Friday, December 20, 2013

"Forbidden Snow" - Part II


It was but a moment that they had paused before plunging down the road. The road was nearly devoid of any wayfarers for–excepting the few browned workmen traveling in groups from one field to another–the people were all out in the fields at work upon their assigned tasks. The town too was surprisingly quiet as they passed through its narrow brick streets. No people lingered at the corners, but all were hurrying to and fro, too much in haste to pass the time of day with a neighbor, though even in their haste some did stare with interest at this new prisoner of the Counselor.

*              *              *

When the palace soldiers had leaped out to apprehend Tiana, the gnome had, with great presence of mind, jumped into a hollow stump nearby and listening carefully had heard from whence they came and what their plans were with her.

He was about to rise from his hiding place when he felt a sharp tweak on his ear. With a shriek–and looking up–he saw the snow fairy perched upon the edge of the stump.

“Ah, I thought it was you. Who else would be sitting in stumps while allowing his lady to be kidnapped?”

Popping out his brows, bristling with indignation, he glared at the fairy who sat calmly upon the stump, two tiny white hands around her knee. “I decided to retire until I found a more opportune time to be of assistance to our lady.”

“Very correctly put, Tomas,” she said. “You have clearly been communing with those in high places and now, since you are the one that has gotten Lady Tiana into this spot, you will have to get her out.”


“Yes–you–my gruff little friend, you and your minstrel friend. Who–you must see now–was the Prince Andre himself.”

“Well, that is too bad. He was such a nice fellow,” he said, sniffing. “And I must say–little from you…! What shall I do?”

“Must I do all the thinking? But, my dear fellow, I am coming with you. You must carry me, for this heat makes me dreadfully tired.”

And so the dainty little fairy, wrapped in her lacy cloak, and the craggy gnome, with beard and boots, started after the party going toward the palace.

*              *              *

Reaching the foot of the hill of the palace, the party of men-at-arms began the assent of the brick bordered road that snaked back and forth up the hillside. Bushy green trees lined the road at regular intervals, their prickly green branches seeming to warn off those who journeyed up the road.

The palace walls loomed up cool and shadowy on this eastern side of the palace and heated as Tiana was by the strenuous climb, she still felt almost cold in the shade of it. Upon the hail of the captain the heavy and ornately carved gates were opened by those within and the party without passed through. The company halted while the captain briskly mounted the steps and vanished within the doors of the palace.

Tiana had a breath to observe her surroundings. Her expression was one of curiosity as she looked about this place which was once where she was to have lived. She found that she was in a wide oblong courtyard bordered upon one side by the enormous many windowed stone building whose wide walnut doors directly faced the gates. Lifting her eyes she could see the sharp eaves and peaks amongst which she could see some birds whisking about the roof haloed by the sun, far above her. A wide lane which she guessed must lead to the stables, gardens, and servants quarters disappeared to the right around the corner of the building.

The captain appearing once more from within, he beckoned to the guards and, leaving the rest of the soldiers in the courtyard Tiana, escorted by a soldier on either side of her, mounted the wide flight of stairs. Inside she walked through an immense vaulted hall still with the soldiers on either side, the sound of their boots upon the stone floor sending the echoes crashing from wall to wall.

A large heavily carved door rose at the end of the hall by which stood two men in armor. At the approach of the soldiers and their prisoner the guards swung open the ponderous doors. At the same time, a flood of light falling into the hall, the party paused in the doorway. Leaning her head so that she might see about the captain who stood before her, Tiana’s eyes were dazzled as she gazed into the room. The immense wall to the left of the doors was totally made of windows, showing a breathtaking view of the valley below. Directly opposite the doors was a stately dais on which stood two heavy golden thrones– both empty–and placed before the dais was a table hung with a richly embroidered cloth. Upon it in a heavy golden stand was a clear globe in which swirled millions of twinkly needle points of light.

Before the table their backs to the door, stood two men. Upon their entrance, the elder and shorter slowly turned. He was clothed in a long plum colored robe over which his curly red beard fell downwards. His eyes were the shifting yellow of sand as they fell upon the prisoner. In his hands was a staff, which clearly marked him the famed and feared Counselor.

