Laughing Beauty Gets Her Name- a story from Bangan Forest by Laurie Fraser

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I lived with a pretty little cherry tree for 18 years. The poor thing lost a third of herself in an ice storm. She was beset by tent caterpillers and two spring floods. I used to do healings on her- that’s how I learned where her heart was located and what her roots were doing.- and her health improved. I used to see gnomes on her in Spring (and throughout the backyard all year). I called her Laughing Beauty.  I miss her.

An aborist once yelled down to me from up in her branches where he was picking off caterpillers:

“Shoulda never bin planted. This species don’t belong here.”

“Oh!” I answered, surprised. Then, “Shhh! She can hear you.”

Laughing Beauty Gets Her Name.

“Shoulda never bin born!” shouted Wise-ass Weasel every time he walked by. “Ya hear me? Shoulda never bin born, ya Weakling.”

Weasel was nasty, but he was right. What was fragile Cherry Tree doing here at Northeast’s place, anyway? Bangan Forest, this place of four seasons and abundant water, was home to Maple, Oak, Aspen, Birch, Pine, Spruce and Cedar. They could handle Deep Winter; Cherry belonged to warmer climes.

How she got here was easy enough to guess. Perhaps someone in Crow’s family brought her up here when she was just Cherry Pit, like a jawbreaker stuck in his craw. Cruel, really, to transplant her here from South; she was handicapped from the start. Soil didn’t agree with her. Rain came far too often. Well, really, she wouldn’t mind his visits, if only he didn’t outlast his welcome the way he did, sometimes raining day after day, leaving her up to her ankles in Puddle. Then, barely time to dry out and Freeze would set in far too long each year.

Yes, Weather was the main problem- the ongoing stress of it. Cherry Tree’s branches were weak, and her reach was limited compared to her neighbours. They were good to her though; she’d never manage without them. Evergreens protected her from North Wind, and Spruce did what she could on Cherry’s Eastside. Trees gave space for Cherry to have some access to Sun, but it was never enough for Cherry.

“I want more time with my father,” she demanded.

“Sun is not always around,” her mother pointed out. “He’s Down South, at work.”

“Why can’t we move there? It’s too cold and wet here. Dark is always showing up early. Who asked him?” said Cherry, one branch on her hip.

“Our roots are here,” said Mother Earth. “You can’t just uproot and run. You’re in Tree Family.”

“I hate Tree Family,” yelled Cherry.

“Choose Peace,” said her mother. “Tree Family is all that you have between yourself and death. Without your neighbours, you’d freeze in Deep Winter.”

“I know,” said Cherry. “I’m sorry, but I didn’t ask to be born here. Am I some sort of bird’s joke?”

“No, Darling,” hummed Mother Earth, her heartbeat getting louder. “I love you. I love you. I love you. You’re a freak of Nature. I love you. I love you. I love you. You are Precious Beauty.”

And that was when her name changed from Cherry Tree to Precious Beauty.

In Spring, Sun came around to spend more time with his daughter. Under his benevolent gaze, she flourished. Bare branches sprouted small shiny green leaves. She quickly budded too, and then burst into blossom when other trees were just opening their leaves. Her fragile flowers were white and grouped together like clouds.

When Precious Beauty’s magnificent white blossoms became hard orange cherries and then reddened to luscious ripeness, they were devoured by every creature from squirrels to starlings. Her main branches became thoroughfares, vibrating with traffic. Those vibrations made her giggle.

Have you ever heard a tree giggle? Oh my goodness! Once you hear that, you never forget.

Precious Beauty loved feeding birds and rodents. They almost always thanked her for sweet cherry snacks, and Beauty felt important. More than that, she felt loved. Oh, she was happy! She giggled all day long as little claws and toes tickled her branches. It was wonderful to feel appreciated.

“You see?” asked Mother Earth. “You are needed here, in this place. Indeed, you are a blessing to these critters who squabble and scramble all over you. You fill their tummies with fresh fruit, and they are nourished. There is no more important work, my Precious Beauty, than to nourish another being.”

Beauty understood that it was her time to flourish. She threw her arms up toward Sky and laughed out loud. Her heart opened even wider. Joy flew all around her leaves. Beauty’s raucous laughter joined the birds’ racket. The hullabaloo caused more cherries to burst forth and more birds to come and feast.

It was a party and it lasted a boisterous 18 days. That was when Precious Beauty’s name changed to Laughing Beauty.

Mother Earth kissed her roots all over. “Congratulations, Laughing Beauty. You’ve contributed to your community. Now you can rest with a full heart.”

Beauty nodded with Wind. “I’m going to take a little nap with Summer.”

As Laughing Beauty settled down with Summer, she noticed that other trees’ branches were finally fully clothed in giant leaves. Trees encircled her… without crowding her, as all good family should. Their roots reached out for hers with news- sometimes gossipy news (Wise-ass Weasel married and moved to the other side of Forest) and sometimes important news (Gnomes looking for work).

Laughing Beauty rested most of Summer’s time. Her fingers reached up to her father, and she grew a bit. Her toes reached down to her mother. As she stretched her roots, digging deeper into Soil, she wrapped around other tree roots, deepening her family’s network, spreading Love. After all, Roots hold Mother Earth in their arms.

Every day, Beauty felt her mother’s heartbeat coming up through her roots: “You are loved. You are loved. You are loved.”

And she answered with her own heartbeat: “I am home. I am home. I am home.”

Long Nose- a story from Bangan Forest for Winter Solstice by Laurie Fraser

Long Nose

Ironwood was born here, on the north side of Outer Clearing, two decades and seven years ago. Her feet are deep into Earth now; sharp claws on her gnarly toes dig deeper every day. And so, you see, Ironwood’s roots are part of Earth.

Ironwood is small among trees, but she has a reputation for strength. Her wood is hard as iron, and it burns a long time in campfires. Ironwood is also well-known for her ability to keep secrets. Yep, you can tell her anything. She’ll keep it inside.

Ironwood is good at guarding secrets; she is hard and strong, but there is a way into her heart. It’s simple. It’s a door on the lower south side of her rough trunk- an entrance and exit all in one place, a place that feels Sun all day long. In spite of Sun’s beams, the door is hard to see because Ironwood’s bark is shaggy and shedding.

Lazy Lynx knows of it. She can even see the tiny knocker. Lynx can see everything. She sees through things like covered baskets and closed doors and lies. Lynx can even see the future, although she doesn’t comment on that much. Lynx is no chatterbox. Silence is one of her closest friends.

Indeed, it was with Silence that Lynx celebrated Winter Solstice. On Day’s shortest workday, Lynx and Silence sat together on Cedric Cedar’s long bough just across the way from Ironwood. They had been waiting a long time in Falling Snow for Dusk to arrive. At the exact moment that Dusk sat down in Outer Clearing, Ironwood’s trunk door cracked open. Lynx didn’t startle, but Silence jumped back, shaking Cedric’s green leaves.

