Tag: forest

Charlie’s Room: A Hiking Guide

Yet again, Charlie read the entry in the guide book out loud. “… beyond the footbridge, the trail descends, switching back and forth along the sides of the adjacent hills…”

Isaac smiled and looked down at the book they were reading as a bedtime story. He hadn’t read any of it, because Charlie was busy reading to himself, excited about the hike.

“…and then we get to the water fall. We’ll have a picnic there, right?” Charlie asked.

“That’s right. Now it’s time to go to bed.” Isaac put the book back into its place on the shelf.

“What?” Charlie sat up and looked down from his loft bed. “But we haven’t read a story yet. We always read a story.”

“We read the story of tomorrow’s hike,” Isaac said.

“That’s not the same thing.” Charlie crossed his arms. “Besides. I read that. You have to be the one who read the bedtime story. It’s the rules.”

“I don’t remember there being any bedtime story rules.” Isaac chuckled as he stood up.

“There’s rules, because that’s how we always do it. I won’t get to sleep without a bedtime story, and then I’ll be tired for the hike tomorrow.”

“It’s late,” Isaac said. “I’ll turn the light out and let you try to sleep. In a half hour, I’ll check on you. If you’re still awake, I’ll read you a few pages.”

“I’ll get to bed quicker if you read to me now.”

“We’ll see.” Isaac turned out the light and left the room. When he returned fifteen minutes later and peeked inside the room, Charlie was already asleep.

The next morning, Charlie was the first one awake. He ran around the house, filling the end of Isaac’s dreams with herds of elephants. As he’d been dreaming of building card towers, it was an odd way to end things.

Isaac shuffled down the hallway in his pajamas and looked at the bulging backpack Charlie was carrying looped over one shoulder. “It sounded like you were running a 5k inside the house. What did you put in your bag?”

“Stuff I’ll need.” Charlie held out the backpack, and Isaac looked inside.

“First aid kit, sunscreen, board game, towel, swimsuit, change of clothes…” He dug through the bag. “You won’t need all this for a day hike. We won’t be swimming, and there won’t be time for board games or card games or writing letters.”

“I was thinking maybe on the drive there…”

Isaac frowned. “You get car sick.”

“Fine, fine.” Charlie held out his arms for the back pack. “I’ll go through all this again. Are you sure we won’t go swimming?”

“It’s not safe to swim there.”

Charlie sighed and put his swimsuit, towel, and change of clothes in a pile. He added the games and the writing materials. “The guide doesn’t say all the stuff you can’t do.“

“Maybe there were too many things to mention.”

Charlie grinned. “Like baking cookies? Or going surfing?”

“Or playing golf or vacuuming or planting sunflowers…” Isaac added.

“Or petting dinosaurs or going ice skating or building a house…”

“Or forging a sword or piloting a UFO or traveling through time…”

Marianne shuffled into the living room, still in her pajamas. “Are you trying to pick a movie to watch? I thought we were going hiking today.” She looked down at the piles of things on the floor. “You know we can’t go swimming, right?”

“Or vacuuming or surfing,” Charlie said, kicking at the pile with his swimsuit. “The hiking guide wasn’t very helpful.”

“Vacuuming? Who would go vacuuming out in the woods?” Marianne shook her head. “I’m going to go get dressed. Can you clean up the stuff here?”

Charlie looked up at Isaac. “So what do I need to bring on a hike?”

“Am I your hiking guide now?”

“Well, you seem to know more about what I don’t need than the book did.”

“Honestly, I think you have most of what you need, except for the water and the picnic food. Let your mom and I take care of that.”

“Wow. I guess didn’t need a hiking guide.”

“Well, I think it made a nice bedtime story.”

Charlie frowned and zipped up his backpack. “No. I want a real story tonight.” He looped the bag over one shoulder and started picking up the piles of extra things.

Isaac picked up a few things to help put away. “Fair enough. We’ll save the hiking guide for special occasions.”

Philosophical Discussion Over Spring Water

Winterborn listened to the breeze rustle through his leaves and felt the sharp chill of the spring water in his roots and the warm sun at his back. The forest hummed with all the living that seems to burst into a crescendo in the summertime.

Louder still were the footsteps that approached the spring. Winterborn opened his eyes, just enough to see the visitor. The light that filtered through his leaves made dappled patterns on the surface of the spring. A little elf with hair the color of new leaves sat on the bank of the spring, legs crossed. He nodded at Winterborn. “Father of this glen, may I share this spring?”

“The spring is here for all who are in need, child.” Winterborn watched as the elf took a small white cup by the handle and dipped it in the spring, leaving rings of ripples.

The elf sipped the water and smiled. “The water is sweet.”

“Perhaps.”

A butterfly landed on one of the blossoms of a nearby bush. The elf put down his cup and leaned forward to look more closely. “Two delicate and beautiful creatures. Sisters in spirit, both at the height of their beauty.”

Winterborn shook his branches in laughter. Elves loved poetry and appearances. “I don’t think that’s quite right. One would have to be the younger sister, yet to reach her metamorphosis.”

The elf turned the cup in his hands. “I don’t understand.”

“That’s a berry bush. The blossom is like a caterpillar, waiting for its change into the bright berry.”

“But a berry isn’t as lovely as a blossom,” the elf protested. “The blossom is so delicate and fleeting, more like the lovely butterfly.”