But Tiana's eyes had flashed from him to his companion. She knew him. His jerkin and shirt were of a simple cut and fabric, but the silver adorned hilt of a sword gleamed by his side and he held his shoulders and head, with its clustering curly black hair, with easy confidence.

“Prince Andre, do you wish to see your prisoner?” the Counselor’s voice was silky and slid as smoothly through the air as did the hem of his robe over the marble floor as he approached Tiana.

The prince turned and Tiana’s teeth snapped down on her lower lip so that a bead of blood appeared.

“What is her charge?” the Prince asked.

“Seeking to overthrow my–your kingdom, Your Majesty.”

“By what means? Surely you do not expect me to think a simple maid is powerful enough to kill me?” Prince Andre said, his voice was almost gentle, but there was a hint of mockery in the low tone and the Counselor looked sharply at him.

“Not only the profitability, but the very survival of this our–your kingdom–is bound by a single secret, which if found and broken would snap the very effects of nature.”

Tiana's voice was silvery and distinct as she said, “You are mistaken, my Lord Counselor. That has been done already.”

The Counselor shot toward her and lifting his staff menacingly above her head, “You lie. I have but improved nature.”

Spinning about he was suave and submissive to the Prince as before, “But Your Majesty, if this secret of which I spoke were to be smashed, we–the very rulers of this kingdom–would be overthrown.”

“It would not be the first time that those of royal blood have been banished from their just places,” the Prince said, “or simply had their power usurped. The spell of power has not been broken yet and I, at least, am as yet Prince. So I demand that you release this maid.”

“You cannot know who she is, my lord,” the Counselor said quickly, his eyes wary, flicking from Andre to Tiana as he spoke. “She is a wicked outlaw. If once you allow her freedom of this kingdom, your rule will never be sure.”

Prince Andre had been standing, hands clasped behind him gazing outward over the vast spread of the valley below, but his eyes were gleaming and to the Counselor, a dangerous light sparkled in his eyes. “But what if I wish for a revolution? I have been taught, my Lord Counselor, by other persons besides yourself and–though their speech was perhaps less polished than thine–their words were of the truth. This kingdom has burned too long under this eternal summer sun. I think it is time that the people and the seasons are free once more. And I believe that the Lady Tiana,” his eyes twinkling as he said it, “will not hinder that which is my purpose.” His eyes flicking to Tiana's guards he said “Release the lady.”

The guards obeying his orders Tiana stepped forward, her eyes sparkling. A smile flitted across her face, but the Counselor seemed to verily shimmer with hatred as he listened to the Prince’s words and though his voice was still smooth, a shiver of menace pulsed through it as he spoke, “You are a fool, Andre. I bore the rule of your father, but do you think I will allow my plans to be thwarted now? Never! My strongest enchantments hold this land and do you think you can break them? Despise my laws if you dare, but you would never dare to break something you do not fully understand–and you do not truly understand this.”

The Prince’s steady gaze wavered before the piercing glimmer of the Counselor, but Tiana stepped forward, “Andre, I know the secret. Take courage, it is within your power to–”

The Counselor sprang forward and with a shriek raised his staff to strike her, but the Prince–his sword flashing in the crystal light of the globe–sprang before Tiana. “In some ways you did my father great service and I am loath to kill you,” he said his words hard and biting between his clinched teeth. “But you have done much cruel injustice against my people, binding them to endless work in my name and I am finished with you.”

The Counselor shrieked to the guards to seize him, but they, standing openmouthed simply stared at him, so extending his staff, point forward at Andre and Tiana–who stood slightly behind him–he said, “I, too, am loath to do this to one who has served me well, but you serve me no longer and–” He was cut off as the Prince sprang forward, his sword dashing the staff to the ground.

Staggering sideways with the Prince gripping the collar of his robe, the Counselor clutched at the drapery upon the table. The enormous globe tottered then slid off the table and with a sharp crash smashed upon the floor. The humid air was suddenly purified by a sweep of cold breeze and the sparkles that had been within the globe swirled upward–increasing and multiplying till the whole room was a blizzard of swirling white. The windows springing open the white poured outward over the courtyard: filling the air and sky, covering trees and fields and cottages.

*              *              *

Tomas and Sophia were still plodding toward the palace, the fairy drooping lower upon the gnome’s shoulder. He too was hot and perspiring.

