The Golden Quilt

Fallen Sycamore Leaves

Winter dreams matter.  They write
all that we’ve been and done
in the passing year into the story
of our lives, close the chapter,
and carry us into a spell of rest,
where, deep inside, new dreams
swirl, waiting for our waking.
So while we sleep, the Yes
covers us with a golden quilt
of love, keeping us securely
in its care and whispering
to us its endless song
of infinite possibilities.


Soy Field with Goldenrod

Summer signs off with a crystal clear day,
her glowing fields ready for harvest,
her trees easing into their first autumn hues.
Such miracles she wrought, while we were wrapped
in her sunbright spell, dizzy with play and leisure,
mesmerized by afternoons that stretched on  and on
and ended in star-strewn skies.  Beneath our dreams
she whispered her song: Become, dear ones, become.
And tadpoles turned into frogs, and goslings grew
strong wings and learned to fly.  From blossoms
came seeds and fruits and grains.  Eggs became birds.
Caterpillars turned into butterflies.  And the earth
was filled with abundance and the sky with song.
Now, gliding into the smooth night, summer
takes her leave, her song flowing behind her:
Well done, sweet ones; well done.


The Eyes of the Beholder

Sweet Peas and Jewelweed

“Certain colors are beautiful together; other colors aren’t.”
That’s what she said, standing before her freshman class
of art students.  I remember finding that a curious thing
to say.  “Take, for instance,” she continued, “pink and orange.
Each has its own fine qualities, but never, when combined,
can they be considered beautiful”.   The students took notes.
I started drawing doodles, tuned her out, fell into dreams.
I thought of her today as I came upon the wildflowers.
I laughed. Tell it to the bees, I thought.
Clearly, I was not the only one who didn’t listen.

The Butterfly on the Curtain

Butterfly on Gauzy Curtain

One little error in judgment, one wrong turn,
and here you are, trapped.   But I see
that you refuse to surrender, to believe
that this is your ultimate fate.   Good for you.
I believe in the relentless pursuit of freedom.
What good are wings if you can’t fly?
I believe that help will come from something
larger if your dreams are true,  delivering
you somewhere nearer to your goal.
And thus I place this drinking glass around you.
I slide this paper card beneath your feet.
I carry you beyond the door and the slide card away.
You hardly hesitate.  You look to the light,
and seeing that you are free, you fly.

Dreams Within Dreams

Dream Worlds in Frost

You can, he said, go from layer to layer in your dreams,
each one taking you to a  deeper dimension.
And some cultures say the dream worlds are more real
than the reality of your so-called waking life.

So that night I imagined my consciousness was a pebble,
sinking as I slept, deeper and deeper, into new worlds.
And their light grew and wore colors I couldn’t name
and danced to an unknown symphony.

And when I woke and opened my eyes to gaze
at the window, it was etched with the scenes
that I had just dreamed.  And I knew
we are more than we know.


Winter Field

The bears, I firmly believe, have it right.
The only reasonable response to this cold
is to sleep until the strawberries ripen,
or are, at least, in flower.

Until shoots of fresh green appear, or brave crocuses
push through late March’s lingering snow,
eyelids ought to be closed and dreams
of sun-warmed lawns set free.

The Wishing Bird

Wishing Bird

That night, Little Pine fell asleep with a hundred images from the past few days swirling through his mind.  The arrival of the Spirits of Fun seemed almost too magical to be true.  And yet he had laughed and played with them from morning until night for days.

They had romped throughout the woodland, carrying songs and laughter to its farthest reaches, greeting everyone they met along the way.   The Festival of Light was always a special time of year, but with their presence it was more joyous than ever.

He wished they could stay forever.  But he knew they would have to return to their own world at the Festival’s end.  Even so, he was overjoyed that he had met them.  And tomorrow, on Festival Day’s Eve, the Elf King would be coming!  What would that be like?

His thoughts danced around for a while, and then Little Pine drifted into dreams.

Overhead, stars glistened softly in a velvety black sky, and, above him, Little Pine saw a beautiful white bird settle onto one of the branches of his mother tree.  “Hello, Little Pine,” she sang.

“Hello, white bird!” he said.  “Who are you?”

“I am The Wishing Bird,” she said.  “I collect the wishes of the children of Earth.  As the year draws to its close and the Festivals of Light are celebrated, many wishes arise from Earth’s beings.  I gather them and translate them into the true wishes of the heart.  Then I deliver the true wishes to Dream Central, which works to help wishes come true.”

“What do you mean by the true wishes of the heart?” Little Pine asked.

“Well, sometimes what you think you’re wishing for isn’t what you truly want.   A sparrow might wish for bright, blue feathers, for example.  But what she really wants is to feel beautiful.   Or a squirrel might wish for a wolf’s howl when what his heart wants is to know that someone hears him when he speaks.   Sometimes a dandelion will wish she could live in a fine garden and wear the petals of a rose.  But what she really truly wants is to remember how important and valuable she is and to know that she brings joy to the world.”

“Oh!” Little Pine said.  “It’s sort of like you find  the wish inside the wish, right?”

“Very good, Little Pine,” she said.  “You are a wise little tree.

“You know, as I was flying here, I heard you make a wish.  Do you remember it?”

Little Pine thought for a moment and then said, “Yes, I wished that the Spirits of Fun could stay in our woodland forever.  And I really, really do!”