At first, the bark door opened just a little. It didn’t open more until Silence got ahold of himself. Then, bit by bit, it opened wider, and a nose stuck out. Of course, this was not suspenseful for Lynx- she knew who was behind Ironwood’s south door- but Silence was just beside himself. Was it an animal nose? It was a sharp nose. Bird’s beak, perhaps? Crow?

Silence waited, but Lynx knew. Lynx knew that Ironwood was a type of holding place. This long nose had been kept in a golden cage inside Ironwood’s heart. The golden cage had been too small in the end, perhaps because the captive had grown over time. When the golden cage sprang open, why, that too, was because its prisoner had outgrown it. It was time to be freed.

The long nose that emerged from Ironwood’s south door was attached to the face of a thin man with long shiny black hair. His eyes were deep blue. He wore a long black coat to his knees and black pointed boots- shiny and sharp. His black beard was scruffy.

Lynx didn’t move a muscle as Long Nose scanned the area and fully emerged from Ironwood’s trunk. He stood only nine inches.

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Long Nose took in his new surroundings: New Powder Snow clinging to every trunk, branch and twig made Forest white and bright, even as Dark arrived. Dark and Dusk fought for power a bit longer than usual, only because of New Powder Snow everywhere, even piled on evergreens like bright white pillows.

Soon, of course, Dark had complete control. After all, it was his night- Longest Night.

Long Nose knelt down in Snow. He bent his head, his dark hair falling about his face, and he spoke aloud: “Welcome Dark, the colour of my heart, the state of my mind. I welcome your rest and peace.”

Black feathers scattered about him on New Powder Snow.

Lynx knew that Long Nose had been through trauma. Poor thing, he’d flown too high, too close to Sun. He’d been saturated in Light, too much Light, and he’d become manic. He hadn’t been able to sleep- he was that busy- and he hadn’t had time to eat- his work was that important. In the end, he’d become too thin and frantic to take care of himself, so one night, under Corn Moon, when he flew through Ironwood’s branches, she trapped him. Ironwood had hugged him with seven branches at once, held him tight, and squished him right into that golden cage in her heart. It was one way to still him, to dilute his light. Ironwood had held him there until he slept and ate and grew.

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When Long Nose emerged from Ironwood’s strong embrace, he welcomed Dark, and then he journeyed a short way through New Powder Snow until he found Twigs attached to Small Bush.

“May I take you?” asked Long Nose. “Will you be my heat and light?”

“Yes,” twittered Twigs, “take us.”

And so, Long Nose put four Twigs in Snow. “Thank you,” he said.

Lynx watched from her new place- behind Maple King. It was her nature to stalk with Silence. Her paws were wide as snowshoes, her black-tufted ears were radars, and Lynx’s yellow eyes saw everything.

Long Nose stared at Twigs with his blue eyes until they began to tremble and twitch. Soon they shone blue and then PUFF! They sparked into fire: Small Blue Fire.

Long Nose sat by Small Blue Fire. He breathed in Smoke. He washed his face in Smoke. He stood and washed his body in Smoke. He shook his long black coat. He cleaned the last of old trauma away. He grew larger, much larger, until he was standing by Small Blue Fire in New Powder Snow, his four legs long and lanky, taller than Snow.

Lazy Lynx opened her yellow eyes wide. The nine-inch critter- whether fairy or small human hadn’t been clear- had now suddenly grown tall with 2 additional legs. Why, he had become a soft brown colour with a long snout- why, the thing had become Moose! Full grown Moose!

Lynx knew it was magic. She’d seen Moose change to Tree many times (much like Turtle becoming Rock), but she’d never seen anyone become Moose. As Lynx stared, she suddenly sneezed, causing Long Nose to turn towards her.

“Ani,” said Long Nose, “Hello.”

“It’s an honour,” answered Lazy Lynx. “You have amazing powers.”

Long Nose smiled. “And you.” He bobbed his snout respectfully.

“Can you teach me about transformation?”

“It’s a simple matter,” said Long Nose. “Clear trauma using one method or another.”

“Such as?”

“Swim in River or smudge with Smoke. Release Bitterness and all her little friends like Regret and Rage. Then you can create whatever your heart desires.”

“I want to fly,” said Lynx. “I’ve tried, sometimes from very high places like Cliffs, but I always fall to Earth. I’m blessed, I know- because I always land on my feet- but I want to fly like Eagle, like Dragonfly.

Long Nose looked at her with soft blue eyes: the eyes of a nurse… or teacher, perhaps.

“I know,” Lynx’s ears and nose turned pink. “I’m too big to fly like fairies or butterflies… but oh, how I admire them.”

“Mmmmm,” said Long Nose, “You might be having trouble getting off Ground because of your emotion. You can’t fly without Love. Stop jealousy. Step outside of sadness. Try this: Focus on long slow breaths. Notice Love in your heart and stir it up however you can- by looking at clouds and hearing birds or maybe by remembering your mama… or your babies. Build Love in your heart, and then push it out in front of you.” He smiled at her. “That’s it.”

“That’s flying?”

“Yes, just follow Love. Your heart is attached to it. Love leads, and you follow.”

“Up to Blue Sky?”

“Yes, that’s flying. Practice in Dreamtime. Lean forward, heartfirst – not headfirst- and never look back. It’s that easy. Watch.”

Long Nose lumbered away from Lynx, heading down Dirt path. His big moose shoulders and hindquarters rolled with each step forward. He moved faster, his four legs hoofing it until he lifted from Dirt Path, four hanging legs with hooves became two hanging legs with claws. His body shrank and darkened; Moose’s long snout became Crow’s long beak; and strong rolling shoulders became wide flapping wings.

Long Nose flew ever higher into Dark and away from Small Blue Fire, away from Lynx.

Now, I can’t tell you everything; I don’t know myself. These lessons are sacred; they don’t belong to me. Sometimes though, if you are observant, if you are as quiet as Lynx sitting with Silence, you may witness some things that your eyes won’t believe.

This is Crow’s lesson: No matter if we swim or fly or trudge through Deep Snow in big boots, we must move heartfirst, creating our lives with each conscious step. Take rest with Winter; create with Summer. And if you are one of those people who become manic, let Tree root you and hold you until you find sleep, and if you become depressed, stir Love in your heart, and let it lead you until you find Sun and Blue Sky again, for Sun and Blue Sky never disappear for long.

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Jag- a story from Bangan Forest by Laurie Fraser

This story was written for Jenna, an indigenous child, my friend’s niece, who killed herself at age 14.

We’ve already met Runt Rabbit in previous stories from Bangan Forest- one is here. Jag becomes separated from her father in another story- Lynx in Pinks- that is yet to be published.


Summer Solstice

You might think that Runt Rabbit had no skills at all. After all, he was uneducated and undersized. His faded tan coat was oversized, his feet were oddly large, and he had a twitchy brain. He’d left the den at an early age, and it was his poor fortune to settle in Town where there was no work for the likes of him.

