Walk out to Winter

Tamnen slipped silently through the woods, the sound of his steps muffled by the snow.  The trees were frosted white, each leafless limb delicately outlined, each plump conifer draped in a glowing blanket.  The moonlight caught on each snowflake as it fell, a disco-ball of iridescence.

If he weren’t so distracted by the cold, he might have been able to appreciated the evening’s beauty.

“All a scarf really does,” he huffed, breath misting, “Is remind you that your head and torso are naked.  What the hell kind of tradition is it, really?  Might have been practical back in Greece, but I doubt our ancestors would have trotted about this exposed to the elements they’d had to experience frostbitten nipples.”

It was useless, of course.  He’d tried the same argument, minus the reference to nipples, with his father that very morning, but it was hard to have a proper debate when your opponent’s only response was a growled, “This is the way it has always been, and always will be.”

Tamnen supposed he ought to be grateful Tumnus and leave it at that – before that Lewis fellow’s chance encounter in the woods, even the scarf would have been ‘an affront to the ways of our ancestors!’  Tamnen wondered if Tumnus’ father had been as obsessed with keeping to the old ways.

a sketch done by my long-suffering sister who tolerates my random requests for drawings with grace.  Fun fact - if you ask someone to draw you a faun, they will, at first, assume 'baby deer'.

a sketch done by my long-suffering sister, Doodle, who tolerates my random requests for drawings with grace. Fun fact – if you ask someone to draw you a faun, they will, at first, assume ‘baby deer’.

His own father had been too outraged at Tamnen’s temerity at comparing himself to the great Tumnus to give any real answer.  It seemed to Tamnen, however, that the great Tumnus had had the temerity to be caught out by a human, and was only revered because his image, wearing non-traditional clothing, had been inscribed into children’s books everywhere, the first of their kind  not depicted as naked.

An unexpected dip in the ground sent him tumbling into deep snow with a loud yelp.  He leapt to his feet, brushing frantically at the clumps of snow clinging to the hair on his chest and head, his entire body trembling with cold.

He snapped his scarf out a few times, cursing, to shake the cold from his only protective covering.

The muffled silence of the woodlands was broken by a surprised gasp.  Tamnen whirled with a yelp of alarm, tripped and tipped back into the snow with only a momentary glimpse of a red hat, brown ringlets and a pair of wide blue eyes framed by icy branches.

“OH!  Oh my gosh, are you ok?”  the rapid-paced crunch of snow under boot grew closer, interspersed by the whoosh of her breath as she stumbled through the undergrowth.  Even as Tamnen scrambled out of the shallow defile, his skin bright pink with cold, her mitten-clad hand closed around his arm and pulled.  They tumbled down into the snow, and once again, Tamnen found himself covered, scrambling to his feet and shivering.  He reached out and hauled the girl to her feet before shaking himself off.

Steadying herself on his arm, her eyes widened, taking him in.  “Oh. My. Gosh.”

Uh Oh, Tamnen thought.  Is not being seen rule one, or is freezing one’s ass off in honor of the ancestors?

“You must be freezing!  What do you think you’re doing out here with no shirt on?”  She yanked a mitt off and tossed it aside, pressing her plump hand against his chest.  “You’re cold as ice! Hang on.”

The girl stripped off her thick coat and shoved it at him.  Hardly daring to believe his luck, Tamnen slipped it awkwardly around himself, the residual heat from her body shrouding him delightfully in warmth and the summery smell of peaches.  He surrpetitiously shuffled a few steps until the snow came up to about the girl’s knee level.

“I’m Amanda,” she said, gesturing impatiently for him to lower his head.  He obliged and she plunked her hat down on his curly hair, pulling it down as far as it would go.  Tamnen re-adjusted it, tucking his ears safely out of sight.

Amanda stared at him expectantly, their breath clouding out between them, her cable-knit-sweater pulled tightly closed.  “Well?” she demanded.

“Um, Tamnen.”  Tamnen said, rubbing his arms through the delightful wool of the coat.  Amazing, absolutely amazing.  It’s like having upper body fur.

“Well, ummmTamnen, that answers one question, but more importantly, why are you wandering around in the woods at night, in the winter, and naked?”

“I have a scarf,” he offered weakly.  “And what are you doing out here so late?”

She lifted the camera that hung around her neck. “And weird fur-pants, yeah, I can see that.  Not exactly winter appropriate, though, is it?”

“Right?!” Tamnen exclaimed, happy to hear someone finally agree with him.  “It’s ridiculous – it’s winter, below zero, snowing!  and yet, we go around dressed in the traditional garb of our ancestors, ancestors who never experienced anything like this kind of cold!” his voice deepened in an immitation of his father, “This is how our ancestors dressed, who are you to think you’re better than generations of Fau-” his voice cracked, “F-fausts before us?”

Amanda hadn’t paid attention to his slip-up, however, her eyes were locked on the hard-packed snow patch he’d created with his energetic pacing.

“Ohmygosh!” she gasped, one mitten-clad hand pressed against her mouth, the other pointed at his completely visible cloven hooves.

“Um…”  Tamnen wracked his mind for an explanation.  A hand raked through his hair pulled the hat loose, to further delighted exclamation from Amanda.  The small horns previously hidden by hair were now poking through.

“Ohmygosh, no-one will ever believe this!  It’s like I’m in freaking NARNIA!  Are you real?!”  Amanda did a little jig of excitement.

Narnia, Tamnen thought, suddenly feeling elated.  His ears perked up, and Amanda squealed excitedly.

who am I to not emulate the great Tumnus?  Tamnen smiled, and said, “Haven’t you ever heard the expression, a picture’s worth a thousand words’?  And… can I borrow your gloves too?”

