Michael, the master tale weaver, has set a pretty puzzle: a magical, fantastical, fairy tale fruit. In my case, the “justforyouberry.” And for truth in advertising, I don’t have a decent picture of a “justforyouberrybush” so I borrowed this picture of a salmon berry – lovely berries that grow wild in the Pacific Northwest.
Enter the birch forest where trees move like wisps of fog and smoke. Step lightly – the moss does not take kindly to stompy feet. The path is never the same twice, so use all your senses. Listen for cacklebirds and follow their calls. Paths that smell like chocolate pudding are muddugger traps. Flutterbyes search for wildflower clearings.
If you use your senses wisely, the trees will part and dance into a large circle: the Clement Clearing. In the centre is an ancient willow bent so low, it sits, rather than stands, on the ground. This tree is older, wiser, deafer, and much more crotchey-cratchity than all the others put together and shaken in a jar. So be respectful and speak VERY VERY loudly. He will ask your name, your age, and head size. Be sure to measure BEFORE setting off. He may ask to feel your head; don’t be alarmed. It is just a gentle brush or two of one of his willow-leaved fingers.
If all goes well, and it most often does, then he will give you an apple, a dragonfly guide, and a song to sing. The dragonfly knows all the boardwalks through the swamp, and if you follow carefully will scarcely get your feet wet and your socks muddy (unless you like that sort of thing – dragonflies enjoy a good swamp frolic).
Melita yawned. Almost dawn; almost bedtime. Griswold had asked for some human fairy stories, and Melita had told herself fairy tales all her life. So, rather than Mother Goose or the Brothers Grimm, she decided to write down her stories for him. This was the “justforyouberry” story, and she has more than half-way through. She clicked save, and shut down her lap top. While she made green tea, she watched the orange fingers of dawn knock on her window. That reminded her of another story Griswold might like.