Thistledown – Midsummer Bedlam 6

Heron flying pond Tim Price

T & L Photos

Hello everyone — I’m delighted that you’ve come back to Thistledown for another episode of my serial.  I have another special guest today.  Some of you know him.  If not, then let me introduce Tim Price.  Tim takes marvelous photos, with a “focus” on things and people in the southwest.  There are great examples online at T & L Photography, Inc.  If you click on any of Tim’s photos here, it will take you to a related post at his blog.

What you might not realize is that Tim is also a fantastic storyteller.  You can see that at his blog, Off Center & Not Even, where he often combines an entertaining narrative with his photo post.  I recommend you check out the tab for “Tales from My Youth.”  If you’re an animal lover you’re really in for a treat with plenty of pictures of the kitties and parrots who own him and his wife Laurie.

About This Episode

Tim had several photos that reminded him of the colorless world I described for the other faery-verse.  He kindly agreed to let me use them.  He describes one as “The Undertaker and the Cranes” at his blog.  It’s a fun post. I hope you’ll take a look at it and others when you visit him.  Naturally it inspired me, but the image took me to my own story.  

However, we begin this episode with a more colorful scene.  It also introduces new mystery folk.  So click on the links to reveal the people who named these characters. 

We now return to Thistledown…

Thistledown

Midsummer Bedlam 6

Boreray_rams

Boreray Rams

Powderpuff Sheep and Cranes

Update: I had to include this wonderful creation from Robbie Cheadle. I’m honored that she was inspired by this story.

Image may contain: 1 person

Poppy Songbird called my name.  I heard her loud and clear, but I didn’t see her.  She chuckled when I turned a full circle looking for her.

“I’m up here, Bedlam,” she called from high atop the stone wall.  “I have to mind the powderpuff sheep.  You’re free aren’t you?” she asked, pushing her flower-shaped spectacles back on her nose.

My face flushed.  Everybody in Thistledown must know that I was suspended from school.  Poppy seemed to realize where my thoughts had gone.

“Oh…  Sorry, Bedlam.  I didn’t mean anything.  It’s just that I have to deliver a message, but I got stuck minding the sheep.”

The extra fluffy sheep on the other side of the wall bleated.  I knew it was a big responsibility to tend them.  When the direction and velocity of a breeze was just right, powderpuff sheep could get airborne.  Unfortunately they had no ability to control their flight.  The wind might take them anywhere.  Looking after them required a strong weather sense, to pick up on minute atmospheric changes.  If a powderpuff got into the air, retrieving it took a very dexterous flyer who could anticipate changes in the air current.

“Don’t worry, Poppy.  I understand.”

“How’s the wing?  It looks like you’re still grounded, huh?”

“My wing is getting better.  It doesn’t hurt now, unless I unfold my wings in a breeze.  So, what’s going on?” I wanted to know.

“I met up with my cousin Holly last night while she was on her way to her next gig.  She asked me to take a message to Carver Eastdoor.  Holly is coordinating with him for her grand entrance for her Midsummer performance at the orchard,” Poppy explained.  “I promised I’d get her message to him first thing this morning, but I didn’t know I was going to have to tend the sheep.”

My friend Peaches was excited that Holly Songbird, and her band Dragon’s Nest, would perform at her solstice party.  So of course I agreed to deliver the message.  Poppy dropped a paper folded in the shape of a bird and it floated to my hands.

Poppy said that Carver was planning something spectacular of his own as an introduction to the musical performance.  I knew that Carver had the talent to shape trees as they grew.  I couldn’t imagine what marvel he might create for the Midsummer party.

DCF 1.0

Little-Fairy-Girl, Janny Sandholm

I headed toward the home of the Eastdoor family.  It would be fun to see their baby daughter.  The last time I saw her, she was toddling around, using her tiny wings for balance.

The problem was the Eastdoor home wasn’t exactly close, and with my injured wing, I still couldn’t fly.

A foreboding feeling, caused by the dull colored fish and the dank thicket Peaches and I saw the day before, was still partly on my mind.  However, it caused an inspired thought.  If I cut across the orchard near the pond, it should save me a good deal of time.

As I neared that area the sky began to darken.  It’s a good thing Poppy stayed with the powderpuff sheep, I thought, although bad weather was not expected.

Uncle hadn’t said anything about a storm being on the way.  My grand-uncle’s ability as a seer included the weather.  Gazing heavenward, I realized that there were no storm clouds.  It was more of a thick haze.  That happened, although rarely.  However, when that kind of haze came to the sky it was usually at the end of summer.  We had not yet reached Midsummer.

