On the Hunt for a Sprite on a Midsummer’s Night

Every summer evening at 7 o’clock, Thomas Ashcraft receives a personalized weather report. It is monsoon season, and he is getting advice from a meteorologist in Colorado on where to look for the massive thunderstorms that erupt over the western High Plains.

Armed with sensitive cameras and radio telescopes, Mr. Ashcraft hunts for sprites — majestic emanations of light that flash for an instant high above the thunderheads, appearing in the shapes of red glowing jellyfish, carrots, angels, broccoli, or mandrake roots with blue dangly tendrils. (Weather buffs call the tall, skinny ones “diet sprites.”) No two are alike.”

Read more from nytimes.

Imagine Puck before The Iron King, killing time as a not-so-typical college student names Robbie Goodfell.
Imagine him and Meghan sitting in English class one day as their teacher wheels in a rickety old TV set and begins a lecture on “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”.
“Now,” he says, folding his arms over his chest, “Who here has actually read A Midsummer Night’s Dream?”
To Meghan’s astonishment, Robbie raises his hand.
The teacher states.
“You read the whole thing, Goodfell?” he asks skeptically.
“Yes, sir,” Robbie says with a grin.
“Alright, summarize it for me.”
“Hey, Puck. Do this, Puck. No, Puck. Fix it, Puck. Dammit, Puck. And they all lived happily ever after. The end.”
There’s a round of snickering and the teacher smirks.
“Close enough,” he says, turning away to flip on the TV. “Good job, Goodfell.”
Robbie is looking exceptionally smug as he turns to wink at Meghan, who is still staring at him.
“What?” he asks.
“You read?” she asks, stunned.
Robbie rolls his eyes. “Yes, Princess, I read.”

first

After two weeks of arguments, stalemates, and legal paperwork, Shibazaki finally was given custody of Twelve and Nine. When the boys were told to choose new names for themselves, they chose Hisami and Kokonoe respectively. After everything was signed, double and triple checked, they headed out into the countryside towards the country house.

The trip was done in complete silence. Any attempts from Shibazaki to create conversation failed to pierce through the wall the boys had surrounded themselves in. When they finally reached the house, it was late in the afternoon under the heat of the midsummer.

Everyone exited the car and stared at the rather plain house. “It’s not much,” sighed Shibazaki, “But it’s not a bad place to live. We’ll probably have to open all the windows to air it out. Other than that, everything should be the same as it was a month ago. What do you two think?” He turned back to Hisami and Kokonoe.

Kokonoe stared at the house with a clearly unimpressed and bored expression, while Hisami looked up in wonder, clearly eager to explore. Shibazaki smirked at them before heading towards the front door.

The next hour went by in a blur, all the windows were opened and the moving van finally arrived. While the moving men and Shibazaki moved the furniture, what little Shibazaki had brought from his apartment, Kokonoe and Hisami explored the backyard.

The backyard had a short stone wall that bordered the property. Beyond it was a large field that eventually ended where the forest began. Kokonoe sat on the wall and looked out towards the forest while Hisami studied everything around the wall.

The sounds of cicadas echoed through the air and voices from the house faded in and out. After a few more minutes, Kokonoe finally spoke. “I think we should run away in a few days.”

Hisami stopped his exploration and whipped his head to look at his friend and brother. “Run away?” he questioned. “You don’t want to stay?”

Kokonoe eyed Hisami coldly. “I don’t trust that detective. He’s probably just here to keep an eye on us, to make sure we don’t escape. This is all just a lie, another cage.”

Hisami stared at the short stone wall. “It’s not a very good cage.”

“Twelve!” Kokonoe growled.

“Nine.” Hisami answered back. “I don’t think Shibazaki would do that. Did you see what he did? He was angry for us. He shouted at his boss for us. I don’t think he faked that.”

“That’s what he wants you to think.”

“Well,” he went back to poking at the wall. “I want to see what it’s like, to live in a house and have someone take care of us.”

Kokonoe glared and wordlessly returned back to staring into the forest.

“Hey!” Hisami and Kokonoe turned around and saw Shibazaki standing on the porch. “The furniture is done being moved around. You can come inside now.”

Hisami immediately ran towards the house, eager to explore the inside. Kokonoe slid off the wall and begrudgingly followed after him. Shibazaki watched Kokonoe slink into the house before disappearing down a hallway. While Hisami ran all around the house and explored all the rooms, Kokonoe stood awkwardly in what he supposed was the living room, eyeing the low table that sat in the center of the room to the various bookshelves that lined the walls.

Soon, Shibazaki returned carrying a wooden board with lines. On top of the board was a small wooden box. He set the board on the low table and sat down on a cushion. Kokonoe realized that the board was a shogi board as Shibazaki began setting up the pieces.

