New Teacher in Town

Bill and Sally stood in the middle of the forest in a sea of flowers surrounded by trees. They stared up at what looked like a light bulb hanging from a tall branch on just a rope.

Bill asked, “So you say this has always been here? The rope looks as if it is only a few years old, and it couldn’t possibly light up. There is no electricity out here.”

Sally just smiled. “Bill,” she said, “you are new here. You don’t know what it is like to live in a small rural area in the Pacific Northwest mountains. Things aren’t always as they appear.”

“Listen,” said Bill, “I may be new, but I’m a scientist and I know how things work.” Bill had recently moved to the small town of Swallow after graduating from The University of Washington with his Master’s in physics and secondary education. He was to be the new science teacher at the regional high school.

Sally looked at him with compassion. “Bill,” she said, “not everything can be explained. Some things just are. The more time you spend here, the more you will come to realize that. This light has hung here for centuries. It has been mentioned in writings as far back as the early 1800’s. There are lots of theories, but no answers. All anyone knows is that this light always looks as if it has just been hung. It stays here in the center of this wooded area and most of the time it is just as you see it. But if someone is in trouble in the area, the light glows. I have friends who have seen it and who have then been guided out of the forest by what appear to be faeries.”

Bill scoffed, “Faeries! Now I know you are trying to fool a city boy. There is no such thing as faeries. There just has to be a logical explanation.”

Sally looked at Bill and felt sorry for him. She had grown up in Swallow and so she knew about the light and its history. She knew it was powered by nothing known to humans. She believed in faeries and had seen the light from afar on several occasions. But how to explain that to Bill.

“Bill,” answered Sally, “I know all this seems very strange. I wanted to show you this before you started teaching because you will hear about it and folks around here take the light very seriously. It has protected us since this area was founded. We respect the land and all who live here. We have fought off loggers and so called progress. We like things as they are. If you are going to stay here, if you are going to fit in, you will have to be willing to accept that there are things in this world that are just magical and which lack any so called scientific explanation.”

“I don’t know if I can do that,” said Bill hesitantly. He really liked Sally. They had met at the start of year teacher’s workshop. Sally was the math teacher and he thought they would have a lot in common. How could someone who taught math and seemed so sane believe all this.

“I know it is a lot to ask,” said Sally, “and not everyone can manage it, which is why new teachers don’t always last here. But I like you and I want you to have a fair chance. I can give you citations from scientific journals which have tried to explain our light, if you like. You can read all about it. You are not our first skeptic and you won’t be the last. Some have even tried to cut the light down, only to find themselves miles away from here without any knowledge of how they got there. Please, can you just keep an open mind? Folks around here won’t listen to anything you have to say if you start trashing the beliefs we hold dear. Beliefs govern reality and our reality is filled with wonder and magic. I hope you can learn to love it as we do.”

Bill and Sally walked back out of the forest and into town. Bill was staying at the local boarding house and they parted company on the front steps. “You have given me a lot to think about,” said Bill. “I just don’t know. I’ll try, but I have believed in rational scientific explanations for everything all my life. I’m just not sure.”

Sally concluded, “Well, that’s a start anyway–not being sure! Don’t worry too much. Just settle in and when you hear someone say something which you are certain can’t be true, try to stay quiet and breath and just accept that it is true for them. That’s a good place to start. See you tomorrow morning! The first day of school can be both exciting and challenging! Good Luck!”

With that they parted, Sally to go home to prep and Bill to ponder and wonder.

NOTE: This is a story inspired by a photo on the blog Wings Over Water


Light in the Woods

A bulb hangs in the deep woods as it has for centuries, long before electricity had been invented. Those in the neighboring areas could see the light glowing from a distance at apparently random moments. Some folks though knew more. They knew the light shone whenever someone was in trouble. Brenda knew why the light shone because it had saved her life. One winter night two years ago, when Brenda was only 18 years old, she had gone out on a date with a young man named Carl. The evening had been fun. They had gone out to dinner and then a movie, but afterwards, on the way home, Carl had pulled the car off the road near the woods, and made what the books call “unwanted” advances. Brenda got scared and ran into the woods. Carl called after her, but she ran and ran. Soon she was so deep in the woods that she became hopelessly lost. The temperatures were dropping and Brenda was tired, cold, and very scared. Suddenly she saw a light up ahead. She walked toward the light and soon found herself in a grove with a light hanging in the center. As Brenda looked, she saw faeries dancing and they showed her the way home. When she was safe in bed, warm and dry, she thought back to the times in the past when she had seen the light and realized that she heard stories about the lighted woods all her life. The bulb was not lit by electricity but by magic. The faeries help the innocent who are in trouble, those running from danger, those lost in the woods. The light always shines to help those in need. The faeries guide those willing to listen.

