Just Only Judy is living a full life with Multiple Sclerosis. Her posts may be about parenting, family, working in public health, MS, the Pacific Northwest or memories of the Midwest.
Sunday, November 10, 2013
The Faerie Wood, Part V
Kathy hesitated just a minute, staring at the river and the
barricade of Hemlock branches. She
wondered what lay beyond the branches and she was a bit sad to leave the river behind. As the sound of Judy’s singing grew dimmer she turned and followed. This newer
and narrower trail traversed the flat tops of giant glacial boulders buried
beneath the layers of soil and duff that made up the forest floor. “I want to
know why the trail is blocked,” Kathy said. “It’s very curious.”
“There are a lot of curious things on this little
adventure,” Judy replied, “Starting with the ladies making tea in the
bathroom!” she chuckled. As Judy began
to list the mysterious encounters of the day Kathy stopped walking and pointed
in the direction of a small tributary in the distance. “Look,” she said in a
hushed tone. The lack of undergrowth on this side of the river allowed them to
see for greater distances. “What?” Judy asked quietly. She squinted at the
waterway concerned about what she might see.
“There, in the creek,” Kathy replied, “Do you see that tower of rocks?”
Judy finally spotted it; in the middle of the creek, sitting
atop a flat boulder, was a towering stack of progressively smaller flat stones,
presumably from the creek bed. Much like a small pagan pyramid built by faeries
of the forest, it was both mysterious and eerie. The water was running too
fast, and too cold, for someone to have built it recently.
“Someone must have
done that this summer, when the creek was dry,” Kathy still spoke in a hushed
tone. Something about the quiet solitude and undisturbed nature around them
made this little stone structure, a marker of people before them, seem almost
sacred. They may as well have stumbled upon a person praying in the middle of
the forest; or a tombstone.
The sisters were quiet and reflective as they continued
on the trail, each mulling over the mysteries of the day in their own minds. If
they had looked behind them, they may have seen a small brown moth land on the
tiniest pebble atop the pyramid. A second moth flew above their heads, flitting
from cedar to vine maple, as the sisters walked on. “I am hungry,” Judy finally
said. “That cookie is not cutting it!”
Just then the trail reached a point where it crossed the tributary on a
split log footbridge with rough-hewn log hand railings.
“I’m sure it’s not too much farther,” Kathy encouraged.
“I think I remember this little bridge, but it’s hard to be certain. You know we are doing the trail in
reverse.” Her younger sister stepped
gingerly onto the bridge and then paused. “Ooooh….”, Judy breathed more than
spoke the sound. It was her turn to point slowly in the direction of a small
stone pyramid. This one was not far upstream from the bridg, in the middle of the creek, where the water now flowed cold and deep. The girls stood there for some time mesmerized by the little stone structure, until Judy’s stomach reminded her
to keep moving. Yet she no sooner reached
the far side of the little bridge, with Kathy right behind her, when she
stopped again. “Look at this log! Doesn’t it look like a dragon’s head?” she
asked her older sister. The far end of the timber handrail appeared to have
been the part of the tree where trunk meets roots. The straight log turned into
a swirling of gold, weatherworn wood and the fresh red flesh of recently
exposed inner bark. Grooves formed a shape like a dragon’s head, with a large
lump on the trunk creating the skull. A knot of wood formed an eye and more
grooves wound through the wood to create the outline of a dragon’s jaw and
snout. The final touch was the flexible root ends poking out of the dragon’s
mouth like a burst of flame. “Cool!” Kathy exclaimed, “It totally looks like a
“Do you think somebody carved it, or it just looks like
that?” Judy asked, and then answered her own question just as quickly, “Nope,
not carved. That is awesome and scary!” she said, as she turned back to the
trail. She would later regret not taking a picture of the dragon bridge and yet
something urged her to continue on at a faster pace. The small brown moth
dropped down from the branches overhead and settled into the grooves of the
dragon’s lower jaw.
Banana Slugs eat dragons for breakfast
Back at the resort the youngest Caroline was walking through
the parking lot
searching for Kathy’s car.
She was relieved when she spotted a charcoal gray, Toyota 4-Runner.
The girls must be on the trails across the street if they didn’t take their
car. But when she spotted a second, and
then a third charcoal gray 4-Runner she muttered under her breath. She looked
in the windows; the one with a carseat was definitely not her daughter’s. She
could not be sure of the others. She
headed back to the cottage to let the girls’ grandmother know what she had found
out. “Perhaps they are already back,” she mused to herself as she passed the
other guest cottages.The elder Caroline was standing on the porch as her daughter
approached. “Did you find them?” she asked.
The girls’ mother explained that
the valet was searching the woods and she was not sure if their car was in the
parking lot or not. “They may have gone somewhere else Mom,” she tried to sound
reassuring. Two seals poked their heads out of the water just 50 yards from the
cottage as the two women talked. The seals watched curiously as three small
moths flitted about the mother and daughter; grandmother and mother. To the
seals it looked as though the moths were dancing to the rapid, excited music of
the animated conversation. “Let’s go inside Mom,” the younger Caroline said,
realizing it was chilly out on the porch. The elder Caroline reluctantly
followed her into the cottage. The three moths, as though bored by the women’s
departure, flew out across the canal, passed over the seals and continued on
toward the forest.The girls’ mother made some cocoa to warm them up. She showed their grandmother the note with
the hospital and sheriff's phone numbers and tried to reassure her that the girls were
okay. “If they aren’t back by dark,
then we will call these numbers mom.