“I not only feel sorry for those peasants now,” muttered the gnome, “I positively agonize with them. We must halt for a minute. You may be a very small fairy, but you are not a feather.” Even as the words left his mouth a hushed wind swept over them.

Looking upward toward the castle they could see a cloud of white that sparkled round the palace, growing every moment until the white was swirling over the valley–a beauteous mist over the land.

“The spell is broken, Tomas,” Sophia cried, suddenly flitting from his shoulder.

Abruptly the road was full of rejoicing people surging round them. Tomas, capering with delight–all weariness banished from his mind–caught hands with two children and joined in a wild dance.

*              *              *

The Prince staggered to his feet, the blood from where he had cut his hand upon the glass dripping unheeded.

Tiana flew toward him. “Andre, Andre! His rule is truly finished. You and this whole land are freed.” Her face was full of sparkling light.

He took her hand and together they laughed with pure joy. Swarms of cheering villagers and townspeople could be glimpsed mounting the road leading to the castle between the disagreeable needle-pointed trees, now rapidly turning into things of rounded beauty.

“Let us go out to meet them,” Andre said. “But wait,” he turned back, “the Counselor.”

“No, Andre, look,” Tiana said, pointing to the place where lay the shards of the crystal globe. “When the globe–in which all his power was bound up–fell and shivered to pieces, he melted. See there is nothing left of him but his broken staff.”

They stood looking down at the broken staff.

“Both he and his spells have vanished forever,” Andre said. Turning he suddenly swept her up, spinning her about in the flakes that swirled about them. “And now is the time to rejoice and be merry, my lady Tiana. Let us go out to meet those who will soon be your people, too.”

He set her down his face merry and teasing, and once more joining hands they ran out through the great doors into the pure, drifting white of the courtyard.

The End

Story Copyright © 2013 by Éowyn Peterson

"Forbidden Snow" - Part I

Presenting... Part 1 of my story “Forbidden Snow”, my entry for the "Ultimate Winter Writing Challenge" hosted by Natalie and Anna! Thank you so much girls, for hosting this party!

Once long years ago, in a country farther still, was a land where winter never rested. Upon the borders of this land there lived an ice princess. Her name was Tiana.

The hut in which she lived stood under an ancient tree whose green leafy branches cast a shadow over the forest round about. Tiana often climbed this tree, looking like a fairy held in the carefully cupped hands of some green giant. It was here that she spent most of her days–her silvery hair floating in the strong winds that pulsed about her as she sat crouching in the topmost boughs, her pointed chin resting upon her hand and her large dark eyes pensively gazing over the land before her–the land from which she had been banished.

Tiana was sitting in her tree early one morning when with a puff, a slight wisp-like personage landed beside her. Lady Tiana,” it said, “I am tired of floating about–a counterfeit shadow of a substance that never comes.”

Tiana looked down. “Oh Sophia, if only there was something I could do! But what is there within my power? We are banished and it would take more than our combined powers to lift the spell that lies across the land.”

And what about that prince you were to marry? Prince Andre? Could not he lift the spell?”

Perhaps it is he that cast it. And if he did he would be the very one that banished us. It is more than mere outlawry that keeps us out of that land. And Sophia, sprite of the snow though you are, you cannot bring the winter. It must come in its natural circle. And it is of the same nature with me. I can go into that land, but unless the spell–that is stronger than any mere proclamation of banishment–is broken than you and I are nothing.”

Then you must find out the key to this enchantment and break it!” the fairy said, fluttering above Tiana in her excitement.

A light began to glimmer in Tiana’s eyes filling her pensive face with glimmering sparkles of shadowed light.

*              *              *

In the land where winter never reigned, minstrels had been outlawed. But one hot day a minstrel appeared. He was sighted by no one coming in on any of the roads leading from Anywhere Else though the people whispered that he must have come from Somewhere.  However he came, still, there he was beyond all doubt: strolling up and down the roads and bypaths leading through the fields and woodlands, singing some few little ditties; saying little, but catching everything with his deep brown eyes.

Strange, the people said, that he should not have been stopped by the Counselors’ Guard. But after they said it they shrugged their shoulders and went about their work. They had enough troubles of their own to worry over. Meanwhile the minstrel continued walking about after his own business.

