Friday, September 8, 2017
About This Episode
We’re privileged to have another recipe for this episode. When “agave” fluttered into my imagination I asked Suzanne at A Pug in the Kitchen if she had a drink recipe using it. (Right now, I have no idea how agave managed to get into my twisting mind. However, I had just finished Episode 8, and was already working on this one, when there it was — agave.)
The creative wheels in Suzanne’s mind whirred into action! She imagined things Peaches Dragonfly might gather to make a refreshing beverage, then she sweetened it with agave nectar. Suzanne let me use the recipe and her beautiful photos for this post. Here’s the recipe.
Recipe: Sun and Moon Tea
1 tbs chamomile flowers
1 tbs rose hips
1 tbs red clover flowers
2 sprigs fresh mint
Place all of the ingredients in a 64 oz. glass jar, or two 32 oz. jars. Pour in fresh filtered or spring water to fill. Place lid on jar, and set outside in the morning. Leave the jar(s) all day and night soaking up the rays of the sun and moon. Add agave syrup to desired sweetness, starting with 1/4 cup. Stir until combined. Strain into a serving container or bottle and chill.
Thanks for the refreshments, Suzanne! And now today’s episode…
Midsummer Bedlam 9
Gone to the Dogs
Bright yellow flowers of the trumpet vine swayed in a warm breeze. The vine ran throughout Thistledown. It bore the local news. River Mindshadow touched a petal awakening the vine.
“Extra! Extra! Get the Thistledown Trumpet here!” the flower cried. “Dull haze reported in random parts of Thistledown! Take a leaflet,” the blossom added shifting to an encouraging voice.
“It says the haze leaves quickly, and that there’s no cause for concern,” River said as she uncurled the leaf to read the news. “Considering your visions of a dull, colorless place, I find that haze worrisome,” she added with a shudder.
“Well bless my eyes, Bedlam and River,” Pick Dragonfly said tipping his wide brimmed hat as he walked up. “Bedlam, it’s nice to see you up and about. “You know,” he began as if telling a secret. “Your grand-uncle has been worried about you, even if he doesn’t let on.”
I smiled at the comment, but I doubted it was actually true. River and I exchanged a glance. My friend spared me by changing the subject before that conversation could get started. She motioned to the unusual hat Pick wore. It was white and made of fine, tightly woven straw, with a brim that was about a finger-length wide. Pick traveled more and farther than anyone in Thistledown, so I assumed he got the hat in some exotic locale.
River darted up with just a thrust of her wings and grabbed the hat off Pick’s head. She placed it on her own head and asked how she looked. River shrugged at our surprised expressions and put the hat back on Pick’s head before settling back to the ground.
“These are popular way down in the southern lands where the sun is hot,” Pick explained, adjusting the hat. “It’s not the only thing I brought back with me,” he added with a motion to the cart in front of him.
The little cart was hitched to two large dogs. They wagged stubby tails when River and I walked over to them. The short tails moved even faster when we paid attention to the dogs.
It was not unexpected to see dogs pulling small carts in Thistledown. Most creatures enjoyed having a job to do, especially if they were rewarded for it. I saw Pick hand the dogs treats. However, what was unusual was the dogs themselves. Most canines weren’t larger than knee-high. These dogs were much taller and I had never seen such stubby tails.
“Yes, I got the dogs on my way back. They needed a home. I also brought back these agave plants,” he told us motioning to the spikey looking blue plants.
I remembered the healer mentioning the tiny drop of nectar she gave me was from a plant related to agave, and described it to Pick. He nodded.
“Agave is mostly used in making grownup drinks. You two aren’t old enough for those yet,” he said to our protests. “The potent kind of drink uses the heart of the plant. But the nectar from agave is very, very sweet. So I brought some to Peaches, and now I’m taking some nectar and plants to Belle Stargazer for the Starlight Saloon. With Belle’s talent in hospitality, I know she’ll put them to good use.”
“Are you ladies ready to go?” Pick spoke to the two dogs in an encouraging tone.
River and I chuckled when he called the dogs ladies. But their stubby little tails wagged faster and faster until they seemed to spin in a circle. Their bottoms lifted into the air. The back feet of the dogs were barely on the ground. The dogs shot ahead, pulling the little cart along.
“Hey! Wait a minute!” Pick called after the dogs. “You’ll bounce the plants off the cart.”
Pick unfurled his wings, but shook his head. Apparently he had a leisurely walk in mind, not flying as fast as his wings could carry him.
“I’ll get them,” River said and zipped ahead, quickly catching the excited dogs.
Pick followed, only a heartbeat shower.
I was still grounded from my injured wing. Even if it had been fully healed, Lavender Cozy had laid out firm instructions for me to rest after the shock of my most recent vision. I saw Pick look back in my direction. A moment later, River flew back with a bottle for each of us of the sweet agave nectar.
“He still wouldn’t give us any of the grownup stuff,” River complained as she touched down.
My grand-uncle’s home was nestled in the branches of an impossibly broad and towering redwood tree. My bedroom was in the attic, the loftiest room of all. The healer and Uncle insisted that I get a lot of rest. Let’s be honest ― they’d rather I was confined to my bed and completely unable to get myself into another mishap.
Ironically, I had never been fond of heights. With my injured wing, I couldn’t glide down from my room, and the view from the top of the stairs was dizzying. So, I was disinclined to leave. Fate had conspired to force me to rest.
Fate must be a fiend, I thought. I was wretchedly bored. My only “entertainment” was the school books Uncle brought up, so that I’d have a chance of not having to repeat the last term. You see, just before the end of the term, River and I had been suspended because of the uproar surrounding my vision.
