Saturday, October 29, 2005

A Halloween Tale...

Or, how little children should mind their elders.

The laughter of children echoed through the pastoral valley. Life here in a community too small to have it's own name ran at a pace all it's own. If it was not for the inhabitants growing old and the occasional birth of a baby one would swear life stood absolutely still. You could think that, but you would be wrong.

Days were spent tilling the soil, looking after animals and keeping house. There was but one road going both in and out of the valley. No crimes had ever been committed here, and though a few of its inhabitants had moved out, they were few in number. It was by all accounts a life of pleasant routine.

Image Hosted by

Not too many people had ever lived here, judging from the graveyard there were more than 300 souls gone to the afterlife from here. Roughly that’s one citizen for every year of the valley’s 300 year life. No-one remembered who founded the settlement or in what year but the first death was recorded in 1706 a Bryce Sand, no indication if it was a male or female Bryce Sand nor what this person did for a living. A life with as little to make it remarkable as each passing day here.

So it came as a great shock that grey October day that three little boys, two brothers and their friend, went missing. October days were slow and lazy, the harvest was already put away and shared with neighbours. The children were all home schooled together at Miss Miller’s house, all twelve of them, just as they had been since Miss Miller was about twenty and she'd be nearly eighty now. The great love of her life had died in one of the great wars and she was unable to commit herself to any other man. Instead she vowed to educate every child born in this valley to be upright and peaceful so there would be no more wars. She was bent over, heavy with the knowledge of all the wars that had come since making the great promise to herself. Still she should be proud of herself, for in the valley itself life had gone without any fights, without any incident whatever.

Image Hosted by

The citizen’s in the valley had counted themselves out of every census in living memory, no wars were funded by this valley and they had no need for federal services, they could look perfectly well after themselves. There was no police, no jail, no court.

They should have been in school that day, that John and Jack and their friend Luke. Somewhere between Miss Miller’s and home the boys had gone missing. Miss Miller had assumed the boys had taken ill with the cold or flue and since the valley had no telephone it was no immediately checked on. No one could have thought it would be anything else.

Image Hosted by

It was something else. That morning the three had met up as usual. Luke had shared some of his cake with the other two. They had chatted about the new foal at the Miller’s. White horses were born only very rarely in the valley. God seemed to favour brown for horses.

They were nearly halfway to the old schoolhouse when all three heard something. None of them knew what it was exactly, only that no one they knew had a voice anything like it. Still, whatever of whoever it was, was asking for help and the all three knew what needed to be done. They needed to go and see if they could help and if they could not they should fetch someone who could.

There was a small patch of forest where the voice emanated from. A little forests on the east side of the valley before the river. A small brook ran through it and the boys knew there were caves in this forest up against the hillside which were dangerous. The caves were from a long, long time ago, before the families had moved here, when other strange people had lived here. Inside the caves there were paintings of large cat life animals and lizards such as no one had seen ever in real life. Those were stories of course, in modern times no-one had dared go into the caves because they knew it was dangerous and everyone was quite happy without having any danger in their lives.

The boys ran into the forest, convinced that there was hero business to be done. They had long talked of being like super heroes, able to fly, to save the innocent from harm. Maybe this was their day to become heroes. That was a far as they had thought it out. They ran from one direction to the other as the voice seemed to change a great deal. At last they were exhausted and could not run any longer.

John had blisters on his feet and was complaining a lot. Luke was hungry and had started his lunch sitting on a large rock by what might have been an opening to a cave.. Jack had not quite run out of energy and paced up and down the path kicking stones. He kicked one rather hard and it went flying. They heard a small scream, it cam from right over Luke's head. It was a very good thing that the three had used the bathroom before leaving home or all three would have been standing there in wet pants.