As he was sauntering down a hot, dusty road he came upon a little personage slumped beneath the shadow of a tree. “My dear fellow, you are a strange sight in this industrious country,” thought the minstrel. Speaking aloud he said, “Good day, my good fellow.”

At the sound of his voice the little figure shot upward, yanking his hat over his face. Promptly tripping over the long grey beard that hung down to his knees he fell flat on his face.

The minstrel’s laugh rang out along the road.

The little fellow leaped up from his knees squeaking in a husky voice, Silence–you must be silent–or you will be permanently silenced in a way you will not like,” ratifying his words with grim and foreboding stabs in the minstrel’s direction with his pointed fingers.

Do you oppose merriment that much, my friend?” the minstrel inquired, cocking an eyebrow.

Not I–not I. It’s him,” stabbing his finger up the road, “he has outlawed enjoyments of any sort.”

The minstrel peered about to perceive who his companion meant and saw nothing and nobody but the sown fields and dusty roads in every direction.

Aye, you won't see him here. He never comes out, but he can see everywhere and hear anything.”

Who do you mean?” the minstrel said, lowering his voice.

Who? Dear me, you must be a stranger in these parts. Humph…but you seem a goodly fellow so I shall tell you.” He shot out a hand. “But first let me introduce myself. I am Tomas.”

“And I am a humble minstrel at your service,” the other replied, bowing with a ceremonious flourish.

“Humph–you are? But I was going to speak of him,” Tomas muttered, settling himself once more in the shade beside the road, darting his eyes about as he did so. “He is the Counselor who rules this country–the uncle of the prince. And ugh, what a ruler he is,” the little man snorted. “Driving the people day after day: not once in the livelong day or week or month or year allowing them to rest. It’s all work, work, work. Oh yes, they eat! But never a bit of fun such as a party or a moonlight ramble in the woods. It’s always grind, grind, GRIND!” He was up and jumping on each word as he shrieked it.

The minstrel’s mouth twisted. “Well, my little friend, you must need refreshment after such exercise. If my eyes do not belie me, there is an inn some little way down the road. What say we go and have some morsel to eat? I must hear more of this counselor, but it would easier said over food.”

They reached the inn and the minstrel ducking his head and the little man hopping over the lintel they entered the dark building. Excepting their host the inn was empty of any others besides themselves and they installed themselves in a corner and were served cool drinks.

Why do you think the Counselor and the Prince are forever spying and grinding upon you?” the minstrel asked. “ Bring to mind how the Counselor at least brought about this blessing of eternal summer so you will never know the cold. Surely you must see that he has your welfare at his heart.”

A fellow would think you are one of their paid toadies by the way you argue for them. Blessing you say? Curse I have called it before and curse I shall call it. Aye, an eternal summer in which we can work as his slaves: hewing and chopping and generally making a mess of his lands–for they are all his lands now.”

But he is not the ruler. There is the Prince. What of him?” the minstrel interrupted, his dark eyes gleaming beneath the shadow of his cap.

Oh–the Prince–thank you for reminding me, I had nigh forgot him. Ruler? Son of the late prince he may be, but he is no royal king. He may think he is the true king, sitting up there in state in his palace on the hill, but not so.”

The minstrel turned his head to face Tomas, a glint of something near anger sparking in his eye. “If you were not such a little man you would rue the moment you said that, my friend.”

A footstep sounded upon the floor and looking up they saw a slender girl against the sunlight drifting in through the doorway. Most of her hair was hidden by a dark hood, but a few wisps were escaping and straying about her face.

The gnome was so silent that the minstrel turned toward him. He was sitting frozen in his chair and down his craggy face came a trickle of a tear as his lips whispered, “She has returned.” Then somersaulting off his seat he sprang forward, swept off his hat and fell on one knee before her.

Tomas, my faithful little friend! I am so glad to see you,” she said, kneeling beside him, “but wait, there is someone with you.”

Aye, but he is a friend, my lady–a minstrel. You must meet him.”

