Spring Wishes

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It’s raining in the strawberry patch.  A light drizzle on a warm spring day, enough to make the world a softer place.

My bangs are plastered against my forehead, and my basket is already several shades into a darker brown.  I’m careful of where I step; there’s strawberries everywhere, and if there aren’t strawberries, there are worms breaking through the surface to breathe.  I think I hear a cardinal singing.

I think I could live my whole life inside a moment like this.

The air is sweet and soft and kind, and it brushes lightly against my cheek.  I swear it whispered to me a wish I’d made when I was nine.  The memory gives me an old smile, one I haven’t used in so, so long.

The strawberries are bright red, and they are warm from the sun but cool from the rain.  The small ones are the sweetest I’ve ever had and the big ones linger on my tongue long after they’re gone.  I drop them in my basket, vivid color against the rich brown wood.  Of course, I eat some of them too, because eating them is just as much a part of picking berries as filling the basket.  And nothing tastes as good as strawberries picked in the rain.

Near the edge of the patch there’s a smooth cherry branch, dropped from its tree and resting on top of the strawberry leaves, a single pink blossom still clinging to the end.  It’s a perfect fit in my hand, and the air wraps around me when I pick it up, whispering old memories once again.

A wish for butterflies that hold a candlelight glow.  

A wish for friendship with birds to know.  

A wish for every hope, to hope stronger.

It pauses to listen, it always has.  I smile and whisper back, A wish for this moment to linger a while longer.

A breeze picks up, just enough to rustle the trees and kiss my cheek.  The scent of strawberries fills the air, as if they’d all burst at once.  The misty rain pauses a moment, droplets floating mid-air, and they sparkle like magic.

I hear whispers all around, and they are telling me, we listened, we remember.  The strawberry plants nod in a flurry of greens.  Wishes take time, and we have gathered enough time for you, for now, for this.

The rain falls again, but even lighter than before.  The strawberry leaves are still fluttering, and somewhere amongst them rise hundreds of delicate glowing wings.  There are a few that land on me, butterflies wrapped in pulsing candlelight, and where they land they warm my rain-soaked skin.

I hear a robin sing close by, and it is joined by the cry of a blue jay.  Somewhere in the distance I can hear crows singing their throaty chorus.  There’s a flapping of wings, and a bluebird lands on my wrist.  It looks up at me, and its eyes hold the kind of trust I never see in birds.  It doesn’t flinch when I reach out to touch its feathers.  I think I could have cried.  Perhaps I did.

The very last of a breeze brushes over my shoulder, and I hear the faded remains of its voice.  Look, and it is so quiet I hear it beside my heartbeat, one last gift before we go.  The butterflies lift, parting enough to point me the right way.

A friend.

Standing in the patch, holding a basket that has deepened a few shades deeper brown, I see a boy with auburn hair plastered against his forehead.  He’s looking up at the butterflies, their warm light reflecting in his eyes.  I walk to him, and he turns to me with a smile, like we’ve known each other for years.

Hello, I say, and a cardinal lands on my shoulder.

Hello, he answers, and he holds out his hand. I moved here a few days ago.  Want to pick strawberries with me?

I say yes, and we shake on it.  A lark sings somewhere behind me.  The moment lingers, and time does not hurry, and we pick strawberries in the misty spring rain under the candlelight glow of butterfly wings.

Hats and Polka Dot Dresses

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I’m supposed to be doing math.

Sometimes it seems like I’m always supposed to be doing math.  I’m sitting cross-legged on my back porch because momma wants me to feel the sun.  It feels good, but it doesn’t help with math.  It makes me warm and curious and lazy.

There are ladybugs on the porch, red as momma’s lipstick and dots as black as ink.  They’re enjoying the sun too, and when one lands right on my math problem, I give up.  The ladies are having a party, and I want to join them.  So I do.

My bare feet hit grass as I chase after the ladybugs still flying in the air.  They sway like scribbles in the air, like they’re dancing, and I’m hanging from them like a puppet with hands outstretched.  A squirrel chatters at us as we zig-zag too close to its tree, but it does nothing more because the ladybugs are too small for it and I’m too big.

A stick snaps under my feet, and it’s only then that I look down and realize where they’ve been landing when I loose sight of them.  There’s a few on my white shirt and a couple crawling on my jeans, hitching a ride.  I carefully gather them into my hands and walk them back to the porch.  One of them spreads its wings and then lets them settle, like she’s detangling her skirts after dancing so wildly.

They need hats.

I scramble for my notebook and tear a tiny strip off the bottom.  I look back at the ladybugs, frowning.  They’re so tiny.  I tear a tiny piece from my strip and try to roll it into a party hat.  It’s bigger than the bug’s head, and doesn’t stay on.

So I tear off another piece.

My fingers are little, but not quite small enough to twirl hats the right size.  Specs of white lay scattered on the porch before I try a different style.  Party hats don’t fit ladybugs, and quite right, too.  They’re dressed too fancy in their polka dot dresses for pointy hats.  They need one of those floppy-brimmed hats that I would wear to a tea party.

I’m getting good at tearing off the teeniest pieces of paper now, and I leave them flat as I try to place them on top of their tiny black heads.  I never realized how shaky my hands were until now, but even so, the hats start to stay.  One ladybug has to leave early, and she flies into the air with her hat still on.

I hope the other ladybugs will appreciate her hat.

