Behind the Candy Shop

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A cheery bell announces my entrance to the candy shop. Gaia looks up from counting money behind the counter and smiles at me. Today she’s wearing the softest looking sweater with dark blue jeans. Her light brown hair is escaping from a braid, showing off a couple peek-a-boo streaks of color.

There is a gentleman already browsing inside, so I look at the caramel apple display for a bit.

“Can I help you find anything?” Gaia asks after a few minutes. Now that she’s come around the counter, I can see she’s wearing yellow bee socks with her converse.

I nod and ask about her licorice. She shows me her selection and we start discussing the flavors. The shiny red pieces are my favorite, but there’s also purple and yellow and blue and black. Gaia laughs when I wrinkle my nose at the black licorice and insists they’re the best kind. She would know, she argues. After all, she made them herself.

She shows me her new batch of lemon drops, the peppermints, the gum balls. Her eyes are sparkling as she shows off her chocolate selection. I nod and admire her work and ask her about her day, but we do not talk about buying anything.

She knows I’m not here for the candy.

The gentleman finally comes to the register and buys a bag of taffies and a box of chocolates. I watch him from out of the corner of my eye while examining a barrel of rock candy.

We both wait until the door has shut behind him before turning to each other again. Gaia is grinning from ear to ear.

I follow her into the back room, and she pushes a wheeled shelf away from the wall. She presses her fingers against a knot in the wooden panels, and something behind them clicks. Four panels swing open as a hidden door.

“Have fun.” Gaia whispers, and she shuts the door behind me with barely a click.
The path before me is lined with bookcases.

The first time I saw it, I cried from the beauty. Books and books and books, as far as I dared to venture. I never thought it was possible.

It certainly wasn’t legal.

There are five owners of the Forbidden Ink. Gaia usually runs the candy shop in the front, always keeping an eye out for someone in desperate need of the books they keep so carefully hidden.

I walk in deeper, smiling at the first couple of shelves I pass. They were the first I looked through, and I still remember how each title sprang out at me and demanded to be taken. I take a turn to the right and then to the left, running my fingers lightly over the bindings.

Someday. I tell myself. Someday I will read them all.

I take another turn and find Carena, re-shelving books while humming an old piece she once played for me on the piano. She’s wearing a blue polka-dot dress and Mary Jane heels, and when she sees me her eyes light up. “Good afternoon! I just put on the kettle, would you like some tea?”

There is something about her voice that reminds me of misty autumn nights, quiet Sunday afternoons, and cozy winter evenings. Words fall from her mouth like snowflakes on a still winter day.

Clear and soft and beautiful.

We walk through a row of shelves to a small sitting room. There are armchairs facing each other and a coffee table that holds mugs and coasters and teabags. Along the wall is a stove with a steaming kettle. We sit and have tea and Carena tells me about the mystery books she just finished. I pull out my notebook to jot down the titles.

I have seconds on tea and she asks me about my week and it is a while before I return to the labyrinth of books, feeling warmed inside and out.

The air smells like books and vanilla and jasmine tea. I pause among the poetry and look for something to take home with me. Something simple and complex and short and deep, all bundled within paper and ink.

I’ve found a pocket-sized volume that calls out to me when my eyes catch on a maple leaf butterfly. Each wing is brilliantly blended from red to orange, looking for all the world like it belongs on a tree. It’s crawling along a shelf, lost and bewildered.

The butterflies don’t normally come out to the poetry section. I nudge it gently onto my small volume of poetry and carry it away.

Soon the bookcases have delicate vines trailing up their sides and tiny crocus flowers peeking out from between floorboards. Potted saplings start appearing in openings where shafts of light filter in. Butterflies start fluttering out of shelves with wings of glass, of leaves, of feathers and smoke. I lower the maple leaf butterfly to a group of potted lavender and let it crawl off.

“Well hello!”

I turn and grin. Asena is exactly how I’d picture a forest nymph. Short, soft hair that curls at the ends like the tendrils of a climbing vine, a green shirt with a belt at the waist, and a layered gypsy skirt of earthen tones. She’s wearing a flower crown, which also carries a few resting butterflies.

“Hello.” I say. “One of your maple leaves got lost among the poetry.”

She walks over to the lavender and stoops to examine the returned butterfly. “Oh dear, they’ve been doing that recently. I think it’s the rose tea Carena just got. Can’t blame them for loving the smell.”

