Day 4: A story in a single image – Woman in woods

Woman in woods

“Ah, at last.”

Out of breath and quite tired now, she had finally reached the pathway.

“Had she remembered it accurately?” she wondered.

It was so long ago now, almost 10 years!

She paused to get her breath back.

Then, standing quite still, she breathed in the earthy aroma.

“Pure heaven scent.” She said aloud to herself.

Then breathed it in again and again, indulging in the effect of the scents of spruce and pine, rotting wood and vegetation, a mustiness that clings to insides of the nostrils and almost takes your breath away if you breathe too deeply.

The breeze was gentle, making a soothing hiss as it wound its way through the branches and needles.

With each breath, memories came flooding back.

The odd tear of compassion and joy rolled down her cheek as she indulged in times forgotten – until now.

“I suppose I had better see if I can find it. It’s going to look quite different now.”

She began to move along the path. Her senses heightening as the memories continued to flow. Her heart quickening in her chest, part in anticipation, part in trepidation.

“I do hope I can find it after all this time,” she whispered to herself.

Then….. there was a crack of a twig being snapped and a loud rustling noise coming from up ahead in what looked like a thicket.

She stood quite still.

A multitude of thoughts bombarded her mind. Her heart racing and breath quickening, she tried to breathe more quietly, hoping she was invisible whilst at the same time readying herself to run.

Then out of the undergrowth a young man fell to the ground with a thud and a cry of pain.

She stared at him, momentarily frozen to the spot.

Should she run, or go and help.

Glaringly aware she was alone, her mind told her to run.

But somewhere deep inside another voice was heard telling her to stay. Wait, reassess in a moment.

She checked how she felt, then how the young man felt to her. He didn’t feel bad.

Then he noticed her.

He looked startled, frightened, embarrassed.

He went to get up and winced.

He’s twisted his ankle.

“Damn, what a fool I look, he inwardly chastised himself. Typical, had to do it in front of an audience!”

He saw the look on her face.

He spoke.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you!”

“Have you hurt yourself?” she asked.

“Only a slightly twisted ankle,” he replied, suppressing the excruciating pain.

“My name’s Alasdair, Alasdair MacPherson,” he said struggling to his feet and brushing off the undergrowth that had wrapped itself around him.

“I’m Katie Stewart,” she replied, still remaining at a safe distance.

The name seemed to trigger a reaction deep within, she repeated it over in her head. A vague recollection of a face drifted across her mind.

“Was this the same person? There were slight similarities. But then we can always see what we want to see. Must approach this logically,” she thought to herself.

“Katie Stewart? Not the Katie Stewart. From Drumbeg?”

“Yes, that’s me. How do you know me?”

“Well, we were both at school with Charlie Henderson. Remember. We used to skive off school and come up here to hide.”

“Yes, I remember you now.”

“It’s nearly 10 years since Charlie had to leave Scotland when his parents emigrated to Australia. And 9 years since my parents moved to Edinburgh.”

“Have you lived here all that time?”

“No, I moved to Edinburgh too, but 6 years ago.”

“Have you come here today for the same reason I have?” she asked, hoping that it was.

He chuckled, “Maybe,” a twinkle of mischief in his eye.

A rush of excitement rippled through her. This could be an even better experience than she had anticipated.

They stood in silence, watching each other’s body language and sensing each other’s reactions.

“Did you find it then?…..Before you fell into a thicket!” she added with a touch of friendly sarcasm in her voice.

A momentary flicker of embarrassment washed over his handsome face. He checked it quickly.

But he couldn’t maintain his composure and a smile burst forth that gave the game away.

“You have!” she sang excitedly.

“Where?”

“Come on it’s just through here.”

He led the way.

A few hundred feet and there it was……

….. A magnificent spruce tree stood before them towering over 10 feet tall. And flapping in the breeze, way up near the top branch was the orange ribbon (what was left of it) that they had tied to it almost 10 years ago.

They stood there, in awe of its beauty. Each reliving their own memory of the day they planted it and how they’d promised to meet up 10 years later.

Alasdair broke the silence.

“This deserves a celebration, don’t you think?” He looked at Katie enquiringly, inside hoping she would agree.

“Yes, I think it does.”

“I wonder if Charlie’s remembered?” they both thought to themselves.

Day 8: Flavors, Elegy, Enumeratio

Flavours with a Touch of Nostalgia

I’m not hooked on any flavour
More enthralled by variety
The simple things they taste the best
And deliver, or create satiety.

There’s fresh apples off the tree
Strawberries from the banking
And herbs galore, couldn’t want for more
For all of this I’m thanking.

Most food these days doesn’t taste of much
So I opt to grow my own
No chemicals are added because I value life
And believe your reap what’s sewn.

Now the taste of my potatoes, well
Transports me back in time
When life was just and fair and slow
Crammed full of flavours every day ‘til my enforced bedtime.

Mix Tape – I Wonder …

I like the idea. Wish it were that simple. But it would be just a shade of an overview. Of course, it would be really helpful if I could remember half of the songs I have loved over the decades. Never did have a good memory for names; I guess they didn’t have that much of an impact on me.

What I like in this moment may be completely the opposite in the next. Ask me the same question tomorrow and the answer would probably be quite different.

Every now and then I have a nostalgia trip. I wonder what might have been. I allow myself to indulge in memories. I taste the joy, the fun, the freedom. I know that is only part of the picture but it’s a fun ride for a while.

