FURTHER STORIES OF WILLOW contd….

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A PERFECT DAY

A small, green rocking chair had been placed very carefully in the bay window.  From this chair one could gaze out across the fields that surrounded the house where Willow lived.  Willow knew that if one crossed those fields and headed off left into the woodlands one would soon come to a great Oak Tree.  If you knew what Willow knew, you would rest your hand on a smooth, jade-green doorknob and push gently on the door to enter a home where someone very special lived.  Turning right at the tree would quickly bring you to a clearing in the branches.  You had to look carefully of course – it wasn’t obvious to the eye.  But if you found it, on peeping through this clearing one would be rewarded by a beautiful view of the meadow.  If you were lucky you might see a fountain there, but Willow had never yet met another person who had seen the fountain.

On this particular morning Willow surfaced very slowly from the depths of a deep sleep.  Never drawing her curtains, Willow preferred to fall asleep able to see the stars and sometimes the moon from her pillow.  Usually awake before dawn, Willow could often be found sitting on her small, green rocking chair gazing out across the fields as the sun rose setting the meadow alight in shades of green and gold.  Dawn was her favourite time of day, arriving as it did abundant with promises of things as yet unknown which she would discover as the day progressed.

This morning however, Willow had found it unusually hard to get up.  Blinking herself awake, Willow stretched back into her pillows and considered the night from which she was emerging.  It had been a very quiet night.  It had been a night of no dreams.  The kind of night one perhaps wished one might always enjoy, so rested were you when eventually you opened  your eyes to greet the day.  Willow knew that many people found the process of awakening a very difficult one.  Many people, she had been told, turned away from the day ahead of them at this exact point, sliding under the covers and back into their sleep.

Willow was not one of those people.  Eager to greet the day, Willow unfolded herself from the bed, crossed the room in her bare feet and seated herself on the pretty green chair.  Drawing her knees up to her chin Willow wrapped her arms around her legs gently rocking herself backwards and forwards as she welcomed this brand new day.  Having missed the sunrise, Willow found the fields already alight in the early morning sun, glistening with remnants of dew that covered vast areas of the brightest green.

The  meadow called.  It wasn’t a sound of course.  It was a feeling.  The feeling Willow had was very strong indeed, and shortly after she had felt it, she found herself calling a cheery farewell to the lady whose room she passed on her way out of the house.

“I might be a long time!”she called.  Willow had a feeling that this day held something very special for her and suspected she might be out of the house for most of the day.

“Take all the time you want, dear.” A voice from within the room replied.  “If my door is shut when you return, please do not disturb.” The voice advised.

Willow paused for a moment.  It’s such a beautiful day, she thought.  I wonder if I should invite her to come with me.  Would she come with me to the meadow, she wondered.

Willow very hesitantly peeped into the room.  Seated in a pool of sunlight streaming in from a very wide window, a woman was sitting before a large, blank canvas.  In one hand she held what appeared to be a very oddly shaped tray.  In her other hand she held a brush with which she was mixing bright yellows, oranges, golds and blues across the surface of this tray.

Softly, Willow called into the room: “Would you like to come with me today?”

“What an extraordinary idea.” Came the reply.

“Be a dear girl, and shut the door behind you please.”

Pulling the door softly behind her, Willow skipped down the stairs, out of the house and into the fields before her.

Stopping at the Oak Tree, Willow noticed that the doorknob showed her neither the sun nor the moon today.  Perhaps it was too early.  On entering the warm room, Willow found Jay standing before a pretty mirror placed above a small chest of drawers beside her bed.  Twisting her long, silver hair up into a knot, Jay turned to greet Willow with remarks about how very lovely this particular morning was.

“Will you come with me to the meadow today, Jay?” asked Willow.

“I have much to do today, Willow.” Jay gently declined.  “You go and have a splendid time.  If anything happens, be sure to come back and tell me all about it.”

Willow reached up to touch Jay’s hair.  Softer than the finest silk Willow had ever touched, Jay’s hair felt to Willow as she imagined a cloud might feel.

“Won’t you leave your hair down today?”she asked.  “Just this once, won’t you leave your hair down on this perfect day?”

Jay smiled.  “Gracious no.  I shouldn’t be able to see where I’m going or what I’m doing if I let my hair down!  Goodness, it would feel most odd!”

Bidding Jay a fond farewell, Willow turned right as she left the Oak Tree, climbed through the clearing in the branches and entered the meadow.