You might think that Runt had no skills at all, but he had street smarts. He’d been homeless for a while before he found a way to squeeze under Bunny’s fence. Now he had a hut to sleep in and a soft female to snuggle and cuddle. She was an addict though, and she tolerated Runt only because he provided her with sugar.

Bunny thought it must be difficult to find sugar because it took Runt all day, every day. In fact, he didn’t work very hard. He’d go downtown and hang with his friends, at some point grabbing a coffee and swiping some sugar packets for Bunny. He usually didn’t return to the hut until suppertime- Bunny was on the bossy side.

Runt Rabbit was an easy-going guy. He hung out behind the grocery store where two dumpsters served the entire strip mall. The food sucked: pizza crusts, hard slices of white bread, scraps of meat that no one but Crow wanted. Runt remembered clover and nettle galore in Main Meadow where he was from. He’d never developed a taste for human factory food.

This morning, the earliest morning of the year, he was sitting on a curb in the parking lot with his friend, Jag, eating some leftover Thai noodles from a box. Jag had scored an actual leftover breakfast- some homefries and egg yolk in Styrofoam with a lick of that bacon grease she liked. As usual, they were talking a blue streak.

Probably I should tell you right off the bat that Jag was not a jaguar. She was a beige cougar in a stretchy black skirt with jeggings and purple nail polish on her claws. Being a cougar, she had no business living in Town. Humans were terrified of cougars and now that she was getting too large to pass for an alley cat, Jag had to spend more and more of her time in hiding. She was constantly in danger.

Like Runt, she had come to Town as a youngster. Unlike Runt, it wasn’t her choice. She’d become separated from her father in Bangan Forest, and she had gotten lost.

“They don’t celebrate Solstice here,” said Runt, watching Dawn and Sky toss oranges back and forth.

“Solstice is special in Bangan Forest. Floral bells are ringing today. Nature Spirits are gathering at Oaky Dokey’s place; fairies are wearing new summer dresses.”

“I remember,” said Jag.

“Gnomes are probably in the sauce already.”

She smiled. “Flutterbys are losing their minds.”

“Sun and Stream are making love all day long.”

“My sisters and I used to swim with River when it was hot like this,” said Jag.

Runt nodded. “No pavement there. Just clover and moss.”

“I would like to be home by Winter Solstice.” Jag’s voice was wistful, as if she didn’t believe her own self.

“If leaving Bunny was an option, I’d already be home,” said Runt.

“I’m not 100% sure where my home is.”

“Oh, I think you’ll be able to find it,” said Runt. “You’re bigger now. I mean, you don’t fear Fox and Hawk like I do. You could just run Forest’s paths- you’re a cougar, probably only take you a few days. Ask a squirrel- they know everything.”

“No, I mean that my father might not be in Bangan Forest now. His first home was on Bangan Mountain where cougars have been for a few generations. Before that, all cougars had to go to West Grasslands. But my family’s true home, the home that cougar blood knows, is South Grasslands, many days journey from here. My ancestors lived there since beginning times.” Jag bounced one leg as she talked. “My father spoke of returning to South Grasslands. He called it home.”

“Oh. Why did your family keep moving? Are they nomads?”

“No, they didn’t want to leave their territory. Humans came and took our land.”

Runt nodded. “Deer told me a story like that. They all had to move. She said a clan called Dragon was wiped out!”

Jag rubbed her forehead with her front paws.

“What about your mother?”

“Ummm, well… us girls lived with my mother sometimes. It’s complicated.” Jag turned her face away from Runt. When she spoke again, her voice broke, “I miss my dad.”

“Don’t cry, Jaggy.” He jumped up and hugged her neck.

“I don’t belong here.”

“None of us belong here.” He climbed around to the back of her neck. “Let’s go for a walk.”

It was still early morning, most humans were still in their houses, so they left the parking lot and headed right down the sidewalk, scattering rats as they went.

Jag stopped at a small square and they watched some pigeons fight over scraps of human food. Seagull zoomed in and chased the pigeons around. She grabbed a shiny hamburger wrapper right out of another bird’s foot.

“What a bully,” said Runt into Jag’s ear.

“Everyone’s gotta eat,” said Jag.

At the Voyageur Bus Station, they watched an early arrival unload its passengers: sleepy students, a pair of beaver builders, a few businessmen, some mice, a couple of snakes, then – lo and behold – a kangaroo.

Town had a few immigrants, most of them kangaroos, a few swans and of course, the monkeys, try as humans might to get rid of them. No one minded kangaroos though, and Jag and Runt welcomed her. She said her name was Karen and she used a hard hoof to give them high-fives.

Karen had contraband with her, but what Boundary Bear was going to check her deep baby pocket? It was too intimate, too smelly. She’d never been caught smuggling her macaroon treats, and she made a reasonable living at it.

One set of ears stuck out of her baby pocket. When Jag tried to meet Karen’s baby, she found it was fake- just a hairband with kangaroo ears and a tape playing: Mama, where’s my other sock? Mama, can I go surfing?

Karen gave them each a macaroon.

It was magic in Jag’s mouth. Runt saved his for Bunny.

After leaving Karen at Kangaroo Kuts, Jag and Runt took alleys and parking lots until they got to the employee’s entrance at the Lord Elgin Hotel. It was a spiffy joint, but they’d been here before, just to take advantage of the air conditioning and use a clean bathroom.

Jag hung around the dumpster, due to being a cougar and all; she stayed just out of sight while Runt waited for opportunities by the employee entrance. Runt wasn’t much bigger than a mouse, barely a rabbit at all, really, and he was invisible to Bellboy when he stepped out for a smoke. Runt darted past Bellboy’s feet and once inside, he placed a chunk of newspaper in the crook of the door.

Runt hid under a corner of the carpet until Bellboy finished his smoke, picked his nose a bit and then went back to work. As he walked away, the door closing behind him did not shut completely and so Jag nosed her way right in.

After that, they did their usual stuff: picked a room, watched a movie, ordered room service- piles of chicken nuggets for Jag, garden salad for Runt and 2 chocolate eclairs to take home for Bunny. It was super-easy to get anything they wanted- they just provided the room number over the phone and said, “Put it on my bill, please.” When the food arrived, they hid in the bathroom and yelled, “Thanks! Just leave it on the table.”

It was nice to cool down after the heat of the street. Jag loved to get a shower in, shaking and spraying water all over the room. Runt always got into the free coffee and went home smelling like a roastery.

Summer Solstice in Town was sweltering and so, Runt and Jag spent most of the day in their air-conditioned room. When they finally left, they carried the coolness with them for a few blocks. It was suppertime by then. They heard Cubby Bear before they rounded the corner. Runt twitched like crazy, and hopped big excited hops.


He grinned at them with one side of his mouth. He was playing his saxophone. He’d drawn a fair-sized crowd and some coins bounced into his green felt hat on the ground in front of him.

