The Peasant’s Clever Daughter

When I was very small I read an unhealthy amount of myths and folktales in both bawdlerized and original format.

Luckily, I was very small and many of the less edited stories went thoroughly over my head.

There were a few stories, both edited and unedited, that stuck with me.

One thing that we mention when there is a new re-imagining of these stories is how tragic and grim most of the original tales were.

We never really discuss what that means though.

Life is cheap in the land of tales. Honor and dignity are granted by how far you climb, and underneath that, whose blood you carry. There are a few peasants who become king, but many more who fall for them to rise.  Your original role and position in life will forever shape your future whether that is as a farmer, a woman, or a mule.

There are exceptions to this, like strange flowers on barren soil.

Perhaps not surprisingly, it was to these stories that I was drawn.

One of the few Grimm stories that I thought and re-thought was The Peasant’s Clever Daughter.

The peasant’s daughter has no magical bloodline or fantastical forest animals or physical power.

She wins, again and again, because of her wit, her courage, and her love.

When I sat down to write a story that took its cue from the best and worst of those tales of morals and rigid power, I thought of her.

Because is that not the most insidious, dangerous moral of all?

To grant that the greatest force in any world is the strength that can be mustered by a smart, fundamentally decent human being.

IMG_0596A strange flower amongst the weeds

This is a week about inspirations, both obvious and otherwise.


For the heroine inspired by this story, you can read my fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor. It is available here.

 

The Fourth Riddle

I am transparent in my motivations

To watch or be watched

Found in all the usual places-

Eyes, cupboards, hearts

Waiting to be looked over or through

Do not be shattered by my perspective!

I reflect only what is, not what will be

 

IMG_0597Who am I?

Yeah. This is probably less a riddle than esoteric poetry, but we’ll go with it. This is a week of small riddles and puzzles. See if you can solve them! Hat tip to Xina Marie whose Anglo-Saxon riddle songs inspired me to try my own hand at them.


For more less esoteric poetry, you can read my fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor. It is available here.

The Third Riddle

What could I contain that you would value?

Sun-touched, wind-worn, I hold only what you allow

Whether I am a good neighbour or a poor one

Hinges entirely on your stake in my wellbeing

My path may be circumscribed

But I am too self-contained to care for the wider world

My passage marked only by those who seek to overcome me

IMG_0585Who am I?

This is a week of small riddles and puzzles. See if you can solve them! Hat tip to Xina Marie whose Anglo-Saxon riddle songs inspired me to try my own hand at them.


For more neighbours, good or otherwise, you can read my fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor. It is available here.

The Second Riddle

Stronger than rock, weaker than rain

Wound and blind, I lie between

I have brought destruction to the powerful

And comfort to the weak

A carrier of death and life, containing neither

Do not fear my transit!

We will only ever meet in passing

IMG_0578Who am I?

This is a week of small riddles and puzzles. See if you can solve them! Hat tip to Xina Marie whose Anglo-Saxon riddle songs inspired me to try my own hand at them.


For more fantastical destroyers, you can read my fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor. It is available here.

The First Riddle

I am laid low by the hands that raise me high

My head bowed only to the passing wind

When cut to the core, sugar-sweet, I bleed

My music is greater with my death

No words of my own, I speak for others

Flag-raised, ground-grasped,

I reach always for the sky

IMG_0296Who am I?

This is a week of small riddles and puzzles. See if you can solve them! Hat tip to Xina Marie whose Anglo-Saxon riddle songs inspired me to try my own hand at them.


More falls and sugar are found in my fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor. It is available here.

The Darling Buds- Columbine

Many things changed that year.

By the time I was strong enough to follow the mountain creeks, it was nearly autumn.

By then, I had spent a long time thinking and I was sick of my head and the endless replays of no-longer possibilities.

So I walked.

I was  a long time walking, longer I think than my memory now glosses over.

The small meadow formed where the trees had been downed by the winter storms was a welcome surprise.

The greater trees had fallen, but the stubborn columbine had risen above their carcasses.

I spent some time watching the light play over their blooms before I turned and left.

Despite their delicacy, their small windows of opportunity, the columbine never ceased to reach for the unattainable sun.

Neither have I.

IMG_0451Columbine- Resolved to Win

This week of the Darling Buds brought to you by nostalgia, Victorian flower meanings, and the letter “Y.” As in, “No, there’s no real reason ‘Y’.”


Resolution, sun, and determined plants are also found in my fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor. It is available here.

The Darling Buds- Pansy

My grandmother loved spring.

She loved all times of the year and all types of weather, but there was a special energy that she reserved for the change from sleep to wakefulness in the world around us.