I can’t help but think that if Asena ever grabbed my hand and said ‘come with me on an adventure’, I would follow her without hesitation. She looks like she would know exactly where to go to find dragons or castles or sea creatures.

Talking with her was like sinking into an old legend, surrounded by magic.

And knowing I’d always make it back home.

She shows me her newest plants and tells me about the stray bluebird that she’d adopted. I show her the pocket volume I’ve picked and she tells me which poems are her favorites.

I ask her to tell me about another world before I go, and she eagerly begins to talk about a land of starlight and moonbeams, of fairies and magical glens, of beasts of nightmares and creatures of light.

When she finishes, it is as if she had grabbed my hand and run off, taking me there and back again and leaving me with memories of adventure.

I wander through the bookcases, leaving the plants and butterflies behind. The book-bindings here are made of leather the titles are written in golds and silvers.
I’m amongst the fantasy books now, and I am scanning the titles for a book I spotted the last time I was here.

“Can I help you find something?”

I look up in time to see Celeste poke her head around a corner. Her hair is layered and long, with little braids scattered throughout and tiny white flowers woven in. She’s wearing a teal blue blouse with a leather jacket and dark jeans.

Her eyes are full of things yearning to be made.

I try to tell her the title I’m looking for, but instead I end up telling her what I remember about the story and how it made me feel and why it meant so much to me. She’s nodding like I’m making sense when really I feel like my words are spilling out in a mess, like the way puzzle pieces tumble out of a newly opened box.

Celeste leads me to a bookshelf and we search the books together. I fall into silence as I look, and suddenly she is the one with words tumbling out. She’s telling me about constellations and music and the way our brains process memories. I pull out the book I’m looking for as she tells me about the way people talk and what their words usually mean.

We chat for a while, and I forget what it is that we say but I remember what we mean.

Celeste reminds me of a lighthouse glowing in the night, of a fairy glen under a bright summer sun, of a scribe’s office with papers scattered everywhere.

When I finally pull away, my thoughts have settled into new places of belonging.
I hold the two books close to me as I take the roundabout way back. I am not eager to leave this place, and I linger among the shelves of scripts and screenplays. Behind one of the shelves I hear typing, and I peek around the corner to spot Kairi in front of a computer.

She’s wearing an asymmetrical blue dress with a fitted white jacket. The desk is clean and white, holding her computer and a vase of blush roses. Her fingers are dancing over the keys, keeping beat to a jumpy tune I cannot hear. I watch her for a minute before she blows a stand of pink hair out of her face and spots me. “Find some good books?”

I hold up the two I’m carrying and she nods with a grin. But of course she knows I found some good ones. That’s the only kind they carry. She waves me over and pulls out her sketchbook, opening it to show me her newest concepts. There are characters, inventions, and designs filling the pages, everything I could never imagine on my own.

I think she’s from the future.

Kairi makes me think of lightning and crystals and stars. When I listen to her talk I feel like she’s telling me the secrets of the universe. I tell her about my week and she tells me about new ideas and dreams for tomorrow.

When I leave her to her typing, I feel like I could try anything.

I feel like trying would be worth it.

I knock on the hidden door and wait for Gaia. She wraps my books carefully and I buy them along with a caramel apple. The bell rings once more as I leave the candy shop and walk home in a crowd of people. People who haven’t just come from a forbidden bookstore. People who didn’t just travel and wonder and have a cup of tea with friends.

I think of Gaia, waiting for someone in desperate need of books to walk into her store.

Waiting for someone starved of stories.

Waiting for everyone in this crowded city.

Creature of the Lake

lake

There is a lake in the middle of the sprawling enchanted forest.  The only visitors it gets are woodland creatures, a handful of fairies, perhaps an old wizard or two.  Every once in a while, on the days where the air is dimmed and the world wilts, a desperate adventurer arrives looking for direction, or hope, or answers.

They always stop at the lake somewhere along their journey.

It is for us to listen, to help, to offer council.  We ask them for news, or stories, or perhaps something new we haven’t seen, and in return we send them on with what they need.  Some do not listen, most do not understand our council right away.  It is only when another comes that we find out if we were listened to, in the end.

They call our lake the Oracle’s Tears.

The Seeker’s Pool.

The Whispering Waters.