Assuring myself that there was no storm about to break, I moved into the heavier vegetation.  Quickly I found a deer trail.  I knew it would lead toward the pond, near where Peaches and I found the odd little dog she called Pucker.

The snapping of a twig caused me to stop and look into the brush.  After a moment I spotted a pair of tall sandhill cranes.  It seemed so odd that the cranes should be there that I decided to follow them.

There was even less light away from the trail.  I could tell the tall birds knew I followed them, but my presence didn’t seem to make them nervous.  After a while the ground became wet.  I walked in ankle deep marshy water.  The area reminded me of the thicket that had formed on the east bank of the pond.  However, the direction I walked should have taken me beside the pond, not into it.

The sandhill cranes walked up to a gray heron that poked its long beak into the shallows, looking for food.  It stretched a sinuous neck to look at me.  Something seemed to pass between the heron and the pair of cranes.  All three looked back at me, and then moved to dry ground.  They looked over their shoulders as if expecting me to go with them.  I followed the large birds to a patch of sunlight.

Heron n others Winter Tim Price

A tall, lanky man stepped out from behind a tree.  On thin stalk-like legs, the heron walked up to the man to have its head scratched.

To say I felt uneasy was a vast understatement.  However, I relaxed when the man turned his face toward me.  Nothing in his manner was like the man I knew, but the face I saw was Catseye Glimmer.

The fleeting smile left my lips when I realized something was very wrong.

“You look like you’ve seen a ghost,” he told me.

Royal Chimera!” a woman’s voice called from far away.  “Where are you off to now?”

The man turned at the sound of the odd appellation, but apparently it was his name.

“Coming,” he called in return.

“You should not be here, Bedlam Thunder,” he told me with a frown.  “Find your way back home.  You’re a creature of color and sunlight.  Leave this place before it’s too late,” Royal Chimera warned.

The gray heron stood to his full height and extended amazingly long wings.  The beat of the large bird’s wings had a hypnotic effect.  With the rhythmic movement of the heron’s wings, the air pressure surged and receded.  Light blared and then went dark again.  The sensations repeated, making me dizzy.  It continued until I could no longer stand.

I swayed.  My eyes blurred.  Finally I was able to focus.  The birds and Royal Chimera were gone, but his warning rang in my ears.  I turned back to face the marshy bank.  I found three doors where the marshland had been.  In that nearly colorless world, the doors glowed with blue light.

Am I to choose a door and enter? I wondered.

Overwhelming ringing filled my ears, just as had happened at the cottage where Peaches Dragonfly lived.  I stared at the doors, trying to understand what I should do.  The ringing was so loud, I became dizzy. 

Large black spots danced before my eyes.  I knew I was on the verge of losing consciousness.  Although I wasn’t sure why I would move forward or turn back, I stumbled blindly toward the doors.  My fingers met the cool surface of a metal doorknob.

Not knowing which of the three doors I touched, I turned the knob.

3 Doors BW Blue Tim Price

***

The End

The new “mystery folk” revealed in this episode are Sally Georgina Cronin of Smorgasbord – Variety is the Spice of Life and Dan Antion of No Facilities.  Please visit their blogs and say hello. 

 

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

All rights reserved.

No part of this work may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or provided by free sources, unless stated otherwise.

 

 

Thistledown – Midsummer Bedlam 5

Thistledown Girl

Hello everyone, and welcome back to the fae world of Thistledown.  I have a special guest today.  Many of you will know her because we’ve done several collaborative posts in the past.  If not, then allow me to present Suzanne DeBrango of A Pug in the Kitchen

Suzanne is a multi-talented woman — chef (and great photographer of her foods) and blogger.  And if you’re ever in need of property in New York, this “Brooklyn pug gal” is also an award winning real estate agent. 

She was inspired by the fae magic Pick (the cousin of the character she named) when he coaxed cherries off the trees and they rolled to him, rather than being picked.  Then, lucky for us, she found beautiful sour cherries at her farmers’ market.  Here’s Suzanne to tell us about the recipe she’s sharing here today.

I was thrilled to find sour cherries at the farmers market and snagged a few containers to make my favorite jam. Refrigerator jams and pickles are one of my favorite things to make. It’s so easy, you can make one jar at a time.  There’s no need to go through the canning process.  Just, make sure you sterilize your jars, or at least run them through the dishwasher before using them. 

