Perspective

You stare out the window and see
the thermometer reading 0.
You have to go outside anyway.
If it helps, think of those mornings
when it was 78 and humid and you still
had to cut the grass. Everything’s
a trade-off. They interviewed
a woman on the TV’s noon news.
“The cold is bitter and biting!”
she scowled through her wool scarf.
I walked through the snow
just after sunrise and was stunned
by the world’s beauty. This afternoon
I visited a friend and heard the children
next door squealing in delight as they
raced down the hill on their sleds.
It’s forever true: It’s not what’s happening
that matters. It’s what you make of it.

Chapter 21 – The Angel of the Dawn

Holly stayed awake for a long time following Little Pine’s farewell listening to the silence of the night.   Nothing could have been a better Festival gift for the forest dwellers than seeing him again.  And how fun it had been to meet some of his new friends from the Home World.  It was just like him to come surrounded by friends.  The sincerity and happiness of his friendship is what everyone remembered most about him.

But that wasn’t all that had happened in the past three weeks since the Festival season began.  All those wonderful guests had come.  And behind the scenes, the elves had been busy with the decorations and orchestrations and elaborations of plans for tomorrow’s great Festival Day.  She smiled as she thought of the elves.  What adorable creatures they were!  And how merrily they worked to tend to every dweller of the forest!

“Holly, dear,” she heard the voice of Grandfather Pine whisper, “You should get some sleep.”  And she felt him send her a soft breeze that wrapped around her branches surrounding her with a deep, sweet peace.

“Thank you, Grandfather,” she murmured, and then she fell asleep.

Several hours of the long, silent night passed.  Along with all the dwellers of the forest and their guests, Holly slept dreamlessly, stirring not at all.

Then, just before dawn, Holly felt a soft wave of light ripple from her highest branch down to her roots.  She couldn’t tell if she was awake or dreaming, but she became very aware.  The forest was wrapped in silence.  Even the lake was perfectly still.

Then Holly noticed a glow holding a thousand colors, and soon, right in its center, a beautiful angel appeared.  “Good morning, sweet Holly,” the wondrous being said.  “I am the Angel of the Dawn.  I travel on the outmost edges of the radiance of the Light to announce his coming.  I have come to wake you and to present you with a special morning song to sing on this day of your joyous celebration.  It is a gift for you, given in gratitude for all the beautiful music that you bring to your world.  I will leave its chorus in the hearts of the golden grasses and the choirs of the meadows and they will join your song after you have sung its first verse.  It goes like this. . .”

Then the angel sang a lilting, delicate morning song that set every one of Holly’s leaves and berries tingling with joy.  It instantly filled her heart and mind and she could hardly wait to sing it.

“Are you pleased?” asked the Angel of Dawn.

“It’s wondrous!  Thank you.  What a glorious gift on this most splendid day!”

“Then begin it, my dear.  The Light is about to dawn.”

The Angel floated away toward the meadow, and as Holly began to sing, luminous ribbons of pink and gold rose into the eastern sky.

Chapter Nine – A Visitor Says Hello

Tears of joy were streaming down many of the forest dweller’s faces after the vision of Little Pine faded away.  Everyone was so glad to have seen him again, and so touched by his words.

It was the elves who broke the spell.  They let out cheers and started tumbling through the forest, whistling, whooping, and turning somersaults in sheer glee.  Pretty soon everyone was laughing and singing as they returned to the projects they were working on before Little Pine appeared.

For the rest of the day, the forest was humming with chatter and laughs as its dwellers talked about seeing Little Pine and how he had touched their hearts.  They put more effort than ever into decorating their surroundings, rehearsing their songs, and preparing treats and gifts.  Little Pine said his friends would be popping in, after all, and they wanted to be at their best for them.  Plus, new visitors were appearing every day, critters of every kind, many of whom had traveled for days to reach the forest.  And the dwellers went out of their way to make all visitors feel welcome and comfortable.