It was fabulous music, the blues that Runt loved, the blues that swelled Jag’s aching heart. They danced on the edge of the crowd, their limbs moving in the bluesy heat, their hearts beating the bluesy beat and for some time, as they danced in the thick soupy heat of the longest day of the year, all was well: Jag was a beautiful female cougar with a bright future, Runt Rabbit was a cool and capable dude.


Winter Solstice

It was Winter Solstice when Runt got the news. He’d been slow getting up… feeling lazy, sleeping in dark mornings for weeks. It was 7 o’clock before he reached for his splotchy tan overcoat, shouted “Baa maa pii” to Bunny and headed out the door to find food, coffee and sugar.

He stopped in the doorway of the hut to catch Winter Dawn in her pale pink jammies.  That’s where he was- he’ll never forget- when Crow cruised by.

“The cougar is dead. The cougar has died,” Crow screamed overhead.

“What cougar? Jag?”

“She took her life. It was her will.”

“No! Not Jag!”

Runt hopped so fast that he somersaulted and then rolled downhill all the way to the grocery store. The parking lot was full of crying raccoons and mice and kangaroos. Squirrels scolded at the top of their voices. Moles and rabbits sobbed. Blue jays shrieked and cardinals sang. Morning doves mourned. It was intense.

Runt hid behind bags of firewood for sale. He pulled his long ears over his eyes. He rocked on his haunches. “Jaggy.”

Crows flew all over Town. “Cancelled! Solstice is cancelled!”

Humans had already canceled Christmas, but that was because of their pandemic. Humans didn’t know Jag. They didn’t know the cougar who had walked in their backyards, swum in their pools and licked food off their babies’ faces. But Jag had friends who knew her well. Her friends knew a sweet young cougar who danced behind dumpsters, headphones on her ears, purple nail polish on her claws. They knew a girl who had lost her home, a child who missed her dad.

“Her name was Jag!” screamed Crow.

“Her name was Jag!”

“Her name was Jag!”

And so it came to pass that there was no light and nothing to celebrate in December, 2020.

(C) Laurie Fraser



Remembering Rebecca

I found this today:

I wake up with cramps

and her with holidays.

She drives me to work.

She laughs.

Sunshine Beauty

become me your laughter.

Raise me home.

Drive me to work.

Laugh me life.


What a sweet summer memory. My work was daycamp counselor and it took 2 buses to get there. But I was looking for this one:

Sitting, holding the railing

on the back stairs here,

in case I fall off.

I lost you.

Rebecca was under my heart.

Rebecca was on tire swings.

My house is quiet.

Sometimes I forget to pull a breath in.

How was it?

I lost you.

Even the cat here has died.


Happy Birthday my sweet baby girl.


Runt Rabbit Runs Away – a story from Bangan Forest by Laurie Fraser

This is Runt’s debut in Stories from Bangan Forest. He is a recurring character and will show up again as Jag’s friend, Ricky Raccoon’s rival & Bunny’s saviour.

art by William Fraser

art by William Fraser

Runt Rabbit Runs Away

When Runt Rabbit’s mother took off, he barely noticed- that’s how crowded the den was. She said she wanted to stretch her hoppers; she needed a breath of fresh air. That was an understatement given that the older litter was still at home, and the newest one was still untrained. Runt Rabbit’s mother didn’t bother with moss diapers- there would be no end to them with 12 babies. She just swept out the den every morning.

It did get harder for Runt to get his fair share of food once she left, and he got no affection at all. He was last in line for carrot juice every morning. Big Brothers practiced their kicks on him, on all the new bunnies, and Big Sisters were always dressing him up in their doll clothes.

Runt was the smallest of the rabbits; his tan coat was faded and oversized. His feet were too large for him. The slightest noise made him jump up to the ceiling, even when he was sleeping. Runt was one twitchy rabbit. He skittered from topic to topic in conversation as if he were on skates, as if his words were sliding out of control all over the icy surface of his busy brain. His attention twitched, but so did his black eyes and his girl-nose and his sparse bent whiskers.

Runt Rabbit’s father tried not to look directly at him. He had so many children anyway, what was one dud? Odd little thing would be out of the den in a moment anyway; they grew up so fast these days. If he even made it to moving-out size. Probably Hawk would eat him up on his way home from school one day.

Runt was unreasonably confident. You’d think he’d be hiding most of the time, hanging out with Thistle or playing games with Long Grasses. Sometimes he did those things, but Runt was a sociable fellow. He considered Beaver and Mole to be his friends, although they didn’t treat him very well. In fact, Runt was bullied at school, but to him it was normal. He was in a good mood most of the time.

Like all young rabbits, Runt Rabbit was exploring career options. He considered architect, but he’d rather dig holes than draw pictures. He considered builder, but Little Fisher and Mole had laughed their heads off at that idea. He was just too small.

“Sex worker,” suggested Mole.

“Magician’s assistant,” grinned Little Fisher.

“I know! You can be a good luck charm in a human’s pocket!”

They rolled over each other, laughing wildly.

“Stew!” shrieked Little Fisher.

“Human toilet paper!”

Runt Rabbit didn’t do well at school. It wasn’t because he was bullied or because he looked like a girl, although those things were true. Runt Rabbit didn’t do well at school because his brain twitched. It twitched here and there and everywhere until Runt didn’t know what was a number and what was a letter. F and 5 were the same to him.

And so it happened that one day, when Owl’s glasses sat sideways on her face and she banged her pointer hysterically on ‘FIVE’ written on Big Slate and screamed, “It’s a word about a number,” Runt just got up from his stump in the front row and walked right out the front door of that school.

Now, I’m not passing opinion on quitting school, I’m just saying, it’s best to wait until you have a plan. Runt Rabbit had no plan and a twitchy brain.

Queen Anne's Lace

Queen Anne’s Lace

Runt hopped right by his den at Tom Tree without stopping in to get a scolding from his father.  He hopped right down Small Hill covered in goldenrod and purple asters to Main Meadow. He hid from Hawk by hopping erratically through Long Grass, stopping only under Queen Anne’s faces as if they were umbrellas.

Once he was through Main Meadow, he chose his favourite of Forest’s paths, a shadowy trail kept narrow by tall birches on both sides. It took all day, but he followed Forest’s path to the end where Debwewin River waited with open arms.

Runt could swim, and he crossed River without Current giving him a hard time. He quickly got out of open space and into a welcoming crowd of pines. This was the furthest he had ever been from Tom Tree. He stopped and twitched his whiskers. Runt Rabbit’s father had taught caution when it came to new spaces. Runt hopped around a bit, looking for safe shelter. He found Daisy Patch nestled under Little Bush, and he curled up beside her for a nap.

He woke up to a clawed foot in his face. Even before looking up, he could smell who it was. He twitched his pink nose at a face bigger than his: black, whiskered, not friendly.

“Move it,” said Skunk.

“Sure,” said Runt, and he hopped along the edge of cedars until he couldn’t smell Skunk anymore.