There stood the fountain, rising high up into the sunshine, inviting Willow to play.   Not yet, thought Willow.  Today I am happy just to be here.  Walking across the deep, long grass Willow stepped carefully among the meadow flowers making her way towards the stream that meandered along the edge of the meadow and out into the woods beyond.

Finding a smooth boulder here, Willow took off her shoes, sat down and put her feet in the cool, clear water.  This was such a beautiful day, she thought.  A perfect day.  Tilting her head back to face the sun, Willow found herself relaxing as she listened to the sound of water bubbling over small rocks in the stream.  Occasionally a tiny fish drifted past, pausing briefly to investigate her toes, nibbling on them for a moment before slipping off down the stream. 

A long blade of grass brushed against the hand Willow had place behind her on the rock for support.  Wait – it wasn’t just a blade of grass!  Something else was moving across her hand!  Turning to look behind her Willow saw a pretty, bright, green grasshopper had found itself a place to settle!

Very slowly, very carefully, Willow brought her hand around in front of her in order to study this pretty, little, green grasshopper more closely.  What a very strange creature a grasshopper is, thought Willow.  It was so small, yet so perfectly formed with its huge, oval brown eyes gazing steadily back into hers.  Segments of its perfectly formed, shiny, green body were dappled with tiny specks and dots that appeared to be changing colour in the sunlight.  Two long feelers twitched from side to side on the grasshopper’s head as it turned away from her to gaze into the stream before them.

OH!!  Suddenly, it jumped!  High off Willow’s hand, the little green grasshopper jumped into the air and into the stream before them!!  Can grasshoppers swim, wondered Willow, more than a little nonplussed!  Why would it do that!  Surely it would drown! Now anxious, Willow leaned over to stare into the water at her feet.  Nothing could be seen.  Feeling a little disconcerted, Willow wondered why the grasshopper had done this.  So small, so perfect, yet so deliberately this little grasshopper had leapt to what was surely its death!

Now what?!  What was this!  Bubbles had appeared in the water, swirling and bursting before Willow’s eyes.  To her astonishment a tall man, bare to the waist, adorned with what appeared to be a golden snake curled around his neck and a wide bracelet worn high on his arm, arose from the stream and stood before Willow, smiling.

Willow thought she might faint!  Scrambling off her boulder with her eyes fixed on the figure before her, Willow stepped backwards into the meadow, practically falling over her own feet as she backed away from this man in haste.

“Where are you going?” smiled the man.  “You don’t need to be afraid.”

“Who are you?  Where did you come from?”

“Why are you surprised?” smiled the man.  “I was sitting on your hand a moment ago!  You were perfectly happy with me there!”

NO!  No this sort of thing didn’t happen in real life.  This was the sort of thing that happened in fairy tales, and Willow was not a great reader of fairy tales at all.

“Why are you wearing a snake around your neck?” she demanded.  Willow had noticed that this creature had in fact quite a pleasant face for a snake, and that it appeared to be smiling at her from its position of honour.

“It’s a long story.” Replied the man.  “It has something to do with a river, but I shall save that story for another day.”

“Another day?  I hope I don’t see you on any other day!” Willow declared.  “I hate surprises!  And you’ve surprised me!”

The more she looked into his eyes, the more Willow, very reluctantly, had to acknowledge to herself that this man had a very kind face indeed.  In fact, this man was oddly not at all frightening.  Aside, of course, from the fact that he had appeared out of the stream claiming to be a grasshopper!

“I’m sorry to have alarmed you, Willow”  the man replied.  “I shall go back and I shan’t alarm you again.”

“Wait!”  Willow moved slowly towards this remarkable man.  “Why a grasshopper?  Why did you appear to me as a grasshopper!  How did you do that?  How do you know my name?”

Taking her questions as an invitation, the man stepped out of the stream and seated himself on a boulder beside the one on which Willow had been seated, indicating that Willow should join him on her boulder in order for him to explain.   Overwhelmed with curiosity Willow sat down to listen.

She heard many, many things.  The man spoke quietly.  He told Willow that he had always known her name and he always would.  Willow did not understand this, but, slightly mesmerised by his presence, she leaned forward and listened closely to all he said.  In a voice as warm and smooth as milk and honey, the man spoke to Willow of himself a little more.  He spoke of powers he had.  Powers of Giving and Abundance, of feeding all creatures of the earth, large and small.  He spoke also of rivers of poison, of battles and destruction, of birth and re-birth and of many things about which Willow knew nothing at all herself.  Then he spoke to Willow of the snake, telling her that he wore it as an ornament while it also represented the endless cycle of life.

“Is it alive?” asked Willow.