Preceded by Tomas she came forward to where the minstrel now stood up to meet her. Her head came but up to the tall minstrel’s shoulder and she had to look upwards to meet his eyes. Their eyes were wary as they met each other, but the minstrel was obviously soon impressed by what he saw in the girl’s pensive dark eyes, though Tiana’s expression was one of reserve as she looked into his face where merriment and earnest thought were combined in keen brown features. It was but a moment that they stood so, each taking the measure of the other, then the minstrel turned merrily to the gnome.

May I have the honor of being introduced to your friend?” The serious earnestness was gone, hidden by the ripple of laughter that ran across his face.

Tiana’s hand swept forward to stop him, but before she could do so the little fellow had pronounced her name. It seemed to hang in the air and she waited tensely to see if the minstrel would catch and recognize it.

Perhaps a knowing twinkle may have snapped through his eye, but perhaps not–for he bowed saying, A name fit for a lady–even a queen. Perhaps you will allow me to call you, My Lady Tiana?” His eyebrow flicked.

No queen am I, sir minstrel. To be a queen you must have a country to rule and of course one must be of royal blood. And I have not even a country to which I may say I belong.”

And what if you had that country, My Lady Tiana? Then perhaps you might be queen.”
A smile flickered on his face then he sobered. “But you are as much a landless wanderer as myself. No impertinence to the honorable profession of wandering, but you do not look like one of those who has traveled throughout many lands.”

All persons do not look like what they are.” she said, a smile fluttering about her lips.

I can see that you also are looking for the secrets of this land,” he said, leaning slightly forward and his words deliberate as he looked keenly at her.

Her cheek whitened and she involuntary gripped the edge of her chair, her knuckles turning white. “Do not all men try to discover that which is hidden and baffles them?”

It can be dangerous to search for those things that are deliberately concealed. The Counselor brooks no interference in his plans. And when roused he can be...” his eyes darkened with the gravity of his words. He paused, then seeming to awake to the knowledge that his hearers were staring at him with startled faces he shook himself and a smile came to his face, “But who am I to know anything of his ways.”

Why, sir, should you think that I would be in any way connected to the Counselor or his plots?”

Again that knowing twinkle passed through his eyes as he glanced down at her, “A mere premonition. Yet the secret of the Counselor holds sway over the land and its people, and is that which binds all of the secrets the land may have. So what else could you be searching for?” His face was grave as he looked at her, then suddenly casting off his pensive air he turned to the gnome who had been sitting silent throughout. “I would I could give you a song, but I have still a job to do before this eventide. Perhaps both I and the rightful ruling of this land will return. Both are as unlikely as the other. Till then, farewell my friend.”

Paying his coin to the landlord, he collected his harp and cloak and doffing his cap gave a flourishing bow. He had not given one word or look to Tiana, but as he reached the door he turned and said as if musing, I once knew of a Lady Tiana. Rumors of her said that she was an elusive, quiet person yet not lacking in courage if need be. Elusive though that Tiana may be, I feel, my lady, that we shall yet meet again.” He said it in a playful fashion, but his eyes were keen and bright as they looked at her and Tiana could hardly summon her courage to stand indifferent under their well-reading gaze. Turning he was gone.

Well he is a merry fellow to be sure. I wished he could have stopped with us longer, don't you, my lady?” Tomas inquired.

Tiana, hurriedly rising, went to the window where she stood until she had seen the minstrel disappear over a slight hill over which the road ran. Tomas,” she said quickly, “we must not tarry in this place, I know not who that man may be, but he knows who I am and there was danger in his eye.”

Danger, my lady? Oh, that glint you mean. That was cleverness. The two are easily mistaken for...”

All dangerous men are clever...”

The gnome broke in nodding wisely, “Now there you are right, my lady, but I think…”

I think we should go into the wood. Remember that little glade to the north of the brook? If I recollect correctly it is well concealed by lush green thickets. There we can discuss my next move and you can tell me everything I must know.”

Indeed the glade is an excellent place. Well hidden the thickets have become–ever so much more so with this endless summer. They simply keep growing, growing, growing...”

We must leave instantly, Tomas. Thank you, landlord,” she said, paying their bill to the landlord who had stood at a discreet distance throughout this conference.

