The Back Yard

I hope my tendency to make pictures with words translates well to an internet where pictures kind of make up the large part of pictures. This is the way I work. I like to add clip art or something along that line sometimes. Other times, I just have to ramble a bit before plunging in. This piece will be familiar to close friends. It is the result of a writing assignment to describe my back yard, which, as I like to say, I utterly failed at. But the title stuck. I hope the images do too. They will be unique to each reader, which is pretty cool when you think about it.

The Back Yard

The back yard spreads all the way from the farmhouse to the Rainbow Cliffs of the High Dragon Seas. The ideal time to see the namesakes of these dangerous waters is after a storm. The churning from the winds tends to rouse them up from the depths. On occasion a dragon will appear, restless and grudging, spraying great salty flumes about himself, stretching his cold wet wings, and ruffling his spiky head with a shake, all the while watching the swirl of unending skies above him. Rarely do any of them venture onto land or beyond the beach. They may slumber in the depths of the ocean, but the sky is their kingdom, the wind their throne, and the sun their god.
A little farther inland, our pasture grass is clipped by a herd of friendly miniature horses. They roam about, sensible of the cliff hedging them on one side, and on the other side the stone wall winding along a timeworn byway that passes through our farm. At night they burrow into mounds of fresh straw inside the old wooden barn. Each morning one of us will walk out to the gate and usher our fuzzy, snorting herd across the public byway into the pastures on the other side. When it is my turn, I usually pause beneath the drooping wisteria tree to look out over our home. The pastures provide the finest view of sea and skies beyond the land. There is always the background music of whispering trees, singing birds, and what we call mini-whinnies. When I walk back inside, the perfume of the wisteria blossoms clings to my clothing like soft colors you can only just see.
The farmhouse is built from white stone quarried centuries ago, and has a recent wooden addition, perhaps only two or three hundred years old. This time of year it is surrounded by blossoming fairy bushes, and the meadows are colored as much by blue violets and ripening strawberries as they are by grass and sweet clover. The land is magically tended by the grateful fairies in return for our protecting the flowers that are the source of their favorite nectars. Most people find it a nuisance to abide fairies on their property, not that there’s much chance of keeping them out should they extend their preferences. We find them helpful, because no matter how regularly our little herd foals, no matter how much they graze, their home pasture remains thick with flowers and many other sweet nibbles. The fairies and the ponies have come to love one another very much, besides. To tamper with that communion of half wild hearts would only result in grief and trouble, so we do our part to encourage the way things are.
The orchard is faltering a bit these days. There are fewer golden apples and more fallen limbs. The suffering of the trees in the face of wild, pressing sea winds throughout the year has worn on them. But in the orchard is a strange, new tree. We recently learned it was a mimosa tree: an exotic, feathery looking thing apparently made of fern leaves and impossible looking wispy flowers on thin sweeping branches. When the tree appeared, however it appeared, the apple trees seemed to rally themselves around it. All of the orchard seemed to regain a fresh sense of hope as revealed in the renewed surge of blossoms, leaves, and hanging fruit.
The mimosa flourishes right in among the apple trees because the fairies wish it to. It somehow glows in the moonlight, the apples providing strings of tiny reflected lights all around it. At Midsummer’s moon the orchard looks like a garden party in full swing for it attracts the fairies, who crowd together, curtsying and bowing, turning in pairs, strolling through waves of music that carry a wisp of scent or a flash of color or the ripe rich fruits of the imagination with it. Only at the hint of coming dawn will the music fade and the dancing shadows slip away in the rising mists of morning.
Our family has run this farm for centuries. People have sprung up and died away on this land for a long time, and their roots are deeply felt even if they remain unseen. Livestock has grazed and blossoms have opened beyond memory. The sea winds have been carving the stones of both house and wall long before hands ever stacked them in their place; the unsteady blow of sand and salt have smoothed the stones in place, mortaring them with sunshine and the slow fertile thoughts of the land.
There were more fairies and more dragons, long ago. However, no one had yet encountered miniature ponies. They are relatively new to our sighing old world, and their particular magic in all its quiet glory remains to be seen. They breathe a fresh kind of sweetness into the salty air around us. As the animals munch away at grass the fairies spend their time braiding those long manes and sweeping tails. They have their mysterious conversations as the sun follows its familiar path across all sorts of skies: blue and grey and golden and wispy. Even Time in our lands is as much a season here as the harvest or the Autumn storms. It fluctuates in lives and loves, passing from eye to eye and heart to heart. It hovers gently as the blossoms drip and the butterflies dance, as dragons snooze for years on end, and as the wind blows over, around, and through everything that has ever been here, and everything that will ever be.


Back in Action

Sometimes storytelling gets dissed. I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but I hear it in their tone when some people mention fiction, or books, or the most basic insult, stories. Maybe this is because a while ago some housewife couldn’t admit that she listened to soap operas on the radio and so called them her ‘stories’. Maybe it happened when some hard nose declared that fiction was of the devil and non-fiction was naturally morally upright. But storytelling has taken it on the nose. It ends up being relegated to the low status of children’s literature, or it is even considered downright lies because many stories, as true as they are, are also fiction. But storytelling is one of the oldest crafts available to Mankind. I’m not even sure what is supposed to be better than telling a story. Non- fiction, when told well, tells us a story. So what is it? Statistical bar graphs? Political editorials? Nutrition labels?
We depend on it daily for our spiritual sustenance. For instance, Genesis starts this way: “In the beginning God created the Heaven and the Earth”. Is there any more glorious story than that?
If the idea of storytelling still does not appear a respectable enough art, then pardon me while I throw a spiritual brick through the window of this misconception (of which I may have to repent for, later) by informing you that there is another Genesis in the scriptures. I call it, in my little mind, the other Genesis… in the scriptures. It is in John: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”.
No, it does not begin with “In the beginning was the math” or “In the beginning was the law of supply and demand”. Yes, it may be prideful for me to point this out. Perhaps the thought that writers often wield their fallible, mortal creativity in supreme terror of how it will sound in public will serve as a sort of check and balance to my prideful rant.
Stories are rich verbal banquets that feed our minds. It is time to get storied. After all, that is what winter is for. Now that I am back to my neglected blog, I have to feed it rich verbal manna in the hopes that it can recover and grow strong. Comments from my lost little group of intrepid readers will go a long way in sustaining this run down little place. It needs some paint, but the heart is already there.