Carrie L. DeAtley

Through the Back Garden

The sun so graciously warmed Willow Wood’s gardens enough for this old bardess to be out weeding, watering, and, of course, wishing for new plants or, at the very least, to rehome an old friend to a new place. I sat on my tractor seat stool, daydreaming of a new garden just under that far tree, when my trow bumped my ankle. I glanced down to retrieve it and found Tavia’s lovely spring-green face looking up at me.

“Tavia, your cloak is worthy of the Goddess Aine, and the blossoms are still fresh, and they glow with her light. Did you and Mort enjoy greeting the dawning of Aine’s light?”

“Oh, Yes, bardess, we did; many creatures came; we are still feasting by the creek if you would like to join us. We have dandelion wine—and well . . .” here, my little friend paused. A frown wrinkled her green face, and then a smile overtook the frown. “I’m afraid that’s all we have to offer, uh, your kind.” Her upturned face was so ethereal and just plain sweet.  “But they all want to greet you in the name of the Light of Aine—oh, please come. They so want to see you, Bardess of Willow Wood.” She pleaded, with the sweetness of bluebells ringing in the wind.

“Oh, of course, I’ll come.” I retrieved my willow wood staff that lay beside me and rose to follow Tavia. The creek was not far, just through the back gardens down a few steps, and I soon found myself under the overhanging branches of a Hazelnut bush along a path beside the creek. It was there I saw the grandest of parties. A family of garter snakes vacated a large rock they were sunning themselves on to give me a seat. There were ten snakes. They formed quite a knot. Many tree frogs sat on the banks, watching the schools of tadpoles swimming in the quiet eddy of the creek. The blue jay that often kept me company on my early morning watering chore flew to a nearby branch of cottonwood and bayed me good morning in his loud, joyful call. 

Tavia brought me a daffodil’s cup of dandelion wine, and I sipped it with great care as the cup was very delicate and fair. The first sip made my head spin and it seemed to my old eyes that every living creature had a touch of Aine’s light glowing from their inner selves. Mr. Opossum joined us at first, complaining about our joyous party, but he too was sipping wine; his whiskers began to twitch, and soon, he was telling us a story about the Goddess’s light and how it saved him in a wintery snowstorm. I bade them farewell after the frogs sang a song of magic and light to their dear Goddess Aine.

Tavia insisted on walking me back to the keep. “Bardess, I do believe there has been a bit of enchantment laid upon you, for your skin is a light, and your feet have a dancing shuffle about them. Come, I shall walk you to your chair for an afternoon nap.”

So she did, and I heard her laughter as she leapt to my windowsill and out into the sun-filled rose garden. Ah, she is gone, but only until the next time. I shall serve tea and not dandelion . . . .

Back Garden

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