A new little story could be brewing… earlier today I just kind of hacked this out in WordPad. xD This is very rough and un-edited and all out-of-order… basically the first-stage-fetus of what could be a story later, ha. I don’t even know how much potential it has yet but we’ll see. 😉
The sun rises through the southernmost hole carved in the stone calendar wall… it is the month of Temphestros. A deep winter month, when the snows fall heavy upon our land and our fur coats envelop us tightly.
So then… where is the snow?
Where is the dewy chill that should be hanging in the air?
Where is the bright silver wool that should be blanketing the heavens?
Jokki squints skyward, standing in the round pool of light cast by the sun shining through the southernmost hole. The morning sky is clear and warm. Two or three dry, cottony trails of empty cloud streak the higher levels of azure. Unusual, Jokki thinks to himself. The snows, if I remember right, should have started falling at least one more hole ago in the stone wall. Maybe even two holes.
He shrugs off his fur-skin coat… the warm morning doesn’t need it. He notes that he’s already growing out of it… only a year ago he was that much smaller. He is still a boy, but growing quickly.
The sunlight pouring through the southernmost hole illuminates his furry knees, and heats them up… heats them perhaps a tad too much. To relieve them he steps aside into the shadow cast by the rest of the calendar-wall. He wishes he could remember his earlier childhood more clearly… he isn’t sure, but he could swear that the sun only ever felt like that in the spring and summer months.
It was only recently that he started paying attention to the weather so acutely. It was the previous summer that finally did it… that finally made him realize just how much summer there has been lately. He supposes he noticed before, but only in the back of his mind.
He remembers last summer with a certain anxiety in his chest, and a concerned backward tilt of his pointed ears. The heatwaves were immense. He remembers the sun pounding down on him, restricting his usual outdoor play. Summers were never that hot before… were they?
Everyone else in the tribe told him he was being too sensitive, complaining too much. Maybe they were right. Maybe the weather hadn’t changed… maybe he changed.
Just to be sure, he came up to the calendar-wall this morning… to be absolutely sure of the month at present. Now he sees it… it is Temphestros. Snow should be coating the ground and sprinkling from the clouds. But there is no snow, and there are hardly any clouds. It does not feel anything like the Temphestros he seems to remember. And now he’s certain that it’s the weather that has changed… not him.
But why does everyone else deny it? Why did everyone around him so resolutely ignore their own panting and perspiring last summer, even as the ground dried and the sky burned? Why is everyone else acting like this is normal, when it is so clearly not?
“Everyone has always spoken so highly of summer,” Jokki says. “It is the season when things grow, when we plant our seeds and the earth bears the fruits. It is when we take off all furs but our own and dance in the green grass.”
“And what green grass has been available for dancing of late?” Aestra asks him. “How many fruits has the earth born for you this year?”
Jokki thinks, dejectedly… not many. With less rains and dry dirt, the ground yielded less of both fruits and green grass.
Aestra nods. “I thought so. I have observed the same in the land of my tribe. Even there, people praise the summer so resolutely that the cannot fully see the value of Old Mother Winter, or take notice of the ill effects when She leaves us wanting.”
“Well,” Jokki admits. “Winter is very cold, and very little grows.”
“And what good then, my boy, is a summer in which very little grows?”
Jokki bites his tongue. She has a point, once again.
“Without the balance of winter, the summer is worthless,” the feathered old woman continues. “I, for one, have always found winter to be my favorite season. With good storage of food, lack of growth matters not. If you can shield yourself well against the more bitter of the cold, all that remains of snow is enchantment. When I was young a hearty snow fell every Temphestros, and I would swoop through the falling air-weight crystals and among the silvered branches of the forests, my heart as light as the flakes. I know your people do not have mastery of the air. But do you not have similar memories, from your childhood?”
Jokki thinks. Immediately, such memories begin to rise. True, as Aestra said, he and his people cannot swoop through the sky like Aestra’s can. But he recalls how much fun it always was to roll in the snow, dig into it with his paws, leap upward and bite the flakes as they fell. He and his fellow pups would throw snowballs at each other, and speed over the hills and through the trees on their fours, jubilantly stirring up crystalline powder. Winter is, Jokki considers, just as joyful as summer. And he has begun to miss it. He has begun to notice the hole its absence is leaving in his spirit.
“I don’t mean to frighten you, child,” Aestra says. “But I believe this is more than just a fleeting strange bout of weather. I believe something is very wrong with Old Mother Winter. And I, though I am becoming old and creaky, and my flight not as strong… would like to find Her, discover what ails Her, and see if there is not something we may do to cure Her. And you, Jokki, young one with all your life and many possible lovely winters ahead… would you like to join me?”