This story is based on a photo to be found on Wings Over Water blog

The Rabbit and the Dragon

Bertram, an old white rabbit, paused at the edge of the forest. He had just been out grazing in the meadow but it was time now, as the sun was rising fully, to head back into the forest before people were about. This morning’s dawn had been spectacular, thought Bertram, and that was an auspicious omen for the start of a new year. If the day started well at the beginning of a new year, then folks believed that the year would be a prosperous and joyous one. Bertram hoped they were right, as he hopped back into the forest.

As he hopped, Bertram mused about the past year and thinking of his family, which had grown so large that maybe they needed to find a new burrow. He was so lost in thought that he didn’t pay much attention to where he was going. After all, he went this way every morning and every evening. It wasn’t as if he didn’t know the way by heart.

All of a sudden Bertram stopped. He heard loud snoring ahead and that shouldn’t be. Bertram looked around. He was in a part of the forest that he’d never seen before. How could this be, he wondered, and more to the point, what could possibly be snoring that loudly? It wasn’t a rabbit, that was certain. Bertram cautiously hopped on, hoping that whatever was snoring would keep right on snoring and that he soon would recognize where he was. Imagine how silly he would sound when he told his family he’d gotten lost in the woods! They would all laugh and then he’d caution the youngest in his family that if an old rabbit like him could get lost, so could they and they all knew the woods were not always a friendly place.

Bertram hopped over a log and kept moving east. At least the sun was up, although it was hard to see in this part of the forest which was very dense indeed, denser than Bertram had seen, but east was east and soon he should be somewhere familiar he thought as he hopped onwards. The snoring was getting louder and that wasn’t comforting at all, but Bertram knew he had to go east to find his home. As quietly as he could manage, and as quickly as an aged rabbit could go, Bertram soldiered onwards.

All of a sudden he heard a booming voice, “Who goes there?”

Bertram realized the snoring had stopped. Oh dear, he thought, but he answered as politely as he was able in a quavering voice, “It is I, Bertram, an aged rabbit.”

“What are you doing here, aged Bertram?” asked the voice.

“I was out on the meadow having my breakfast and then I headed home but I was thinking over the past year as I guess most folks do as a new year arrives, and I can’t imagine how it happened, but I am now lost. I mean no harm,” concluded Bertram.

Bertram heard a chuckling sound and then the voice continued, “You are quite correct, and it is a new year, and with the new year come changes. Even the forest must change, and I am now in charge of this area as you were before me.”

“But what about my family,” asked Bertram, now really concerned.

“They are fine, and you also are safe. Changes must happen, but they don’t have to be horrible. I am in charge of the forest for this next year, and I prefer a denser forest with a large cave for my home, so that is just what the forest provided me with. The forest changes to meet the needs of its inhabitants, but your burrow, which by the way I decided needed enlarging with your every growing family, is just ahead. We are neighbors now,” concluded the voice.

“Thank you,” answered Bertram. “I hope we will be good neighbors. I would like to meet you properly.”

“Would you indeed,” answered the voice. “Then step forward, following my voice, and we shall talk face to face.”

Bertram hopped forward and soon he was at the entrance to a very large cave. He gasped and jumped backwards when he discovered a dragon, curled in the entrance to the cave, watching him with a smile on her face. “Good morning, Bertram! I am Juniper, and I will be guarding you and all the other creatures of the forest. You have nothing to fear from me.”

“Good morning, Juniper,” replied Bertram, a bit hesitantly. As Bertram was thinking what a large dragon Juniper was, he heard the happy noises of his youngest relations. They were racing and soon appeared, hopping and tumbling and literally rolling into Juniper. Bertram was alarmed until Juniper laughed and cuddled with the rabbits. Soon one of the smallest rabbits caught sight of Bertram and quickly announced, “Morning, Grandfather. Look what we found while you were at breakfast! With Juniper living next door we don’t have any worries at all!”

Bertram pondered. The young seemed to adapt to changes so much more quickly than he did, but Bertram smiled and realized that the new year was off to a very good, if very different, start. It would be a grand year, he decided.