Time’s flown by. I’ve been here over three months now, an entire season. It’s been getting warmer and warmer, the rains are giving way to clear skies and beautiful winds…. And I’ve been a proper real genuine witch for three months without ruining anything!
Snowdrop swatted me, she says I’ve “always” been a proper witch. I’d argue but she bats me with her paw and she’s too cute to throw out the window. Who’d have thought I’d already have my familiar, a cottage, have met a demon, met the ruler of all demons, saved lives, cured bad farts…. It’s been a wild season.
I’m still not confident I’m doing this right, my education is missing so much and it’s a blessing this journal has so much knowledge in it. I wish I’d had a chance to meet Auria, maybe I still can? I wonder where she’s gone, there’s magic afoot and what’s concerning is I can’t feel it.
I’ve been spending time listening to the lands for anything amiss, any great works, but I can’t feel anything. I’m no expert yet but something this pervasive should have some residue. Maybe it’s part o-
Where was I? I can’t remember what that thought was going to be. Oh well, it’ll come back to me.
I was just interrupted by little Meg making some distinctly un-little noises hammering on the door. I just about fell out of my chair. Snowdrop is even more ashamed as she made a little mess, I think she’s embarassed she didn’t hear Meg coming either.
The reason she was making such a racket was to see if I would be coming down to the village for the festival. I didn’t even know about it, and her face when I said so was a picture of horror! How could I not know about The Festival?!
She took great delight in telling me, but while she’s many things a coherent narrator isn’t one of them. From the outpouring of descriptions it sounds like the village holds a spring festival to celebrate the opening of the flowers. It changes every year based on when the roses around the village go into bloom, with the flowers throughout the meadows following a few days later. They prepare so that the day they hold the festival is the day they’re supposed to open and there’s a bit of fortune telling; if they do open it’s going to be a warm summer, if not it’s going to be cold.
The festival is bright, joyous, full of colours and lights, and dancing. There’s a tradition of giving a flower to the person who has had the biggest impact on you this year. Not a romantic tradition, though sometimes used as such, but a platonic showing of respect. There’s also a jumble sale, which feels a little out of place. Everyone brings out the tat they’ve built up over the year and puts it out for sale.
Maybe I’ll sell some honey, I’ve got a little collection of it. My Nurse Willow has been growing really well, if I harvest some sap I could prepare some preserved bandages with disinfecting properties that anyone could use….
Okay it’s settled. I’m going to do some preparation and head down later today, apparently it’s mostly the sale today with the festival proper happening tomorrow into the evening.
Every time I think I’ve fallen in love with the village something like this happens and I realise I can love it just a little more. This is so… nice. Not ground-breaking, not exceptional, just perfect.
I’m sitting on a large blanket that was given to me along with a chalkboard to write up what I’m selling. I’ve put out my little jars of honey plus my bandages and some herbs for teas. I’ve seen so many people come by and stop to say hi to me specifically! People I’ve helped, people I’ve met, so much of the village.
I was going to pack up my wares to have a look around but I’m nearly sold out already!! The bandages are proving particularly popular, maybe I can teach a few people to make them and they can sell them directly? Or can I make them in bulk?
Anyway I’m making a nice few silver I’ll spend on whatever catches my eye.
No sign of the flowers blooming yet, but I’m getting a good feeling. I was never great at divination but all witches have the sense of things, and tomorrow should be special.
Phew, I’m back, a little more tired than I expected but with the spoils of war!
The sale was fun, everyone was set up on blankets or little tables they’d carried out from their houses. Everyone I went pass insisted on me stopping to say hi and chat, the actual stuff for sale was secondary to that. gossip is worth more than knickknacks apparently!
I did still pick up a few nice things. I bought some more decorations for the house, some plants and succulents that are a little harder to get here.
There were some lovely terrariums of blown glass over some driftwood from the lake with native plants in them. When I got close I realised the driftwood was soaked in memories so I made a bargain, in the spirit of the market, and in return for one of them I called out the Memories from the batch of 10 there. It’s a lovely effect where faintly coloured mist wafts around the water life a current, swirling in and out of the wood. They’re quite beautiful.
There were some second hand clothes that were sturdy and my size I snapped up, thick dresses for the winter and a heavy coat. I debated about a pretty dress with floral trim in a pale green. It looked so nice but I couldn’t see myself in it, though I… wanted to. I spent too long trying to decide, walked away a little and came back discreetly, but it had been sold. I guess that makes that decision for me.
I bought a load of wood and nails, and some tools too. I’ve decided my cottage is too sparse and I need to start working on it! Some more garden plots for growing herbs, more furniture, maybe even some expansions to the house if I’m feeling really brave. But a start. This is my home and I’m going to make it mine.
It’s getting late now and I want an early night ready for tomorrow.
Well, I feel like an ass.