Trying to read one of the books, I nodded off. A light tapping awakened me.
“Psst, Bedlam are you awake?” a quiet voice asked. “Interrupting your rest isn’t a mistake I’d want to make.”
I could only see one eye and a fragment of the face that peeped at me from the side of my window. However, the extraordinary long mane that lifted on the breeze was easily recognizable. It graduated from blond, to blue, to green, to purple. Only Rhymer Rainbow had such a head of hair.
“Rhymer? There’s no need to hover outside. Come on in. I’d love to have company.”
“I know you’re supposed to rest, so I didn’t want to be a pest,” Rhymer began. “But I came upon a lost bluebird. Peaches uses them for messages, or so I’ve heard. Then on its beak I smelled something odd, and I thought maybe it’s lost because it’s drunk. So, I brought it up to your bunk.”
“Did it carry a peach blossom?” I asked and Rhymer nodded emphatically.
I took a close look at the bluebird as it clung woozily to Rhymer’s hair. It did look like one of Peaches’ birds.
“That’s strange and worrisome. I should go to the orchard. Do you want to come along?” I asked. “I’ll have to take the stairs, but I’ll be down in a moment.”
“Don’t worry,” Rhymer assured me. “I’m in no hurry.”
The cottage belonging to Peaches Dragonfly was in the middle of a beautiful orchard of fruit trees and other delicious things. No matter what the time of year, smoke curled from the twin chimneys of the cottage, because Peaches was nearly always baking something.
When Rhymer and I reached the cottage, we looked from the vine-covered roof, dotted with colorful berries, to the chimneys. Peaches was still cooking treats in preparation for her Midsummer party. She started baking well in advance of the holiday, but considering how much she planned to cook, she had to start early. Our mouths watered as we breathed in the aromas.
I heard Peaches giggle. Her head of fluffy pink hair bobbed into and out of view from the other side of the low stone wall that surrounded the cottage. She was outside, apparently playing with something that she had to bend down to reach. I heard a yip and knew it was the strange gray colored dog she found at the pond. She had called him Pucker because a suckerfish was attached to his face when we found him.
The little dog was gray from his twisty tail to his squished black face. Even his tongue was gray.
Rhymer called out, “Peaches! We brought your bluebird. I think his eyes were blurred. I found him before he reached Bedlam. So, we both came, in case you were in a jam.”
“Hi Rhymer. Bedlam, I’m sorry I sent for you. I didn’t know you were supposed to stay in bed until Lavender Cozy told me a moment ago,” Peaches apologized. “Come inside. You can try my new recipe! It’s for sun and moon tea. Isn’t that perfect for my Midsummer party? I’ve been gathering chamomile flowers, red clover, and mint. I’ll sweeten it with Pick’s agave nectar.”
Peaches was always enthusiastic when she thought of a new food or drink creation. The tea sounded refreshing and delicious. A different thought occurred to me.
“Erm… Did Pick leave you some of the grownup kind of agave?” I asked.
“Yes, for the solstice party,” she answered. “But we aren’t to have any of it.”
“That’s not why I asked. But I think your bluebird may have had a nip,” I commented and pointed to the little bird that still clung to Rhymer’s multicolored tresses. “She’s too tipsy to fly right.”
“Oh!” Peaches exclaimed with wide eyes as she fluttered up so Rhymer could hand her the bird across the wall. “You silly thing,” she told it. “I was experimenting with making some ice pops with the potent kind. I splashed some onto the windowsill. I remember seeing her investigating it. She must have drunk some!”
“Luckily Pick had left an agave plant here for the healer. Lavender stopped on her morning rounds to pick it up, so I asked her to take a look at Pucker.”
Rhymer seemed confused when she started to speak, “Look at pucker? Your mouth couldn’t… pucker?”
Remembering that I couldn’t use my wings, even for a bounce, Peaches invited us to come in at the gate. Two brick columns were topped by arched white latticework. Flowers of every color climbed the columns and wove across the arch.
As we walked, from her side of the wall, Peaches told Rhymer about the day we found the dog. We came to the gate and I heard another yip. When Rhymer and I set foot inside the blossom filled garden Pucker barreled into me, knocking me onto my bottom. It was so sudden that all I saw was his squished black face and the pink tongue that licked my face.
“Hey! His tongue is pink, not gray!”
“Yes, that started yesterday,” Peaches began. “his tongue turned pink. It was so different form the gray that it scared me. Then his gray fur… That’s why I wanted Lavender Cozy to look at him.”
“If he’s gray that’s all in your head. That dog is red,” Rhymer tried to insert when pucker jumped over to her.
“He’s not gray!” I exclaimed finally seeing more than Pucker’s face.
The dog’s curly tail wagged as he bounced around at Rhymer’s feet. As his tail moved, Pucker’s fur changed from red to a sky color.
“A dog that changes hue!” Rhymer enthused. “How wonderful ― now he’s blue.”
Indeed, Pucker was suddenly blue, and then yellow, and then green. Though his face stayed black, the rest of his fur continued to change color as his tail kept wiggling.
“That is what I was so worried about, when I sent the bluebird to you,” Peaches replied. “But the healer said he was fine. Lavender said it might be from a change in his environment.”
Peaches and I exchanged a significant look. I was sure she was remembering the thicket that had developed at the pond, the shadows, the brown suckerfish, and the eerie feeling of the place. It reminded both of us of the colorless world of my vision.
Had the little, formerly gray dog come from that other world?
Toasting you with a refreshing cup of tea. Hugs on the wing!
This is a work of fiction. Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2017 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene
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