Whispering Wind was very excited. Stella (the blue imp) had opened up many avenues in his life, one of which had been the ability to speak with animals. Stella had proved most helpful in the matter of the beetle infestation at Rose’s farm. It had turned out that the green imp he had chased had left behind the beetles, which were able to multiply when they were seen by non-imp eyes. Furthermore, the green imps had the ability to enlarge the beetles and then ride upon their backs, which they did:: when they were going to battle. The boy had learned from Stella that the green and red imps were allies and when she had seen the beetles she had been alarmed for it indicated that a beetle army was being raised and who would the red and green imps march upon? The blue imps of course for they had recently opposed the red imps in a council hearing on the matter of mining gems. Stella had called a flock of odd raccoony birds to Rose’s farm and the birds had set up residence there, keeping the metallic insects from multiplying into infestations of disastrous proportions. The birds would eat them down to just one or two and then leave them to grow in numbers before feasting on them again. Stella herself liked to snack on them from time to time and so she’d go over and crunch and munch with the birds, and they were happy, while Rose was marveling at this bit of good luck that had come her way.
He had made friends with the rabbit family that hung about with the chickens near the blackberry bushes, and Mother Ruth Rabbit had invited him to a Midsummer Evening Celebration, along with his friends Sally, Suzy, and Lightfingers. They had baked all day and were taking two cakes, for Ruth had asked that every guest bring their most favorite food to share. Now they were headed to the circle in the woods that Ruth had told them was the doorway to the party, and there it was! They entered and while it seemed as though they hadn’t moved, the world around them had changed. There was a luminous silver mare waiting to carry them to the revelries and Stella had opened her wings and flown off in a shimmer of mist to find her family, for Ruth had invited Everyone to this fête . . .
Mother Rabbit was in the woods where the creaking pines and groaning hemlocks grew, their branches spiraling up toward the sky; a stairway to heaven it seemed to her small eyes looking up so high. Sometimes a great blue heron or turkey vulture took respite on their limbs. Today they were simply outstretched and the birds were elsewhere dancing in the clearing. She’d been watching little Baxter Rabbit playing with his friend Pepita Puppy and standing beneath the boughs she had spotted something earlier, but what had it been? It had flickered past her dancing by the edges of her eyes in a show of orange with dark markings, little dabs and daubs and a squiggle or two. She was hunting for it while the great old trees watched Baxter and Pepita play, she knew they’d warn her of any danger for they were grand old sentinels these trees. Though it seemed like they didn’t say much they were quick to rustle and blow when they needed to. Baxter and Pepita were rolling about and scruffing up their fur in the pine needles and cushiony moss by the creek, taking turns to toss small twigs and pinecones into the flowing water::boats for the wee folk flying by to sit upon while the floaters carried them along and they brightened the waters with sparkle dust sprinkled from the elder wands they carried.
Mother Rabbit hopped along searching for the splash of orange when she heard the birch branches move ever so slightly, opening a window for her to look through where she’d left the revelries for this woodland foray with the children . . . she saw her older two, Rose and Ronald load up their grape leaf platters full to the brim with food from the toadstool tables bearing juicy blackberries, toasted walnuts, minted peaches, elderberry cordial, wild carrot jelly, sunflower seed honey bread, and succulent jewelweed salads amongst other tasty treats. Her families’ guests were waiting patiently, though empty plated, for the rambunctious bunnies to finish. Her nose trembled as she watched them and she was about to rush off in a mad dash into the clearing where she would knock the plates out of their hands, sweep them off their seats, and bark at them as loud as a bunny can bark,
“Guests first lads and lassies! Guests foremost, before all else! Guests before sense!! Guests, guests, guests, it’s all about guests!!”
Why she’d grab up a spoon and heap food onto all the guests plates in piles and piles . . . she was about to go ahead in this pell mell hurry scurry fashion when she heard the cool airy voice of Birch penetrate her reverie:
“Leave them for now Mama, relax! What’s done is done and cannot be undone, their plates are full and look they’re even seated, and none are the worse for the wear. Attend to it later if you must, you’ll know when the time is ripe; now is simply the time for seeing that change is on the way.”
Mother Rabbit breathed deeply and felt her panic subside.
“You’re right Birch whatever got into me?!? After all, it isn’t the end of the world is it, if they’ve gone first? Proper etiquette isn’t observed all the time, right on time, ding dong, hup to march past, to begin with! Who in the world is born knowing such things anyway? And what makes right behavior something vaunted? Does it apply regardless of the circumstances in life, fixed as an unbreakable world-shattering rule? It used to be the young ones were served and seated to get them settled; they’re just doing as they’ve always done!”
“Hmm”, said silver barked Birch with a touch of amusement, “You did get in quite a tizzy Mother Rabbit! Do you know the tale of the one eyed giant? He lived long ago and I heard the tale myself through the grapevine as it were; it was told that he kept quite a tidy food-packed cave on an island somewhere, well stocked it was. One day he returned to find thirteen men feasting on his stores, imagine his fury to find them not only inside his cave but wining and dining on the fruits of his labors! He rolled a rock over the cave mouth to keep them in, helped himself to two as a treat, and decided he would punish them by keeping them as food.
Well, the men wouldn’t have any of this and the next day after he’d eaten two more of the crew he got into talking with their leader who tricked him into drinking a little too much. The men then drove a spear through his one eye, blinding him. They tied themselves to the underbellies of his herd of sheep while he stumbled and fell asleep. When he let the sheep out to graze later he felt their backs to make sure his captives weren’t making an escape atop them, but he didn’t feel their undersides and so the remaining men got out with their lives though not before their leader boastfully shouted his true name to the giant, “Odysseus I am who bested and blinded you!” They sailed away on their ship then and were later plagued by the giant’s father, Poseidon, who ruled the seas and was enraged at what had been done to his son.
Now, the men claimed this was fair for Polyphemus, the giant, had broken with the rites governing hospitality in their perspective, although as far as he was concerned those rites did not apply to breakers and enterers. Who’s right, who’s right wrong? Pick one, the other or both to champion, whatever your choice is it is in common agreement in all far and wide flung parts of the world that there are conducts governing hospitality, which your children have yet to learn and perhaps that is what you were het up about Mother Rabbit?”
“Yes, I suppose so, now that you mention it Birch, it could be just that”, she said slowly, “There’s so much to pick and choose from in life and sometimes it can be both cumbersome and overwhelming to sort through what to pass along and what not to! But it’s true, there’s a time and place for everything and I’m most glad that I didn’t go leaping off like I was imagining, why that would have been quite truly a display of gross misconduct!”
She giggled until her giggles turned into laughter and Birch chuckled with her, his chuckles rustling up her laugh and tinting his leaves a slight golden yellow color hinting at the autumn days ahead.