Runt was thirsty and hungry too. He foraged for forbs and greens along Shoreline for an hour before his belly was full. After that, he took Widest Path deep into Bangan Forest. It was a random choice, but it was a good one.

Widest Path was busy with animals of many species nodding politely to each other as they passed; even a group of mice with suitcases seemed to feel safe. Two skunks had stopped to talk by sugar maples and Runt passed them unnoticed. He was startled by Fox who overcame him from behind, his hot breath on Runt’s neck. Fox trotted right on by as if he wasn’t hungry, not even for a little snack like Runt. There were so many animals travelling that Runt wondered if he might find his mother.

He thought about his family sitting down to supper. Overcooked carrot tops. Weed salad. Two dozen chewing rabbits and two empty chairs. Maybe they thought Owl had locked him in the cloakroom again. Runt wished his father could see him now, strutting down Widest Path with all Forest’s animals.

And so he strutted a while, gaining confidence with every swagger of his hips.

He came across Turtle in a black cap. He had his shell up and was tinkering under the hood. Boxes were piled beside him.

Runt stopped to watch. “Hi,” he said.

Turtle was not fond of conversation at the best of times. He did not hit reply.

“Are you stuck here?” asked Runt.

Turtle ducked deeper under his shiny green and black shell.

Runt wasn’t surprised- Turtlegirl at Main Meadow’s creek was always in her shell. He shrugged and hopped behind bushy bushes to pee. From there, he could hear Turtle muttering, “Need a whole new transmission.”

An odd silver-grey cat suddenly appeared in front of Runt, facing him. He stopped.

“Greetings,” he said with a smile.

Lynx broke her own pledge of non-interference and said, “Watch out for Jag.”

“What’s jag?”

Lynx’s yellow eyes held Runt’s brown eyes. “Take care of Jag.”

“Who’s Jag?”

Then there was no one there. Runt swung his head right around in a circle. No lynx, no cat.

Widest Path led the way for nine days and nights. Raccoons and squirrels were the chatterboxes; they shared all sorts of information: old stories and new stories. One thing Runt learned was that Widest Path’s traditional name was Mnaadendmowin.

Mnaadendmowin was a place where all beings were respected. It had been safe passage for all animals since beginning times. Blood was never spilled there. Unless it was an accident of course, or maybe a surprise birth. Even humans didn’t hunt on Widest Path – in fact, nowhere in Bangan Forest at all – due to some metal signs near Danger Road.

Oh, Runt Rabbit learned many important things from raccoons and squirrels. He learned to watch out for Councillor Wolf who was obsessed with returning runaways to their homes. Just as important, Runt learned that no one cared about 5s or Fs. He learned that skunks can be distracted with a love song. He learned to pitch a tent in 3 minutes.

He learned to step aside for size when Buffalo almost pancaked him.

But the very best thing that Runt learned, was that all the things his father had taught him about survival were true all along Widest Path, not just at home in Main Meadow. Lamb’s Quarters loved Water, Clover loved Sun, and Moss welcomed him into bed at night.

One evening, Runt joined a singalong with young animals like him sitting in a circle, many of them playing music: Deer with wind chimes, Cubby Bear on saxophone, lots of little raccoons with guitars, mice with tiny harmonicas and tambourines. To Runt’s surprise, they sang songs that he knew the words to, and soon he raised his voice and stamped his oddly large feet along with everyone else.

After that, the young ones all trooped down Widest Path together, sometimes with their arms slung around each other, sometimes racing or playing games. Runt had lots of fun. They were always laughing, these guys, not a care in the world: young raccoons, squirrels, chipmunks, even a weasel and a couple of skunks were tolerated.

Some of them were runaways like Runt (technically a hopaway), but most of them were just out of the den. Innocents. Legal age, but they hadn’t yet mated or fed yawling babies. Winter had a long journey before he would arrive at this place. Hunger could not be imagined. Grass and weeds were plentiful. Sun’s arms were welcoming and long. Rain fell gently, generously, and no one thirsted, not even Moss.

Runt was not bullied by his new friends. No one made fun of him at all. No one asked what he wanted to do with his life. Runt felt not stupid- he felt the same as everyone else. Spelling dictation was nothing but a bad memory, and his mind was free of Fs and 5s. Still, there was one important thing Runt didn’t think about. And because he didn’t think about it, he didn’t ask about it either.

The thing Runt Rabbit didn’t ask was this: Where are we going?

All of Forest’s animals know basic survival rules at an early age. Children are taught the signs of human presence and how to avoid them. These instructions first appear woven into bedtime stories for children: A hunter disguised as Wolf, Three Bears surprised by a home invasion, many tales about the Dragon Genocide. And then there was the warning that mothers whispered when they tucked their little ones in at night: “Don’t ever cross Danger Road. Many animals have died on Danger Road.”

Runt and his brothers and sisters would shudder and crowd together in bed when Father said those things about Danger Road. They would beg him to leave the candle lit. One evening, when Big Brothers and Big Sisters were close to leaving the den, Father said something different. He started the same as ever, “Never cross Danger Road. Many rabbits have died there.” but then he added, “If you absolutely must cross, ask Silence and Moon for assistance.”

This was what Runt was remembering as he stood at the end of Widest Path with his new friends. He recalled Father’s whisper on his twitchy cheek as he watched giant metal vehicles with giant rubber tires rage by on Danger Road. No one had ever mentioned the specific danger, but it was obvious now.

A few animals wandered along the side of Danger Road, in the ditch. They were afraid to cross and some of them told stories of dead animals down the way- Toad, Squirrel and Deer.

“Impossible,” said Runt. How could a big animal like Deer fail? And if Deer couldn’t get across, for sure, Runt wasn’t going anywhere either.

“Forget it,” he said to his friends. “We’ll never make it.”

“Sure we will,” said Little Raccoon. “Just hold hands and run fast.”

“What for?” asked Runt. “We don’t need to go anywhere. Everything we need is here.”

Wee Weasel rubbed his hands together. “Treats, my friend. We are going to Town for treats.”

“We crossed before – me and Wee Weasel and Squirrely,” added Little Raccoon.  “No worries. We’ll be back in a couple of days.”

“Besides,” grinned Little Skunk, “the sugar is worth it.”

Later in life, when he was so old that he had a patch of skin showing between his long ears, and a hint of grey in his wrinkled tan coat, Runt would look back on this moment in his life. It was the moment that everything changed. He didn’t realize that he was making a choice; he just liked his new friends.

Runt Rabbit’s stomach felt sour as if he’d eaten white strawberries. “Father told me to ask Silence and Moon for help.”

“We always do.”

And so it happened that some hours later, nine little animals faced Danger Road under Moon’s light in the middle of Night. Their arms were linked. After waiting carefully for Silence, Little Raccoon hissed, “Now!” and they scurried across as one being.

No one died.

Alternate ending due to the possibility of an electric vehicle these days:

They all died.