“From the beginning of time, it has always been alive.  To the end of time it will always be alive.” replied the man.

Did she imagine it, or did the serpent wink at her as he spoke!

Lastly, he spoke of the grasshopper.

“I’m extremely fond of grasshoppers ” he explained.  “Once, when I was handing out Plenty to all creatures of the earth, large and small, my wife picked up a small grasshopper and hid it under her gown at her breast as a joke.  But I had seen it there.” He smiled.  “When she withdrew it from her robe, she saw I had placed a fresh blade of grass in its mouth.” he laughed.

“I could just as easily have appeared to you in a different form you know.  I could have appeared as a tiger rushing towards you through the trees!”

Willow laughed out aloud!  “There are no TIGERS in these woods!”

“You would hope not ” he replied.  “Let us hope I never appear to you in that form.”

As the sun moved across the sky, the man continued to speak to Willow of many strange things.  Mostly, he spoke to her of great responsibilities.  In his tales of battles and births, of destruction and creation, he impressed upon Willow how hard it was to carry such great responsibility for everything on his shoulders.  Understanding very little of what he said, yet enjoying the sound of his voice and the warmth with which he spoke, Willow was happy to sit and listen. The further the sun declined on this perfect day, the more Willow grew sure that she had glimpsed a crescent moon appearing behind him, settling just above his head as though to adorn his hair.  What was that blinking lazily at her from the middle of his forehead?  Could it be a third eye?  It looked like that to Willow, but she could not be sure.  None of this made any sense to her at all.

Finally, the man arose from his boulder.  “Well, it was lovely to meet you, Willow.  Take good care of yourself ” he smiled.

As suddenly as he had appeared, this extraordinary man was gone!

Willow blinked.  Where did he go?  Glancing down Willow saw a tiny green grasshopper chirping merrily away up at her before it turned to hop swiftly away across the meadow.

What a very strange day this had been!!  Strange, but wonderful too!  Of course, she must have dreamed this.  None of what had happened could possibly have been true.  Yet, Willow could hear the voice of that remarkable man in her head, and in her heart she felt very warm and glowing, as you do when all things are well in your world. 

This had been a most perfect day!

Realising how late it was, Willow rushed back across the meadow, resolving to spend only a moment or two with Jay to tell her of the man she had seen, and all she had heard.

Sliding across the clouds on the surface of Jay’s jade-green doorknob a crescent moon could very clearly be seen.  Just like that which Willow was sure she had seen adorning the man’s hair just a very short while ago.

Breathlessly, Willow poured out her story to Jay; telling of grasshoppers, winking snakes, third eyes and a remarkable  man who spoke of many things about which she did not understand. Willow finally drew her story to its conclusion, awaiting Jay’s response.

“He seemed so light – yet so overloaded, Jay!!  There seemed such a great weight on his shoulders when he spoke!”

“Well, yes” replied Jay.  “Certainly, it is a great responsibility – having to carry all matters of both destruction and change on your shoulders all at the same time.”

“We don’t have to worry about that though.  Do we, Jay?”  Willow smiled, wondering how it could ever be possible.

“We don’t ever have to worry about anything”replied Jay.  “Worry is a terrible waste of time.  However, we do all carry that power, Willow.”

“We do?”  Willow inquired more than a little anxiously.

“Certainly.  On a daily basis, in all our lives.  We can destroy and renew so many things, so many people and in so many different ways.  We give and we take.  All of us.” Jay sighed a little before she continued.

“But don’t fill your head with thoughts of frightening things, Willow.  Remember only the wonderful stories you heard today.  Clear your head of all stories of battles and destruction” she advised.

Willow laughed.  “But of course, it wasn’t REAL Jay!  I must have fallen asleep and dreamed it!”  Although…. I wasn’t at all sleepy today, thought Willow.

Oh, it was real” replied Jay.  “It was like all things are.  It was all in your mind.  It’s in the mind that we make things our reality, Willow.”

As Willow left the Oak Tree she was sure she noticed that the crescent moon on that beautiful jade-green doorknob was blazing a lot more brightly than it had been on her arrival.

“I’m HOME!” called Willow, racing up the stairs.  “I’m home!”

To Willow’s surprise there was no: “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door.  Tonight, the door was slightly ajar.  Softly pushing it open, Willow peeked in and gasped in surprise!!!

There, filling what this morning had been a blank white canvas, now stood a man, adorned with a golden snake around his neck, a crescent moon above his head and what appeared to be a very small third eye in the middle of his forehead. Here stood the very man Willow had seen in the meadow today!!

