She was glad to see the root forming a loophole was still there, and remarkably unchanged. When she had first seen that natural formation she had flashed to her days as a paralegal, and from then on thought of it as Nature's Loophole. The old woman smiled as she thought of that day she had first seen this formation. How much joy something as simple as finding it had brought her. Hers had been interesting, if sometimes very hard life at times. She had seen more than her fair share of pain and sorrow. But, she had also seen a lot of joy and happiness.
As she stood gazing at the formation, a butterfly flew through the loophole. And suddenly she remembered a day long long ago when she had saved a caterpillar. The caterpillar had crawled over the pool edge, then fallen in. Because she loved butterflies so much, she got back in the pool, carefully rescued the caterpillar, and set it free at the base of a nearby tree.
Suddenly that one butterfly was joined by many many others. They flittered and fluttered all around the old woman. Then more butterflies flew through the loophole. Within seconds the old woman was completely surrounded by butterflies. Some covered her. The rest began to fly widdershins around her in one huge fluttering colorful mass.
At first this alarmed her because true Wiccan Wise Woman that she was, she knew that was not normally the right direction for positive Magick. But how could butterflies be evil? Then she heard a soft whispery voice, that seemed to be coming from the butterflies say, "Trust your instincts." So the old woman stilled herself, and did not panic when the very breath of life itself seemed to be sucked from her by those many fluttering wings.
The mass of butterflies circling her slowly stilled as well. Then began to swirl again. This time in a clockwise direction. As they swirled around her the butterflies that had covered ever inch of her began to join the swirling mass. As they did she began to breath easily again. In fact, far more easily than she had breathed in years.
As she watched the swirling mass of butterflies begin to disperse and go off in several different directions she realized there had been many species of butterflies in that swirling mass that had surrounded and covered her. Then one butterfly flew back to her, and for a just a second, landed on the hand still holding her walking stick.
Her eye of course had been drawn to the butterfly as it had landed on her hand. But now she stared in disbelief at the hand itself. It was no longer the gnarly wrinkled hand that had gripped the walking stick coming down to the river bank. It was now the hand of a young woman. As was the arm attached to the hand. And the moment her free hand flew to her face, she knew it too was now the face of a much younger woman.
She didn't understand the how and why of had just happened completely. But she knew that it somehow had something to do with saving that caterpillar so long ago, and her naming that formation Nature's Loophole later on. The spell she had unwittingly cast doing those two things had resulted in magick finding a way through that natural loophole in a most amazing way.
The red flower had burst forth in bloom last year, and shared her beauty with all who had an eye to behold it. As is Gaia's rule, her pollen and seeds had been shared with the wind, busy bees, and chirping birds. Under the brutal Texas sun the beautiful red flower began to gradually wilt and die. As that dying process for the flower continued the wildfires that swept through that summer destroyed acre upon acre of this beautiful hill country. One such fire was caused by a human idiot driving down the road with a lit BBQ pit in the back of his pickup on Father's Day.
But, even as she wilted in the brutal summer sun, that little red flower must have surely been smiling, because she had seen her seeds eaten by birds, and blown about by some of the harsh winds that had helped fan the flames of those wildfires. That little red flower knew if all went as Mother Nature planned, some of those seeds would one day become other beautiful red flowers.
It would be the next spring before anyone would know exactly when, and where those seeds would spring up. Most of the seeds that survived would spring up nearby the plant that had given birth to them. They in turn would follow Mother Nature's plan, and reproduce their kind. If left to their own devices, they would create a stand, then perhaps one day a field of beautiful little red flowers.
Some seeds however would not be such home bodies. They would really go places sailing along with the wind, or flying in a bird's fat belly. Some of those seeds would spring up in some unlikely places. One such seed, probably in the belly of a bird, finally settled on a spot on the entrance road of a beautiful place called Kreutzberg Canyon Natural Area. All winter long that solitary little seed would lay dormant. Fortunately, the winter was a mild one. So mild, that even as early as February the showers we had been getting brought forth a springtime bloom to the hill country.
More rains during March really got things going in the beautiful natural world that is this hill country. Creeks that had not seen water in a couple of years were now running. And the Guadalupe, that life giving ribbon of beautiful water that winds through this hill country, was flowing fast and furious at times. Lush landscapes were everywhere the eye looked. The grass was so thick and green, rumor had it some cows ate themselves to death. Trees that had come close to being kindling last summer, were now starting to unfurl bright green leaves. And flowers were blooming all over! Bluebonnets, Indian Paintbrushes, and a host of other flowers lined the roadsides.