DSC03781 (2)art by Laurie

Stream Knows – a story from Bangan Forest, by Laurie Fraser

Stream Knows

It was one of May’s cool damp mornings. Fawn wore a beige sweater and an acorn necklace, but nothing on her legs. Her legs were so gorgeously awkward that no male of any species could pass by without gawking at them. Frogs and herons alike admired Fawn’s legs.

She came soundlessly out of Bangan Forest and stood for a moment where Long Grass began. Peace was all around except for Baby Jay squeaking for his mom. Turtle was beside Stream, acting like rocks. His dark eyes peered at Fawn from under the brim of his cap. Turtle was a sucker for legs, but he posed no threat. Fawn stepped over to Stream.

Her exquisite legs were on display as she splayed them apart and bent her mouth to Stream to drink, her saucy white tail in the air.

“Thank you,” she said to Stream, “you quench my thirst.”

“I’ve been gaining weight,” said Stream. “I could fill a camel.”

Fawn lifted her pretty head and looked around. At this point Stream moved slowly, hanging out with little pools and inlets, but further down Stream, rocks would break water into tiny white waves, causing Stream to spit up like a baby. She was small by nature, not a river, but Stream was long, and she knew mountain meadows as intimately as she knew Bangan Forest.

“I don’t know about a camel, but my brother is just behind me,” Fawn laughed her tinkling little laugh. The whole family needed Stream, and they visited every day.

Stream was birthed by Spring herself when Sun came closer each year. Sun hugged Snow with his many warm arms. Snow would melt with love for Sun and take off running and playing all the way down Bangan Mountain. And so it was that baby streams were born all over the place.

Sun hugged everyone- ice and snow, but also tree trunks and winter sleeping places. He woke bears and groundhogs and turtles. Old friend Rain came back as he always does, even Sleet showed up once in a while.

This Spring, Stream had grown until she felt quite large. Deep curves developed, pockets and eddies came into being. It was because of Sun’s warm kisses that her body was constantly changing. Stream adored Sun and would do anything for him, give him anything- even her own self.

Stream and Sun had a complicated relationship. History. They had kissed before- this wasn’t Stream’s first trip down the mountain, after all. Sun hugged the others- snakes and lizards and baby robins- but Stream was the one he kissed. Stream was special.

Stream freely admits to silliness and poor judgement those first heady days with Sun each Spring, when Pussywillow sang her songs, and Crow seemed to fight with everyone. Every year, Stream would expand and stretch under Sun’s attention, her little ripples giggling, her fingers reaching and reaching for more. She would rush and chase and take some crazy risks choosing her path, but streams are like that.

Of course, Day would grow longer then, and Sun had plenty of time for Stream. Stream could count on Sun to shine on her, warm her waves, glisten her peaks, reveal her precious stones. She loved to give to him- vapour, mist, wet kisses… whatever he asked.

The animals of Bangan Forest would come to slake their thirst and to feed too, for small fish frolicked in her. Stream slowed down with Summer and she gave to all who needed her: dragonflies, moose, clouds.

It wouldn’t be until late summer, but sooner or later, every year, Stream would give too much to Sun. Conversation would dry up first, and then it would come to pass that Stream herself would become quite weak. Sun became hard then, and he would dictate her path. He refused her soft kisses, and it broke her in places. Sun would glower and glare as Stream thinned. Bushes often grew nearby, gaining size by late summer, and she would try to hide under them. Sometimes clouds protected her. Rain rarely helped.

When Sun did bother to show up, he was cold and distant. He didn’t have much time for Stream. She would miss him then and call, but if Sun did pick up his phone, he made excuses: he had to work overtime, he wasn’t accustomed to Stream’s constant babbling.

The truth was that Sun had other streams. Spring was always arriving somewhere, causing melts and havoc everywhere she went. I mean, Spring is famous for that. In Paris or on a tall mountain, Spring will mess you up.

And this hard truth meant that Sun could not be present for Stream when leaves fell. Deserted every Autumn, Stream would cry until she was dangerously thin. Some years she barely survived, nothing but a frozen trickle on rock-hard ground.

Winter was good to her though, holding her safely in his strong arms every year. She could always count on Winter for some stability. He brought the Snows, and they guarded her too. She would rest there until Sun came nudging around again.

Oh, he was confident! He could play guitar and of course, being Sun, everything revolved around him. Beautiful, charismatic, he reached every year, reached for Stream.

“Not this year,” Stream would say, her icy thin arms still tight around herself under sleepy slopes of snow.

“Deer is thirsty,” Sun would tease. “She can’t drink ice.”

“She can eat snow!”

“Aww c’mon, Stream. Her babies are coming.”

“Not yet, they’re not.”

But Sun would flirt, you know how he does it- a clear ray right into an eye, a breaking smile, and then the hug that she had been missing… warmth.

“Sweetie,” he called her.

You could say that Stream never learns, but Stream would answer that she always forgives. Stream would say that she loves the cycles of life, the coming of Sun with all his mania, and the leaving of Sun with all his peace. Stream would say that when love encircles us- we must revel in it, expand, and when love has more important things to do- manoo, let it be, take a nap.

Stream knows about this, the cycles that always circle- seasons and water and love.

© Laurie Fraser 2020


Debwewin River – a story from Bangan Forest, by Laurie Fraser

Debwewin River

Oaky Dokey’s testimony was the most interesting, just because he was the oldest witness, the oldest by far. Oaky Dokey was 436 years old. Can you imagine? He has seen more than 5,000 full moons. He remembers when Bangan Forest had no borders, when there was nothing but trees and rivers and rocks; nothing but animals and birds and plants.

Oaky Dokey wasn’t the oldest tree, Black Gum was even older, but Oakey Dokey had spent his entire life beside Debwewin River with his roots pushed right through River’s North Bank, his gnarly toes in water every day. He was the best witness to what had happened to Debwewin, and so it was his role to come before Council and talk truth.

The case had been brought before the Council of Seven by Debwewin River himself. He cited his right to be clean. Council had come to River to hear witnesses on North Shore.

Oaky Dokey grew on a small crest; River was slightly lower and water was wide here. Long Grasses loved both water and land; they danced all over North Shore. Spectators and supporters had trooped over with the seven Council members and they stood around in small groups. The situation was critical.

Oaky Dokey had a gravelly voice. “From the time I was a boy, River has been my friend, cooling my toes, quenching my thirst, growing my leaves, fattening my acorns. We are entwined and my health depends on him.”

“What changes have you witnessed over the years?” Councillor Crow led the questioning.

“Before Town was built,” said Oaky Dokey, “changes were seasonal: flooding, freezing. Current moved around and Sand Bar was erratic, but the quality of water never changed. Spring streams fed Debwewin fresh melted snows and he was clean. Since Town arrived, I sometimes see garbage in River: plastic bags and cigarette butts. Sometimes there is a smell or a pool of oily substance floating on top of water and she can’t breathe then, through that oil.”

A surge of agreement erupted from groups of deer and beaver and heron.