How could this be?  Willow wondered.  How did she paint him so perfectly – so exactly as I saw him?  Could it be that in some way the woman asleep on the bed had also seen him?  Could it really be, on some level Willow did not understand, that they did in fact share something after all?

Something so vivid, so bright, so clear, so perfect as all on this day had been!

 

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STORIES OF WILLOW contd….

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OF LION’S TEETH AND FIRE

It was a very hot day!  Pulling off her favourite hoody, Willow rolled it up and lay down on the grass with her purple pillow under her head for extra comfort.  Settling down, WIllow folded her arms across her chest and gazed up into the clear blue sky.  It was quite a breezy day.  In fact it was a very warm breeze that drifted across her on this very hot day, but it was not unpleasant.  The exact name for this particular kind of breeze escaped Willow, but she was perfectly comfortable.  Dandelion florets drifted across the meadow causing Willow to imagine herself floating along beside them on the breeze.  Dandelion – from the French “dent-de-lion” meaning Lion’s Tooth, Willow had been told.  Anything less like a Lion’s Tooth, Willow could not imagine.  Birds rested their wings allowing themselves to be carried across the meadow on currents of air.  Reaching out lazily Willow pulled a thick blade of grass from the ground and twisted it around her finger to make a ring.  An emerald ring of the prettiest, brightest green.

Despite resting as she was in one of the safest places she knew, Willow found herself increasingly unable to drift along with the dandelions as the day progressed.  Willow supposed this was understandable.  It had been a very noisy night the night before.  The kind of noise one could not escape from  The kind of noise that even when she covered her ears, Willow could still hear.  She could hear this noise, she knew, because it was silent.  Yes, on reflection, it was in fact the silent noise that had kept Willow awake all night. Unearthly moans of despair, sounds of hollow wailing and lamenting, desperate screams of frustration, slamming of doors and voices raised in heated debate were not as disturbing as the silence in the noise of the night before. How strange this was, thought Willow, as she fell deeper and deeper into reflection on it all.

Willow felt herself increasingly restless and more and more unable to drift.  The more she gazed at them now, the more like Lion’s Teeth the dandelions began to appear.  Imagining a lion with a mouthful of dandelions clamping down on a beast of prey  had made Willow laugh to herself when she arrived at the meadow today.  Suddenly it seemed less funny.  Teeth – yes, the more she stared the more she could see it.  Teeth were drifting through the sky towards an unseen prey.

Shaking herself out of such thoughts Willow cast her eye away from the dandelions towards the fountain.  Lifted by the breeze, droplets of water sprayed across the meadow brushing Willow’s cheek, occasionally landing on her lips.  But wait!  Willow’s cheek was burning as though brushed by a flame!  Wiping her lips Willow felt warmth on the back of her hand!  The fountain!!  The fountain was changing!  Willow sat up!  Instead of clear water, reds and golds now appeared in the fountain!  What was this?  What was happening to the fountain?  Oh no!!  What if the fountain no longer consisted of water!  What if the fountain were FIRE!

Jumping to her feet, Willow grabbed her hoody and pulled it on, hugging it tightly against her body as she stared at the fountain before her!  Was she imagining it, or was the fountain in fact ablaze!  Yes!!  Where only a moment ago a fountain stood shooting rainbows across the green grass, showering Willow with crystal droplets of the sweetest, coolest water, now a giant torch of FIRE reached high up into the sky!!  Carried by the air it now blazed before her, shooting sparks of flame across the meadow, sprinkling her hoody with droplets of gold.

NO!  The meadow will burn!  The meadow will disappear, cried Willow, watching in horror as fingers of flame reached out from the blaze across the grass towards the very edges of the meadow!  Willow thought of the only person who would know what to do about this.  Turning from the blaze, Willow raced across the meadow and out into the trees!

Arriving at the Oak Tree, Willow paused to catch her breath, resting her hand on the cool,  jade-green doorknob.  Today a sun could clearly be seen through shades of green and grey that swirled across its broad, smooth surface.  Was everything ablaze today, wondered Willow, as the door softly swung open at her touch.

Sitting at her desk, Jay’s bright, enquiring eyes turned to greet Willow with the warmth and welcome that Willow had come to know so well.  Sitting down on a small wooden stool beside her, Willow talked breathlessly to Jay of Lion’s Teeth and fountains turned to fire.

“What must we do Jay?”she cried.  “What must we do?  The meadow will surely burn!  What if the fire reaches across the meadow to your Oak Tree?  We must do something!” she urged!  “What must we do?”