As a small child, she would take me out in her garden and point out the different plants and flowers, each with their own name and story.

Pansies were a particular favourite.

She would point out their adorably grumpy faces, glaring up at us with such earnestness that it was impossible not to laugh.

When I couldn’t see what she was talking about, she would take my fingers and use them to trace the shapes of our shared imagination-

Of our shared love.

Today is her memorial.

I have cried enough in her honour.

Today, I want to celebrate her boundless joy and generosity.

I want to remember wrinkled hands over small smooth ones, guiding me to trace the love present in the smallest petals.

IMG_2454Pansy- Merriment

This week of the Darling Buds brought to you by nostalgia, Victorian flower meanings, and the letter “Y.” As in, “No, there’s no real reason ‘Y’.”


If you would like to see more joy in action, I have also written a fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor. It is available here.

The Darling Buds- Lupin

We never climbed the mountains after mid-September.

August was pushing the length of time we could avoid the snowfall and the uncertain weather of the alpine.

September carried a guaranteed edge of danger.

To make those late hikes carried an element of risk-

And an explosion of colour.

The time to grow and live in the upper meadows is short and unpredictable.

Everything grasps at the sun as it appears, desperately reaching for light to blossom and seed.

The weeks before snowfall are a dizzying carnival of colour.

I didn’t pick them, but I’d often sit down there, amongst the lupin and the heather, near the alpine fireweed buzzing with the insects feeding before their approaching ends.

It was easy enough to imagine that I was in another world entirely.

There was a heavy, alien intensity that became muted the further I traveled down the slope.

There is something magical about short, powerful lives.

About the weight of dreams, quickly and intensely fulfilled.

IMG_0478Lupin- Imagination

This week of the Darling Buds brought to you by nostalgia, Victorian flower meanings, and the letter “Y.” As in, “No, there’s no real reason ‘Y’.”


If you would like to see more imagination-inspiring colour, I have also written a fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor. It is available here.

The Darling Buds- Narcissus

It took me years to realize that narcissus had no real scent.

I never grew it by itself – it was always joined with nasturtiums or hyacinths or deep-throated koolaid irises.

The heavy florals rose above it so strongly that I was always afraid to pick it.

I was scared that the house would never recover from the bouquet.

If I am honest, it intimidated me.

Its delicate lines were so foreign to the fuller flowers around it.

I was always afraid to touch it for fear that it would crumble under my fingers.

Years and miles later, when my nose had been burned out on exhaust fumes and oil, on a city soaked in urine and vomit, I found a small mound of narcissus growing near my apartment.

The scents I had thought it held were only a faint memory, but I buried my face in those flowers as if they were a mask.

And smelled nothing.

I stayed there, grateful that no one else had seen me.

I had forgotten what it was like to not have my breath burn in my throat.

When I rose, I stared at them, haphazardly placed between a dumpster and a walkway.

I left and did not return.

IMG_0467Narcissus- Stay as sweet as you are

This week of the Darling Buds brought to you by nostalgia, Victorian flower meanings, and the letter “Y.” As in, “No, there’s no real reason ‘Y’.”


If you would like to see more worlds, scented and unscented, I have also written a fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor. It is available here.

The Darling Buds- Rhododendron

The winter I nearly died, I dreamed of my childhood garden.

As I lay there, my body burning and aching, I filled my head with flowers.

I was a thousand miles and eight years removed, but I could still feel the petals beneath my fingers as I sat beside them.

For my tenth birthday, I was gifted a rhododendron to grow with me.

Every spring I waited for its blossoms as a true sign that the worst had passed, that the gentler days had come.

I dreamed of it often that terrible winter, pale pink blossoms growing and decaying behind my eyes.

I survived the winter and returned in the spring, weakened but alive.

The rhododendron was nearly dead.

It was a terrible frost, I was told. Between the heavy snow and the freezing, it was a wonder that any of it survived.

I watched it, heart in my throat, as the true spring arrived.

The rhododendron managed three bundles of flowers, so much smaller and more fragile than the other blossoms, but I have never forgotten their beauty.

It lives still.

Never as healthy as those around it, but every ounce of strength forced into flowers as pale and beautiful as the time between one breath and the next.

We cannot warn ourselves of danger because the risk is in living itself.

Instead we can celebrate each frost, each breath-

Each bold flower opening to the sun.

IMG_0429Rhododendron: A warning of danger

The Darling Buds will be my week of flowers. There’s no extra meaning to that. I just wanted to write about flowers.


If you would like to see more exploration of danger, I have also written a fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor. It is available here.