Bookshelf: An interlude

Long, hazy days of summer were replaced with unpredictable fall. Mornings would break with mists hovering over water and the sun was reluctant to shake off the cloudy covers and rise and shine.

In one certain household much packing was being done. This was not just the casual packing of a short trip but a considered process of determining what was definitely, what was maybe and what was sadly, no.

Finally boxes were piled against the bedroom door, clothes neatly placed in suitcases, the bed was stripped and linen washed and folded neatly and the room given a farewell clean.

A young girl stood in the room and took a final look. The room that had been her shelter and work place her favourite environment for growing and becoming had performed its duty well and she felt ready to take on the new world that awaited. Sadly she could not take all her belongings with her at this time but she was sure she would return for them at some time. Taking one last look around she focused on her beloved. Opening the bereau one last time she took out the items she needed and whispered, “goodbye”.

Closing the bedroom door felt like the end of one life; opening the car door and taking her seat next to her father was the beginning of a new life. Her place at college in Liverpool promised new adventures, new people and new challenges. Yet she would always remember that her room and her belongings would await her return.

As the car drove away, the dust mites danced in the early morning sun, then settled familiarly on the contents of the room. It seemed that the bookshelf empty of all but a couple of books and the inner sanctuary of the bureau containing a few letters and notepads settled too, patiently waiting for the young girl who would return as a woman.

Rock: the boy and the rule

There was a boy. Seven years old, loving and kind he had the gift of sensitivity. This gift allowed him to take walks with his family to make them happy even though at first it was not what he wanted to do.

Then he realised that actually he did like being out in the woods. He looked up to the sky and noticed the trees reaching up to heaven and providing shelter to birds and animals and tiny insects. Closing his eyes he connected with the spirit of the place and found comfort and joy in the silence.

Following the path he picked up a stick for navigation and protection and a rock for power and strength. These were his only weapons against the wild animals of the forest but he knew he could rely on them. They were all he needed. With these he could be stronger, faster and better able to protect those he loved.

There was a rock. A dull small piece of black cinder that nobody noticed until the sun glinted in just the right way to catch the light of the rocks anthracite. It happened many times but it would take a small person, walking slowly and deliberately head down to notice how beautiful the rock really was. It was a case of being the right person, in the right place at the most opportune time for the magic to work.

It was on this special, magical, New Year’s Day that moment arrived. The boy, thinking of nothing in particular but carrying the thoughts of all his seven year existence on his mind, noticed the glitter and peculiarity of the rock and without conscious thought picked it up and shared the moment of connection with his grandmother, “Look at my rock. It is my rock and it is special.”

Lighter on his feet, he used the small hill to quickly catch up with his family. He was a boy but a Knight of the forest realm and Lord of the pathways.

They continued on facing dangerous swamps, scrambling along treacherous paths and having to cross bridges and walk narrow branches to pass from one hidden path to the other. Sometimes it was nice to chat and share ideas and feelings as they walked. Other times it was better to be quiet and listen to the spirit of the forest and the voices of natural things. In contrast, being content and overwhelmed with the huge expanse and depth of feeling, it was a release to sing and shout aloud even if they were made-up on the spot nonsense songs. The repetition seemed important, rather like casting out a line into the deep waters of the place so to be anchored or to catch hold of time and space.

All this time the boy, and his stick and his rock were a trio of comrades. Ready to take on the world, fight the doubts and uncertainties and learn to be brave as well as good and kind.

Then, there was the rule. The rule was strong and right, made for the protection of all. Although the boy heard the rule he did not want to listen with understanding. The rule became stronger and firmer, “NOTHING SHOULD BE TAKEN FROM THIS PLACE. DO NOT TAKE STICKS, PLANTS, DIRT AND ESPECIALLY ROCKS. PLEASE LEAVE FOR EVERYONE TO ENJOY. BY ORDER OF THE KING OF THE UNIVERSE!!

Actually, it didn’t say that last bit, but the boy felt as if it did. He did not like the rule, and what he did not like, he made big in his mind, so that he could try to stand up against it. It became a power struggle, boy against the rule and those who made the rule. He did not want to leave the stick. But most of all, he did not want to leave his rock. It was his special rock. It was his companion and his trophy. The thought of leaving it, abandoned on the pathway was too much to bear. He did not cry, he would not give them that made the rule that power over him, but he felt weighted down by loss and confusion.

“This is not good, or right, or fair!” he shouted.

He walked on because he had to do so. Grandmother walked quietly beside him and when she thought it was time, she squeezed his shoulder, or rubbed his back, or gently whispered, “I love you”. His family walked with him, and slowly and surely, the rule did not seem as big any more. The boy used all of his seven years of doing right, of being generous and kind, and gathered all of his wisdom into one huge warm feeling in his heart and knew it was okay.

The rock glistens in the sunshine.