Jay listened quietly while Willow spoke.  After a moment or two of silence, Jay replied:

“We’ll be fine.” smiled Jay.  “You know dear, it’s all in the mind.”

Willow fell silent.  Thinking back over what she had seen, indeed, how could it have been real.  Surely she had imagined it.

“Did I dream this?” she asked Jay.

“Were you asleep?” Leaning again over her notebook, Jay enquired softly and in a way that did not challenge Willow nor make her feel embarrassed.  So many people would have laughed at her for what she was saying, but Jay never laughed at her – no matter what she said.

“No, I was not asleep!  It’s still daylight!  There’s even a sun on your doorknob!” Willow told Jay. “I was wide awake!  I saw it!  The fountain became FIRE!  I saw Lion’s Teeth drifting across the sky!  It is real!  It IS real!”

“It is real.” replied Jay. ” It’s real in your mind.  It’s all in your mind dear.  What’s in your mind is very real indeed.”

“Oh.” replied Willow.  “Oh, I see.  I think.” 

But still she was puzzled. 

“So if it’s real Jay, what must I do? How can I stop it?  What do I do to stop this fire and…and what has happened to the dandelions?”

Jay, putting down her pen, turned to look Willow straight in the eye as she made her reply:

“Change your mind dear.” she replied.  “Go back to the meadow, look at the fountain again.  If it’s still on fire, decide not to be distressed by it.  Rise above it Willow.  You’ll see it all differently then.  You’ll also see the dandelions again.”

Willow was suddenly very tired. 

“What if I can’t do that Jay.  What if I fail.  I don’t want to get it wrong!  What if I simply can’t rise above it?  Jay, I’m scared….”

“Be just like the dandelions, Willow.” replied Jay.  Turning back to her notebook, she continued: “Drift, Willow.  Drift up and out of the situation just as the dandelions did when Lions Teeth blew in on the breeze.”

“I’ll try!” replied Willow. “I’ll try my very best!” she promised Jay, though rather doubting she could achieve that.  “What if I can’t do it?”  her doubts continued to nag.

“You do your best dear.” replied Jay.  “You just do your best.  You can’t ask more of yourself than the best you can do, now can you.”  Jay smiled.  “Would you like to rest before you go?  You’re welcome to sleep for a while if it would make you feel a little stronger.”

Thinking of the rug at the foot of Jay’s bed, Willow was tempted.  However, eager to resolve the matter of the Lion’s Teeth and the Fire, Willow declined the offer, however tempting.

“I must go, Jay!  I must go quickly!”

Running from the Oak Tree, Willow turned back just in time to notice that the doorknob now revealed a clearly defined half-moon on its surface!  I really must ask Jay again about that doorknob, thought Willow, as she ran to the meadow.

There it was!  It was a FIRE!  Nearly 12ft tall, wide flames reached up to the sky!!  Golden sparks showered down from where the fountain had stood singeing the grass and curling the edges of leaves with the heat emitted from the source of this blaze.  HOW?  How, Jay? How to rise above what I see before my eyes??!

“Do not be distressed by it.” Willow heard Jay reply.  “See it differently, Willow.  You will be able to rise above it.” 

But how to see this fire differently wondered Willow as she stood before the blazing furnace, feeling only the two inches tall.  See it differently.  How….

Looking up to the sky, Willow noticed that the sun was strong.  It reminded Willow of the sun she had seen on the doorknob of Jay’s tree.  High as it was in the sky, the sun shone down on the meadow with great strength equalling the light of the blaze before her.  Wait!  Could it be that what I see in the fountain is merely a reflection of the sun, Willow wondered.

On looking more closely into the golden sparks showering from the blaze, were these sparks in fact droplets of water alight in the glow of the afternoon sun?  Could it be that when landing on her cheek these droplets had felt so cool against her hot skin that they burned her as ice did when pressed against her face.

Gazing around at the singed grass and curling leaves could it be, wondered Willow, that on this very hot day the luscious green had finally surrendered to what had been two weeks of an intense heat, unusual for this time of year.

What was it Willow now saw?  Gazing back into the heart of the blaze was it, in fact, a rainbow Willow could see dancing between surges of water alight in the sun!!  Yes!  It is the fountain, cried Willow!  It is still a fountain!  It is simply ablaze in the sun!

Sinking down onto the grass in relief, Willow covered her face with her hands!  What happened, she wondered.  Why couldn’t I see this before?