Along that one certain roadside, a certain little seed sprang up. Fed, watered, and warmed by the sunshine, it grew into a beautiful little red flower. That beautiful little red flower sat all alone on the side of that road. Oh there were other flowers around it, but it was the only one of its kind in that spot. Did it sit wondering perhaps if someone would drive by behold its beauty? Or go off the road too much admiring the view all around, and smash it to a small red pulp?
If that little red flower did wonder that, then on a beautiful Saturday afternoon it received its answer when I beheld the beauty of that little red flower as Mr. Grinch was taking me into the park so I could go for a hike. Fortunately, Mr. Grinch did not go off the road as he admired the view all around us, and leave that little red flower nothing but a little red pulp.
I saw no more red flowers like that one on that 3.2 mile meandering hike I took, so snapped a pic of the one by the roadside as we left after my hike. I shared that pic via Face Book, and it appears that beautiful little red flower is a lone poppy. After reading some of the comments about the picture I took of that flower, Morris, my maniacal little blue muse inspired me to write the little story I just did.
I hope all who read this story, and beheld the beauty of that solitary little red flower, enjoyed both the story, and the picture. I know that stumbling upon that little red flower, then taking that photo and sharing it with others has been a truly enjoyable, and very inspiring experience for me and the muse.
I am left wondering if perhaps one day in the future other little red flowers like that will pop up in that beautiful place called Kreutzberg Canyon Natural Area. Did Gaia bless me with witnessing, and actually photographing the beginning of those flowers becoming a part of that park? No matter what happens to that one little red flower, I must say here and now, "Thank you Gaia, Great Goddess of Our Earth, for blessing me with such a truly awesome, and in many ways, very humbling experience. Through that one little red flower I have learned what one little seed can do when You are left to Your own sometimes precocious devices."
Marabell gazed out from her pretty prison, and gave a sad sigh that nobody heard as people bustled about all around her. When nightfall came she would escape from the spell that currently held her captive, and for a few hours do some bustling about of her own. When moonlight softened all the daylight shadows, she would spread her gossamer wings and flit among those diffused umbras. The ancient curse that held her captive in this modern world was only lifted between the witching hour, and dawn's first light. The second the sun's rays shone past the horizon, she would once more be imprisoned until the clock struck the witching hour again.
Once upon time, she and others like her had flitted about free and happy in the many great forests that had dotted the earth's landscape. Back then many people had believed in and accepted her kind as a rarely glimpsed, but natural part of that well forested landscape. Times had gradually changed though. So many of the large forests that had been their homes had been decimated by axes, then later large noisy chainsaws. Each time a tree had been felled, a little bit of the belief that had kept her kind alive and well, had also died. Ironically, some of the paper that had once been living trees had been used to write amazing stories about her kind. Upon that paper were also stories of other kinds of creatures who had once roamed the forests that paper came from.
By the time the forests began to ring with the dreadful sound of those noisy chainsaws, many kinds of creatures that had once found safe haven in the forests were becoming extinct. Gaia wept as the forests were decimated and the creatures who depended upon those forests began to die off. The Great Earth Mother had given a few of the witches and wizards whose magick was still strong and true the power to cast a spell that would insure her favorite magickal creatures would survive in some form. Those creatures were not exactly thrilled with the spell that had been cast upon them, but understood that it was necessary for their survival.
During the day the spell held them in forms which allowed them to exist in this new world that the hand of mankind was creating. The words written about them first on paper, and then later on digital screens helped to keep the spirits of those many magickal creatures alive. The pretty prisons that held their bodies helped to protect them from the often cruel and unfeeling hand of modern mankind. Though the forests that once gave safe haven to so many creatures were mere shadows of their former selfs, there was an abundance of pretty prisons that could be used to house and protect Gaia's favorite magickal creatures.
Marabell had been inside her current prison for many months now. She had been confined to it when her previous prison had met destruction during a great storm that the humans around her had called Katrina. She had been reasonably happy in that previous prison. During sunny days the surrounding garden had been filled with the sounds of birds singing, and the sight of many colorful flowers. As humans went, the older couple who had lived in the house the garden belonged to had been pleasant enough. They had even made sure her pretty prison was set safely in a secluded part of the garden that offered plenty of shade and protection against the elements. The couple kept the garden well tended, even installing a small pond and waterfall two years before the great storm. The pond and waterfall had been near her pretty prison. She had enjoyed the sound of the waterfall, and the sight of birds and other creatures drinking from the pond.