In the sun, the dusty brown of the seemingly empty road was blinding as it lay stretching in both directions on the edge of the inn yard and the two companions squinted their eyes as they hurried across into the glad relief of the pensive shadow of the forest. Hardly had Tiana let out her breath in relief as they slid under the branches when the very shadows seemed to erupt into armor-clad men. Hardly having time for a struggle Tiana found herself caught and her hands pinned behind her by the fist of a burly man-at-arms.

I see you have her. Perfect,” said a man who by his silver studded hauberk and gauntlets she knew instantly to be the captain.

Captain–sir–are you sure we have the right one? I mean it would be dreadfully uncomfortable to have the wrong one again,” said one of the other men-at-arms.

The Captain, bestowing a very unpleasant look upon the speaker, said “Quite impossible. Do you see any other lasses running about the woods?  To be sure not! for they are all at work in the fields as is their duty. And this girl is the very picture of the girl we were to arrest. Look at the silvery blond hair and black eyes, which were his exact description. I am most sorry to inconvenience so fair and noble a maid, but a soldier must obey his orders and the Counselor is not to be disobeyed.”

Tiana gave him a look of cool disdain, but, knowing that retort and struggle would be equally useless, held her head proudly and said not a word.

Binding her hands firmly behind her and setting her in the midst of their formation the men-at-arms started at a fast pace in the direction of the palace. Upon topping the hill over which Tiana had so recently seen the minstrel vanish, the descent of the road was so direct and steep into the valley lying below that the company seemed to float precariously on the edge ready to pitch into the valley. Perched upon a hill in the middle of the valley was the palace, looking dully gray and somehow shabby looking in the glare of the slanting afternoon sun, and appearing to spy over the town that lay not far off from its base.

To be continued...

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Winter Wonderland Blog Party Tag

What Christmas tree ornament holds the most sentimental value for you or the most memories?
An ornament with a painting of a plump little girl with wondering eyes and light brown curly hair. Sentimental value  because: 1) The picture itself is simply lovely and 2) She is cute and cuddly and looks exactly like a baby I would like to have some day.
Favorite Christmas colors-red and green, blue and white, or gold and silver?
Red and green, but white and blue can be so beautiful and sparkling together so they come in a very close second.
What are your top 3 favorite Christmas movies?
My two favorites are Love Comes Softly and The Nutcracker. Love Comes Softly is sweet and funny and altogether beautiful. And as for the Nutcracker: there is so much perfectly gorgeous music and beautiful dancing. The Sugarplum Fairy and her Cavaliers' pas de duex gives me delightful thrills every time I see it.

3 favorite Christmas carols and 3 favorite Christmas songs (Carols are songs you sing in church, songs any other Christmas song)?
Favorite carols: “We Three Kings”, “O Holy Night” and “Sussex Carol”. Favorite “songs”: “Fantasia on Greensleeves”, “Sugarplum Fairy and Cavalier Pas de Deux”, and “This Holy Christmas Night” (a choral piece I sang in choir last year). My favorite sound for Christmas songs is the lilting, tinkly, achingly beautiful kind. Hence all of my favorites fall into that category, especially “The Pas de Deux” and “Fantasia on Greensleeves” (when played by an orchestra).
Sledding, ice-skating, skiing, snowball fights, or snowmobiling?
Sledding, but one of my favorite activities to do when it is still snowing is to take long rambling walks.
Your most memorable Christmas ever was.....
Each Christmas has been so lovely in its own way. But a favorite Christmastime memory is the live performance of “The Nutcracker” that we went to last year. It was sublime. All of the performers were wonderful, but the Sugarplum Fairy and Cavalier were dazzling and such fun to watch. They are actually still my favorite ballet couple I have seen.
Best Christmas gift ever?
Hmm, I have been blessed with many lovely gifts throughout the years, but the gift that made me literally shriek with excitement was when my parents gave me the “High Noon” DVD!
During a snowstorm would you rather read or watch a movie?
Probably watch a movie, though most of the time when it is snowing I generally walk around in a daze of delight.

Do you have a family Christmas tradition?
For the last two years we have been extending our celebration over the traditional twelve days of Christmas. It is so pleasant to be able to be able to spread out all of the joy and excitement over a longer amount of time instead of trying to cram it all into one day. 