Lying back on the grass, Willow watched as throughout the afternoon the sun slid lower and lower down the sky.  With each change in light new rainbows appeared as more and more crystal clear water emerged through the gold that sparkled in the light of the slowly setting sun.

Oh no!  NO, not again! Haunted once more, Willow heard again the hollow moaning, the shrieking, the cries of the night before.  Squeezing her eyes tightly shut against an ever increasing silence in the noise, Willow recalled Jay’s words,  “See it differently, dear.  Rise above it.”

Something soft touched Willow’s cheek and drifted away across the meadow.

Rise above it, thought Willow.  Fixing her eye on one particular dandelion, Willow followed it up into the sky.

STORIES OF WILLOW contd….

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WHITE HORSES AND SCOTTY DOGS

It was a very pretty room.  Sunlight streamed in through white shutters to lighten the room in a wash of golden light.  Yet this did nothing to awaken the lady asleep on her bed so quietly Willow could hardly hear her breathing.

Climbing up onto a sturdy chair, Willow reached up to pull back a small, blue velvet curtain that had been carefully hung to conceal the contents placed on one shelf of the tall, dark brown bookshelf.  Willow’s fingers reached in to grasp the neck of one or another bottle that she knew for certain was there.  Withdrawing what she sought Willow found herself rewarded by a prize of two tiny plastic dogs – one black, one white – tethered to this bottle.  Placing it carefully at her feet, Willow reached up again to claim her second prize – a white horse dancing from a plastic tag attached to the neck.  The other bottles were just glass.  Short and fat, taller and thinner, one coloured slightly differently to the other, some with faint tinges of green, others simply plain clear glass bottles, all were decorated only with ugly orange or brown labels slapped on them.  These bottles were of no value to Willow, but she took them down anyway.

Proceeding in haste to the kitchen, Willow delighted in emptying the contents of each of these bottles down into a vast silver sink that was swiftly becoming Willow’s best friend.  Removing the dogs, horses and a few strands of what appeared to be golden netting from one or all of these bottles Willow returned them to their bookshelf empty.  Drawing the blue velvet curtain softly back across the shelf, Willow glanced across the room at the woman who lay sleeping on a small single bed there, glad she was asleep and careful not to breathe so as not to disturb her.  Later, Willow would place these little plastic animals in a special shoe box she had in which she was collecting her prizes.  One day she would make a farm out of this box and build stables especially for the white horses.

Pulling on her purple hoody, Willow bust out of the house and ran down the long garden, climbed over the locked gate and out into the road.  Heading for the meadow, Willow passed the great Oak tree calling hello to Jay as she headed straight for the fountain which she knew would be there on this very special day.

Today the fountain was particularly strong, surging higher than usual up into the sky.  Preferring not to jump into the water, and most especially not quite feeling like she wanted to be thrown into the air, Willow sat down on the soft grass for a while watching dragonflies chase each other through colourful drops of water that were sprayed all around her with each burst of the fountain.  In her pocket Willow’s fingers clasped a tiny white plastic horse and two little dogs that she had brought with her especially to show Jay on her way back home later.

It was such a lovely day, it was so good to be sitting here in her meadow.  Gazing across the long, soft grass Willow noticed bluebells were beginning to appear.  This made her smile.  Bluebell season was Willow’s  favourite time of the year. Soon she would be chasing all creatures great and small across this meadow and before long it would be hot enough to swim again.

Pausing only to sip water from the fountain, Willow quickly headed back across the meadow to Jay.  On reaching the door to the Oak tree Willow paused.  Swirls of cloudy green’s and blue’s appeared to moving across the doorknob today!  This is what I mean, thought Willow, and she resolved immediately to ask Jay about the doorknob again.  This is not an ordinary doorknob!  Look!  Today the jade is so deep – deep as the deepest shades of jade one might see looking out across the Atlantic Ocean!  Where is the moon?  Today is one of those days on which I can quite clearly see a bright golden sun here! What does this mean, she wondered.

Finding Jay at her desk, Willow proudly withdrew her hand from the pocket of her jacket to present her with the tiny, pure white plastic horse! 

“Look what I have, Jay!” She declared, waiting for the warm smile she had come to know so well. 

“It’s a small plastic horse, isn’t it dear.”  Jay replied sensibly, without smiling.  “Don’t try to eat it.”

“And these!” announced Willow, proudly producing the two little dogs from her other pocket.

“The Queen of England has dogs, you know.  She has corgis.” said Jay, without smiling.  “She loves her dogs”

No smiles to be found here today, Willow realised.  It was an altogether very odd sort of day.  Feeling suddenly very sleepy, Willow wandered through the archway towards the huge white rug at the foot of Jay’s bed. 

