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Postcards From the Hedge

Postcards from the Hedge

April 29th

Dearest Penelope,

We arrived today in Chesterfield and are staying at a delightful bed & breakfast.  Winston is so romantic.  He had my favorite flowers, lilacs and petunias, waiting for me in our room.  Though he realized he’s allergic to lilacs, he insisted that we keep them in the room while he sleep outside.  What a gentleman!  We have an early morning in front of us so I’m off to bed without any further delay.

Sincerely yours,

Annabelle
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April 30th

My dearest Penelope,

I must tell you our nature walk was extraordinary.  When we set out down the path this morning, I expected only to see ants, mosquitoes, and ladybugs, but was overwhelmed by a variety of creatures including a stag beetle and a red-spotted purple butterfly.  And the things I am learning from Winston.  He mistakenly captured a regal fritillary in his net thinking it was a checkerspots fritillary before realizing the latter is indigenous to northern Spain and Central Asia.  I have never been more attracted to him as I am now.  I’m extremely tired now so I’ll continue my correspondence with you tomorrow.

Yours,

Annabelle
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May 2nd

Dear Penelope,

I believe that I am in love with Winston.  Today, as we were seated on a rotting log alongside the trail, he put his arm around me.  (Oh, Penelope, I know what you’re thinking and you do have the wildest imagination.)  No, he was simply brushing a Japanese beetle off my shoulder.  The chivalry never ceases with him.  Then he went on to describe the larvae stage of the beetle.  Fascinating!  He is so smart.  We went back to our room expecting to have a romantic evening last night, but Winston had a sneezing attack as the lilacs are still in the room.  So I went to bed alone and awoke well-rested for another day on the trail.

Annabelle
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May 2nd (p.m.)

Penelope,

This has been the most incredible day.  Winston proposed!  It was so romantic, like something out of a novel.  Instead of a ring, he presented me with a firefly.  That original Dickens!  Without me suspecting anything, he captured it on the trail with the intention of jarring it until evening when it might illuminate for me.  Unfortunately, it turned out to be a striped blister beetle (the look quite similar to the firefly) that bit Winston on the hand.  My silly little Romeo has iced his hand and is now resting as he’s had his fill for one day.  I’m all flushed with excitement so I’ve ordered a hot toddy and it’s straight to bed.

Regards,

Annabelle
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May 3rd

Penny,

It seems my poor Winston had a slight reaction with that beetle yesterday.  He looks so cute puffed up like a float entered in the Rose Parade.  He hasn’t lost his nobility, though.  Not wanting to put a damper on my walk, he gave me his binoculars and sent me out by myself.  I missed him terribly, though I did encounter a pack of Monarch butterflies flying past me.  They must have been returning from their winter migration.  How lucky I was!  Absolutely breathtaking.

Anna
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May 4th

Dear Penelope,

Winston is dead.  The physician said the bite on his hand coupled with his allergy to lilacs weakened his immune system.  Given the news, I opted not to stray from my room today.  Perhaps I will write more later, but for now I am emotionally drained.

In deep sadness,

Annabelle
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May 7th

P,

As you can see by the front of the card, I’ve decided to finish my vacation in the Caribbean as I’ve never been.  It’s absolute paradise.  Plus, I’ve met the most wonderful man named Fernando who’s going to teach me how to “bodyboard.”  I look forward to telling you all about it when I return next week.

Hugs,

A

 

 

 

[featured image by: tharkul]

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Thor’s Exploration

Thor stood at the bow of the massive vessel.  He was tired.  It had been months since he constructed the ship, years since he first dreamed of setting out to discover new territory, and almost a decade since he and Fjorgyn Karsefni had spoken after one sordid night he deemed to be true destiny and she chalked up to too much mead.

In one hundred days at sea, they’d lost two ships and countless men.  Thor wondered if he’d ever see his family again.  He longed for the simple life of pillaging and plundering he’d left behind (though he could never remember which was which).

Their only amusement was a chessboard brought on board by Thorfinn Sturluson.  But the crew lost interest quickly when they realized Thorfinn cheated terribly.  He would swear, “The horsie can move anywhere!  If you don’t believe me, ask the Eastern Slavs.”  But if there were any Eastern Slavs on board, they weren’t talking.

The men were destitute:  want of spirit, want of affection, want of life.  Their meager diet consisted of porridge, boiled fish, and  crème de menthe brulee with wild berries and caramelized sugar garnished with a mint sprig.  They could take no more.

As they rowed, the crew glared at Thor with contempt, a far cry from the trust and admiration they felt towards him when the journey began.  But Thor was filled with resentment as well—mostly towards his longtime friend Thorvald Herjolfsson, who, in a moment of frustration, pushed Thor’s Runic monument to his father overboard saying it disrupted the energy of the boat.  Thor retaliated by throwing Thorvald’s book on Feng Shui overboard.  Petty as it was, neither man was going to present the other with an olive branch of peace.  Thorvald had thrown that off two days earlier.

There was not much time left as the supply of grain was running low.  Thor was not going to look at the endless horizon anymore.  He lowered his head and prayed silently to the Gods.

In a moment one could only call divine intervention, a speck appeared on the horizon.  Leif Thorrson cried, “Land!” but no one paid him any heed mainly because he had a bad habit of yelling “Land!” every hour, a habit that earned him the nickname, “The Timekeeper.”  This time, however, it was land.  All at once, the crew exploded in elation.  But lest they suffer from premature celebration, each man returned his focus to reaching the shore.  With the strength and power of a hundred ships, they stroked and stroked as the oak planks glided through the water.  The tide lent a hand and propelled the boat onto the beach lurching the crew to the sand.

Standing slowly on dry land for the first time in months, they looked around, gazing in stunned silence at the natural beauty that lay in front of them:  forests of willow and birch, magnificent fjords, rolling hills.

After what seemed an eternity, Thorvald approached Thor and handed him the flag.  Thor accepted it as the two men shared a moment of unspoken reconciliation.

With a tear in his eye, he jabbed the stick into the sand.  The crew cheered.  Then, with his voice cracking both from pride and exhaustion, Thor spoke.  “My friends,” he began, “it has been a long and arduous journey, but our labors have been rewarded.  We started out mere boys, but ended up men who have made history.  After a myriad of sunrises and sunsets, storms, the loss of our brothers at sea, we accomplished the impossible.  Now we must get word to our families and neighbors that we’re alive and well and about to settle in a new world.”  He sighed.  “Everyone back in the boat.”

*excerpted from “Will Beg For Dignity” (OhSchnappa Publishing, 2001)