They write our lake into their legends, they speak of it in their poetry.  They call it whatever it meant to them.  They name it as the place they sought when the world grew dim and their path crumbled beneath them.

I call it home.

I was born in the inky depths of its waters and grew up cradled by its waves.  I played with the fairies that danced on the surface, I listened to stories about heroes and villains and the people caught in between, and I wished upon the stars at night that they would wake me if a traveler came to us after dark.

I wanted to be the one to speak with the next adventurer.  There were so many questions I wanted to ask them, and there was so much kept inside me that longed to be shared.  We all knew the stories; there were so few, and there was so much time for them to be told.  It left us with no one to listen but the fairies, and fairies do not have the interest to listen to anything longer than a sentence.

I had all these words with nowhere to put them.

I was old when the stars finally awoke me, piercing farther through the water than they usually like to so that I would stir from sleep.  An adventurer had come, and I could greet them.  The waters were still and silent, dark and drowsy, and it caressed me like a tired mother in the dead of night.  Not another creature stirred within the water, and I remember feeling more awake than if I were a child playing with fairies as I swam to the surface.

He was a child, kneeling at the water’s edge with the weight of a kingdom on his shoulders.  His eyes reflected starlight as he watched me rise from the surface.  I did not expect my adventurer to be so young.

What brings you here small one?

His hands were trembling in his lap.  I think the forest bent forward to hold him.  I do not know how to do this alone, he whispered, and I have lost my way.

All my life I’d considered what questions to ask, but never had I thought it would be this. Why you?

He looked away for a moment of thought, and when he turned back I saw a weariness that comes from hard decisions. There was no one else, and so it must be me.

The trees shivered, and a wind picked up as if to wrap around him like the arms of a loved one.  Even the water rose from its slumber and lapped at the shore near him.  He’d said there was no one else.  How had it come to this?

Tell me, I said softly, tell me where you’re going, and what waits for you there.

Moonlight glinted off the water’s surface, lighting the boy’s face as he told me his story.  The wind played with the strands of his hair, the trees lifted roots around him to sit on, and the nocturnal woodland creatures crept out of the shadows to lay next to the place he sat.

We know what it is to feel alone.  We sense it in this boy, and none of us can ignore him.  None of us can part from him while he feels this way.  It is the way of the forest and the lake, to never abandon the lost and lonely.

He finished his story and waited for me to speak, watching intently with a shard of moonlight in his gaze.  I was a guide, a creature of the lake.

A creature of the Oracle’s Tears.

The Seeker’s Pool.

The Whispering Waters.

He knew the legends, the poems that speak of this place.  He was here for direction, for hope, for answers.

It was for me to listen, to help him, to give council.  To send him on his way with what he needed.

He needed so much.

I was at a loss for words.  All the shared wisdom and knowledge and stories did not prepare me for a boy that took on the world because no one else would.  There was only one thought in my head, and it grew and grew until I could not contain it.

I dipped a hand into the waters that had watched over me all my life.  I looked at the trees, the woodland creatures, the moon and the stars, and I asked for one last wish to be granted me.

A creature of night rose and sent its shadows stretching to me.  The trees shook and sent their leaves twirling through the air.  A fog lifted from the surface of the lake, sparkling in the moonlight like diamonds, like magic.  The wind rose and picked up the shadows, the leaves, the fog and the moonbeams, mixing them and sending them spinning around me.

I looked up and saw a sky of shooting stars, streaking into the night with trails of gold dust in their wake.  I think the dust got caught in the storm around me.

The wind fell, everything in it dissolving, and I was standing on the shore in clothes made of shadows.  I was standing, standing on feet and legs and shoes made out of a granted wish.  I was unsteady, uncertain of the ground and empty air.  The world seemed more precarious from land.  Precarious and fragile and full of possibility.

I helped the boy to his feet. You will not do this alone, we will share this burden.

His shoulders loosened, as if a kingdom had lifted from them, and he lifted his head high.  Something in me ached at the sight, at the boy who should not have needed to come here.  I took his hand and vowed he would not be a tragedy.

To the poets and writers of legends, listen.

When you tell of our journey, remember how it began.  Tell them how a kingdom was falling, and no one would step forward to help.  Tell them it should not have been this way.  Tell them to learn from this:

I would not let him go alone.