The great storm had brought that reasonably happy time to a terrible end though. The couple had begged their son and daughter-in-law to let them take some of things from the garden with them when they had come to whisk the older couple away to safe ground. But, time had been short, space in their vehicle limited, and along with the pond and waterfall, Marabell's pretty prison had been left to the mercy of the great storm. Unfortunately, that great storm had shown no mercy to city it had devastated. As the walls of her pretty prison shattered in the storm, Gaia's loving hand had rescued Marabell. She had taken her a place where many pretty prisons were manufactured. There she was safely deposited in another pretty prison.
Suddenly, Marabell heard a familiar voice. She had heard that voice only a few times before. The last time she had heard it the owner of that voice had been begging Gracie to please stop worrying about a bunch of easily replaceable knick knacks, and get in the car so they get out of town before evacuation traffic became worse. Marabell felt a hand close around her pretty prison and Susan say, "Look mother, this is just like the little faerie you had in your garden." Marabell felt her pretty prison exchange hands, and the fingers of the old woman lovingly stroking it. Then the very familiar voice of Gracie said, "We can put it under the new tree Gerald planted, and bring a bit of magick back to the garden."
Susan gave her mother-in-law an indulgent smile, and handed the clerk her own credit card. Gracie and Donald had lost so much to the storm. Their house and the beautiful garden Gracie loved so much had been completely destroyed by Katrina. Between the insurance and the fact that Gerald owned a construction company, the house and garden has been rebuilt in a very timely manner. But losing certain things that couldn't be replaced had taken a toll on Gracie. If Gracie thought having the little garden faerie she now held so lovingly in her hands would bring back a little of the magick that once made her faded blue eyes twinkle with mirth, Susan would gladly pay for the little faerie and give it to Gracie as a gift of love.
Gaia smiled as one of her favorite faeries was returned to the care of Gracie. She knew Marabell would be lovingly cared for by her. She also knew when Gracie's time on earth was finally up, Susan would take the little faerie and keep it in her garden as a memento of her beloved mother-in-law. As Gracie's fingers lovingly caressed the statue, Gaia felt the terrible depression that had overtaken both Marabell and Gracie since Katrina had blown through their lives like a very ill wind, lift slightly from both their hearts and souls. Through Gracie's loving touch Marabell would come to understand the inexpensive ceramic facsimile of herself that she always thought of as a pretty prison was in reality, the only safe haven to be had in this modern world for faeries and other magickal creatures.
Perhaps there would once more come a time when faeries, elves, unicorns, leprechauns and other magickal creatures would roam great forests and be considered a natural part of those forests. Until that time came again, they must learn to live within the protective ceramic facsimiles of themselves during the daytime. During moonlit nights, between the witching hour and dawn's first light, they could freely roam about the gardens their ceramic shells resided in, as well as in any nearby forests.
Trixie fluttered her wings to dry them. She had stood beneath the magick waterfall earlier and allowed it to wash the last of the troll goo from her. The terrible stinky goo they often left behind them is just one of the many things she detested about trolls. The fact that some of them had learned the art of shape shifting, made them even more detestable to her.
Trolls had always been a plague upon any land they inhabited, but deep within the Onyx Forest, some of them had learned to alter their true ugly little shapes, and appear quite attractive. They used their newly developed ability to shape shift to bring pain and anguish to as many other creatures as they could. Appearing as a handsome man, or a beautiful woman, then winning the heart of their quarry was one of their favorite sports. Once they had won the heart of their quarry, they would then proceed to break it so they could enjoy the pain of that broken heart.
Trixie had once had her own heart broken by such a troll, and was now far too wise to give her heart to anyone without running them through a troll test first. Fortunately, trolls were not the brightest bulbs in the chandelier of life, and if one presented a troll with the right test, it would invariably fail it. She had presented her latest suitor with just such a test, and quickly discovered a troll beneath what appeared to be loving exterior.
As her beloved unicorn made its way across the crystal lake, she reached down to pat his neck, and smiled a slow soft smile as she thought of how handily she had exposed this latest shape shifting troll for what it really it was. She had been ever so careful to make sure when she presented it with the troll test, should it react as only a troll would, there would be no way for it to deny its evil intentions. She could now continue her journey knowing that even if she crossed paths with other trolls along the way, none would ever be able to truly fool her again.