Image Hosted by

There sitting perched on an old stump, over the cave opening, was the strangest creature. It wasn't very big but it was very odd looking. It had very large lizard-like eyes, and it's skin was a little scaly like a fish. It's hands or where one would have expected to see hands were talons like covered to the nails with small feathers. Feathers, I kid you not. They would have gasped or screamed for sure, but they had no breath at all, not for that moment. They scarcely caught one breath before the next fright.

Image Hosted by

Just behind the three, standing on another stump, stood another just like it. This one was a bit larger with a very round belly. They struggled to scream. They were starting to turn a little bluish from not breathing. Finally breath came and they let out a blood curdling scream which was met by another as the two strange looking creatures screamed too.

The earth shook a little and they were silent. "oh no." said the sitting creature. "Oh no," echoed the second creature. "What, what, WHAT?" screamed the three boys, no longer sure what they should fear more and their feet still frozen to the forest floor. They shot glances between the two creatures and each other. The booming continued, the earth shook and there was a thunderous sound coming form everywhere at once. The little grey creatures with the big eyes were no less frightened than the boys, actually they seemed more afraid and were turning strangely pale.

The sun seemed to appear and disappear and a twirling whooshing sound was overhead they dared look, they might as well, they were no able to run and screaming had not made anything go away. What they saw was beyond belief. Meaning that if they told this story to anyone they would be laughed at for making up ridiculous lies. Still there it was, a large flying reptile with wings and eyes a fiery orange colour, it had a split long tongue which flitted before them, and talons with long brown nails.

One of the little grey creatures looked up clasping it's hands, well whatever passed for hands, and pleaded, "let us go, we meant no harm". A booming voice came from the great lizard, or it might have been a dragon if you don't consider fire breathing important. "Get away from the humans, or you will have to deal with me. The two ran away into the cave. The dragon, to call it something for the sake of argument a dragon will do, perched above the cave opening, he shook his head and mumbled, "halloweenies."

Image Hosted by

Now he gazed straight at the boys who had just found their feet and were bouncing around a bit trying to figure out where to run to. "Get out of my forest, the lot of you." The boys ran and clamoured all the way up the hill to where the graveyard stood but the dragon followed them out. No matter where they ran the beast was not far behind. "Climb into this tree", yelled Jack. Which is where they were headed to, the biggest tree in the valley. Unfortunately, just as they were nearly there they were caught except for Jack as the dragon swooped down and caught them with his brow talon nails.

Image Hosted by

The dragon had miscalculated and a wing clipped into the old oak and all four of them tumbled down back to front and front to back and out they fell right in front of Miss Miller's one room school house. Well the boys thought they were safe. Miss Miller was not scared of anything they knew that and surely she would come out of the house running with her cane and thump the dragon on his scaly behind too.

Image Hosted by

Miss Miller did not. She stayed in and did not even open the door for them. The dragon righted himself and lumbered over them. His talon reached out and the boys cringed. Well they thought they were dragon kibble right about then. They were too tired to scream or cry.

"Never," said the dragon poking Luke with his talon, "never go into the forest without an adult, those halloweenies play tricks on you, and since you'd eaten all your goodies already you'd have had nothing to pay your way out with. I am getting too old to keep saving lost children from halloweenies, sprained ankles and sick stomachs from eating the wrong mushrooms." He stood up and looked his most fearsome. "If I see you in the forest again I will let the halloweenies have you." and with that he rose up, flapped his wings and flew off back to his forest.

"Did you see that miss Miller, did you see the dragon?"
"No, didn't have my glasses on. No one else saw it because school is out and they are all gone home. Besides," said Miss Miller, "there is no such thing as dragons and no-one will believe you. Next you'll ask me to believe there are creatures called halloweenies in the forest who tricked you? No boys, you were loafing off in the forest where it is dangerous, now go home and stay on the path."

They did stay on the path and never did they see the dragon or the halloweenies again. That was on October the 31st, coincidence?

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Oak Ancestor

copyright Monika Roleff 2005.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Among the Pines

There is something wonderful, among the pines and sunshine...

copyright Monika Roleff 2005.