The day is falling into one of those deep blue evenings, the ones that have frogs singing and squirrels chattering and a blue jay causing a ruckus somewhere in the trees.  The air is still warm but the grass is cool, and it takes longer than it should to realize the dew is already settling.

The sun is gone.  The sky is still light and washed in warm colors, but somehow I failed to notice the sun disappearing.  It is time to go back inside, and I gather my math books into my arms and take a last look at my porch party.

Flakes of white lay scattered like shredded confetti.  A few pieces sit atop the most fashionable ladybugs this side of the neighborhood, who are crawling around to show off to each other.  A few pieces have made it to the yard, either fallen from a ladybug or carried by the breeze.

I’ll still have to do my math, but then it seems I’m always doing my math.  Sometimes, I think everyone should pause a minute.  They should get back to their work, of course, to be sure.  But they should also pause it every once in a while.  Sit on their back porch.  Feel the warm afternoon sun.

And make hats for ladybugs in polka dot dresses.

A Dragon’s Warning

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Do not wake the sleeping princess.

Believe me when I say, she should remain at rest.

I did not know her before, but I know what they say.  She was once beloved in the kingdom, fair and gentle and kind.  They say her father taught her about his kingdom, and her mother raised her to know the ways of the court.  They say she and the prince would bicker as siblings do, but heaven help anyone who dared insult one in front of the other.  The pink roses that lined the walkways of the grounds were planted at her request, and it is said they nearly glowed with life whenever she passed by.

Do not wake the sleeping princess.

I guard the palace so she remains undisturbed.  I was there for the days it all unfolded.  I have been here for hundreds of years now, and I will remain for hundreds more.  They say much in the history books, and I can’t say how much of it all is true.  I only know what I was there to see.

Wild men came up from the south, with their beastly mounts and screaming war cries, spreading fear across the kingdom.  It was they that caused me to go to the palace, to see what could be done.  The prince lead their men to fight, I passed him along the way.  Most agree that he died a hero, and that is all they will agree on.

Illness took the king, taking first his mind and last his strength.  I appeared in time to protect the princess and the queen, and hold him down to be retained.  I never asked for an account of the horrors he’d made before I arrived, but people talk, and have for centuries.  Sometimes I think I know too much.

The night after the king died, the queen vanished from under my care, I have not seen her since nor do I believe any of the rumors I have heard.  Rumors are not worth my time, they do nothing but steal away energy.

The wild men continued to sweep through the kingdom, and I could only do so much to help as the princess tried to rule her crumbling kingdom with a broken heart.  They came for her, slowly but surely, and they took her.  I tore apart forest and mountain to find her, and only ashes remained of them after I took her back.

It was too late.  My greatest regret is that I had not been able to keep her from their grasp.  The light had been stolen from her eyes, the color drained from her skin.

The kingdom was lost, and they pushed us back until my wings were shredded and we were cornered into the palace.  There, they could come no closer, for there were towering walls and I had scales of gleaming armor and wildfire on my breath.

Darkness descended over the kingdom now given to savages.  It weighed heavily on my princess.  She grieved and shook and raged, pacing the empty halls until I saw a spark of her father’s madness in her eyes.

I could not bear to see her suffer, to see her waste away in these stone walls that had become a cage, and I would not let the madness take her.  Thus, I gave her the only gift I had left to offer.  I gave her deep and quiet sleep.

Her roses grew terrible thorns and twined together, climbing the walls until they’d swallowed them whole.  Their petals turned blood red and refused to shrivel when they fell, instead carpeting the grounds like rich velvet.  Cobwebs lace the halls.

Do not wake the sleeping princess, under penalty of my wrath.  She finally knows peace, and I will not let it be broken until she can wake to something better.  I have patience.  I will watch over her.  Someday she will awaken and start her healing.

Until then, let her rest.

 

Whoa

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Whoa, look at the moon.

It is full and bright and it makes the night feel like a mysterious day.  It fills me with long forgotten memories of dewy grass under my feet, of riding in the passenger seat with sleepy eyes and a smile on my lips, of wishing into the dark when I was eight and filled with all that could be.

It says to me, you are safe.  It says to me, you are alive.

I make a wish and blow it to the sky.  The wind carries my voice as I whisper back, I am filled with light.

Whoa, look at the moon.

It is big and orange and resting on the horizon as if weighed down to earth.  It makes me think of summer campfires and catching random bits of music my brother plucks out on his guitar.  It is soft, and warm, and close enough to touch.

It says to me, the day has passed now.  It says to me, you can set it down.

I reach out and imagine that my fingers brush its surface.  The night is singing softly as I whisper back, hello old friend.

Whoa, look at the moon.

It is a sliver amongst a sea of stars, barely there and mostly hanging in shadow.  It is not light enough to see around myself, but it is dark enough to find the stars.  Sometimes I stare at it through my window while curled under my blankets, only a little of me showing.

It says, inhale, you do not have to be always beaming.

It says, exhale, you will shine again.

I smile into my pillow, and it sends my words to the sky as I whisper back, I will see you again.

Meet me on my front porch with blankets after the sunset dies.

Tell me a secret, tell me a wish.  Often, I find they can be the same thing.  Hold my hand and listen as I tell you about my day, my week, my life.  Just because I repeat myself does not mean I mean it any less.  Sometimes, I am too caught up in wonder to realize how I’m conveying it.

You do not have to think too hard, you do not have to always understand.  I want you here with me.  I want to share my thoughts, my curiosity, my wonder, while you sit at my side.  Simply stare with me in amazement when I point up and say,

Whoa.

Look at the moon.