Fairy House Gateway #1131 - Reach For The Sky
Dimensions: 24 in high; base: 20 in X 12 in
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REACH FOR THE SKY
He snuffled down tunnels dug long ago by the mole people, running
arrow-straight until they hit hard clay, then root-twisting up, down,
left, right to find the easy, soft parts where the worms had chewed the
soil to loam. The trails changed with the seasons but he didn’t mind.
The tunnels were always dry and well groomed and, at some point, led
down to where he needed to go. The roots he was searching for were in no
hurry – they would wait for him, as they had for as long as he could
He loved the warm dark, the quiet scuttling of pill bugs, the busy munching of earth worms. The fine silk of new roots tickled his fur as he brushed by, reminding him of the new grass shoots growing above him. It was spring in the world over his head, the time when he was most drawn to occasional excursions above ground. He indulged himself only at night, of course, when his eyes could bear the additional light. The longing was strong tonight and he followed the next side tunnel to a mound where the moles had made a hole to the surface to excavate soil from their subterranean passageways.
His paw hands whisked away dirt covering the opening. First nostrils, then whole snout peaked above the rim, finding moist, fresh air. Eyes closed, he ventured further until his head, arms, chest, all reveled in the caress of tiny puffs of spring breath, laden with dew. His body wiggled with delight and the extra lids that guarded his specially tuned eyes opened a slit. Silver threads found the opening and flooded his brain, flowed through his veins. A full moon! He clambered the rest of the way out of the mound, threw himself onto the meadow like a drowning man miraculously tossed onto the beach.
He gathered himself up and danced, his body free of the confining walls of earth tunnels. When he had twirled and flung his pent up energy to the spring night, he collapsed on the sweet ground and savored the air. Every breath brought new delights: the sharp tang of grass, musty dandelion flowers, a distant hint of apple blossoms. His ears found a distant mockingbird serenading his mate; the frog chorus sang the colors of the night. He rolled over on his back and dared to feast his eyes on the sky. Sister Moon had moved west, throwing long tree shadows across the meadow but his tiny spot was still awash in silver light. He dared not look directly at the moon so roamed the stars with his sight. “Please,” he whispered to the pinpoints of light above him. “Please help me find a way to live under the sky instead of under the ground. I know my life task is to tend the old roots, to gather the stories the trees store in them but each tale of the world above that I hear from the trees makes my heart ache with wanting to live there. I can’t just catalogue the stories anymore – I have to experience them. Please.” His plea gathered in his heart and flew from his chest to be carried by wind and ladders of moon rays directly to the sky. He closed his eyes, so didn’t see the star that exploded above him and streaked like a rocket to earth.
A young meadow vole, soft as down, rustled the grass by his fingers and he cupped it in gentle hands and touched it, nose to nose. “You scuttle back and forth between the worlds, my small friend. Why can’t I?” He didn’t expect an answer, and the vole had none, so he set it back on the ground and sent it on its grass-munching way. The moon had dropped below the tree line at the edge of the meadow and the long shadows reminded him that the tree roots that called him were still a long ways away, especially through twisted underground tunnels. With a last sniff of spring breeze and wistful glance at the stars, he crawled back down the mound into his subterranean world.
He followed the paths by habit so his thoughts were free to dwell with dandelions and starlight. His attention was so far away he would have missed what was lying in his path if its heat hadn’t warmed the tunnel all around it. He sniffed the balmy air and dropped his attention to the passageway; then he saw it. A hole had opened in the ground above and the dawn light drew a circle on the tunnel floor. In the center of the circle rested a stone which glinted at him. The stone was dark but polished so smooth it sent flashes of reflected light bouncing at his eyes. And it was warm. Of course he picked it up.
Whoosh! Like a whirlwind, a tornado, he spun and spun, the motion carrying him upward until he stood on the ground above at the beginning of a new day. His underground route had taken him to the edge of the meadow, almost to the shade of the forest but, even so, the growing light hurt his eyes. Not stopping to wonder at what had happen to him, he tried to dive back down the hole but a spongy barrier wouldn’t let him enter. In a panic, he dropped the stone and thudded to the floor of the tunnel.
Nothing in the years of wandering the underground roads had prepared him for this. No tales from the trees had spoken of such a thing. The stone was clearly a talisman and it had bestowed on him his heart’s desire to be above ground but his eyes couldn’t survive the wish he’d been granted. Standing on tiptoe, hands shading his eyes, he squinted over the lip of the opening. There sat the stone, waiting calmly. He reached a tentative hand towards it but, as his fingers came within a blade of grass away, he felt the swirling begin and pulled back. The stone clearly had one purpose – to pull him above ground.
His hands explored the terrain around the stone. Grass, dew, dandelion – and a maple leaf from last autumn’s leaf fall. It was surprisingly sturdy for weathering the winter rains. Perhaps it would work. He eased the leaf atop the stone and grabbed. Nothing happened. No swirling, no vortex, no whoosh above ground. He pulled the leaf wrapped stone into his hole and sprinted down the tunnel. What a story he would have to tell the tree roots!
They were murmuring among themselves when he arrived, deep voices thrumming in the earth. He slipped into the cavern they had made for him but, instead of settling in to listen, he asked their permission to speak. It was an unusual request but he was an old friend and they were curious. He laid the stone on the floor of the cavern, pulled away the leaf, and sang his tale. There was much humming and many questions. Neither winds nor birds had ever brought such a tale to the trees so no such story was stored in the root memories. They sat together for many days, seeking to find the meaning of this marvelous event. It was a full moon cycle before they reached consensus.
Although roots, too, were made to live underground, not all of them were content to spend their lives clinging in the dark, away from light. Occasionally one would find its way out the side of a hill or a cliff and live in the world above, sending back images of wind and sunlight. There were even stories in the memories of trees who sent out roots from their branches, so lived in both the world above and the one below. The younger roots of an ancient cedar tree came up with the most popular idea. With the help of stones and clay, they would form themselves into an abode to house their friend who had listened to their tales for so many years. If the stone were touched to the house, perhaps the whole structure would be whirled to the surface with their friend, who longed to live in the light, safely tucked inside. He could live above ground and wander at will in the safety of the night but the house would give him refuge from the bright light of day.
It took another moon cycle for them all, working together, to make it so. He gathered stones from the tunnels and brought handfuls of damp clay. The roots wove themselves into a rough form and he carefully molded clay and stone into the openings to form walls. When their creation was finished, he stroked each of his ancient friends and stepped inside his house. The young root who had volunteered for the job reached over and grabbed the stone, the vortex formed, and the house swirled out of the deep place in the earth to stand at the edge of the meadow.
Should you wander, one day, through the old forest and stumble upon a woodland meadow, look carefully along the tree line. Perhaps you will see a strange structure, dancing on tiptoes, rooted to the earth and reaching for the sky. If you knock on the door you probably won’t get an answer. He’s much too shy. But if you lay a gentle hand on a root and stroke it with your love, the wood may release a memory or two. Gather the image and the story into your own memory archives to remind you that when any creature sends out its heart’s desire, the universe listens – and answers.