Iris came by to talk with me. She seemed really nervous and Meg wasn’t with her. I invited her in, offered her tea, but she said she didn’t have time to stop. She sets up a little station in the village in case there are any injuries during the evening’s celebration and she’s not finished yet.
But she wanted to…. apologise to me.
I didn’t understand, it was so out of the blue I just stood stunned for a moment, but I had to ask her what she was apologising for.
She said she didn’t know what had happened in the past but clearly I was uncomfortable around her. I was cold, abrupt, and avoidant, even when I was completely different with everyone else in the village including her own daughter. And Meg had noticed, and was asking why I didn’t like her.
So she’d come to apologise, not to berate me, to say she understood doctors across the world could do things to make people dislike the profession… but that she wanted me to see that just like not all witches cackle in cottages eating children not all doctors were callous and cruel know-it-all’s.
Even if we were never close she hoped we could be at a better place for Meg. Meg who, she said, had never been as fascinated by anyone else, who wanted a little black hat of her own, who bought home particularly nice sticks to add to her “wand” collection. Who was worried I didn’t like the person she loved most in the world; her mother.
And that hurt.
She told me she’d be happy to talk more, if I wanted to talk to her about it she’d listen and not judge, but if I didn’t want to that was okay too.
But worst of all she left me a little package wrapped in brown paper, tied with a little ribbon and a little card, and went back to the village to leave me with my thoughts.
Why did she have to be so nice about it, why didn’t I notice how awful I was being?! It would have been better if she’d shouted at me and told me off, but she’s just so… understanding. And she’s right, I’ve judged an entire profession by the examples of a few and decided they’re all like that. Of all people surely I should know better than to assign traits to people because of arbitrary details before I get to know them.
The little card…. well lets just say Snowdrop had to get me a handkerchief and comfort me for a while. I’ve included it here.
I saw you looking at this as if you couldn’t decided whether to buy it or not. Hopefully I didn’t misjudge but if you don’t like it now you can get rid of it without worrying you made a mistake buying it. And I think it will look very pretty on you.
She’d bought me the dress I could decide on. Wrapped nicely, folded carefully, so thoughtful.
But I’ve done my crying now, I need to stop pitying myself. What’s done is done, now I need to make amends. Snowdrop has some ideas, all revolving around a visit to our friend the Elf, hoping they’re there, and making a deal.
HELLO THIZ IS SN-
WRITNG IS HARD WITH PAWS
Apologies for the previous entry, it seems one of the limitations of my current form is an inability to hold a pen proficiently. Thankfully I have located an assistant in the form of Olma who is happy to assist me in putting my thoughts to this journal. Of course Samara should, by right, be updating this; however she is currently reoccupied and I have taken the liberty of capturing this moment on her behalf.
It is currently late evening, late enough the festival has begun to wind down. The children have been sent to bed and all who remain are small groups of friends and intimate couples.
The festival has been striking, Olma confirms that this has been a celebration that will be remembered for many years to come. She suspects Samara and I have something to do with this, but it would be crass to claim credit for what is a purely natural event. Her expression seems to indicate she does not believe me, but this is the truth.
Samara and I attended the festival after we were done with our business in the Grove. She bought the dress with her, not certain in herself why, along with her broom and wand.
It was mid afternoon and High Rannoc was a very different place. Large tables had been set up in the fields surrounding the settlement, tables and stools placed everywhere such that nobody was without a place to sit. Everyone was out in bright clothing, flowers adoring hair and buttonholes, food and drink flowing freely.
A few people recognised Samara and in good humour bought her to their table for a drink and to talk. We both learned more about this event, the celebration of flowers and the coming summer, of life and love. It is in poor taste, according to those who we spoke to, to wear dark clothing to such a celebration, however as Samara is a witch this seems to counterbalance any bad luck she might bring. In fact everyone was keen to talk to her, to shake her hand, for her to tip her hat to them. It seems she is a sign of good fortune for the year to come!
We spent the afternoon walking amongst the villagers drinking, taking small pieces of food, being given treats and scratches. I must clarify that those last two were for myself.
Samara proved to be popular with children and those with strong nerves when she allowed the use of her broom. While holding it and flying alongside she allowed one or two people at a time to ride more traditionally. The shrieks are children were led around at waist height behind her drew enough attention a few younger men and women decided they could impress their friends or lovers by being taken up higher. There were a few instances of someone suddenly gaining a new fear of heights when they looked down, but for the most part her efforts were appreciated.
As evening approached the flowers had not opened and there was a sense of disappointment through the gathering. Tolbem expertly navigated this and within moments had arranged lanterns and torches passed around and set up. The field quickly sprang from a gathering gloom to a flickering brightness. Dozens of small fires and lamps, larger fires for warmth, people clustering and laughing. As the fireflies descended on the gathering there was a sense of power in the air, a moment of magic. Were Samara further in her journey I’m sure she could have orchestrated a great working in this moment.