Ducks quacked loudly from River and frogs pumped their fists. They hated the oil slicks. Trout had already testified about the smell. Goose had brought evidence: one of her babies was all sticky.

“Flooding has increased,” continued Oaky Dokey, “and streams come earlier now that Heat has intensified. Year after year, it is too warm. But the dramatic change has been recent, ever since Town humans built pipes and culverts to join Town water with River. Town water is dirty- brown and smelly- and it mixes into River, our pristine Debwewin.”

Stream testified next. “More animals come to me now because I am clean, and I taste better than River. They are depleting me.”

Councillor Turtle was concerned with Truth and so it was he who spoke next. ”Debwewin River has the right to be clean. It is his birthright. More than that, Debwewin shows us our true selves when we look into him. This truth must not be distorted by garbage or oil. Water must be clear.

This very council uses Debwewin River to show wrongdoers the truth of who they are. It is essential that water reflects clearly for the health and good function of our community.”

Councillor Wolf raised his bushy eyebrows. “May I remind you that Mr. Fisher is waiting for his day in court.”

Everyone already knew that Debwewin River’s case had been pushed ahead because of the Fisher case. There was no way to help Mr. Fisher when there was no Truth to be seen in Debwewin.

“Clearly there is an urgent need to rectify the problem,” Councillor Wise Beaver spoke up. “I’ve been out to the site a number of times. It is a matter of re-directing that sewage water back into Town. Give me a team and 3 days.”

It took 3 days of stealthy work and 3 nights of manic work. It took 45 beavers, maybe 20 or so turtles, and a slew of muskrats and otters. It took about a hundred otters, but you’d swear it was a thousand the way they swarmed the project… and wanted all the credit too at the end.

Wise Beaver’s design perplexed Town humans. It was weeks before they realized that their dirty water was being recycled right back to them. Wise Beaver had blocked the pipelines with dams so that dirty water couldn’t reach River. Otters’ slides and tunnels re-routed that Town water right into the water tower on the edge of Town.

Councillor Eagle took Debwewin River under her loving wing and he healed rapidly there. The trees and plants and animals poured love and gratitude into River as he quenched their thirst once again.

Mr. Fisher’s case came to Council and it was agreed that the time had come for Mr. Fisher to stop hitting Mrs. Fisher. Crow walked with him to Debwewin River, and Fisher looked at his own face in water.

Debwewin showed him the truth of who he was, for when Mr. Fisher looked in water he saw himself as a boy. A sad boy; a scared boy. He saw his father hitting his mother. Then he saw his father as a boy. A sad boy; a scared boy. He saw a teacher hitting that boy. And then Debwewin showed Mr. Fisher another truth. He showed him Little Fisher, his own son, sad and scared, growing up and hitting his wife.

Mr. Fisher saw all these truths in Debwewin River. He understood that he was a hurt fisher; not a bad fisher. Like all animals in Bangan Forest, Fisher trusted Debwewin River, and so he believed the Truth of who he was.

Humans figured it all out, of course- they are the clever ones. The Town workers unblocked the pipelines, bulldozers ripped apart the dams and tunnels. Garbage flowed directly into Debwewin River once more.

So, Wise Beaver’s team got back to work.

And then the bulldozers came back.

Just when it looked like the cycle would never end, a teenage human posted a few pics on Instagram. They went viral- did you see them? Pics of beavers at work, bulldozers at work, sewage flowing into River, trees weeping, ducks unable to fly with their heavy oily wings. Those pics were shared all over social media.

A reporter came and interviewed Oaky Dokey, Wise Beaver and Town Mayor. Mr. Fisher was on the news too. He explained how Debwewin had shown him his true self. He had taken his hurt to Eagle who gave him so much love, that he came to forgive himself and his father too. But the most important interview was with Debwewin River himself. It was the first time a river had been interviewed by a human.

The media exposés about the cycle of waste made people angry. Humans in Town gathered outside the mayor’s office. They pumped their fists like frogs. They pumped their fists for frogs… and oak trees and fish and fisher families. They protested for Debwewin, the truth of the matter.

And so it came to pass that Town workers installed some expensive machines that clean water. Beaver Team became a consulting firm, much in demand in Town. Mr. Fisher became a loving husband; Little Fisher grew up to be peaceful too. And Debwewin River’s rights were upheld- the right to be clean, the right to be treated as a living being, the right to be his own true self.

© Laurie Fraser 2021

Wild and Blue- a short story by Laurie Fraser

Wild and Blue

a story from Bangan Forest

Blue Sky was skinny and sharp and blue. That about covers it. He was no more than 2 inches tall, thin as a pin, sharp nose, pointy hat, blue skin. His skin was losing colour. I mean, he was born bright blue, but a decade later, he was more the colour of faded jeans. He’ll die young – all fairies do – and he’ll be translucent by then.

Blue awakened early in anticipation of Corn Moon. She would be full tonight. Blue climbed out of his bluebell blossom bed and slid down her stalk. Grass was taller than Blue. He pushed blades and stalks aside and made his way to Echinacea who had some drops of Morning Dew on her petals. He washed his hands and face in Dewdrop. Since it was a special day, he pulled off his pointy blue boots and washed his pointy blue feet too. It tinged Dewdrop blue, but Dewdrops are used to these fairy effects. I mean, sometimes, if you take the time to notice, dewdrops resting on Sweetgrass and flower petals in the early morning are many different colours: pink, green, gold, violet… depending on who’s been washing in them.

Deep Summer had a way of making everyone believe that she would never leave. She settled into Bangan Forest like a fat human in a double-wide chair: heavy heat spread into every nook and cranny. It seemed it would be too much of an effort for her to ever pull herself out. Temperature was already torrid as Blue picked his clothes for Corn Moon’s celebration. He picked 3 clover leaves and wrapped them around his body. His belt was Blade of grass who wound around his waist 3 times, that’s how skinny Blue was. He topped his outfit off with his blue felt hat. He’d worn that hat every day since he found it hanging on Tiny Twig, forgotten by a long-ago fairy. It was a bit sticky but that’s because he used it to filter maple syrup in Spring.

Blue gathered food for breakfast: fibre from Dandelion’s bitter leaf sweetened with honey drips from Bee’s hive and milk from Milkweed. After he ate, he sat on Earth and wrapped gifts to share at the celebration. He put several honey drips in the middle of Buttercup’s blossom and then folded her petals over one by one to protect the tacky treasure. He was building a pile of these sticky yellow gifts, absorbed in his task, when:


He startled even though he knew who it was immediately. “Wild! Don’t scare me like that!”

She giggled. “What are you doing?”

Blue showed her the sharing gifts. Wild had brought a little package of Primrose Pollen for the party, but she sat down beside Blue and helped him wrap Honey Drips. Soon they were both covered in honey up to their elbows. By then Morning Dew had evaporated, so they gathered the sharing gifts up in a sack and headed to Cricket Creek to wash up. The sack was heavy, but no dragonflies were around to help, so Blue and Wild held the sack between them as they doggedly flitted up and down, at the mercy of Breeze, all the way to Cricket Creek.