I’m sure that they’ll be back any minute. It has not quite been four
But the grandmother was not consoled. “Judy is making the
stew for dinner.She would have been back by now to start the stew!” They sat down at the kitchen table with
their cocoa and added the phone numbers of Kathy’s adult children to the list
of people to call. The younger Caroline told her mother the story of the winter
that Lorraine and Judy had gone wandering at Lake Cushman and scared her to
death; she had been certain they had been lost in the snow or fallen in the
lake. In the end the girls had simply been out having an adventure and lost
track of time.
As the elder Caroline listened to her daughter’s story,
across the water the girls were nearing the end of the trail. “I think I see
the Ranger Station up ahead,” Kathy declared. Indeed the narrow path had
reconnected with the broader original trail, the canopy was thinning and the
sisters soon found themselves back at the parking lot. “Well that was the best
hike!” Judy said triumphantly. “I feel great! I may be sore tomorrow, but right
now I don’t feel a thing….except hunger,” she grinned. They made a quick stop
at the bathroom, grabbed some paper towels and tried to get as much mud off the
back of their pants and shoes as they could, then hopped in the car and headed
out of the park just as three small
moths alighted on the entrance sign.
The two sisters were chatty and giddy from their adventure.
The sun was shining and they stopped along the road to take some pictures next
to Lake Cushman. They had no idea that the Carolines were worried and looking
for them. The rain and mist that kept the cottage shrouded in fear had left the
forest hours ago; the girls felt happy and alive. “Let’s be sure to stop and
pick up some biscuits to go with the stew…I am starving!” Judy said in dramatic
fashion. “I wish I would have
remembered the crockpot, then it would be waiting for us when we got
there!” As Kathy steered the SUV
carefully back toward the resort the two sisters talked about the forest and
the many other hikes and adventures that were waiting. They stopped
at the little IGA grocer in Union to get some Pillsbury biscuits, yogurts for the next
morning and a little snack from the deli.
The resort parking lot was much more empty when they got
there and they realized that all the wedding guests had checked out. “I bet mom and grandma are getting hungry again,” Judy
laughed. “I’ll microwave the potatoes to get things cooking faster! I think
they eat dinner earlier than I usually do.”
“Agreed,” Kathy replied as she hopped out of the car and
grabbed the bag of groceries. “I hope they had a good nap, it isn’t as sunny
here, I wonder if the sun ever came out for them…” she mused as they strolled
up to the cottage. As the two sisters came around the corner of the porch they
caught sight of the two Carolines sitting in deck chairs and staring out at the
water, their grandmother wrapped in a blanket.
Their mother leapt up in surprise and soon everyone was talking at once,
their chatter filling up the air on the deck and chasing the chill mist back
out across the canal.
increased when the cottage cabin phone rang.
Judy was already in the kitchen so she answered, “Hello?” she said
tentatively. “This is Elliot at the front desk, ma’am, just calling to say I
didn’t find anything. I’m sorry. Have you heard from them?” Judy’s mind struggled to rapidly fill in the
bits she had gathered from the Carolines and make sense of the question on the
other end of the phone. “Hello?” the young man said. “Oh, um…well…we are them.
I mean I am one of the daughters. Well we are back.” She stammered, knowing it
wasn’t making sense. “I am so sorry that you had to go out looking, we just
ended up going on a different hike, we weren’t actually across the street,” she
said, probably giving the valet more information than he needed. She glanced at
the Carolines and whispered into the phone, “I don’t know why they were
worried, we said we would be gone awhile, sorry about that!”
That evening over a dinner of beef stew, biscuits, kale and
cookies the sisters told their mother and grandmother all about their
adventure. The Carolines scolded them for not writing down where they were
going. Kathy scolded her mother for gathering the phone numbers and preparing
to sound the alarm. Judy agreed with them all. When dinner was done they put
away the fairy puzzle and posed for group pictures. They laughed and giggled as
Kathy would set the timer and run back as fast as she could to get in the photograph. Later, by the fire, hot chocolates in hand, they told stories of the
past, present and future…until their sleepy eyes and the sounds of night
creatures told them it was time for bed. They would need their rest, for surely
more adventures waited for them tomorrow.As Judy lay in bed that night she thought again of the
mysteries in the forest; she dreamt of dragons sleeping on beds of moss,
fairies flying over a sparkling river, and moths…she dreamt that she was
chasing a moth down the trail and into a darkening forest. In her dream she
was surprised that she did not feel afraid in this dark forest, but she knew
somehow that the moth was leading her to a magical place and she must not lose
sight of it. When she woke in the morning she could not remember where the moth
had taken her.
That is the end of this story. Fact and fiction…as most of
our lives are. When we don’t have all the answers or explanations we may fill
in the blanks with what makes the most sense to us, but in the end we are only using iMAGInation combined with logiCAL reasoning. So try filling in the blanks with what seems most MAGICAL. It’s your story after all, your life…wouldn't you rather have a magical life?