As the sun sailed behind the western edge of the forest and the stars rose in the sky, Holly noticed that her neighbors were having trouble settling down.  Softly, she began to sing the traditional Festival songs that everyone knew and loved.  Little by little, quiet spread throughout the woodland as its dwellers finally drifted off to sleep.

Holly continued singing even then, in case some of little ones or visitors were still awake.  Her quiet voice floated up past the tops of trees and across the still surface of the lake.  Finally, she let her singing turn into a sweet, soft hum.

That was when, to her surprise, she heard a tiny peeping in the bough of a neighboring pine.  Looking up, she saw a tiny cardinal sitting in decorated nest.  ‘Why Hello!” she said to the little red bird.

“Hello, Ms. Holly.  Your songs are so beautiful!  I’ve never heard anything like them before.  We don’t have holly trees where I come from.”
“So you’re one of our visitors!” Holly said.  “Welcome!  It’s a delight to have you with us for our Festival.  Have you met our cardinals?”

“Thank you, and yes, I have met your cardinals.  They’re the ones who decorated this beautiful nest for me. They’re very gracious. They built special nests all over the woodland for us visiting birds.  It turns out we’re cousins!”

“Did you just get here today?” Holly asked.

“Yes.  I have been flying and resting for days.  But it was worth the trip.  Your forest is even more beautiful than the stories we’ve heard about it.  I just had to come and see it for myself.”

“You must be tired, then, after all that travel,” Holly said.  “Would you like me to sing you to sleep?”

“Thank you!  That would be wonderful, Ms. Holly.  Everyone here is so very kind.”

“I’m glad you came, pretty red bird,” Holly said.  “Let’s sing together until you fall asleep.  Would you like that?”

“Oh yes!” said the tiny cardinal.  “I would like that very much.”

Holly began a simple Festival song, and for a few moments, the little bird sang along.  Then it snuggled deep into the soft bed of pine and down and floated into dreamland, full of joy.

The Beaver Pond

Theirs is a private world, their pond
created by a dam they built themselves,
an entire summer’s work. To find it
you must be willing to fight burr-thick
brambles and the thorns of wild roses.
But it’s worth the search. A lot of life
is like that, don’t you think? The best
rewards require pushing through
the tangles, bearing the thorns.

Wishes and Dreams

Now is the time for wishes and dreams,
for spinning your hopes and casting
your seeds. Let them fly. Toss them
to the sky, believing. Let them sail
along the secret trails that destiny
weaves through the seasons and times.
Let them go. Then sleep the winter sleep
my child, until wonder wakes you in a land
warmth and fragrant green, where birds
float to music and all your best wishes
come true.

Colors

Indian Corn

One of the things I know
about Mom Nature is she
surely loves her colors.
She could have quit at blue,
having painted the sky and sea,
and left it at that. Slight
differences in texture and shape
might have been enough
to grant everything its individuality.
But no. I think she must have heard
the one-of-a-kind song that each
thing sings and got inspired to give
them yet another way to play it.
Bright and dark, mellow and wild,
subtle and bold, and everything
in between. Just for the joy of it.
Just to give life a little more spice.

A Place of Peace

SNPJ Lake

Imagine a place of peace.
Paint it with colors that feed your soul.
Fill it with air pleasantly warm and with breezes
refreshingly cool. Imagine the perfume
of it, and the sounds of all its living things,
seen and unseen. Become aware
of all the molecules, dancing with light
and guarding this place from all harm.
Let it breathe you in, and out, and in,
until its breath and yours are one,
flowing together, effortlessly, here,
in this place of exquisite peace.

Goldenrod

As if the Earth wished to hold the sun
as its hours of visibility dwindle,
it fills our fields and roadsides
with living, glowing gold, a feast
of color for our eyes, and of pollen
for the bees. Its only mission
is to nourish, and so deep into
the sunset, its burnished gold continues
to glow and its song of Yes
to rise.