It was well past Midnight when Chuck Capp quietly let the boat drift to the shore under the bridge on Main Street in Fair Bluff. The adventure was over, and they had stopped the unbelievers for now. They said their goodbyes and Chuck poled the boat back into the current. It was a sad goodbye as Chuck and Larry had risked all to keep the Folklore alive. With the help of a small group of writers and artists, they saved the Storytellers. The stories would now live on and once again the children would hear” Once upon a time.”
Larry walked slowly up the bank to Main Street with his dog, Buddy. The night was dark with snow clouds thick and heavy just waiting to unleash the burden they held upon the land. Larry walked down the cracked and deserted sidewalks. The streetlights were dim, and many were missing. This was a deserted town now, yet once it was a big timber and tobacco town.
You could hear and see stray dogs in the distance and Buddy let out a deep growl warning them to stay away. Buddy led the way down the dark road as they walked the few miles to Spring Branch Church to meet Diane Buffkin Creel. Her and Larry grew up on these old back roads and tobacco fields and they both returned to help the Storytellers rebuild and relearn about the old ways.
The road was dark and engulfed in the stormy night. Large oak trees formed a canopy across the road that made you feel like you were descending into the underworld. They could hear an owl in the distance, perhaps guiding them along the way. As they got close to the church Larry flashed his light several times and waited in anticipation. The lights from Diane’s car flashed three times and started heading their way. Larry and Buddy sighed in relief and looked forward to seeing their long-time friend and a warm car. They said their hellos and headed for the abandoned Oak Grove School.
Diane’s family had built a school on Spring Branch Road and Diane even went to school there. It was old now and deserted. Few people ever drove down the road anymore, so we decided to make it a school for teaching the old ways, the things our grandmothers told us as kids. It was sitting alone in a field, just off the old Spring Branch Road. You could say it was hidden in plain sight.
The night was almost over, you could see light and colors on the distant horizon, and hear an owl hooting a haunting sound both sad and comforting. Raissa was coming here in a few days. She would show the children the living paintings and they would learn about the stories and the folklore of the old ones. Charlie Walker would come and start to restore the old school so that it might once again become a learning center.
We pulled out the sleeping bags and blew out the candles. I could feel Pola nearby as our old farm was just a few miles down the road. Diane whispered, “Once upon a time a group of Storytellers gathered together to teach the old ways and to become heroes like those in the storybook about days of old”
The night owl hooted again, and the first rays of the sun reached the treetops, perhaps a warning or a welcome home. What would the new day reveal Larry thought before sleep overtook him.
With every ending, there is a new beginning. Each story builds off the one prior. Each experience takes us on the journey that is our life journey.
We make decisions along the way, some that take us steps forward and some that take us steps back, and others that allow us to return to where we started. When we return to where we started, we bring with us the things we have learned. Some people that were there before will have remained, and others will have moved on. Those that have remained will have continued having experiences that form their now future selves, making your return seem vaguely familiar but not at all the same.
Sharing stories with those in our past and present brings forward the souls no longer among us in body but live forever in our hearts. Raissa reflected on this as she packed her things to move. She felt like she was abandoning her garden of living colors but knew it was time to move on and allow those she had trained to care for and cultivate the colors of future generations of creatives. The shades and hues may not be the same as what she and her mother before her had harvested, but then again, they never really were from season to season, year after year. The garden was forever changing, with each season telling a story as its time passed, a maturity that exists within all living things.
Raissa turned back to her garden and gazed past it, forward out into a world where new colors existed, just waiting for cultivating and harvesting. A new generation of artists and storytellers depended on her to expand what she had learned. It was time for her to explore the colors beyond the garden she had shared with her mother. It was time for her to teach others how to cultivate creativity in the many forms that existed. She was excited to begin her adventure and assist in the school building where creativity would bloom year-round. It was her time to take that which she had learned and teach it to others. Create the living gardens elsewhere to continue the colors with their unique shade, hues, and values.
She blew a kiss into the air as a final farewell, packed her red jeep with few belongings, and forged her way forward to the new beginning, just past the time of this particular ending, of her time in her mother’s garden.