“This board used to be my grandparents.” Kokonoe immediately tensed and watched Shibazaki much like a cat watched a predator. “We used to play a lot of shogi when I was here.” Shibazaki continued. “My grandfather was a champion shogi player who won many tournaments before he retired.” Finally, he finished setting the last piece.

He looked at Kokonoe. “How about a game? I know it isn’t a chess board, but it’s as close to it as I could get.”

Kokonoe remained frozen where he stood, his eyes jumping from the shogi board to Shibazaki warily. Shibazaki remained relaxed as if he hadn’t notice the child’s discomfort. Finally, the boy slowly inched towards the table until he reached the floor cushion. He sat down, though still tense and prepared to flee if necessary.  He stared at the board for a few moments before the former detective spoke again.

“Do you know how to play shogi?”

The raven haired boy snapped his head up and leveled a glare at Shibazaki. “Of course I do.” He bowed his head and moved one of his pieces, as if to back his declaration, and then looked Shibazaki in the eye.

Shibazaki bowed his own head with a grin and moved his piece. The two continued their game with fierce concentration that blocked out the outside world. Hisami eventually returned back to the living room and sat between them, eagerly watching the match.

Twenty minutes later, Kokonoe found himself staring blankly at the board. “I… lost?”

“I want to play next!” Hisami began pushing himself up to take Kokonoe’s spot, but Kokonoe pushed him back down.

“No! I want a rematch!” The boy glared accusingly at Shibazaki, possibly suspecting him of cheating.

They went through three more matches, Kokonoe losing every time, and would have done more if not for Hisami’s growling stomach. Hisami hunched over, embarrassed while Shibazaki threw back his head and laughed. “I guess I should make some dinner for us.” He smiled.

Kokonoe muttered under his breath as he glared at the board. Shibazaki chuckled and ruffled his hair, which caused the boy to blink up at him in surprise. “Don’t worry,” smiled Shibazaki, “Everyone has been a beginner at least once in their life. I couldn’t beat my grandfather when I was younger but that never stopped me from practicing. If you keep practicing, you’ll beat me in no time.”

Kokonoe ducked his head, but Shibazaki saw his faint blush anyway. Suddenly, the doorbell rang. Shibazaki frowned. “Who could be visiting at this time?” he murmured as he rose to get the door.

The two children trailed behind after him, also curious to see who could be at the door. When Shibizaki opened the door, he was surprised to see an elderly woman holding a pot.

“Good evening,” she smiled cheerfully. “I heard you were moving in and I wanted to welcome you to the neighborhood. My name is Mishima Yasuba.”

“I’m Shibazaki Kenjirou,” he motioned down to the children standing around his legs. “This is Hisami and Kokonoe.”

She smiled at the children and cooed. “Are they yours?”

Shibazaki shook his head. “They are not mine by blood, but I am taking care of them. We moved here because I felt it would be better than living in Tokyo.”

Yasuba’s eyes softened. “That’s so kind of you.” She smiled down at the boys. “You can call me Obaa-san if you wish. I have a granddaughter about your age, she moved in with me a few weeks ago. She couldn’t come out with me today, but I hope you two could become good friends with her. You should come and visit one day.” She turned and pointed down the street. “My house is only a few doors down. Feel free to drop by whenever you wish. My door is always open.”

She thrust the pot at Shibazaki, who caught it in surprise. “Here, this is for you and your children, a welcome to the neighborhood gift.”

“O-Oh,” he stammered. “You didn’t have to-“

“Nonsense!” she interrupted. “It’s been such a long time since we had a new family move in.”

Shibazaki bowed his head. “Then, thank you for the food.” He gently nudged the children with his foot and they too thanked her for the food.

The three stood in the doorway, watching as the old woman shuffled down the street back to her home. After a while, Shibazaki sighed. “I guess I won’t have to cook dinner. Come on, we better eat this before it gets cold.” He left the doorway and headed towards the kitchen.

Kokonoe closed the door behind him. Hisami moved to follow after their guardian but felt a sudden tug on his sleeve. He turned to see Kokonoe not quite looking him in the eyes. “Maybe we could try staying for a while,” he muttered. “Only to see what it’s like.”

The brunette stared blankly before grinning widely. He launched himself at his brother and hugged him tightly. Kokonoe froze for a moment before awkwardly hugging back. Hisami took his hand and tugged him along. “Let’s go before Shibizaki eats all the food.”

Kokonoe smiled softly back and the two boys followed the scent of curry into their new home.