Check doodle out on DeviantArt or on her infrequently updated blog, DrawninandQuartered

Check doodle out on DeviantArt or on her infrequently updated blog, DrawninandQuartered

***

My goal this year is to write more fiction than just prompts.  Prompts are great, but they don’t often open you up to going over 500ish words.  I like including pictures that either (as now) were drawn particularly for my story, or that I see and either inspire a story or suit it.  So if you want me to write something inspired by your artwork… drop me a line (in comments, or at lexy3587 (at) gmail (dot) com).  I love a good challenge, and having your art featured on my blog will lead to fame and fortune… or at least fame… or some renown… amongst the people who read my blog.  The important thing is getting your art out there, really.  

Write On Edge: The Road Ahead

  Write on Edge this week provided a quote and a photo, and I decided to use both for my response to the prompt.  click the link above to go to the prompt page.  Submit your own story (500 words or less), or read some of the other responses.  The quote and image are below.  The picture, I have to say, gives me the willies.  There was a time that farmed lumber could be planted in neat and tidy rows.  It isn’t allowed any more in Canada (I think, anyways), but there are a few such old plantings you might walk through in provincial or national parks – it gives you the oddest sense of wrongness, as every tree in all directions abruptly lines itself up perfectly with every other step you take.  That’s what the prompt this week reminds me of.

“The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.”~ L. P. Hartley: The Go-Between (1953)

Image courtesy of Unsplash.

“The past is a foreign country.”  Marta smiled smugly down at her sister from her perch on the wagon seat.

Natalka scowled and stomped her foot.  “That doesn’t even mean anything!  When you were my age, you got to go to market with Papa, it’s unfair!”

Gregor swung her up in a bear-hug.  “Oh, my little girl, the woods are much darker and more dangerous than they were back then.” he said, “You’ll stay here and keep your mama safe, eh?”  He set her down and swung easily into the driver’s seat and gathered up the reins.  “Remember the rule, my lovely?”

Natalka rolled her eyes and sullenly replied, “always stay behind the fence.”

“Good girl.”  He set the massive draft horses off with a flick and a shout.  As the wagon rumbled through the gate, Marta leaned out of the wagon and stuck her tongue out at her younger sister.

***

Natalka hummed to herself, winding her way through the woods and picking a bouquet of wild flowers.  Intent on finding just the right one to complete her bouquet, she hardly noticed the fence until she hit upon it.  She scowled through the wooden bars, at woodland that looked just like the woodland on her side, but more… something.  There were the same types of trees, the same ferns and shrubs and vines.  The same squirrels and mice rustled the underbrush, the same birds fluttered above, though none would cross the fence.  

And yet, in comparison, the world within the fence seemed drab and gray.  Natalka sighed and chucked a branch over the fence.  Even it seemed more… something… there.

Off in the distance, she heard her name.  Forgetting her anger at being left behind, Natalka squealed in delight at her father’s early return and turned towards the house.

His voice again, calling her name, but this time clearer, and more clearly coming from behind her.  Natalka peered through the slats at the greenery on the other side.  In the distance, she could just make out the road to town, and on it, an occasional glimpse of the cart.

“I’m coming, Papa!”Natalka laughed and slipped through the slats.  She ran through the underbrush, towards his booming laugh.  She was breathless and flush when she stumbled out into the roadway, empty but for a path of logs laid out in a perfectly delightful wave.  Perfect for a little girl to balance on while dreaming of daring adventures.  Her papa called again, and she hopped onto the logs and skipped off in search of him.

***

Marta cried and struggled as she was dragged back to the house.  “I can hear her!  She’s just over there!” she shrieked, clawing at the strong arms wrapped around her.

He set her down gently.  “You only hear what you wish to hear, my little one.  You mustn’t follow the voices, you’d break your mother’s heart.”  Fat tears trickled into his beard.  “Losing you both is more than I could bear.”

Gone Campin’

There is nothing I love so much as being in the woods.  The prospect of a trip north leaves me giddy and making lists, even if it’s just for a weekend.  Since Gwynn is back up north with my family, it’s doubly exciting to go up.  After all – what’s better than the woods?  Seeing one’s pooch for the first time in a week.

It might just be one of the most wonderful things… to be greeted with such absolute love and happiness.

This trip, I drove up with some friends of Doodle’s (and mine).  One advantage of this is that we actually got some photographs of the drive up!

Another is that K has a fancy camera, an artistic eye, and an enjoyment of taking pictures.  Any pictures with unusual colouring are definitely hers.  Other pictures, it’s probably equal chances being from my camera or hers.

Fiddling with colours…

… and artistic 🙂

It was considerably chillier up there than it has been most of the summer.  And rainy, though we lucked out with clear skies friday night, saturday morning, and sunday morning.

I’m kind of in love with her camera’s selective colour options

K & S … Doodle had to work on Sunday, unfortunately, so she missed out on hiking shenanigans

Gwynn found some puddles after all that rain

He’s very good at recall lately, and we practice a lot… still, on trails in this kind of woodland, I let him drag the long-line for short stretches, and call him back often.

We had a great trip, even with the rain.  Less fun… the trip home.

two lane undivided highway + Sunday afternoon cottage traffic + an accident closing the southbound lane = usually 4 hour drive extended to nearly 7… shoot me now.

a better picture to leave you with… sometimes Gwynn chickens out after he gets up on the rocks. Or his ‘getting up’ point is too close to a very long drop for my sanity.