“I’m ever so tired, Jay.”she announced.  “I’m going to sleep for a while.” Willow sank down into the welcoming embrace of the softest, warmest white rug in the whole world.

You do that, dear.” smiled Jay. “You sleep.”

You smiled!  Willow noted. 

That was the last thing Willow knew until later, much later she awoke and very reluctantly withdrew herself from the rug.  Jay was still at her desk, reading and writing by the light of a soft lantern lit at the side of her desk.

“Oh, my little white horse!  My little dogs!  I must have dropped them!” cried Willow.

“What little white horse?  Which dogs, dear? You must have been dreaming.”

Perhaps so.  Perhaps she had indeed been dreaming.  No matter – it was time to go!

Bidding Jay a fond farewell, Willow opened the door and stepped out of the tree and into the twilight.  I’d better run, she thought. It is going to be dark soon.

But no.  There would be no need to run at all.  There before her stood a small white pony.  Pure white. White as the driven snow, as Jay would say.

Barking for joy and chasing it’s own tail around in circles, a little white Scotty dog was in hot persuit of a little black Scotty dog as they raced around Willow’s legs.

How did that happen? Wondered Willow, as she pulled herself up onto the little white pony and headed for home.

STORIES OF WILLOW

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THE MEADOW

It was a wide expanse of brightest green, long, soft grass.  Quilted with shadows cast by the surrounding trees of Hazelnut Forest the meadow often appeared as dappled as a pony.  Snowdrops were the first flowers to bloom here.  Often out early in January,  clumps of Snowdrops decorated the grass with pretty white blooms.  In March, small, wild Daffodils might be seen spilling over into the meadow from the surrounding woodlands.  In April, Bluebells flowered as they sprung up from the grass creating a soft blue mist as they grew and spread across the meadow.  Throughout the Spring and Summer the meadow was sprinkled with hundreds and thousands of tiny white and yellow flowers.  Daisies and Buttercups grew in abundance across this area whilst butterflies danced in multi-coloured light bounced off petals and leaves by sunbeams.  Bees could be found sinking deeply into the Adria Bellflower which trailed across the borders of the meadow.  In the Autumn, purples and mauves of Meadow Saffron coloured the grass clinging especially to the banks of a pretty little stream which ran along the bottom of the meadow, meandering gently across the length of it and out into the wild woods that surrounded this haven. 

In the season of mellow-fruitfulness, bright red and orange berries and seeds could be found in late Spring shrubs and trees that surrounded the meadow.  Occasionally Rosebay Willowherb would go to seed spreading silvery-white, whispy cotton wool around the surrounding trees.  Because it bore her name and because she had heard it referred to as “Father Christmas’s Beard”, Willowherb was very special to Willow.  Well it appeared so romantic to her, and, from whence she came, Willow needed all the romance she could get. 

Sometimes the meadow was covered in snow.  At these times Willow would tiptoe across the surface of fresh, clean snow following paired, tiny, padded footprints that darted across this plush white carpet and out into the woods beyond.  Singing to herself Willow headed for the stream which was oftentimes iced over.  Here she would pause to breathe in the crisp, cold Winter air before resuming her song:  All Things Bright and Beautiful, she sang.  All Creatures Great and Small.  Willow, at three foot and two inches tall exactly, knew herself to be small.  While she didn’t consider herself at all great, Willow knew someone who was.

The most remarkable feature of the meadow was a fountain.  Situated immediately in the centre of this area an 8ft tall fountain would, on occasion, burst forth from it’s pedestal shooting arches of rainbows across the meadow and up into the blue above.  You couldn’t always see it of course.  Not everyone who visited the meadow could see it at all.  Some people never did.  But Willow could see it.  Furthermore, Willow knew when she should visit the meadow in the clear knowledge that the fountain would be there.  It wasn’t always there, but when it was, Willow would run straight to it, and, pulling off her trademark purple hoody, Willow would jump straight into the fountain in her vest, arms held high above her head, slipping deep down into the very heart of this great surge of water and light!  Pulled deep into the vortex of this swirling water Willow imagined herself to be spinning past Merlin locked for all time within Morgana La Fey’s Fountain of Forgetfulness.  Waving as she spun around he who was so alive in her imaginings, Willow would laugh out aloud as the water lifted her from its centre and threw her up and out  into the sky above with a force greater than any other force Willow knew!