I want that sucker fish to help pit those cherries — oops, you’ll meet them in this episode!  If you have ever tried to pit sour cherries you know it’s a lot of work.  They are soft, small, and getting that little pit is difficult.  It is a labor of love though, and the resulting jam is worth the effort.  

I definitely identify with the faery character, Peaches Dragonfly and her name.  Teagan, thank you for Peaches Dragonfly, and fantastic story.  You are amazing. I hope you all enjoy this recipe.

Sour cherry jam tart Suzanne DeBrango

As you see, I made both sour cherry vanilla and gooseberry jam.  I have to say they are wonderful with scones and creme fraiche. 
2 cups pitted sour cherries
1 1/2 cups sugar
Pinch of salt
Use a non-reactive, medium saucepan, adding the cherries, sugar and salt.  Cook on medium high heat until thickened.  It took about 45 minutes total cooking time.
To test to see if it is going to be thick enough place a spoon in the freezer.  Spoon some of the jam on the freezing cold spoon.  If it gets nice and thick, then it’s done.
Pour the hot jam into very clean preferably sterilized jars, seal and let cool on the counter. The jam will seal, but because it is not processed in a water bath, it must be stored in the refrigerator.  It will last for a long time refrigerated. 

How could I be anything but inspired after Suzanne’s words?  Thank you, Suzanne.

Writing Process

Suckerfish attached to diver

At this time I think I should remind everyone that  characters, names, places, and incidents are used in a strictly fictitious way. The actions of a character do not imply anything about the person who named the character.

I allow myself some artistic license, especially since this serial is a fantasy.  I’ve added to the flora and fauna of Thistledown.  This time you’ll meet some fun fish, living in a pond. 

I’m pantsering this story so I don’t know if these faery fish will live in both fresh and salt water, or just the one pond.  However, I imagine them as looking partly like a remora (salt water) and partly like a suckermouth catfish (fresh water).

Without further ado, here’s the next installment of the serial.

Thistledown

Midsummer Bedlam

Sprig Yellow ben-moore-8884

Ben Moore, Unsplash

Pucker Up

A pale yellow patch of sky was framed by green branches.  Doves cooed peacefully.  I saw two perched on a limb outside my bedroom window.  One appeared to try and give the other a tiny flower.  Or perhaps one tried to take the blossom from the other.  Who could say?

I glanced downward from my dizzyingly high vantage point.  My grand-uncle built his spacious home nestled in the branches of a massive redwood.  Uncle taught us to nurture the primeval tree just as it enriched us.  However, I had never been fond of heights.

He probably thought to encourage me to practice my flying skills by installing me in the attic bedroom, the loftiest room of all.  Many faeries would have been envious of the room, for the fun of gliding down hundreds of feet to the ground.  I however, often took the stairs.

Beyond the huge evergreen, I glimpsed Willow Stargazer flying past.  Her purple hair stood out against the morning sky.  She always wore an orchid tucked behind one ear.  Willow gave a quick wave.

1 Butterfly wing

I yawned and stretched, knowing I had slept late.  By the time I left the reflection pool, I had been exhausted.  In a short time, a lot of troubling ideas had wriggled into my mind.  First among them my horrible, frightening vision.

What troubled me most about that vision was the fact that it felt prophetic.  That must be why it upset the fae of Thistledown so much when they heard of it.

I had seen a bleak, unhappy world.  There was sunlight sometimes, but often the sky was murky.  The place was dark in every other way as well.  Bad things happened there all the time.  Negativity saturated the place — disasters, disrespect, corruption, violence, and hatred.  Even the elders and leaders were continually exposed as corrupt and even insane.

In the vision, it seemed like the people saw and experienced those things continually.  Each day they thought it couldn’t get more absurd, insulting, or hurtful.  Yet it did.  They became used to bizarre and harmful events.  They accepted it as just another part of their day.  There were highly placed people who could have remedied the situation.  Yet they did nothing.

The attitudes and actions of the people reflected the darkness of their world.  Even the clothes they chose to wear were in dark, dull colors.  The girls I met in my second vision seemed like rebels of a sort, daring to wear a splash of bright colors in their clothes or hair. 

Worse, I suspected the fae there had no wings.  My grand-uncle once told a scary story of a group of faeries without wings.  Did the darkness that saturated that world cause them to eventually lose their wings?

One of the doves on my windowsill fluttered away, dispelling my reverie.  The one that remained still held the tiny flower.  I realized it was a peach blossom.  Then I knew it must be a message from Peaches Dragonfly.  I took the flower from the dove.  Oddly it was wet.  My body mirrored the posture of the dove when she tilted her head to one side curiously.