I go through phases where I awake in the morning with a song running through my head. It will stay all day and sometimes for days on end. Quite often there is some deep meaning within the words. When the penny finally drops, the song goes away.

Other times, someone may mention a word or a phrase. Take this morning, as I walked through my hallway, I noticed a tiny pin prick of a hole in the heavy curtains covering the doorway. The word lodged ‘hole’. Doomed, I was doomed to the repetitive song of ‘there’s a hole in my bucket’! Lasted up until lunch time. I’d forgotten about that until now. Hope I haven’t triggered its repeat cycle again.

As I write this the only song that comes to mind is, You’ll Never Walk Alone by Gerry and The Pacemakers. I have no affinity with the football club that has adopted it but I can see why they did. I find it deeply moving and the strength of inner power it generates never ceases to amaze me.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Mix Tape.”

Writing 101 DAY 15 – Your Voice Will Find You – The Community that Once Was

I live in a quiet rural area. A place that used to have a wonderful sense of community about it.

That is, before they closed the local post office. A place where local folk met most days for a chat. It doubled as a store, stocking only the basic provisions but it was a valuable asset to our community. Especially as it was over 5 miles to the nearest similar store. If you didn’t have access to a car, if weren’t fit enough to cycle the hilly roads to the next village, your best hope was to catch the school bus, wait for half the day, to catch one of only two buses back home again.

As if the loss of the store was not enough to break the spirits of the local folk, who now had to catch a bus and ride for an hour into the main village for their groceries. They provided a minibus once a week for the elderly folk but it hasn’t replaced the camaraderie so prevalent the local store provided. There is no longer any sharing of old tales or the imparting of valuable ancient knowledge to the younger generation. No one goes out any more. No point. They sit inside glued to their television sets or computers.

Rarely is anyone seen walking along the roads. There is no longer anywhere to walk ‘to’. Yes, you could go for just a walk but it has always been much more of an incentive to walk ‘to’ something, and then back again. That’s why people like to go out for a paper, or a pint of milk. It is a reason to go out, a focus, a purpose, a reason to be.

And now, the final nail in the coffin. The only event in the year that united everyone in the whole area and from miles around. Our Annual Agricultural Show. So dedicated were the folk who diligently planned it. Arduously toiled for hours to set it up and clear away afterwards. Now even that has gone. Gone forever? Probably. These things are very difficult to resurrect. It was the Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak over 10 years ago that put paid to that. The new stringent rules meant that small communities could no longer afford the costs incurred in running such events.

I am not a sceptic. If I were the implications would be mind boggling. I believe in change but I am struggling to see a positive outcome on the horizon.

Writing 101 DAY 13 – Serially Found – My Dad is Back

On day four, you wrote a post about losing something. Today’s Prompt: write about finding something.

Tell us about the time you retrieved your favorite t-shirt from your ex. Or when you accidentally stumbled upon your fifth-grade journal in your parents’ attic. Or how about the moment you found out the truth about a person whose history or real nature you thought you’d figured out. Interpret this theme of “finding something” however you see fit.

Today’s twist: if you wrote day four’s post as the first in a series, use this one as the second installment — loosely defined.

There were moments over the next 20 years when I glimpsed the dad I adored as a young child. Moments when shared interests collided with a time created opportunity.

He was always helping someone else. But on occasion I would tag along. I got involved in building a shed for a friend of his, a greenhouse for an uncle, church hall renovations and the one I loved most – helping out, with my dad, on the veg stall at the Annual Christmas Fair. I can smell the old wooden hall now, just thinking about it. A smell of old dry, warm wood, mingled with a hint of musty old fabric.

Funny how those old wooden buildings had such a nurturing atmosphere. The original wooden building has now been replaced with a brick one and fewer people use it. Where I live now, we still have an ancient wooden village hall; they call it a community hall here. It smells very similar to the ones of childhood. Everyone appreciates it and its unique aromas create an ambiance that seems to attract a list of regular events going on there.

Other times I would help with watering the plants. This meant filling up a large bucket and a metal watering can with water from the kitchen sink tap and staggering down the garden one in each hand, trying not to spill any. He used to do this twice a day in the summer months.

If there was a drought we would save all the washing up water and whenever anyone had a bath, we had to scoop out as much water as possible to water to fill the buckets and stagger gingerly down the stairs, through the house and down the garden path to water the thirsty plants.

I learned how to take cuttings, dibble out young seedlings and look after the growing crops. These moments of joy, cherished memories, I have come to appreciate more as I have shared them with my own son.

But it took over 20 years before I felt the unconditional love of my dad again.

It took the death of my mother.

I never got on with her, she was a narcissist through and through. It wasn’t long after she died that my dad seemed more open – as if a barrier had been removed, or a veil been lifted.

I could see him, really see him again. I could feel love pour from him. Even his eyes were more alive. He was much more fun and loved to play with my young son. His sense of humour was priceless.

Up until then I had not realised just how much my mother’s presence had supressed my dad. She was so devious and manipulating he must have been under an immense pressure most of the time. No wonder he spent his spare time down the garden, out of sight, involved in an important project or helping out other folk. He missed her of course. Who wouldn’t, they had been together over 30 years.

But the change in my dad was remarkable. We spent more time together, he shared memories of his past, little snippets of his life I wasn’t aware existed before. He actively encouraged family get-togethers, times when we all reminisced indulgently.

As I watched his loving actions and sense of fun during the times spent with my son, it triggered the odd happy memory of early childhood. This was the dad that had been missing all these years and I indulged in the joy of having my dad back again, for now, and being able to share him with my son.