31 October 2012

Jolly Halloween Costumes, 2012

This year's costumes couldn't be more appropriate, especially after The Jolly Troop's first tragedy. Penny is going to be avenged! Do you recognize all of the Avengers? Do you know the names of the Avengers that weren't in the summer blockbuster movie? We'll give you a hint, but the hints will be OPPOSITE of what the heroes names are. Happy Halloween!

Opposite: Rubber-Woman

Opposite: White Wolf

Opposite: White Snail

Opposite: Neptune

Opposite: Elephant Woman

Opposite: The Whimp

Opposite: Lieutenant China

Opposite: Coyote

Opposite: The Condor

28 October 2012

Something Wicked This Way Comes, Part 2

Folks like to say change is good and I guess that's true some of the time—like when the leaves change from summer-green to autumn-orange during September and October. That kind of change is beautiful. But sometimes change isn't beautiful or enjoyable to be in, especially if your friend has been hurt and their life might be changed forever. We were soaking up Fall in Church Fork when The Upper Twin came rushing through the trees, out of breath and gasping, "Something 'dred-full' has happened to Penny!"

In seconds, The Troop flocked to The Upper Twin and listened to her story of Penny's terrible encounter with the menacing bird with the red-cross eyes. "He had been following us all day," stammered The Upper Twin, "and Penny just couldn't fly fast enough." Have you ever been talking about scary things and noticed how it feels? It feels like dark clouds rumbling in your heart and mind.

While The Under Twin tried comforting his sister, Magnus and A.X. mapped out a plan to help our friend. "Our fastest flyers need to find her A.S.A.P.," ordered A.X. Magnus figured out where Penny was from The Upper Twin's topographical description. Like a lightning bolt on a clear day, Black Jack, Baron and Pascal launched out of the forest to find Penny and Yvette. "The rest of us will rendezvous at The Eaves of the Cathedral to find a healing bird and wait for them there." It's good to have friends that are swift and clear-headed in a panic.

Meanwhile, Black Jack was leading the flyers through gymnosperms and angiosperms while Pascal relayed Magnus' direct directions: "The cave should be a 23 minutes north-east of Pretty Valley, next to the felling grounds of Old Grandfather Tree.

When the flyers were getting close to the cave, they heard crying and knew it was Yvette. The cave was eery and sad as Penny lay in cold stillness, her legs useless, broken off. Yvette didn't twitch or move when they floated in because she was focused on keeping her best friend warm. "We've been giving her water while we've been waiting," cooed a small blue bird. "This is Billie," sniffed Yvette, "She was hiking and found us in the cave; she has been helping me with Penny. I've been hiding for hours. I'm so afraid. She hasn't woken up. And... her... legs..." "We must hurry. Put her on my back and surround her; we need to get her to The Eaves of the Cathedral." Baron whispered.

Lifting the four birds onto his strong, wind-cutting back was like lifting four feathers for Baron. "Let's get moving," he rumbled, "B.J., can you pick up her legs?" Black Jack never cries. At anything. But today he did as he carried his friends legs in his. What would Penny do without her legs? He tried imagining what it would be like to have his wings cut off. He shuttered and another tear dripped into the air. Poor Penny.

The rest of The Troop was anxiously waiting at The Eaves of the Cathedral. Edward and A.X. were speaking with some of the local birds and found out more about this menacing "dred-full" bird while a healing bird, Golda E. Schoolhouse, instructed The Troop, "Please clear a space near the roof edge for me to examine Penny. I'll need every second." Suddenly the flyers zoomed into view, heading directly for the cathedral.

Golda took a close look at Penny, examining her red-cross eyes. "I've seen this before and it isn't easy to heal. The red-cross eye is a symptom of dredification. She's alive, but can't move or make a sound. Her heart is filled with an unbearable, terrible nightmare-fear. We're going to have to ask for some assistance from within the Cathedral. I know exactly who to ask but I can only take one of you with me." Black Jack moved in directly behind her.