“A wet peach blossom?” I murmured to the dove who answered with a coo.  “Oh!” I exclaimed in sudden epiphany.  “Peaches must want me to meet her at the pond.”

The dove bobbed her head forward and back, and then flew away in the direction of the orchard.

I unfolded my injured wing to apply more of the ointment Calico Rainbowforest gave me.  Even my grand-uncle had to admit I wouldn’t be practicing my flying for a while.  Since Peaches sent a dove to bid me visit her, she must not be in a rush.  If there was any hurry, she would probably have sent a zippy hummingbird.  I considered borrowing Uncle’s unicycle, but I knew I would end up painfully unfurling my wings to catch my balance.  I’d have to settle for my own two feet.

I must be the clumsiest faery in Thistle down, I thought with a loud sigh.

***

Peaches Pond nitish-kadam-43351

Nitish Kadam, Unsplash

“Bedlam, thank goodness you’re here,” Peaches Dragonfly said once I arrived at the pond.  “I could really use a hand.”

Her pink hair was wet, but only around her face.  Beside Peaches were four pails of water.  I noticed an oddly shaped purple fish swimming in one.  When I asked about the fish, my friend said it was a suckerfish.

“They absolutely love the pits from sour cherries,” Peaches explained.  “I have buckets overflowing with sour cherries from the far side of the orchard.  I’m going to make jam from them, but the pits have to be removed.  Those cherries are tiny, and it’s a lot of work to remove the pits.  So I had the idea to use the suckerfish to take out the pits.  With a little fae coaxing, they don’t bother the flesh of the cherries at all, and happily suck out the pits!”

“What an amazing idea!” I complimented Peaches.  “But I don’t see any other fish like this in the pond.”

Peaches gave me a wry look as she knelt at the edge of the pond.  I had a bad feeling that there was a tangle in her brilliant idea, and that I was about to get caught in the middle of it.

“There are several suckerfish in the pond.  They usually stay at the bottom, but they’ll come to the surface if you call them,” she told me.

I thought we were about to get to the tangle.  A hopeful look from my friend suggested I was right.  I expected to regret it, but I asked how one went about calling the suckerfish.

“It’s easy,” she told me with a bright smile.  “You just put your face into the water and make kissing sounds.  The suckerfish will come right to you.”

“What happens when they get there?”

“Well, if you aren’t quick enough in grabbing them, they’ll suck your face.  They’re very affectionate.  Don’t worry,” she added upon seeing my expression.  “It doesn’t hurt.”

Face in water blue

Genessa Panainte, Unsplash

I cringed so hard that I went to my knees.  Peaches took that for agreement and pulled my shoulders down toward the water.  I watched as she made kissing sounds into the pond.  Two purple suckerfish quickly swam to her.  One of them appeared to give her a kiss on the cheek.  With lightning reflexes, Peaches caught one fish in each hand.

“See,” she stated as she put the fishes in a pail.  “It isn’t that hard.”

Taking a deep breath, I agreed to give it a try.  I made kissing sounds into the water.  A fish swam to me so fast that I didn’t even see it.  Peaches had quick reflexes and grabbed it for me before I possibly could have gotten it.  Emboldened by the fact that I hadn’t had to even touch the fish, I put my puckering mouth back into the pond.

After two or three “kisses” I saw two tiny purple fish approaching from the left.  They were much smaller than any I had seen at that point, so the prospect of them touching my face did not upset me.

What I could not see was a suckerfish as large as my arm rapidly swimming from the deepest part of the pond.  Suddenly something forcefully hit my mouth.  Thankfully it was soft, or it would have really hurt.  I fell backward to the banks of the pond.

Peaches gasped, but rapidly detached the big sucker from my face.  I fitfully spat, and spat.  And spat some more.  I’m not sure why.  It wasn’t as though I tasted anything.  It was just the idea of being smooched by that fish.

“I’ve never seen a suckerfish this big.  The pit removal should go extra fast with this guy helping!” Peaches exclaimed.  “Nice work, Bedlam.”

We both looked up as a shadow passed over.  A blue heron swooped low, gliding toward the eastern bank of the pond.  I was awed by its beauty, with its broad wings and smooth passage, and plumage the color of a thunder cloud.  It sailed to the eastern bank of the pond.

I realized something looked different than I remembered about that side of the pond.  Peaches explained that an underground stream had come to the surface.  She thought that under or above ground the water eventually made its way to a small lake near Catseye Glimmer’s home.

