My old air conditioner gave up the ghost yesterday. The service company was able to send people out to my house to put in a new one this afternoon, so I didn’t roast too much; but it was a large unplanned expense. Not exactly unexpected, as the old unit obviously didn’t have much life remaining. It had gotten so noisy that I pulled my bed away from the wall last year, so it wouldn’t disturb my sleep.

While I might have preferred to keep it going a while longer and spend the money on something else, having a new, quiet, modern air conditioner is a good thing. And being able to buy it right away is something to be grateful for in itself, rather than having to leave the windows open all summer (which happened about twenty years ago in our starter house when we didn’t have much money). So, I can’t complain.
 

Word-art that says "Happiness isn't about getting what you want all the time. It's about loving what you have and being grateful for it." 

Nurturing Thursday was started by Becca Givens and seeks to “give this planet a much needed shot of fun, support and positive energy.” Visit her site to find more Nurturing Thursday posts and a list of frequent contributors.

I’ve been getting outdoors almost every day in the warm weather, rowing and bicycling. Although that’s fun and good for fitness, both my blog and my yard are starting to feel kind of neglected. I keep meaning to sit down and write a post or a story, but then I wander off and do something else instead. My flower garden is full of thistles that grew back after I weeded last month, when I meant to put down fresh mulch but never got around to it. Thistles can be pretty in nature when they’re blooming in a field, but I would like them much better if they would stay there.
 

Thistles blooming in a field.

(photo credit: publicdomainpictures.net)
 

If anyone happens to find my responsible grown-up self, please let me know. I’m really not sure what became of her. After all those blog posts I wrote about imaginary conversations with my younger selves, I’m beginning to wonder if I turned loose an inner child who just wants to go out and play all the time.

While it’s probably about time I lightened up a little on those self-imposed To-Do list entries, I haven’t yet gotten comfortable with the empty places where they used to be. I feel as if I might wake up one morning, with only a vague memory of strange thumping noises in a dream, and discover a mindspace like a half-empty attic where a gleeful Younger-Me has tossed dusty old boxes and furniture out the window to make room for a hopscotch grid on the floorboards, decorated in all the colors of the sidewalk chalk bucket.

Last week’s heat wave in this area has finally broken; today was much cooler, and a light rain was falling all through the day. Although I stayed indoors and there wasn’t a bit of sunshine to be found anywhere, I felt cheerful anyway when I looked out the window because the grass and flowers, which had gotten parched in the heat, were visibly greening up and looked so happy to be alive.

Wishing everyone visiting my blog a happy Thursday too!
 

Word-art that says "Be so happy that when others look at you, they become happy too." 

Nurturing Thursday was started by Becca Givens and seeks to “give this planet a much needed shot of fun, support and positive energy.” Visit her site to find more Nurturing Thursday posts and a list of frequent contributors.

Last weekend my house felt like it had gotten totally overrun with dogs. My daughter, who has two dogs, came to visit while she was dog-sitting for a third. They were all very well-behaved the entire time, so I can’t complain; but the house did feel kind of crowded.

We played a game of Monopoly while sitting on the floor and managed to avoid having our little plastic houses, etc., knocked off by playful dogs wandering onto the board. Then I thought about how fortunate we are to have such a close family—pets and all.

For Nurturing Thursday, here’s a dog picture for all my awesome readers.
 

Word-art with a dog that says "Who's awesome? You're awesome!" 

Nurturing Thursday was started by Becca Givens and seeks to “give this planet a much needed shot of fun, support and positive energy.” Visit her site to find more Nurturing Thursday posts and a list of frequent contributors.

June 9, 2018 · 3 comments · Categories: Stories

This is a continuation of a story that began on the blog Nuggets of Gold.
 

Somewhere across the lake, a rooster crowed. The sound carried clearly in the still air before dawn. She blinked, startled; the lake now reflected pale pink clouds instead of moonlight. It seemed that only a moment had passed since she closed her eyes, but somehow she must have dozed off without knowing it.

Rising to her feet, she brushed grass and twigs off her long, full skirt, which came down far enough to brush against wooden shoes fitting tightly over thick homespun stockings. But no, that wasn’t right at all—she had been wearing jeans and gym shoes when she walked through the woods to the lake.

When she turned around, she couldn’t see any path through the tall grass and midsummer wildflowers. Farther back, instead of the familiar patch of woods, a large old-growth forest loomed, with trees much taller and broader than she’d ever seen.
 