Wishing Bird laughed a gentle little laugh and said, “Would you like to know what I hear your heart truly saying?”

“Sure!” said Little Pine.  He didn’t think his heart could want anything different.

“Your heart wants for you always to have joyous companions and an enduring spirit of fun.  And I can promise you, Little Pine, that your heart’s wish has already been granted.   You see, once you have tasted fun, you can always choose to find it again.  And your own sense of fun will bring out the joy in every one of your companions.

“As for the Spirits of Fun themselves, they are never any farther than a thought away.  And that is true for everyone who ever meets them or even imagines that they exist.”

And with that, the Wishing Bird faded into the stars, and Little Pine slept happily through the night.

Magic in the Air

Frost on the Field

Even before he opened his eyes, Little Pine felt something special in the air.  Something had changed.  When he looked out at the world, at first he thought it had snowed.  But no, it wasn’t snow.  It was a beautiful, shimmering frost.

It almost looked too delicate to walk through, he thought.  But then he remembered that today was the day that he was going to the elves’ house for breakfast and he shivered with excitement.

He stepped out into the sparkling air.  And then he saw that indeed, his friend Too had gone.  His empty form lay on ground beside his mother tree.   The mother saw Little Pine peering at the brown leaf and said, “Look, Little Pine.  He left you a message.  Look by his stem.”

Little Pine bent over and saw the marking in the snow.  As he fell, Too had managed a final dance and etched a heart in the snow.   Little Pine felt his own heart glow with love.  It was just like Too to leave a mark of friendship behind.  “He said to tell you to always remember your dreams, Little Pine,”  Too’s mother said.  “I think that’s wise advice.”

Little Pine thanked her and set out through the glistening frost toward the elves’ house.  The day was already warming, and by the time he got there, the frost would be gone.  He was curious to see what they had to say about the Festival and why it was going to be so special this year.

He whistled as he walked, glad that the world was so beautiful and that he was lucky to have such good friends, even when they lived in an invisible part of the world.

A Walk with Red Leaf Too

Red Oak with Spruce

Little Pine was still a bit gloomy the next morning as his mother served breakfast.   Only one of the red oak leaves remained on the small tree that grew beside him, and Little Pine could see that he might not last another day.

The remaining leaf was the one that Little Pine had called “Red Leaf Too,” because his jolly disposition reminded him of his best friend from last year.   He called him “Too” for short.

When Little Pine finished breakfast, he was surprised to find Too waiting for him.  “Hi, Little Pine!” Too said brightly.  “I think this is my last day here, and I wanted to invite you to go for a walk with me.”

The two friends were glad that humans didn’t come to the forest much this time of year.  One of the primary rules, after all, was that you had to stand absolutely still whenever a human was about.  With them gone, Little Pine and Too could ramble freely.

“I want you to meet my mother’s cousin,” Too told Little Pine.  “She lives on the south side of the lake.” So off they went.

“What do you think it will be like to go Home, Too?” Little Pine asked his friend as they walked together.

“Oh!  I remember Home very well, Little Pine.   It’s filled with dancing light and music and more colors than the rainbow.  When we return, all of the leaf-spirits will gather to sing and tell stories about the time they got to spend on Earth.  The leaves-in-training can hardly believe how wonderful it must be to come here, and they study and practice even harder when they return to their schools after the great gathering.

“I’m excited because, after this season’s gathering, I’ll get to teach the new elementals some of the things they need to know before they can take on an Earth-form.”

He explained that all leaves, even the needles of the evergreens, trained for ages before they were ready for the Earth adventure.   First they learned the things that all leaves have in common.  Then they decided what species they wanted to be first and went through specialized training.

Little Pine wrinkled his brow.  “I don’t remember Home at all.  But it sure sounds interesting, and wonderful.”

“Oh, it is!” Too said, “More than you can imagine!  You don’t remember it because pines get to stay on Earth a long time.  And time covers up our memories.  It’s meant to be that way so you can experience things here without distraction.  I remember because I’ve been many different kinds of leaves and I’ve been here many, many times.”

“I’m going to miss you, Too,” Little Pine said.

“Oh, Little Pine, you know that my spirit will always be with you.  Just like your first leaf-friend, Red Leaf, I will hear all the songs and laughter of your heart.  And sometimes you’ll hear mine as well.

“Listen, I had a dream last night.  I saw the preparations for the Festival of Light, and I can tell you that it’s going to be very special this year.  You’re in for a wonderful adventure.  And I expect to hear much laughter and song from you as I settle in at Home.”

Little Pine didn’t know whether to believe him or not.  But it seemed like a fine story, and he decided that at least he could pretend that it was true.  “Watch for signs,” Too tells him.  “Listen for the music.  And always pay attention to your dreams.”

Just then they reached the edge of the lake, and Too pointed to a scene through the pine branches.  “Look!” he said.  “There’s my mother’s cousin.  See how tall and beautiful she is, with all her remaining red leaves?  And look, there’s a great spruce beside her.   They have been growing here together for many, many years.  And the spruce has had red leaf friends ever since she was very small, like you.

“You will have red leaf friends all your days, too, Little Pine,” Too said, smiling.  “Always remember that you are a child of the Great Yes, and a part of its song.   And like all of its children, you are cherished and dearly, dearly loved, and all that you every truly need will be provided.”