Since she was also hungry, she heated up a small jar of her grandmother’s stew and had a good dinner. Before turning in for the night, she made sure her wind up clock was set for early enough for her to get to the farm before Lady Lizzie and Buster left.
She fell asleep quickly and deeply despite the tea and dreamed of long ago memories until her alarm clock went off at 4 am.
This part of the woods was deep and quiet. I had done like Poppy had said and gone to a place I’ve never been. I figured I was about 50 miles from home. It had taken me almost two days of steady runnin’ to get here….but oh how beautiful it was! I was in what Granny and Poppy both would call a “hangin’ valley”. This was a slim valley that I actually stumbled on when I had decided to follow a small creek to where it began. There were many OLD trees here, these must have been missed during those clear cutting days that went on back in the 40’s and 50’s that Poppy had told me about. I don’t think all four of us could link hands and go around some of these trunks!
I pretty much decided that this would be where I made my base camp. I had so many places to choose from but finally settled on a small place that had an overhang and was still pretty much hidden by trees. The nook wasn’t too deep, only about six feet in and I so I got busy breaking off some of the branches of pine trees to make a wind break and close off part of the nook. Well, I probably would use some of them to make a bed up for me too.
Wow! I couldn’t believe how rich this valley was! I had explored that second day and found so many wild edibles! I also snagged a rabbit for dinner and spotted some grouse that I’ll try for tomorrow; but only for tomorrow; because in two days I am going to begin my quest.
When I had asked Poppy what I was supposed to do during my actual quest time, he did not go into much detail and just gave me the basics….no food, only a few sips of water, and I must keep the fire going. I cannot use my shelter and then he said that “quest” was the beginning of the word “question”. And that’s it! Granny said I would know what to do and when to do it and that there would be NO doubt. Ok, they are trusting me, so I’m trusting them! Besides, I’m not worried, just absolutely DYING from curiosity!!!!!
Today’s the day! I’m well rested and ready. I’ve chosen a spot that I felt was right, I mean I was following a small game trail yesterday back to my little cubby hole and there it was. It was like it called to me. I’ve gathered a LOT of dead fall for the fire, Poppy said that it didn’t need to be big, just it must be kept going.
Did I mention how excited I am?
The night is pretty cold, my blanket of woven reeds just barely keeps me from a deep chill. The fire is pretty low but I’ve kept it fed. I’m so tired! It’s been almost four days, but I’m still trusting, if Poppy and Granny said something would happen, it will!
I didn’t even see him at first, the one who came to share my fire. He was very quiet, just sitting there cross legged like I was. Neither of us talking. I had a small cup I had made from bark by the fire with water in it that I had been sipping from and the man dropped in a small handful of herbs and it began to smell so good! My tummy began to growl! I was embarrassed.
“Sorry about that” I said. He just pointed to the cup and gestured for me to drink. I gently sipped the cup and went to set it back but he motioned again for me to drink.
“All of it?” I asked. He nodded.
So I drank it down and then began to watch the fire despite knowing I shouldn’t be since it ruins night vision.
When I looked up, the man was gone and I felt kinda lonely. My sigh was deep and thoughtful as I wondered who he was. I looked into the bark cup again since I was going to put some more water in it but it was clean! NO herbs at all! Did I just imagine it? My belly wasn’t growling anymore and I was beginning to feel warm inside.
What was goin’ on?
Wow! Where is this burst of energy coming from? I had the strong urge to dance! What the heck? There was no one around to see me dancing around the fire! So I got up and
I pulled myself back into a sitting position and OH MY GOD! There was the MOST BEAUTIFUL…..and I mean BEEEE-U-TEEEE-FUL Puma sitting on the other side of the fire!
And he spoke to me!!!
“What would you ask of me?” The words came out of the Puma in a sort of growly grumpy kind of tone.
I thought for a few moments, he didn’t look like he minded waiting for me to answer.
Finally I simply answered “Strength to endure the path of my life.”
I swear he smiled!
“What would you give back?” he asked.
I thought again and could only say what came into my head “Protection to the innocent ones.”
I KNOW he grinned this time! I saw those fangs!
“How would you bless an enemy?”
This was a hard one! How does one bless an enemy? I thought and thought and then POP! The answer came into my head! “Love him anyways.”
The Puma got up and sauntered (I always wanted to use that word and believe me, it fits!) over to me and using his right front paw, clawed my left arm!
“You are bound by your own words.” Then he licked my face and was gone!
I just sat there for geeze I don’t know how long. My arm was only slightly bleeding and it didn’t hurt at all.
I thought I was going crazy and imagining things so I did what I thought would be best and began to pray. Of course, as I closed my eyes and bowed my head, I realized that I should have been doing this already!!!
When I opened my eyes again after my hearty “Amen”, it was full dark and the fire had almost gone out. The man was back standing on the other side of glowing coals, he bent down and added a few small twigs to the coals and gently blew until there was a flame again. He then filled my small bark cup with water from a water bag he had at his side and set it back by the flames to heat. He sprinkled another handful of herbs in the water and after it began to steam, dipped a bandana into it and then gently came over and washed the scratches on my arm.
I was completely convinced that I had indeed gone insane! Yet it all seemed so “right” and as it should be. The next thing I knew the man had wrapped me in a white fur and then he spoke one word “sleep.” And sleep I did!!!
The sun was high in the sky when I woke up. The fire was out, not even a hint of a hot coal left. My bark cup was to the side and empty and clean. There was no soft white doe skin covering me. And my arm had four light scars on it, like I had been scratched and it had healed long ago.
I knew I was done with my quest and I had a LOT to think about. And although deep down I did feel differently about myself, I don’t think that I could put my finger on WHY I felt different. And I didn’t kid myself; I knew that I still had a lot to learn!