Colorful Autumn Nature Walk

Colorful Autumn Nature Walk

Arrogant One facing rightstill raining

“I cannot believe it is still raining!” My Arrogant One stomped his foot and scowled as he looked out the door at the gloomy drizzle.

ShedBounty Hunter

“And I cannot believe you have not yet repaired the leaky roof in the shed.” My Bounty Hunter glowered at his companion.

My Arrogant One drew himself up, rocked back on his heels, and grasped his cloak in both hands. “I have done my part. I do not see you offering to help!”

Dragon breathing smoke

Dragon shook her scaly head, and black smoke drifted from her snout. “I cannot believe you two are still complaining about everything! Did you learn nothing from our recent exercise, the Gratitude Scavenger Hunt?”

(Part 1) https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2018/09/23/were-doing-what/
(Part 2) https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2018/09/30/gratitude-scavenger-hunt/

My Arrogant One rounded on the bulky beast. “Oh, and I am to understand that by virtue of the fact you participated in that assignment, you are suddenly Little Miss Sunshine?”

Dragon blinked. “I do not believe there was anything sudden about it. I have always had a sunny disposition.”

What?” My Arrogant One and my Bounty Hunter screeched in unison, and several other of my characters doubled over in laughter.

sorceress-facing-right“You are one of the most mercurial individuals I know.” Sorceress raised an eyebrow at her reptilian friend. “I am always tempted to consult my star charts before approaching you, to determine if you are more likely to aid me or incinerate me!”Elf

Cleric nodded, and she fidgeted with the silken cord belting her robes. “I fear I must agree with Sorceress. You are subject to extreme mood variations.”

dragon looking rightfireplace2Dragon harrumphed and glowered at her companions. “I see. Well, you do not have to worry about approaching me at all. I am going to the conference room and bask in front of my fireplace.” She stomped away in high dudgeon, and the rest of my characters resumed their complaining.

Two days later, the change in both the weather and my character’s attitudes was nothing short of amazing. The day dawned clear and bright and unseasonably warm after several weeks of cool, rainy weather. My characters chatted amiably during a rushed early morning meal. Anxious to be enjoying themselves outdoors, they gobbled their breakfast and dispersed to their individual activities shortly after first light.

My Foreman and the lads headed to the illusory stable to spend the day working their horses. Cleric, Sorceress, and Dragon went out to gather botanicals for their spell components. My Old Dwarf went with them to look for rocks and pieces of wood that might prove suitable for carving.

camera for blogMy husband saw me gathering my camera equipment and gave me a big smile. “No need to ask what you’re planning! Nature photography! Do you have someplace special in mind?”

I returned his smile and held up a brochure from a nearby wildlife preserve and nature center. “I think I’m going back to this preserve. I really enjoyed it last time I went. It has a variety of habitats – a big lake, a hardwood forest and a native pine woodlands, wetlands, prairie, and savanna. What are your plans for the day?”

Miles sighed. “I need to take my car in for servicing today. Then I have to stop by one of the lumber yards and pick up some roofing shingles for the shed.”

I nodded. “Well, okay, I’ll try not to miss you too much!” I gave him a hug and a quick peck on the cheek before we were interrupted.

“Mistress?”

I turned around and saw my Arrogant One and my Bounty Hunter standing there. To my experienced eye, they appeared suspect.

I furrowed my brow. “Yes?”

“Would it be possible for us to join you today?”

I had rarely heard my Arrogant One sound so meek. My frown deepened. “Why?” Realizing how rude I sounded, I backpedaled. “I mean, why would you want to? I didn’t think hiking and nature photography held much interest for either of you.”

“Quite the contrary!” My Bounty Hunter’s eyes widened, and he assumed an open and guileless demeanor. “We have enjoyed past nature walks we have taken with you.”

“And we must wait for Master Miles to purchase the necessary supplies, so we can repair the shed roof. Therefore, we have nothing pressing on our agenda for this day.” My Arrogant One seemed nervous, clutching his cloak and shuffling his foot.

I hesitated, an uneasy feeling coming over me as I watched my two characters standing there awaiting my decision, displaying uncharacteristic patience and courtesy. “Well, okay, but you know the rules. You’ll wear modern garments and take no weapons or magic paraphernalia.”staff

My Arrogant One’s eyes widened. “Not even my staff? You yourself use a walking stick, and my staff functions perfectly as such.”Walking stick - Marge

I narrowed my eyes and considered. “Very well, you may take a walking stick – but remember that is to be its only function.”Walking stick - Bounty Hunter

My Bounty Hunter’s mouth curved into a smarmy smile. “Then I, too, will bring one – I have a thick longbow that easily doubles as a walking stick.”

My uneasy feeling grew stronger.