Tree Planting

Image Hosted by

For almost four months the Abbey has been quiet and I have been enjoying the solitude. But with folk returning to spend some time here I decided to bring out mother's bone china and serve afternnon tea in the garden near the Golden Seed Grove. Perhaps after tea we can have a formal tree planting. I know the Abbess would be pleased.


I posted this earlier this year at Live Poets but in view of Faucon's excellent picture, I'm posting it again for those of you who might not have read it the first time around.


I am alone, barely standing,
on this cold
and wintry mountainside.

My comrades,
they are mostly gone now.
Their skeletons scattered,
bleached white, disintegrating
on the frozen ground.
My life is short now,
my future dim.
Can I withstand
another year
of winters such as this?

Long ago,
when I was just a sprout,
a tiny seedling,
I was slow to grow,
but resilient.
My cones were full of seeds.
I was just one of a few,
spaced wide apart,
an open forest on the heights.
Life was harsh
at ten-thousand feet
or more,
but we thrived
from one year to another.

Bears came to visit,
nuthatches and squirrels, too.
I heard the cry of eagles.
Years passed, then centuries,
some were good, some bad.
Rain was sometimes scarce,
the snow pack thin.
I couldn't grow much,
but I built a narrow ring.
Humans came.
They picked my purple cones,
gathered up my needles,
stole bits of me for souvenirs.
They probed my heart
for specimens to study in the lab.

For centuries,
we had the mountain to ourselves.
We survived,
but now I am alone,
having outlived all the others.
My trunk is twisted,
there's very little green.
My needles are small and weak.
My cones, what there are of them
are scattered in the wind.
These old roots cannot
hold me upright for much longer.
Soon my sun bleached carcass
will lie upon the frozen ground.

But, my energy,
my nutrients, will feed the soil.
Someday, some tiny part of me
will become a seedling,
a sprig of green
and I will survive again
to survey my world
from this lofty mountain-side.

Feel not sorry for me
or kick my bleached bones aside.
I am not a beauty;
a Sequoia or a Redwood,
but I am unique, resilient,
I am a hardy Bristlecone.

©May 30, 2005

Once Seen

For me, no collection
or reflection on trees is complete
without a Bristlecone Pine.

This one is call "Breath" by the Indians,
and is dormant right now,
but will have needles again in
a year or two. It produced four cones
last year -- a lot of work.

He is more than 4000 years old.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Heather's Homing Tree (Faucon Inspired)

To sit beneath the shield of reaching boughs is
to feel once again, at home, in what we know.
copyright Monika Roleff 2005.

For Heather

all will come here eventually,
where I patiently await the dawn
and new sunlite faces


Homing Tree

For each and all called by a sense of peace,
drawn to a seat of balanced calm and spirit shade,
there is a tree ‘neath which to pause and smile a tune,
or at least listen to the rustling, branching prayer.

Do you seek a shamanist World Tree to ascend,
or Kabalistic framework of intertwined paths,
or mystic single branch on a slow dieing vine,
or grafted rebirth on proven roots of worth?

Could it be, that in a more earthly, simple way
you yearn for a home – a hearth by heart warmed fire;
a chance to move beyond a house of another’s dream
to a place where your soul will hear an ancient song?

Then come soon and gather under the Enchanting Tree,
where bold spreading boughs of caring heart reach beyond
the dizzy, daily rush of hide-‘n-seek of earthly claim,
unto the fine passions of true humanity.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Seeing Things

Perhaps I have been up too long, because I thought just now little fairies with gossamer wings could be seen in my garden.

Image Hosted by

Monday, October 17, 2005

Great Golden Oak

copyright Monika Roleff 2005.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Spinning in the Park

Feeling a little less stressed, took the camera to the park, a very slow spin, the harbour, mountains and Francis Street.

Image Hosted by

I have an edited video version with Chopin and plan on posting it to my site this week. The file is prohibitively large to post here.