Golda took Penny to the golden lights near the seraphim. "Dear seraphs, can your healing wings help our friend?" They nodded and began to flap their cosmic wings but nothing changed with Penny. They tried again and her eyes remained unchanged. Frowning, they pointed towards the pipe organ, floating the birds there with the wind of their wings. Suddenly Golda realized where they were being sent.

In full view of the resplendent resurrection window, Golda, Black Jack and poor Penny landed gently below the protective saint of animals: St Francis of Assisi. He smiled down at the birds as sunlight shone through him, onto them. Before Golda could ask for his help he smiled goldenly and whispered, "A single sunbeam is enough to drive away many shadows." Golda's eyes grew wide, "I know exactly what we need to do!"

"We need to take Penny to the top of Mount Olympus and let Sunbird surround her with sunbeams. But we need to get there the way Penny would get there, if she were awake."

Have you ever walked a mile in somebody else's shoes? Have you ever hiked 9,026 feet in their boots? Have you used your legs and gone the distance others have gone with their legs, to see what they see with their eyes? Did you feel a change in the way you walk? Did you feel a change in the way you see?

Exhausted, sweaty and jelly-legged, we finally made it to the top of Mount Olympus. We placed Penny on the mailbox, hoping our message of what we needed would be understood by Sunbird. As Black Jack placed her legs next to her body, we realized why Penny loved her legs so much and why she chose to run everywhere. "And now," whispered Golda, "We leave her to the sunbeams." Before we left, Sophia hummed something beautiful and sad.

It felt strange leaving Penny all alone. We didn't really know how to do it, so we found The Waiting Tree and hung out for awhile, silent, thinking of our friend. As I looked up at Sunbird and wondered about the power in sunbeams, I suddenly found myself thinking about the terrible, "dred-full" bird. Where had he come from and why was he such a bully?

Sometimes change takes place when you can't see it or it happens when you least expect it. This is why change is surprising and mysterious at the same time. While we were waiting for what we didn't know we were waiting for, a soft, down-filled cloud knit with sunbeams drifted to The Waiting Tree—like an  answer for our unknown questions. Without speaking a word, each of us climbed onto the cloud and floated home on a gentle breeze.

What is going to happen to Penny? What will happen if we run into the "dred-full" bully bird again? We don't know for sure, but receiving a gift stitched with sunbeam has given us a bright hope.

To be continued... 

11 October 2012

Something Wicked This Way Comes, Part 1

Penny, The Jolly Troop's self-appointed Halloween Queen, found this year's costumes in Vermont so she invited Yvette and The Upper Twin to join her when it was time to pick them up. As they journeyed through upstate New York, Yvette whispered something eery, "Have you noticed that all of us are the colors of All Hallow's Eve? Except for black. I bet you it would make for bad luck if we had a black bird with us..." Just then The Upper Twin thought she heard something rustle in the trees.

They stopped in Whitehall, NY to grab a bite to eat, do a little leaf-peeping and visit a haunted mansion. While Penny and Yvette were being fascinated by the depletion of chlorophyll from the leaves, The Upper Twin kept turning around expecting to see somebody. "Why do I get the feeling that we're being watched?" "Because we're birds, silly. We are always being watched," drawled Yvette.

But The Upper Twin couldn't shake the feeling. She knew what inside-darkness felt like. Something about how the air felt and how the plants were wilting made her body shake like a sudden chill of winter. Have you ever felt scared during the middle of the day—while the sun is shining?

Skene Manor was the perfect place to kill two birds with one stone: they could eat lunch and see a haunted mansion at the same time! In daylight, the mansion didn't seem scary at all, but The Upper Twin kept her distance. "I just feel like something awful is lurking around the corner," she whimpered.

The hostess of the manor had an odd manner about her—she neither confirmed nor denied that the house was haunted. While Penny and Yvette told her about costumes and Vermont, The Upper Twin noticed a terrible scar on her neck. "I wouldn't travel during the night if I were you," the hostess warned, glassy-eyed, "But if you do, remember this phrase: Cross the Bridge, Crossing to Safety."