Bees

bees

It was an accident, really.  I was walking home with my backpack slipping off one shoulder, filled with homework and deadlines and heavy, heavy books.  The spring air had warmed just enough to coax leaves to open from their buds and grass to poke out from the ground.  I was chasing my thoughts into circles, never resting on one long enough to get anywhere.

There was a bee in my path, crawling slowly over the ground, its wings limp and tired.  Something about the way it looked weighed to the ground tugged on me, so I grabbed a short stick to pick up the weary bee and took it home.

I set my backpack down on the floor with a heavy thump, keeping my eyes on the little bee to make sure it didn’t fall off.  My mother was in the kitchen, and I announced my presence by saying “Don’t worry, it won’t hurt us”.  She still jumped when she turned around, but she merely told me to be careful of the stinger as she left the kitchen.

I set the stick and bee on a small plate and dissolved a bit of sugar with a little water.  Carefully, I placed a spoonful of the sugar-water next to the bee, then carried the plate back outside.

I did not know what path I’d begun.

Here’s the thing: bees do not forget a kindness.

As the days stretched longer and the air grew hotter, I found more bees crawling near my house.  I started carrying a small jar of sugar water and a dropper with me, to give them just enough strength to fly again and continue their work searching for flowers.

I started filling our long-abandoned birdbath with a shallow pool of water for them, scattering a handful of small rocks so they had a place to land and drink in the midst of their long day.  After reviving a weary bee, I sometimes carried it to the birdbath and set it on the edge, in case it wanted a good long drink before it flew away.

I began to notice how few flowers grew nearby.  It was no wonder the bees often grew faint under the hot sun.  I rode my bike to the store and asked after flowers that bees might like.  My allowance scattered across the store counter and I carefully balanced my purchases in one hand as I steered my bike home with the other.

I planted purple clover around the birdbath, started thousands of daisies along the garage, and lined our backyard fence with lavender.

My father expressed surprise at my sudden interest in gardening, but offered me the use of his old garden tools. “It’s good work, to garden.” he’d said, pulling the box out of storage. “Give it all you got.

My mother loved the flowers, telling me she’d often wished she had the time to plant some.  She would join me from time to time when she had a few minutes to spare, the two of us sometimes working in silence, sometimes chatting about our day.  She bought me a new pair of gardening gloves after a particularly hard day of weeding.  I think it’s a little piece of a dream she thought she’d never have.

The bees recognize me now.  Hundreds of them.  They gather around me when I come out to fill their water, and they like to land on the backs of my hands when I’m gardening.  They follow me when I go out for walks, and I swear they come to me in swarms when I’m feeling upset.

Over time, my friends have met the bees and learned not to fear them.  It has taken a couple years of getting acquainted, but now my friends have started planting flowers of their own.

I had not planned on becoming a caretaker of bees.  All I know is this: that I was walking home from school with a backpack full of work, that I saw a bee struggling and weary, and that I decided to help.

Here’s the thing: I’m glad I did.

Listen to me.

Bees do not forget a kindness.

 

Autumn Leaves

leaves

We do not venture out when the leaves fall.

There is something about the way the air turns cold and still.  There is a reason why even some of the most vicious animals go into hiding at the first signs of summer dying.  There is a reason we stock up our harvest and hoard firewood.

The leaves are turning color.  They are falling.

They are hunting.

Once they fall from the tree they become vicious.  Waiting.  They will swallow us whole.

I’ve seen them out my window, springing up around a hapless squirrel, spinning in a small storm of leaves.  They rustle in a wind that is not there, swirling faster and faster until the squirrel cannot be spotted any longer.  It takes a long time for them to disperse, as if a strong wind suddenly halted and left them to fall.

The squirrel was gone.

They gather at our doorstep, they collect in heaps on our yards.  They hunt in groups, hungry and merciless and barely clinging to the last, terrible parts of their lives.

We hurry inside when they begin to fall and bolt the doors against their phantom winds.  Some try setting them on fire, but they have a way of carrying those flames to our homes.  Still, if we must go outside, we set out with a torch in one hand and a bucket of water in the other.

And then we run.

I did it once.  There was no torch, no bucket, but I was young and my parents weren’t watching and I saw a hedgehog scurrying through the grass.  Leaves were already picking up in its wake, and I didn’t stay behind my window glass to watch.  I flew out, slamming the door before anyone could stop me.