“Many think that children are more charming than adults. They are certainly more delicate. But I think that the squirrel and the rabbit who visit this bush in late summer would be happy to debate with you over the loveliness of the berries.”

“So flowers are like caterpillars?” The elf looked at the blossoms suspiciously. “That just doesn’t seem right.”

“It depends on the flower. All fruit comes from flowers, but that does not mean that all flowers become fruits.”

The elf watched the butterfly float on the breeze and choose another blossom to land on. “Do some butterflies become something else?”

“No, butterflies are like flowers that never grow into anything else.” Winterborn stretched out his branches just a tiny bit further into the sunlight.

“Like children who won’t grow up?” The elf was still watching the butterfly.

“No, like elves or trees that grow to the right size and then don’t change at all.”

“Ah.” The elf sipped his spring water and was quiet for a while.

A stronger breeze swept through the glade around the spring, scattering a few loose leaves and whisking the butterfly away.

The elf looked up from his cup. “But should we change and become something better?”

Winterborn’s branches shook again in laughter. “Can’t we become better without becoming something else?”

“But the butterfly and the berry blossom…” The elf began, and then paused as if uncertain what he wanted to say next.

“The butterfly and the berry blossom are not trees or elves or rabbits or squirrels. They have their growth to attend to just as we have ours. If there is life and growth and improvement, does it matter that it looks different for each one?”

The elf smiled and put his cup away. “Truly you are wise, father tree.”

“Perhaps. I have had more years to stand and think. Your wisdom will come if you continue to think and ask questions.”

The elf stood. “May I come again?”

“The spring is here for all who are in need, child.”

The elf walked away, back the way he came. Winterborn closed his eyes and listened to the breeze rustle through his leaves and felt the sharp chill of the spring water in his roots.

The Little Read Story

Once upon a time, there was a short story that bravely set out to change the world. It was certain that it had something important to say. The story knew there was a reader waiting for it, all it needed to do was find its way there.

Its lines were carefully packed with goodies sure to delight. There were silly puns and thoughtful metaphors and underneath it all there was an enduring message of hope. It was not too sweet and not too sour. It was just right.

Unfortunately, the story had to cross the dark forest of the editorial process in order to reach the reader. The author sent the story on its way with a word of caution. “Be careful who you listen to in the woods. Not everyone has your best interests at heart.”

“I’ll be fine,” the story said. “The woods don’t scare me.”

But the woods were scarier than the story thought. It was dark in the woods, and very confusing. Sometimes the story wasn’t sure which way to go. The story remembered hearing rumors that stories could be lost in the editorial process forever, never reaching any readers at all. Suddenly, the short story was terrified.

Just then, a friendly amateur editor greeted the story. “Little story, what are you doing in the woods?”

“I’ve come to deliver goodies to my reader. She’s waiting for me at the other end of the woods.”

The editor smiled a wide smile, “That’s wonderful. But did you know that you have a comma out of place right there? And are you sure that’s the right word choice? It implies entirely the wrong thing for the context. In fact, I think you are headed in entirely the wrong direction. Let me give you a few pointers, or you’ll never make it out of here.”

The little story took notes. Then, just as it looked down to check the comma, the amateur editor slipped away, and changed all the road signs as he went. The short story quickly lost its way.

It got stuck in unexpected swamps of indecision, and second guessed all its metaphors. Thorny bushes of self-criticism tore up the silly puns. The story clung desperately to its hope and trudged its way through the long paths of grammar and spelling checks.

It was not the same story once it emerged from the woods. And the little house on the other side of the woods was not the house that the short story expected to see. Had the reader moved?

The short story straightened its lines and knocked on the door. “Hello?” it called. “Were you expecting a story?”

“Come in,” called a strange voice.

The story hesitantly entered the not-quite-familiar house. “Where are you?” the story asked.

“Just in here, dear.”

The story followed the voice and found the reader tucked away in bed, already wearing her reading glasses. But she didn’t look quite right. In fact, everything about her seemed a little bit off.

“Reader, what big eyes you have,” the story said nervously.

“That’s just the glasses. They magnify things, you know.”

“Reader, did you always have pointy ears on top of your head?”

“Silly story, how could I keep my reading glasses on without ears?”

The story looked at the reader again. Something was really wrong here. “Reader, why are your teeth so sharp?”

“The better to criticize you unfairly,” the reader roared, and sprang out of the bed. But it wasn’t the reader at all. It was the friendly amateur editor. But the editor wasn’t looking so friendly any longer.

The story gasped. “What did you do to the reader?”

“What reader?” The amateur editor laughed. “I think you need to be set aside. You just don’t really have the potential you used to have. Maybe someday the writer can figure out what went wrong. For now, there aren’t any readers waiting for you at all. You are just a terrible story.”

With a cry of dismay, the short story prepared itself to be shut away in a drawer, little read and little remembered. And that’s just what happened. Fortunately, the story still had its message of hope to keep it company in the dark drawer.

A long time later, the writer came across the story again. “Oh, dear. This little story certainly met an unfriendly editor. Look at all the changes. It’s hardly the same story at all. And it had so much potential. Its heart is still good. I think I can revive it.”

The little read story was rescued from the dark drawer and set on its feet. Its goodies were restored, better than before. The next time through the woods, it stayed focused and didn’t get distracted or lost. The short story found its reader and delivered its metaphors and puns and message of hope. It was no longer little read or little remembered. It was loved. The story and the reader lived happily ever after, and the world was just a little bit better.

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