculiar because Fidelma, who was fastidious about the counting and grading of her pebbles, discovered that she was missing the smallest, shiniest, reddest one. Ena, pointed out, that perhaps Fidelma had dropped it. Her elder sister incensed at the accusation of carelessness, in turn accused Ena of stealing it, who immediately set her jaw and grimaced most venomously at her sister!
Foul of temper, they began their walk home each one spitting feathers and hurling insults at the other. It wasn't long before the pushing and pulling began, not to mention the kicking of ankles and the pinching of skin.
Oblivious in their anger, to the dangers of fisticuffs near the cliffs edge, they continued until first one and then the other, lost their footing and together plummeted down towards the beach below.
When the Governessa found them amid the seaweed and dances of the hermit crabs, not only did she notice that they were covered in barnacles, but that their little hands were locked as tightly together as their horns.
As the bone skirted one readied the sisters for their journey to the old Willow, the Governessa noticed a tiny, shiny, red pebble drop from the remnants of Fidelma's pocket...
Saturday, 15 February 2014
It was a particularly damp autumn afternoon and Birdie crept off to seek comfort in the soft and velvety roots of the old twisted oaks.
Birdie was a nervous child, a worrier and a nail chewer, for the comings and goings of everyday life were often just far too much to bear and so it was, that she found herself longing for the cool, dark hollows that one can only find in the very oldest of woods. With a hat pulled down way over her ears and a scarf wrapped around all the way up to her eyes, Birdie felt safe and snug for the walk across the town's grey and unwelcoming streets.
Between the honks of horns, the glaring of headlamps and the screams of excited children, Birdies nerves were really quite frazzled. "Not long now" she told herself and patted the pocket where she kept her torch and a well worn copy of Alice In Wonderland, she felt sure that she still had a boiled sweet or a sticky toffee or two in there as well.
Our jittery girl breathed sigh of relief to feel her feet sink into the soft, leaf covered soil of the darkening woodland. Others may fear to walk the woods in the fading light but not Birdie, she felt a certain comfort in the darkness, that kept her safe from prying eyes and besides, she had a torch.
You will recall, if you were paying attention, that this, was one of those very old woods. The kind where the fallen, crooked limbs of trees cleave to gaps in mossy boulders and then become quite green and velvety themselves. The kind of wood, where you can walk right into the hollow of a tree or nestle down to read a book in an armchair of roots and leaf mould. Birdie buttoned down the flap of her pocket in readiness for the series of tipply-bumbalegs she planned on doing over the fallen limb ahead of her. This was a most delightful part of the woods, an intricate course of unders and overs. a place, where if one was not entirely careful, the entire contents of a pocket could be lost, never to be seen again and Birdie's pocket contents were far too valuable to be so carelessly lost.
It had rained an awful lot that autumn and the ground was softer than usual, in fact small ravines had begun to open up where much of the earth between rocks had been washed clean away! Birdie was quite flushed from all her exertions and had loosened her scarf as she skipped along a large fallen trunk of a tree whose muddy roots shot up skywards. Double checking that her pocket was still full Birdie began to clamber up and over the humongous root ball, excited at the thought of a rain filled hollow to splash in. The tree trunk was slicker than she thought and as she climbed over, she slipped. A kindly root, however, caught hold of her scarf and she never hit the bottom.
The Governessa unwound Birdies scarf from the root and wrapped her in a soft, black travelling cloak, book and torch tucked under her arm. You know that dear Birdie would be very fond of her destination, deep under the roots of the old Willow tree.
Friday, 14 February 2014
Culain was a silent and graceful child, as fair and willowy as, well, a Willow. His quiet elegance left him somewhat of an outcast amongst his rough and tumble peers, though Culain seemed not to mind, for he loved his lonely walks though wood and dale. The tinkling of the brook and the rustling of mice scampering through barley was all the conversation he ever needed.
He prepared his wandering garb the night before, it was smoothed, brushed down and laid out neatly on the chair at the foot of his bed and his knee socks were thoroughly checked for holes and ladders, long before he put on his beautifully polished boots. For when one is going to meet Ones as ancient as the hills and the rocks, then one really must look ones best, don't you think?
In the kitchen he would wrap his sandwiches in crisp, brown, waxed paper and tie them up with a flourish of string and a flick of the wrist. A smile usually tweaked the corners of his serious mouth when he thought of the fresh and fragrant greens, that lined the streams and pathways and would soon be accompanying the delights contained in that little, waxed packet.
One last glance around, lest he forget something of great importance such as a handkerchief to clean his mouth on, or a pickle fork to pull the berries off their stems, satisfied that he was correctly organised he would pull the door shut and stride off down the lane.
It was a fine, bright morning late in the spring, voles darted through tunnels in the hedgerows and Culain sighed at the as yet empty vines of the thorny blackberry, he knew that in a few short months, they'd be ready for picking and he could barely wait. Our dandy wanderer walked on briskly, eager to reach his favourite stream by lunchtime, where he could sit with his feet in the cool water and eat his sandwiches.
The banks of streams are wonderful places to forage for greens and Culain was overjoyed to see a large clump of parsley swaying by the water's edge and picked a handful of it's feathery fronds and a little wild garlic to add to his lunch. He spread his handkerchief over his knees and tucked into the newly greened sandwiches, the parsley had a bit of a bite to it, but wild foods are not expected to be tame on the tongue. Even the wild strawberries he'd be dining on for dessert would no doubt bring a tingle to his cheeks too, mused Culain.
Brushing crumbs off his lap, for the handkerchief had not caught them all, the drowsy boy lay down for a nap. It was not long after, or so it seemed, that Culain was rudely awakened by an icy finger. You see, the Governessa had found our delicate dandy, in the quietest of "sleeps" for sandwiches mistakenly stuffed with Hemlock have a habit of taking one unawares, as was the case with our dear Culain...
Culain looked her straight in the eyes, chin held aloft and with a defiant stare, refused to go. It wasn't meant to be this way, he'd only eaten a sandwich after all! And so, the Governessa left him there, yes, right where she found him, left for the wind to whip and for the moss to creep over his bones.