Old-growth forest with large tree trunk in foreground.

(Photo credit: Nicholas A. Tonelli)
 

The air felt invigorating; it was fresh and pure, filled with the scents and sounds of nature. She turned back toward the lake, only then noticing how easily her body moved, without the aches and stiffness that she’d have expected from falling asleep outdoors at her age. Although she was in fairly good health at 67, camping in the woods would not have been on any list of her favorite activities.

The landscape on the other side of the lake had changed, too. Where was the new subdivision of expensive lakefront homes that she’d driven past, and the state highway not far behind them? Now there was only a small, tidy log cabin, surrounded by vegetable gardens and—yes, that was definitely a chicken coop.

“Hello.” The little voice came from a girl, also wearing an old-fashioned dress, who was walking across the grass to her left. “My name is Mabel. Who are you, and what are you doing here?”

None of this could be real, she thought. There was only one sensible explanation—she was still asleep in the grass where she had dozed off listening to the bullfrogs in the moonlight. “I am in a dream,” she said, more to herself than to her young companion.

Mabel smiled, showing a gap from a newly lost baby tooth. “You’ll have to come and meet my Mama,” she declared, setting off toward the cabin, where a woman had just stepped outside with a wicker basket.

By the time they reached the cabin, the basket was full of freshly collected eggs. Mabel announced cheerfully, “Mama, this is my new friend, Miss Ina Drim. I found her on the other side of the lake.”

The woman had light hazel eyes and a kindly smile. “Good morning to you, Miss Ina. You can call me Nellie. Have you traveled far? You’re very young to be walking through the Wild Forest by yourself—why, you can’t be much over sixteen. And today, of all days!”

Her first reaction was to open her mouth in surprise, thinking that she’d better set matters straight as to both her name and age. But her hands looked young and smooth at the end of her long, billowing sleeves, with no age spots or swollen knuckles. How old was she, really? And what had her name been? The more she breathed this lovely fresh air, the harder it was to remember.

Seeing that she looked confused, Nellie clarified the last sentence. “I meant, today is the summer solstice. Folks say that the witches who live in the Wild Forest use their magic every Midsummer’s Eve to bring girls here from far away, so as to train them in the secret ways of witchcraft. The magic is said to be so very strong, the girls can be summoned from distant countries or even through time itself. They forget everything about their old lives.”

Ina, who by now couldn’t recall if she’d ever had another name, shook her head in denial. She couldn’t possibly have been summoned by witches, could she? No, of course not, that was ridiculous. She’d come here to the lake because of—something about family, and memories, and an old woman. Surely it would all come back to her soon.

“I was visiting my grandmother,” she said finally, not sure whether that was quite right, but concluding that it must be close enough. “And I lost my way in the woods.”

Nellie looked horrified. “Lost and alone in the Wild Forest all night—you’re lucky the wolves didn’t get you! Of course, you’ll have to stay here for now. It would be much too dangerous for a young girl like you to travel through the forest alone, especially today.” Her tone made clear she wouldn’t stand for any argument.

Although her first inclination was to argue anyway, Ina decided that was silly. After all, the invitation plainly was well-intended, and there didn’t seem to be any reason to leave just yet. She might as well stay for a little while—at least, until she could remember where she ought to be.
 

Click here to continue to Part 3.

I make a point of surrounding myself with cheerful images, particularly in my house, because I believe that the things we regularly encounter in our environment go a long way toward creating who we are. Even though we may not be fully aware of what is going on around us from one day to another, the subconscious mind notes the smallest of changes and looks for new ways to put those perceptions together, updating the stories it tells about life in the world.

When my husband bought me a digital art display as a Christmas present in 2015, I thought he understood me very well and was being especially kind and thoughtful. Recently he said that he hadn’t entirely understood my beliefs in that regard, but just thought it was an interesting gadget that I would probably like. Still, it was a much appreciated gift; and it goes to show that kind acts often have unexpected ripples. In keeping with the water metaphor, I’m displaying a bright, colorful image of boats in a canal today.

Wishing my readers many cheerful sights and ripples of kindness too!
 

Brightly colored image of boats docked in a canal between buildings. 

Nurturing Thursday was started by Becca Givens and seeks to “give this planet a much needed shot of fun, support and positive energy.” Visit her site to find more Nurturing Thursday posts and a list of frequent contributors.