There is a rock that glistens and shines in the sunshine. It lies on the pathway to the forest of adventure and stories, for all to find and carry just for a time, and then leave behind until you should come and find it. When you do, listen to the story of the seven year old boy, who walked and talked and sang songs but most of all learned to be brave and follow the rule.

Bookshelf: Romance

My owner loves me. This is a fact best revealed in the way she caresses my frame and lovingly oils and polishes me. I appreciate the care she takes to keep me looking good which suits my purpose. Books and magazines are stored in order. Her favourite poetry and novels, story books she cannot relinquish even though they are now from childhood and her carefully stacked collection of Geographical magazines which she reads thoroughly both for study and pleasure.

Inside my bureau, carefully locked, are her treasured items. One day she surprised me with a present. She had returned from holiday and placed my key onto a keyring in the shape of a horseshoe. She told me the story of how they had visited a forge and she had bought the small horseshoe keyring to remember the holiday and because she thought the rustic looking horseshoe contrasted with my refinement. It was her quirky sense of style and romance and I loved it.

Other reminders of holidays were also kept within the cubbies of my bureau. Postcards, photographs, bookmarks or small books. All tokens of her varied interests and hobbies.

Then came the letters. Sometimes, short ones written on blue paper with special airmail postage. Then others, longer and sometimes including pictures or other items, perhaps a faded leaf or flower.

I could sense changes of mood in my owner. Sometimes she would be happy and would hum and sing whilst she worked. Other times she would seem anxious and perhaps a bit petulant.

However the letters kept coming quite regularly. There were so many of them they had to be stored in other places, only the most recent ones kept to hand until she had replied. Oh yes, she was kept just as busy writing similar letters. Usually a couple of short blue ones during the week, and then longer ones at the weekend. I hoped she was not forgetting her studies.

Other changes were also happening. Holidays were now taken at different times. The family were growing up and becoming more independent. Suddenly a very new and important document appeared in my bureau for safe keeping. It was a passport. Also there seemed to be many forms to be filled out, and different booklets to be looked at. I found out that they were to do with college.

Then I began to get worried. Was I going to be left alone? Was I even needed any more? Would I be abandoned for a larger, more important desk?

As the year turned from late spring, to summer, I noticed more studying being done. Late nights, early mornings. Books were hardly put away but left untidily on the shelf. Sometimes I was even left open, unlocked overnight with papers and scribbled notes left scattered around. Words such as exams, reports, college and interviews were all part of my owner’s vocabulary which seemed to make her stressed. But then there would be exciting talk of holidays, the passport again, travel tickets and aeroplanes.

Then my owner would be happy again and would laugh and read one of the letters, her eyes sparkling and her face glowing. These were the best times.

Then on one day, it all seemed to end. I was lovingly restored to order. My owner carefully polished me and tidied me. I also noticed that clothes from the wardrobe were packed into suitcases. The passport and tickets were taken out of their places and placed on the top shelf with a purse and small bag ready for the next day.

I felt sad that my owner was going away again. This time for the whole summer. She was going to Canada, and I had a feeling it was something to do with those letters both sent and received. I began to realise that many things were going to change but I was happy for my owner.

As she left the next morning, she took one look at her clean and tidy room and whispered goodbye, sighed and then said, quietly, “I’ll be back after the Summer.”

I was left to wonder, what’s next?

Bookshelf: the beginning

The auction.

I was with my father, I was about 12 or 13 and we were at our favourite auction house. It was love at first sight. This bureau and I were meant to be together. My hands caressed the wood which felt warm to my touch. Slowly easing out the drawer revealed a former life with aged newspaper lining. I dared to turn the key and unlock the case to reveal the compartments for letters, pens, the tiny draw for those precious items that I would stow away. I loved the smell of the wood and the fragrance of the lingering memories of previous owners.

Thankfully my father recognised my longing for this exquisite piece of furniture and he did what only a father can do and opened the bidding. I don’t remember much about the sale, but I do remember the feeling of gratitude, recognising that this was a gift of love.

It took pride of place in my new bedroom and slowly began to hold my treasures. My first attempts at writing, short stories and fumbling verses I called poetry. Later, it held letters from special people, including the Canadian boyfriend, later to become fiancee and husband….

.. but that maybe another story.

Gen 2 Rev – Abridged

The gentle art of Poohsticks

After a day on the farm, it was time to head home.

One last job to make the day complete.


The best stick


Carefully choosing the best stick (which one do you think?) I headed over to the bridge.

Flowing along, in a gentle manner, river was not in a hurry.  It was time to think and catch up with itself and connect with all manner of people who had played that day.


Judging where to drop to catch the best current, a pause, and then quick release, I wished my stick God speed on its important journey.

Count to 10, then cross the bridge to watch stick come safely through.

Is he there?  Can you see him?  Has he got stuck?

No, there he is …  I see him!


Just emerging from that cluster of leaves and other flora; he’s safely on his way to worlds unknown.