The still air bit my nose and cheeks, warning me to go back.  The leaves were rising in front of the hedgehog now, cutting it off.  I stepped on one as I ran.  Some part of me that my mother raised right turned my head to shout an apology.  I don’t think it did much.  Leaves were rising behind me.

The hedgehog curled itself into a prickly ball, its last desperate attempt to survive.  I was almost there.  A leaf flew right past my face, and I smacked it away.  Then apologized.  Again.

Stooping low, I scooped up the ball of bristles.  The feeling of a thousand needles barely piercing my skin was fuzzy and distant.  The leaves had sprung up all around us, and they were closing in.

I gasped for air, the cold rushing down my throat and settling in my lungs like panic.  I knew the longer I waited, the less chance I had, so I charged the thinnest spot in the wall of leaves and shut my eyes.

They were a million small blades slicing my skin.  They were a thousand hands pulling me back.  They were a hundred whispers of a dying wind.  I held the hedgehog close to my chest and covered it with my hands, shaking off the pull of a thousand tiny deaths.

I squinted my eyes open and there were my parents, standing at the door and shouting for me to run, run, run!  The cold air stirred and a slight breeze pulled out of its slumber just enough to rise and push the leaves back, if only for a moment.

I had just enough breath to whisper thank you to the struggling wind, then I was bursting into my home with the door slamming shut behind me.  It took a few weeks for my cuts to heal, a few months for the first winter snow to come and finish off the leaves.

I named the hedgehog Hubert and he lives with me now.  When the first leaf falls from its tree, we go to the kitchen and I make hot chocolate while he sniffs at the cookie jar.  My family gathers around the kitchen table, pulling out mugs to drink from and plates for cookies and we all sit down and hope for winter’s snows to come early this year.

We do not venture out when the leaves fall.  They are dying, but they do so slowly, and they wish to take us all with them before winter comes like a reaper of the dead.

The air has gone cold and still.

We bolt our doors and hope for snow.

Goodnight

bed

There’s a monster under my bed.  I put him there myself.

He’s half shadow, half solid night, with white smoky eyes and rows of long crooked teeth.  I found him in my basement under the stairs, no bigger than my teddy bear, stuck under a box that had fallen from its stack.

I’d been careful freeing him, of course, because I’d seen his teeth and didn’t want them clamping down on me.  I pushed the box off of him with a broomstick and waited at a distance for him to scamper away.

Instead, he limped over to me—at least, it looked like a limp.  It was hard to tell, since he was half shadow and I couldn’t actually see his feet.

I sat down and held still, trying to keep from frightening him.  I also held my breath, trying to keep myself from being frightened.  I didn’t know how to act around monsters, but I knew a bit about how to act around frightened animals and I hoped that would be enough.

He looked up at me with his round white eyes, a small whimper coming from somewhere inside, and I let out the breath I held.

He crawled into my lap, and I dared to reach out my hand and touch him.  He felt cold, and soft, and a little bit not there.  I gathered him in my arms and he pressed himself into my ribs and right then I knew.  I knew I wouldn’t let anything happen to him.  He was mine and I would take care of him.

So I grabbed an old jacket lying nearby and draped it over my arms, smuggling him as I dashed upstairs to my room.

He lives under my bed now, and I think he eats my nightmares.  Sometimes when I’m trying to sleep, I dangle my hand off the edge and he sleeps just under it.  Sometimes, when the night has gone still and the clock ticks past midnight, he crawls onto my bed and curls up next to me.

He doesn’t feel as cold as he used to.  A little more solid too.  His rows of crooked teeth don’t scare me anymore.  If anything, I just complain about his bad breath.

I curl myself around him when he presses himself next to me.  I fall asleep so much faster with him there.  I find I’m not so afraid of the night anymore.

Not since it came to me as a small lonely monster.

Sirens

cliffs

I can hear their whispers.

It must be the sirens singing

Our town is built of stone and sorrow, holding stubbornly to the rocky clifftops.  Below us is the ocean shore, where waves break against the rocks that stick out like jagged teeth.  Below us are bones and seagulls and pieces of ships.

Below us are the caves where we dare not venture.

They say sirens live there, tucked away and hidden, in the dark and wet, with rock surrounding them to echo their voices.  An ideal home for their kind, and I cannot blame them for settling there.  If anything, we are the ones that shouldn’t belong.