Wild checked her reflection in Water. She had fresh Daisy Blossom on her head, the white petals reflecting Sun and keeping her cool. Her enormous eyes were violet- smokey violet. Wild had picked a white party dress- 2 fresh rose petals. As always, lavender filled her shoes and pockets; lavender flowers tangled her long hair. They were even in her ears. Sometimes she woke up with lavender petals in her mouth! All of that was because she slept in Lavender Bush. Her full name was Wild Lavender, and Blue Sky adored her. She looked good and she smelled good, but most important of all, she was his best friend.

Once they were all cleaned up, they flitted over to Sunny Rock. Sunny Rock was wide, low and flat. Sun loved him and they were always hanging out together, making themselves quite popular with snakes and dragonflies and fairies. This morning, Sunny Rock was covered in fairies who wanted a ride to Little Clearing. Red Dragonfly Service was working non-stop, but there must have been 20 fairies waiting. Blue took Wild’s tiny hand in his and they flew down Elk’s Path a short way to get away from the crowd. A few minutes later, he flagged down LuLu Butterfly, and they were on their way.

Now, fairies will celebrate anything. Their lives are short and jam-packed with joy. Every single moment is worth celebrating in a fairy’s life. They celebrate new moons and full moons. They celebrate every new plant, every death; they celebrate the first fruit and the last fruit.

If you see a wild strawberry plant and there is a fairy ring around it, a ring where the grass is lighter and thinner, you can be sure that fairies danced there. You can be sure that this plant birthed the first strawberry of Summer. Fairies never eat that first white berry, even once it turns red. Well, no one in Bangan Forest does that, for all have agreed to abide by the Honourable Harvest rules, one of which is: Do not take the first one nor the last one.

This day Corn Moon would be full and Little Clearing was full of fairies: fairies in summer dresses, fairies in supple leaves, fairies in flower blossoms, fairies with no clothes at all, fairies with acorn lid hats, top hats, garden hats…

Wild and Blue took their sharing gifts over to Buttercup Clump. Many sharing gifts had already arrived: pine needle baskets and pouches too, dried salty plants from Old Swamp, soapberries from the other side of Bangan Mountain, Dandelion straws filled with honey and milk, Lavender from Outer Meadow, a wide selection of feathers, some White Birch syrup, a few flint flakes.

“How blessed we are in Bangan Forest!” said Wild.

“Plenty,” smiled Blue. He wanted to kiss her. He kicked the toe of his pointy blue boot into Earth. “Plenty blessed.”

“With food and friends,” Wild said. She wanted to kiss him, but she just took his hand.

The friends flew over Goldenrod and Asters. Little Clearing was busy, but it would be downright crowded with fairies by Nightfall. Some friends lived here, like Morel Mushrooms and Pond, Rockin’ Rocks and Lilypad Knot. Others travelled a long way for the festivity. Wood fairies, River Fairies and Mountain Fairies were all here, gathering to gather together.

Fairies celebrate the moment because they live in the moment. Although there was plenty of chatting, there was little actual news. Fairies don’t care about the past and they have no faith in the future, so for them, it’s just now. This Day’s news was that Corn Moon was full. No gossip. No fake news. No fearful imaginings. The only news a fairy needs is what to celebrate today.

Hummingbird had contributed to the buffet and she was a remarkable cook. Always humming, Daisy stuck behind her ear, Hummingbird loved to prepare festive foods. For Corn Moon, she had prepared corn muffins, corn panna cotta, corn chips, popped corn kernels, charred kernels, and creamed corn. No matter how much fairies ate, Hummingbird would dart in with more delicacies: candied crab apples on branches, pine nut brittle, candy floss clouds. To cut through the sweet treats, she served the tart tastes of Deep Summer: fresh blackberries and blueberries and ground cherries.

Blue filled 2 glasses with Nectar and brought one over to Wild who rested on Queen Anne’s Lace. He thought she was exquisite with her violet eyes and white rose petal dress, her long lavender braids and Queen’s throne. She reached out one delicate arm to take the drink.

“To this moment,” toasted Blue. It was Fairy’s Toast; it was always the same.

“To this moment,” grinned Wild. She thought he was spectacular with his blue skin and Clover clothes, his pointy nose and fancy boots.

Their glasses clinked as if they had kissed.

You would think Wild and Blue would kiss then. I mean, fairies don’t waste time. They cherish every moment. Like flutterbys and butterflies, fairies don’t live long. It’s their wings, their delicate wings. They are dripping fairy dust, dropping fairy dust everywhere they go. Enchanted dust that grants wishes, heals hearts and wields magic. So little precious dust, so little precious time. Because of this, fairies savour moments.

For sure, you’d think Blue would kiss Wild or maybe, Wild would kiss Blue… in that moment, that toasted moment… but they did not. All afternoon, Wild and Blue chose to sit side by side on Queen Anne’s Lace, holding hands and waiting for Corn Moon to show up. Who’s to say they didn’t savour every moment?

Deep Summer remained hot when Dusk arrived. Corn Moon showed up early; he was ecstatic to be full. He poured love down upon Mother Earth and all her life: plants, rocks, animals, humans, fairies. Moon loves all without judgement. If you exist, Moon loves you; it’s that simple.

Forest fairies and River fairies and Mountain fairies all danced in Moon’s light. Fairies love circles and Little Clearing was full of fairy circles: big circles, circles within circles, overlapping circles. Wild and Blue held hands as they danced, their wings beating faster than Hummingbird’s. Spirits were high. Fairies were drumming; fairies were strumming. Grasses swayed, flowers bobbed. Night Breeze was filled with petals and giggles and merriment.

Most feet were bare and not touching Earth at all. Fairies spun in pirouettes. Precious dust flew off fairies, sparkles sparkled. Fireflies joined the light show.

Each fairy was glowing their own colour, and as they circled together, they became halos of light. Pink halos, blue halos, golden rings rolling up into Starry Sky. Dancing fairies swirled like Saturn’s Ring. They whirled like Galaxy. And they were no less.

Wild and Blue were born of this place, Forest and Sky. Mother Earth’s love and Corn Moon’s love were one and the same to them. The love they had for each other was no less.

Corn Moon saw Wild and Blue dancing in her light. She saw sweet shyness in their hearts, and she pulled them close to her. Wild and Blue rose through Starry Sky on Moon’s beam. And so it happened that Corn Moon kissed Blue, and then she kissed Wild, right on the lips.

Still holding hands, they slid down Moon’s beam, back to Mother Earth, back to Queen Anne’s Lace.

Oh yes, you’re right. It happened there and it happened then, Blue Sky kissed Wild Lavender, or maybe Wild Lavender kissed Blue Sky in Corn Moon’s light. It was a tiny little kiss, and it changed the world.

How can one tiny fairy kiss change the whole world? Every kiss does that. Every kiss changes the world.

tree spirit