As the sun set and the clouds turned evening-lilac-blue, nearby church bells chimed. "She was an odd duck," squawked Penny, "She just wanted to spook us." "Still...," hushed The Upper Twin, "I think we should move on before it gets too dark." "You are a ninny, aren't you?!" smirked Yvette.

Suddenly, a gray-blackness covered everything and it turned midnight dark. The crickets stopped chirping and the wind grew silent. All they could hear was ragged breathing from the branches above them. Huddled tightly together, Penny whispered in a commanding tone, "You both have to look up. Look UP! LOOK UP NOW!" There in the tree, in the dark shadows of the sky and branches, sat a menacing bird with red-cross eyes. "I've been following you all day and now that it's dark, you will DRED this night!" And with a loud crash, he lept from the branches and dove at the girls!

The three girls screamed as they flapped from the branches into the night sky, the wind suddenly vicious. Seeing was difficult but they could make out the outline of the forest. "Make for the bridge and don't look back!" Penny cried. A gap began to open up between Penny and the others because Penny never flies - she always runs! There was no where for Penny to land so she had to keep flying, hearing the dark breathing behind her.

Penny flew into the forest, dodging limbs and branches, ducking and climbing, hoping to lose the ragged breathing closing in on her. If only she had flown more often, she would have been stronger now! But there was nowhere to land in the thicket and breathing was getting closer. "You... can't... hide... I can see you!" the dark bird growled.

Just when she thought she was doomed, there was a break in the trees and Penny saw the silhouette of roof. She dove and hit the roof running, knowing that if she could get some solid ground under her feet, she could create some distance between her and the horrific bird. "Cross the Bridge, Crossing to Safety!" she said, over and over, eyes frantically trying to find the bridge in the black night.

And suddenly, there it was! She saw her friends in the tunnel, near the edge at the other side of the bridge. She clawed her feet into the ground as hard as she could and begged the moon, "Moonwing, if you help me make the bridge, I promise I'll never..." And at the entrance of the bridge, swift as a shadow in the night, the dreaded bird swooped down and caught Penny! Yvette and The Upper Twin wailed and immediately flew after the night-thief bird and their unconscious friend.

They flew after them for miles and then suddenly, the evil bird dropped Penny from the high sky, laughing, "You will DRED this night!" Yvette and The Upper Twin dove like speeding bullets but weren't able to catch Penny before she hit the ground. When they found her, she lay red-crossed in an open field, miles from anywhere. They started crying because her legs—her amazing, fast, run everywhere, quicksilver legs—were broken off.

To be continued...

30 September 2012

So Long, September!

Maybe it was my birthday or maybe it was the equinox, but September rushed by in fire-red fashion. So before October could arrive and before all the leaves dropped and browned, we spent some time leaf peeping up Mill Creek Canyon. Sorry, no story this time—just a bunch of pictures (which equals thousands of words, right?).

30 July 2012

The Nature of Honesty

A short time ago, the Universe threw me a real curve-ball and my world did a backflip and lost all of its color. When I was able to find my balance, I found myself thinking about honesty.

Grass is honest because it always remains what it is, from seedling to blade—even if it's wild.

The sky is honest and will tell you whether you need a raincoat, in that moment, or whether you need to clean the lens on your camera.

Lakes are beautiful but can be deceptive because how do you know how deep they really are?

I am never stumped by Nature's honesty—She always shows you her true colors, especially on a clear day.

Did you know that rocks can tell you the truth about time?

Sundials are honest (if you know how to use them correctly) and will tell you the time of day as long as the sun is able to shine.

When I took some time to be honest with myself, I realized honesty's beauty: honesty makes things very clear and easy to see.

And even though honesty can be jagged and craggy—even though honesty can feel like you're stepping on pine needles—it can also be soothing, colorful and a trusted friend.

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