As it stood she decided she couldn’t avoid Iris any more and asked Tolbem for a private space. She changed into the dress, removed her hat and left her broom, though she did tuck her wand into a sleeve. Witches and their comfort channelling objects!
I am proud to say although she was shaking she controlled herself and stepped out into the dusk with more confidence than she felt. I, of course, followed as her steward and protector. She turned more than a few heads, men and women who had seen her only as The Witch suddenly saw a young woman in a flowing dress stroll out as if the moment was made for her. And in some respects I believe our friend in the woods, no Olma I will not elaborate, may have made it so.
I’m unsure if Samara was aware of her effect as she looked around with singular purpose. As soon as she locked eyes on Iris playing with Meg at a table she began to stride over to her. As she did, well… spring turned to summer.
A wave rippled out from her as the flowers bloomed one after the other in the dying light, a ripple of colour spreading across field, then the hills. It was almost as if someone had been waiting for an opportunity to give the world a little theatrical nudge.
People were shocked, of course. Although she hadn’t intended it Samara had ushered in summer for the valley! As she walked the seasons changed and the flowers opened. The fires flickered, the night drew deep, and the field was left lit by only the full moon and the orange glow.
There were whispers and gasps, people were caught up in the moment, and in no time a player had taken up on a flute to everyone’s delight. While Samara approached a now shocked Iris and had a quiet word with her the rest High Rannoc began the dace. And what a dance.
I lack clear memories of a lot of my bondings but moments like this bring back a sense of nostalgia and fragmented memories. Ballrooms full of twirling lords and ladies, circles of caravans with huge families dancing by firelight, ceremonies in the height of summer to praise the sun with bells and drums, and those held in the dead of winter in silence to honour the passing of the night…. All of these moments share something even in their stark differences. Moments of connection, of celebration even in the face of adversity. Moments a community comes together with one mind and one purpose.
This is where we find ourselves. Even those of us less suited to a dance like myself and Olma can appreciate and be a part of it. We sit on the side, clapping along as more musicians join in, laughing as someone clumsily twirls a partner, cheering a particularly well executed dip, smiling knowingly as a pair of young ladies pull each other close for their first kiss.
In some was Olma and myself have a lot in common. We are both part of this and yet not, our experience and knowledge giving us insight that our forms cannot harness. There’s something bittersweet about it. Maybe one day Olma will even explain to me how she is able to hear my voice to clearly, but tonight is not the night to pry when she has done such a favour for me.
I can see Samara and Iris in the centre of the impromptu dance floor now, sharing a quiet moment between themselves. There is reconciliation, a tenseness still but understanding that it will fade. Maybe something more can grow here, should they both wish it.
Tolbem is coming out now, carrying a cushion with a delicately woven crown of flowers resting on it. It’s beautiful, a work of genuine art, only improved by its fleeting nature. The crowd laugh and cheer, they show their appreciation as he stands before them and calls for silence.
He talks to them of a difficult year, of hard work and sacrifice. Of losing old friends and finding new ones. The village bow their head as he leads them in remembering those who have passed, and for a moment we are all lost in memory. Then he pulls us forward, welcoming those who have been born and yet to be born.
He holds the crown aloft and proclaims it is time for the Queen or the King of Flowers to be announced for the year. There is a murmur that shoots around the field, talk begins to spring up of who it should be, before he raises a hand and everyone falls silent. After a pause he shouts out; “Who, High Rannoc? Who do you put forward?” and there is a rustle, a breath drawn in, before Violet shouts out “Samara!”.
I can feel the whispering start up again, and people begin to voice their opinion. First one shouts an agreement, then another, then a wave of voices as the crowd separates to gently nudge her forward. Tolbem looks on in surprise, a witch is a witch! They’re not part of the celebration in the same way a villager is; they sit outside and above it all, a being watching and guiding but not a part of things. But after a moment he sees what Olma and I see; a young girl who is nervous, someone unused to being the centre of attention and now has every eye on her, who has been taught to stay out of sight and out of mind, who has never had all of this.
And he gestures her forward as someone rushes over with a stool. He climbs up and asks her to face the crowd before placing the crown on her head and proclaims; “High Rannoc! It gives me great pleasure to introduce you to Samara; the Queen of Flowers for the coming year! May the year treat us, and her, well!”
A celebration indeed.
Moments like this are one of the greatest joys a familiar can feel. A young witch, a young person, beginning to step into the world and their place in it. Not all have these opportunities, and not all have the same challenges as Samara has. And yet she has made something precious here, and will continue to do so.
She is calling me now, I shall request Olma returns this journal to where Samara left it so she does not worry. Perhaps she will look back on this entry and read it, perhaps Auria will decide it is best hidden from sight for now and reveal it to her at a later date, who can say?
I look forward to the coming season, and our continued growth.Photo by chi liu on Unsplash