This was the Force of Life as Willow knew it.  On leaving, she would pause to lean over the fountain sipping rainbows from cool water cupped in her hands.  This way, Willow knew she carried the fountain deep within her as she left, and she always felt very good about this.

THE GREAT OAK TREE

Willow was holding her breath.  It was quieter and safer that way altogether.  Her swimming teacher had told her she was really good at it and she knew she could hold her breath for longer than most people.  Firstly, holding her breath this way no one would know she was there.  Secondly, she could hear everything.  Every howl of pain that echoed through the walls came to her in a sequence of waves.  Holding her breath she could count the seconds between each cry, and, if she lay very still indeed, she thought she could even hear the intake of breath between each sound from across the house.  This way she knew if anything unusual were about to happen she would be prepared.  Should so much as a floorboard creak, Willow would be ready to spring up and out of her window, away from there and down the road towards her meadow to the great Oak Tree where she would be.

Jay was always there, day and night.  Twenty four hours a day, seven days a week,  her door was always open to Willow.  This door was something to behold.  Blended as it was into the broad bark of Jay’s delightful home nestling deep within the foot of the magnificent tree this beautiful door was made, of course, of solid oak.  The door was studded with golden stars that surrounded an ornate doorknob of deepest, darkest jade green.  If one looked closely at this doorknob one would notice an intricate pattern of swirling clouds merging and blending into each other across a shape that was very distinctively that of a half moon.  Willow had asked Jay about this doorknob – what was it really, she had asked.  Jay had just smiled and replied very sensibly that it was merely a doorknob.  However, Willow was sure that the patterns on this doorknob moved and changed.  She was sure she had arrived there in the daytime to find the shape of a moon replaced by a very large sun.

Once inside, Willow would run across this round room through a little archway that had been carefully carved from the walls of the tree leading to the room in which Jay would be.  Working at her little brown desk, or asleep, or sitting up in bed reading, Jay would always be there.  Of this Willow was absolutely certain.  Gratefully she would sink down into the deepest pile of white that was Jay’s rug which was laid out at the foot of her bed.  Are you warm enough, Jay would ask.  Immediately Willow was warm enough, yes.  There was no place more warm nor more comfortable in the whole world than within this deep, pure white rug at the foot of Jay’s bed.

“Not to be stepped on, only to be slept on.” Jay had told her.  So it was, for many, many nights, a place where Willow would come to rest.  Made not of fur, yet offering the warmth of a deepest pelt, while as soft as cotton wool, yet not of cotton wool, light as a Dandelion yet not made from Dandelions but as smooth as a thread of silk slipping through her fingers, Willow would often ask Jay what this rug really was.  Jay had just smiled and replied very sensibly that it was merely a rug.

So it was that “should anything unusual happen, should so much as floorboard creek” it was to this very Oak Tree that Willow would run, to Jay’s warm welcome Willow would escape and within this very white rug that Willow would find refuge.

There are many stories to tell of Willow and her adventures.  Now that you know a little of Willow and her world, I hope you will join me when I resume my telling of these stories.  Some of what I tell may amuse, sadden, surprise or even shock you, but mostly, I hope these stories will cause you to pause, and smile.  Join me on this journey so perhaps, one day, Willow may share with us the secrets of the meadow.

Perhaps you already know.

Come Rain or Shine: Original Oil Landscape by Emily Jeffords (Painting-a-day)

So beautiful!

"Come Rain or Shine" Original Oil Landscape by Emily Jeffords (Painting-a-day)

"Come Rain or Shine" Original Oil Landscape by Emily Jeffords (Painting-a-day)

"Come Rain or Shine" Original Oil Landscape by Emily Jeffords (Painting-a-day)Alt Summit Bound: Painting a Day.  Emily Jeffords

I have the unfounded notion that days have moods – just like people.  Some feel happy and light, while others are sleepy and slow.  Winter days don’t really want to face the world – just snuggle and enjoy – while summer days have

boundless energy and the cheeriest disposition.  (Like I said, completely unfounded, and ridiculous, and yet, you know exactly what I mean…)

This painting can’t seem to make up it’s mind and is in flux between gauzy summertime bliss and the occasional moody storm.  And don’t get me wrong!  I love simply beautiful days.  They are just great.  …but the days where you don’t quite know what to wear or how to pack, or whether or not you’ll need a coat or umbrella…  those day’s are interesting.  They’re evolving and moving.  They’re lively and expressive and adventurously moody.

“Come Rain or Shine” depicts just such a day.

"Come Rain or Shine" Original Oil Landscape by Emily Jeffords (Painting-a-day)

 

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