“Okay, but I want no trouble from either of you on the trail today. If we encounter other people, they best not be able to tell your walking sticks are anything other than just that.”

They both nodded, but as I turned, I thought I saw them exchange furtive glances.

“Meet me at the car in 15 minutes.”

*  *  *

It took less than a half hour to drive to the preserve. I parked near the nature center and the three of us piled out of the car. I grabbed my camera and equipment, and we all took our walking sticks. I locked the car and pointed to a path exiting the parking lot to my left. “Let’s start with the trail to the lake.”

“Why not start at the nature center? We are right here.” My Bounty Hunter pointed to the building surrounded by bird feeders adjacent to the parking lot.

I shook my head. “I’d like to finish our walk there. Right now, there’s too much activity around that area. School groups go in and out all morning, and it can get noisy. The birds tend to stay away. But things quiet down in the afternoon, and the staff refills the feeders then, so our chances of seeing birds there will be better at that time.”

My two characters nodded. I led off, expecting them to follow me. Instead, they hung back a bit. I thought I heard them arguing, but when I glanced back over my shoulder, they were already scurrying to catch up with me.

We had not yet gotten out of the parking lot when my Bounty Hunter grabbed me by the arm. I yelped and pulled away.

He raised an eyebrow. “It is a good thing Cleric is not with us. She would be squealing right now.” He used his walking stick to point to a reddish-brown snake slithering across the blacktop.October Hike - snake 2

I ducked my head sheepishly, realizing my Bounty Hunter’s intentions had been harmless. “Uh, yeah. It looks like a Red-bellied Snake.” I took a few quick shots of it before it reached the edge of the asphalt and disappeared into the grass, and we continued walking toward the lake.

My Arrogant One studied the trees. “The foliage is surprisingly colorful! I did not think this would be a good year, with the earlier drought followed by the heavy rain over the last few weeks.”

I nodded. “I had the same misgivings. Glad to see we were wrong.” I took a few photos of the trees.

As we walked toward the lake, I pointed out the animals I saw, identifying them for my two companions as I took photos. “There’s an American Robin in that tree. There’s a White-breasted Nuthatch on that tree trunk, and another hanging upside down from that pine bough. And there’s an Eastern Chipmunk on that rock in front of the fallen log.”

We passed out of the woods and found ourselves next to a large lake.

“Canada Geese.” My Arrogant One pointed. “We have them on our pond, and we seem to see them on every outing.” He leaned on his staff and watched the birds swimming in the clear blue water.

I nodded, maneuvering to a good spot to get some photos. “They’re very common.”

“Look!” My Bounty Hunter pointed to some birds soaring silently overhead. “Those strange looking birds are not Canada Geese. What are they?”

“American White Pelicans. They’re one of the largest birds you’ll see in North America, and they have massive bills that they use to scoop up fish.” I tried to capture a few images of the birds in flight.

The squadron of pelicans landed on the far side of the lake, too distant for my camera to get any good shots. We left the lake and took the trail to the left, skirting a large wetland adjacent to the lake. We found two more Canada Geese there and I took their photos.

Then my Arrogant One pointed. “Are those not the tall birds you like so much? I believe you called them Sandhill Cranes.”

I nodded and smiled, taking photos of two crossing the meadow toward the tree line.

My Bounty Hunter tapped me on the shoulder and pointed. “Another one.” I snapped a quick photo as it tried to hide in the tangle of vegetation.

October hike - Sandhill Crane 3

As I turned, I spotted a few American Goldfinches eating the seeds of the wildflowers in the field, and I stopped to take several photos. “They flit around so quickly, it’s hard to get a clear image of them.”

After I got their pictures, I took some shots of a tall tree in the middle of the meadow, decked out in its coat of autumn yellow, then took several more photos of the fall foliage.

As I turned around, my companions were standing a few feet away, huddled together, examining their walking sticks and holding a whispered conversation. I furrowed my brow but held my tongue as they quickly rejoined me on the trail.

As we approached another section of woods, my Arrogant One pointed at something with his staff. “I am seeing a lot of similar-looking birds in the trees and bushes along the forest edge. What are they?”

“Fall warblers can be very confusing, but I believe they are Palm Warblers.” I took aim and snapped a few quick photos.

“That one looks different.” My Bounty Hunter pointed at another bird in a nearby tree. “Is that the one the Gypsy identified for me once as a White-throated Sparrow?”

I nodded. “I’m impressed you remembered!” I snapped the photo.

October Hike - White-throated Sparrow 1

My Bounty Hunter also spotted a Blue Jay high up in a bare tree, and my Arrogant One pointed out an Eastern Bluebird on an old fence post. I got photos of them both. Then, just before we entered the next wooded area, we found another snake. “This one looks like a Garter Snake.” I snapped his photo as well.