So I made part 2, amazingly. Turned out pretty well if I do say so myself. Hopefully I haven’t missed any typos or mistakes. I bet everyone can guess who the granddaughter is. No, the grandmother’s name is not familiar and it totally isn’t the name of that one character in Barakamon.

8

Master Post: Five Ideas for Celebrating each of the Eight High Days, designed with the solitary practitioner (or a family) to do together, put together by chronarchy for The Magical Druid.

If you are interested in the original individual posts for reblogging around the holiday, you can find them here:

Piety isn’t simple: it’s okay to do something small to mark the season. Don’t let complexity get in the way of what you need to do, though. Small things go a long way.

2

"Margo Channing is the star of the theater. She made her first stage appearance at the age of four in Midsummer’s Night Dream. She played a fairy and entered, quite unexpectedly, stark naked. She has been a star ever since. Margo is a great star, a true star. She never was or never will be anything less or anything else.”

10

This is a very belated post about some of my observances for this past Bealtaine. I will be posting one for Midsummer and Lughnasadh separately.

On Bealtaine Eve the house was given a thorough cleaning and saining. I set up a shrine to Flidais, decorating it with botanicals from both the garden and the wild.

On Bealtaine morning I went out to collect some dew and rainwater from the garden, and left offerings outside for the Land Spirits. After I was done outdoors, I came back in to make offerings to the Gods and Ancestors.  I then extinguished my old hearth candle and lit the new one to be used over the coming year, saying a prayer for blessings.

A little later on in May I did a garden blessing, buried some charms for fertility, left offerings out for the critters, and made bee watering stations which were put to good use by the abundance of pollinators we had this year.

Towards the end of May I made a feast in honour of Flidais, mainly consisting of wild foods including a salad of greens and flowers, sautéed spring mushrooms, fiddleheads and asparagus, with a honey and sweet woodruff shortbread for dessert.

More to come!

My high school once did a production of Midsummer Night’s Dream, and we decided there needed to be blood somewhere. During Pyramus’ faux death scene, we had him rip open his shirt and exaggeratedly prick the 12 water balloons filled with fake blood. (Yes, 12. We go overboard sometimes. It was funny.) Most of the run was outdoors, and the trick worked well. Nothing funnier than completely overacting with 12 squibs. However, the last night, it rained a ton, and we moved the production inside to our back-up space. All was fine until we reached the play scene and the actor dramatically popped all 12 balloons filled with blood. They got all over the floor, which, as it turns out, was actually tile- not the dirt we had been on outside. There was no scene change between that moment and the end of the play, so the ensemble was forced to perform on the same, blood-covered area, because the crew couldn’t get on to clean it up.

It turns out that fake blood on tile floors is really slippery.

The entire rest of the crazy, energetic, show was filled with actors running across the floor saying lines and dramatically falling everywhere. Almost every one of the actors fell at least once, many in the classic banana-peel slip manner. The fast-paced, extensively-practiced scene turned into a mass of actors falling everywhere but still keeping the scene going at normal pace, while the audience heard none of the lines because they were all laughing too hard.

I was the light board op for that show, and the director was sitting next to me, clutching her side in pain from too much laughing, while I desperately tried to pay attention to the lines being said. Our booth is in a weird place, so you can’t actually see the floor when you’re sitting at the board. Because of this, all we could see was the actors slipping and disappearing behind the seats, then reappearing a moment later, while they continued to say their lines the whole time. Needless to say, it was one of the funniest things that I’ve ever seen.

We finally make it to the end of the show, and get a standing ovation for our valiant efforts to hold the show together. My director finally remembered how to breathe normally, and just turns to me and says, “I have the best job in the whole world. I’m actually getting paid to do this.”

She then went back to cracking up.

*Submitted by oncelit 

The Wheel of the Year

I have been shown how to walk the Earth

and travel through the distance of time.

Listening to the voices of the trees each year

I learn from the whispers of my ancestors.

The wheel turns and time moves forward

bringing with it another new beginning.

At the New Year I ask for help

with uncrossing the binds of my soul

so come Imbolc I will be prepared

to receive the blessings of renewal.

Ostara springs forth fresh opportunities

and I sow the seeds of prosperity.

At Beltane I learn to love myself more

and awaken my inner passions.

Midsummer connects me with the wild woods

Where I grow the energy of my spirituality.

Come Lughnasadh a heavier lesson is bestowed

that of receiving great wisdom.

With the passing of time into Autumn

comes death and the necessity for transformation.

Samhain brings release and increased humility

which in turn expresses honor and well being.

When the year comes to a close at Yule

I know that I have reached the end of a cycle.

My goals now complete

the extinguished light is yet reborn

and the wheel begins again. 

Thalya /|\

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