Have a lovely trip, stick.  Thank you for playing.


Rules and regulations so you too can play.

Story writing with the grandson


Here is my Dragon

One day a dragon flew over the town.  He liked the town very much but he did not think the town liked him.  They were afraid of his long, spiky tail.  They could not survive his hot, hot fiery burps.  And the worst thing was his bad breath!

“What can I do?” he said  “I want to live in this  town, I want to go to the library and read the books.  I want to play in the park and eat ice-cream.  I want to go to school and learn how to do experiments and add 2 and 5 and play games and write my name.”

“But most of all I want to swim in the cool deep river and lay on the river bank and give rides to the children.”

Dragon thought and thought and then he had an idea.  It was a good idea.  It was a great idea.  It was the best idea of all.   He would do something brave and wonderful for the town so that they would know that he did not want to hurt them.  He just had to wait for the right time.


The boy on top of the volcano.

This volcano is big and is just on the edge of a town.  Usually the volcano is quiet and calm.  It is sleeping the children said.  The grownups thought, “it is dormant, but we never will trust the volcano”.

One day a boy decided to climb the volcano.  He wanted to get to the top to be the king of the castle.  He had a good breakfast and packed his lunch and set off.  He followed the road that led up the beginning of the volcano.  The road stopped at a little cafe selling hot chocolate, pancakes and small souvenirs of little working volcanoes and clockwork trains.  The boy drank a mug of hot chocolate then carried on up the side of the volcano following the small track.  Mountain goats jumped across the rocks on the mountain side and they asked the boy where he was going.  “I’m going to be king of the volcano and the castle.” he said. ” I am going to get to the top by dinner time and I will fly my flag and be king of the castle and the volcano and everyone will be happy because I am king.”

The goats admired the boy’s courage and tenacity but they did not trust the volcano.

The boy climbed and climbed past the track and the grass grew thinner and the path was covered in rocks and the ground shivered and shook.

The boy said,” I will soon be king of the castle and this volcano” and then the ground will stop shaking and shivering and it will be still.

But he began to feel afraid and he did not trust the volcano.

The people in the town missed the boy and saw that he had started to climb the volcano.  They were worried and afraid for the boy.  They did not trust the volcano at all and they did not want the boy to get hurt, but how could they get the boy down?  Who was brave enough to climb up the volcano?  NO-ONE.  Nobody trusted the volcano who rumbled and shivered and shook and did not want the boy to be king.

There was one thing that would save the boy?  Who was it?


The river flowed quiet and softly along the riverbank and the sun shone in the sky.  The water in the river was cool but the sun warmed the air and the grass on the bank.

A tall tree grew by the river, its roots going deep down into the soil, spreading along the bank.  It was solid and firm and aged and had the wisdom of time and knowledge of all things growing.

This was the favourite place for dragon to rest after his swim.  But today he was restless; the river had whispered and jostled him so that he climbed out onto the bank.  Under the tree, the roots of the tree felt uneasy and would not let him rest.  Dragon looked up to the volcano.  He saw a speck walking up the volcano.  Then Dragon knew what he had to do.

Slowly he stood.  He uncurled his long tail and groomed his scales so that they glimmered in the sun.  He breathed deeply and unfurled his wings.  They lifted in the air and cast shadows on the ground.  They were strong and mighty and released the dragon from the ground into the air.  He flew higher and faster and faster and higher until he was close to the volcano.  Now the speck became a dot, then the dot became a shape and the shape became recognisable as a boy and the boy looked scared and did not want to be king of the castle and the volcano anymore.  He wanted to go home and have hot buttered toast for tea and be with his family.

As he walked he felt a shadow over him.  He looked up and saw the dragon.  Could the dragon save him?  He waved to the dragon and the dragon circled around him and landed on the top of the volcano.

“Where are you going boy?” Dragon asked.

The boy explained his adventure; that he thought he could be king of the castle and the volcano, but that as he climbed he learned not to trust the volcano that shivered and shook and grumbled below his feet.

“That is well”, said the Dragon.  “Volcanoes are fiery and dreadful and can never be trusted even if they have slept for years and years.”

“Will you take me home, Dragon?” asked the boy.  “I think I can trust you. You look strong and brave and I like your tail that shines and your wings that cover the ground and your breath is warm and gentle.”

Dragon was happy and he taught the boy how to climb on his back without getting hurt on his sharp tail and he told him how to snuggle in the safe place on his back between his wings and he spread his wings and rose in the air and carried the boy back to his mother and father and his sister and baby brother.

All the town saw what the Dragon had done.  They heard about the boy and his adventure and they knew that they were right to not trust the volcano that shook and shivered and rumbled and one day may wake from its sleep.

But they learned that they were wrong to not trust the dragon because although he looked fierce and cross and fiery, he was gentle and good and just wanted to have a place to belong.