Curious about the change to the landscape I wandered to that side of the pond.  I could see a thicket.  In the shadows I could barely make out the water of the stream.

“What’s that sound?” Peaches asked.

At first I didn’t hear anything.  After a moment, soft whimpering came to my ears.  To my astonishment, Peaches jumped into the pond.

“It sounds like a dog!” she cried as she swam.

I jumped in after her.  We soon realized that end of the pond was shallow enough that we could walk to the thicket.  That was a relief, since my swimming wasn’t any better than my flying.

The whining grew louder.  Peaches moved to the edge of the thicket.  When I looked at the place, an inexplicable shudder traveled through me.  The shadows were dark.  They were gray and unnaturally, densely drab.

“Peaches, wait!” I called and fearfully extended a hand, but she was out of my reach.

It was a relief when my friend emerged from the shadows with a small dog in her arms.  To my surprise she chuckled.

“There’s a suckerfish stuck to his mouth.  Help me get it off him,” she told me.

We walked through the water to the near edge of the pond and climbed out.  I helped Peaches up to the grass because her arms were full with the little dog.  I expected her to stop right there, but she hurried over to where we had been catching purple suckerfish.

She detached the suckerfish from the little dog’s mouth.  Rather than purple as it should have been, the fish was a dull brown.  Peaches gently placed the oddly colored fish in a pail separate from the other fish.

With the fish removed, I could see the dog’s face.  He was easily the oddest looking pup I had ever seen.  He had a tightly curled tail.  His coat was dull gray, but his little face was black.  It was also squished flat.  He looked at me and licked his nose with a little gray-blue tongue.

When he looked up at Peaches, his screw-tail wagged enthusiastically.  She set about drying the dog with a towel.

“I wonder who he belongs to?” Peaches pondered.  “His coloring is so unique,” she added with an uneasy glance at the strange brown suckerfish.

We both gazed nervously toward the shadows of the thicket.  Then Peaches leaned down to look closely at all the fish in the pails.

“I’ve never seen any fish that color,” she commented in an uneasy voice.  “It makes me think of how you described the place in your vision as colorless.”

“I doubt he belongs to anybody in Thistledown,” I whispered.  “What should we do with him?” I asked as I cleared my throat, trying to bring my voice to a normal volume.

Peaches took another look at the thicket and shivered.  The dog’s dull coloring indeed reminded me of the dark place where I met Rotten Soulfire and her friends.  How could they bear to live in such a place?  I swallowed hard.

“I’ll look after him,” Peaches stated in a determined voice.  “I think I’ll call him Pucker.”

The dog barked a yip at his new name.  Pucker’s tail wagged so hard I was surprised it didn’t cause him to fall over from the force of it.  He put a paw on Peaches’ shin and she bent to get him in her arms.

Vintage Pug painting

***

The End

The new “mystery faery” for this episode was Cecily of Cecily’s Writings.  I hope you’ll say hello to her.  

Stay tuned for the next episode of Thistledown — Midsummer Bedlam.  We will see the counterpart of Catseye Glimmer in the other faery-verse and more photos from T & L Photography.  

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

All rights reserved.

No part of this work may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or provided by free sources, unless stated otherwise.

 

 

 

What’s Next? New “Interactive” Serial

Cooking kittyThree Ingredients Serial

What’s next?  Thanks to everyone who sent “votes” on what you wanted to do next – now that we reached a conclusion in the Three Things Serial storyline.  It was a three-way tie, appropriately enough!  So I’m going with the one that is the biggest challenge for me.  (Yes, I’m just twisted that way.)  Also I think I chose the tie-breaker that will give you, the reader more creative ways to send “things.”

To break the tie, I chose to do a culinary mystery.  This subgenre was new to me.  If you’re not familiar with it, here is a goodreads link to several such novels.

Our next reader-participation-driven story will be The Three Ingredients Serial.  I’m putting you back in the driver’s seat.  The “things” will become ingredients.  This time I’m asking you to send three ingredients, which is not too different from sending three things.  Now, those ingredients can be all sorts of food related things – not just recipe ingredients.  Or if you’d rather — you are welcome to send a recipe that I would feature at the end of the post.

So please leave comments, telling me your Three Ingredients!  I’m excited to see where they take me.

Can’t wait to hear from you,

teagan

PS:  The illustrious Alexandra of The Scholarly Skater has just nominated me for two awards. The “Internet hugs” abound, and I’m delighted to participate.  So please take a look at her very interesting blog.  Thank you Alexandra — mega-hugs to you.