What are your favorite colors to wear throughout winter?
Some of my favorite colors to wear are blues, browns, and greens. I think it would be fun to have some more colors of a “festive” nature, too!
What do you like better: baking Christmas cookies or wrapping Christmas presents?
Baking Christmas cookies. For some reason my gifts hardly ever like getting wrapped and usually end up wrapped very ill indeed. :)
Do you like winter? Why?
I love it! Next to fall, I think it is my favorite season. Both seasons put me in writing inspiration overdrive. And I love the whole energetic atmosphere they have.
How many Christmas trees do you put up in your house?
One. It is generally real fir, so it smells heavenly and with the twinkling color of the Christmas lights, it looks like something out of a fairytale.

What kinds of awesome decorations do you put on your tree(s)?
Colorful lights and an assortment of various ornaments we have collected through the years, each with a story attached.
 Francesca Battistelli's song "Heaven Everywhere" is so beautiful and talks (or would that be sings?) about how Christmas makes it seem as if Heaven were everywhere. Read this selection of some of the lyrics, and tell us how you would help people feel "Heaven Everywhere".
"...It's Christmastime, there's something in the air
There's a little bit of heaven everywhere..

It's funny how it takes a holiday
To show us how the world could truly change
If we all took the time to really care
There'd be a little more of heaven everywhere

It's the grace that we show to a world that needs hope
It's giving our lives knowing they're not our own
It's the joy that we feel and the love that we share
There's a little bit of heaven everywhere..."

This is a very challenging and thought provoking question. I think I would begin by simply treating everyone with whom I came in contact as important, smile at them and, Lord Willing, by my manner towards them show in some little way God's love.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Snow is lightly falling...

Where I live we hardly get snow of any great significance until the new year. However this year the First Snow made a very beautiful and put together entrance–six inches since yesterday and it is still floating downward. I am rambling though the misting swirls of white eddying through the air. Kicking up clouds of the light ethereal mixture, I watch the pure white showering up against the chocolate brown of my pant leg. Hearing the barely audible crystal swish, I can imagine why skiers love this kind of snow.

Wandering further from the abode of men, the peaceful quiet of the woods and meadows sweeps me into the magical silence known only when the whole world seems to be sleeping under its pure covering of white. Crossing the creek–lying still and quiet between the rounded bundles of the snow heaped banks beside it–I walk carefully, reluctant to create a splash in the tranquil water.

Following the trees that line the creek bank I draw nearer to the forest that grows up the hillside–a fortress of white with hints of green along its rounded sides. Pushing aside a gate of branches I enter a place of quiet magic. There is the sound of wings in a cedar near at hand and I freeze, watching the fluttering activity of a pair of robins. Hearing another conversation of a birdlike nature, I look into the branches of a walnut tree and see a pair of squawking blue jays. What are they talking about? Discussing my presence in their woodland home, perhaps?
Pushing onward I step out of the cedar wood into the open of the tall grace of the place where the walnuts and oaks reign. Sighting the tracks of some small mammal, I follow them back into the cedars, but any other traces of the animal to which they belong has disappeared, to my eyes at least. Just as soon I too will vanish from these woods, leaving nothing but a set of footprints in the snow. But not yet, for one thing I have lost my bearings. Not that I mind–it gives a thrill to temporally lose oneself in a place as magical as this. I am almost sure that if I go through that near curtain of trees I will come upon some fairy-tale abode.

Slipping through and under the cedar branches I come upon an open place ringed by magnificent snow laden cedars. Lying back in the deep snow, the still falling flakes tumble downward upon me, each seeming a perfect and lacy dancer against the backdrop of the white and green of the trees. Rising I go toward the edge of the woods, passing through into the beauty of the white pastures.

Turning, I look back toward the hedge of white and green and it is just as uniform and meshed as before, I passed through it, but my footsteps in the snow behind me are caught up into the forest trees. Tramping into the mouth of the north wind the snow stings as it never did within the forest, but there is a beauty and a life within that, too.

As I strike out across the pastures–that seem to be on the very top of this spinning globe on which we walk–I am snatched breathless into the swirling crystal wonder of God's creation.

I don't want to say good-bye

via pinterest My word for this year is daring,  - dare to do that thing that scares me, dare  to take that first step into that imposs...