“Look here.” My Arrogant One pointed. “There are several different types of berries along this path.”

“They’re good food for the birds.” I took some photos of the berries before looking up at the nearby trees.

“Look! The berries have attracted some Cedar Waxwings. Those birds are basically fruit eaters. In the fall, hundreds of them can gather and strip a berry patch in minutes.” I scanned the trees. “This is a very small flock.”

“That one looks different.” My Arrogant One pointed to one of a pair of birds sitting on a bare branch. “But the one with it looks like the Cedar Waxwings you just showed us.”

“They’re both Cedar Waxwings. The one that looks different is a juvenile. I’m surprised there aren’t more with the flock.” I focused my camera and got a shot of the two birds.

October Hike - Cedar Waxwing with juvie

We continued along the path, and I took some more photos of the trees and wildflowers. Once again, my companions lagged behind. They were again whispering, but they quickly stopped and hurried to catch up with me.

Soon we were back at the nature center. There were numerous birds and critters feeding on the seed that had fallen from the feeders, or watching from the nearby trees. I identified a Red Squirrel, another Eastern Chipmunk, some Fox Sparrows, some Dark-eyed Juncos, some more White-throated Sparrows, and both male and female Northern Cardinals.

Finally, I figured I had taken enough photos, and I turned to my companions. “Ready to go home?”

“Already?” They both seemed disappointed.

“Miles will probably be home by now with those roofing supplies you need. And I need to start making dinner if we want to eat tonight.”

My two characters nodded reluctantly, and we walked across the parking lot to the car. As we took our places in the vehicle, I wondered about their behavior, their whispered conversations, and the furtive glances I thought I had seen them exchanging several times. After turning it over in my mind, I decided maybe I was just being paranoid. I decided it best not to spoil the good time we had had by confronting them. If something was afoot, I would probably find out soon enough.

Be sure to join us again next week. We’ll leave the porch light on for you.

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Just Another Typical Day

Just Another Typical Day

For today's blog 001“Honey?”

My husband came into my office.

I looked up from the computer screen and saw a big frown on his usually cheery face. “Uh-oh. What did my characters do now?”

Miles laughed. “It isn’t your characters this time.”

“An historic moment! You’re frowning, and it isn’t because of anything my characters did!” I smiled. “So, what is the trouble?”

“The heat element in the rain gutters out front doesn’t seem to be working. We’ve got icicles hanging from the gutters, and the beginning of an ice dam on the roof. There’s already a six-inch-thick glacier in the roof valley over the front porch, and I don’t think today’s temperatures will be high enough to melt it.”

 

Dollar signs waving goodbye 3“Hmmmm…that’s not a good way to start our morning. An ice dam can cause serious damage to the roof.” I sighed, as images of dollar signs waving goodbye danced through my head. “I’ll see if I can find the paperwork for the company that installed the gutter covers and heat element, and I’ll give them a call.”

looking for filephone with caller ID

About two hours later, I located the correct paperwork in my rather disorganized file cabinet, and made the call. I was quickly connected to their automated phone system. After navigating through all the correct options, I heard a recorded voice sweetly advise me that all service representatives were helping other customers. All? How many service reps can they possibly have? They only have about a dozen employees, total, including Skit and Skat, co-vice-presidents in charge of rodent control in their warehouse.

Skit and Skat

The disembodied voice went on to inform me that all calls were taken in the order received, and cautioned me to remain on the line. Then I was treated to some soothing music (I think it might have been a crossover thrash version of the 1812 Overture, accompanied by yowling dogs and cats, during a car crash). The music was blessedly interrupted at regular intervals by the sweet voice endlessly repeating how much they appreciated my business and assuring me that a customer service representative would be with me shortly.noise 2

Ninety minutes later, I was finally connected with a live being, whose tired, irritated voice contrasted sharply with the sweet tones of the recorded voice on their automated system. After taking all the pertinent information, the representative assured me that one of their technicians would be dispatched immediately. He should arrive within the hour. I went to find Miles and let him know help was on the way.

truckThree hours later, I was in the kitchen when I heard a truck pull into our driveway. I looked out the window and watched the driver get out and head up the walkway to the front door. Before he could ring the doorbell, the door flew open, and my Old Dwarf burst out, holding his battle axe.

“Oh, no!” I raced for the stairway, but couldn’t get there fast enough. I heard my Old Dwarf bellowing at the man.

dwarf“Be ye tha laddie who be fixin’ tha mess wit’ tha ice on tha roof?”

As I raced down the stairs, I glanced through the open front door and saw the man nod.

I heard my Old Dwarf again. “Ye be late, laddie! Tha lass an’ ’er lad be expectin’ ye hours ago.”

I pushed my way out the door and tried to move my Old Dwarf aside, but it was like trying to move a house. The old reprobate just stood there.