Sometimes I think the cliffs are not made for humans to live on.  Most of my town would probably agree, but we are too stubborn to leave.  When the storms rock our houses and the winds scream past our windows, the mothers will just tuck their children deeper in their beds and tell them it must be the sirens singing.

I grew up believing that the sirens protect us with their song, and that was why my mother told me not to be scared.  I still believe it, though that is not the only song they sing.

Tonight it is a terrible night, and the wind is lost and raging.  Thunder cracks overhead as if it is breaking against our rooftops.  I’m sitting up with my little brother, because he will not believe anyone’s assurances and he is frightened of the storm.  The things that calm him are sitting with me, wide awake, an old quilt over his shoulders, and a cup of tea in his hands.  I know when the cup is empty and the quilt begins to feel soft and warm, he will nod off and I will carry him to bed.

He is almost asleep when cries rise up from outside and yank him out of his drowsiness.  I tell him to stay there as I put on my heavy raincoat and light the shielded lantern.  The wind tears at me the moment I step outside to investigate, as though it could find a place to hide beneath my coat.  Half the town is out in this terrible night, and they’re all looking past the cliff edge to the ocean beyond.

I don’t have to look for myself to know.  There is a ship, and it is getting too close to the shore.  Everyone is holding up lanterns, trying to keep the flames from blowing out, clumping together so the sailors can see our warning.  We are shouting, but there is little we can do against this wind, this rain, this storm.

I go back inside to my little brother, and I know neither of us will be sleeping tonight.  We sit close together and share the tea, listening as the shouts outside die down.  Eventually, all we hear is the wind, the rain, and the thunder.

And then the song begins.

It is not one I could repeat, nor is it one a human could make.  It is loud enough to muffle the storm, but soft enough to cradle anyone who listens.  The words are not in a language I know, but they are familiar sounds, longing and mournful and aching.

My brother and I are silent, tears running down our cheeks.  It is a song for the ship.  For the sailors.  For the events that could not be stopped, only mourned and honored.

I have too many memories of this.  I think the cliffs were not made for humans to live on.

There is no need for me to listen to know what the mothers are whispering to their children tonight.

It must be the sirens singing

Weekends

trees

On the weekends, I lose myself in the woods.

I take a basket with me.  Often it will carry a couple empty jars, a bottle of water, a set of shears, and a sandwich or two.  In the autumn I bring an empty notebook to stick pretty leaves between its pages for safekeeping.

I like to set out early, just before the morning dew dissipates.  I listen for songbirds as I walk and try to mimic their calls.  There is something immensely satisfying about being mistaken for a bird.  Especially by a bird.

It gives wings to my thoughts and a lightness to my step.

Some days I find a nice place to sit and I look at every little thing around me.  I listen to every little sound.  Feel every breath of wind.  On those days I often leave the woods with a lightweight basket, holding empty jars and an empty sandwich bag.  My thoughts feeling calm and my heart full.

Some days I can’t help but pick up anything that catches my eye, and I will leave the woods with plants sticking out of my jars, moss or acorns or mushrooms in my basket, and pretty rocks in my pockets.  On those days I will come home with eager hands and a mind spilling over with ideas.

On my weekend evenings, I return home and empty my basket.  My house is full of broken things healing, lost things found, and lovely things gathered.

In my kitchen there are sprigs of ivy sitting in a shallow bowl of water.  I collected them at a wedding after the bride’s bouquet had been thrown and they had scattered across the floor.  When they take root, I will plant them in pots and find them good homes.

My living room is lined with jars that hold branches and twigs I’d found hanging broken from their limbs.  Red bud, pussy willow, oak, maple, dogwood . . . with patience and care, they all have the chance of taking root and starting again.  Already, I have young trees behind my house that were once broken from harsh winds or heavy storms.

My fridge has a shelf of acorns waiting in the folds of damp paper towels in sandwich bags, and I have to hold myself back from gathering them or they’ll start taking over.  I watch them, planting the ones that sprout.

Hundreds of flowers grow in front of my house, gathered as seeds or through transplanting, becoming a colorful home for honeybees and butterflies.  I guard them ferociously, weeding whenever I have a moment to spare and watering when the rain forgets to stop by.

Other days of the week, I am gone at work or meeting with friends or running errands.  Other days of the week, I am chasing my life and working hard.

But on the weekends, I lose myself in the woods.

I look for broken things that need healing, for lost things that wish to be found, for beautiful things that love to be gathered.

And I bring them home with me.