“Last job took longer than expected.” I saw the man frown and size up my Old Dwarf. “You don’t want to use that axe on the ice. You could damage the roof shingles and the rain gutters.”

“I do na be plannin’ ta be usin’ it on the ice, laddie.” My Old Dwarf narrowed his eyes and glared at the stranger.

“Well then, Gramps, I suggest you be a good little dwarf and put it away. Aren’t you kinda old for Cosplay?”

I heaved a huge sigh of relief. He thinks my Old Dwarf is in costume for a game. Maybe we can get this job done without my characters causing any problems.

Good little dwarf?” The outraged warrior’s voice shook the windows of our house, and probably those of every house on the block. “Gramps? Why, ye cocky little striplin’! I be teachin’ ye some manners!” He squared his shoulders and raised the battleaxe.

I shrugged. Or maybe not.

“All right, enough of that! Why don’t you go in the house? I think your fellow Cosplayers are waiting for you.” As I spoke, I managed to finally push my way past the rotund figure.

My Old Dwarf lowered his axe and looked at me, brow furrowed. “Tha what players? What be ye talkin’ aboot, lass?”

“Never mind. Just go find Miles and tell him the service tech is here.” I gave my Old Dwarf a hard shove toward the house. Then I turned and greeted the man, who was frowning at the departing figure. “Hi, I’m Marge. I called your company today about a malfunction in the heating element.”

repairman“Nice to meet you, ma’am. I’m Guy. My assistant, Bill, is in the truck, phoning in the report from our last job. He’ll be with us shortly.” He spoke to me, but his eyes remained on my Old Dwarf, who was shuffling through the front door. “Hey, that old geezer isn’t dangerous, is he?”Dwarf facing right

 

“Who, Gramps?” I felt beads of sweat start to form on my brow. “Nah, he’s harmless as a kitten.”

 

“Glad to hear it. Now, before we get started, let’s go over the checklist.”

“Checklist?”

“Yeah. Now it’s obvious by the icicles and the start of an ice dam on your roof, the heating element inside the gutters isn’t working.”

“Eh, the lad be real sharp. He be seein’ right aways there be a problem.” My Old Dwarf was back, snickering.

gypsy-facing-right“Or maybe he is just very good at repeating things?” My Gypsy joined us. He gave Guy a sidelong glance, then leaned against the porch railing and started cleaning under his fingernails with his stiletto.

“Another Cosplayer?” Guy looked my Gypsy over head to toe. “At least you’re more the age for it, though your costume isn’t nearly as good as his.”

I turned to face my characters, counting to ten under my breath. “Where’s Miles?”

“Here I am.” Miles was pulling on a jacket as he walked out of the house.

“Good.” I turned back to my characters. “Now, why don’t you go back inside?”

“I be thinkin’ we be stayin’ right here, lass.”

“That’s a good idea, Gramps.” Guy patted my Old Dwarf on the back as he maneuvered past him toward the door. “You and the Gypsy can keep an eye on my truck. When Bill gets off the phone, tell him I had to go inside with Marge and Miles to check on some things.”

My Old Dwarf turned red as a beet and started stammering. “Gramps? Who be ye callin’ Gramps?” But Guy had already ushered Miles and me through the door, which he closed in the dwarf’s face.

“That’s some pretty nice armor your Gramps has. Better than a lot of Cosplayers I’ve seen at conventions. Nice weapon, too. The Gypsy’s not that great, though. Now, let’s go over this checklist.” Guy looked at his clipboard. “When you discovered the icicles, did you check to see if the heating element switch was in the on position?”

Arrogant One facing rightbounty-hunter-facing-other-directionBefore I could answer, my Arrogant One and my Bounty Hunter came hurrying up the steps. My Arrogant One bumped into Guy.

 

“Imbecile! Watch where you are going!” The annoying elf acted as if he were the injured party. “You could have ripped my robes.”

“Now that’s another impressive costume. Is it real silk?” Guy made the mistake of reaching out to touch my Arrogant One’s cloak.

The way the elf screeched, you’d think Guy had thrown acid on his clothes. “How dare you? Do not lay a finger on these robes! Do you know who I am?” He rocked back on his heels, grasped his cloak with both hands, and looked down his nose at Guy.

“Oh, sorry, didn’t know you were in character.” Guy turned back to Miles and me. “They usually don’t act like that until they’re at a convention. Now where were we?”

Sorceress and Cleric had come upstairs to see what the commotion was all about. Cleric looked at Guy and tilted her head. “Why, I believe you were standing right here in the entryway.”

Guy just blinked.

“Okay, everyone, upstairs, please, so Miles and I can finish going over this checklist with Guy?”

Cleric and Sorceress looked disappointed; my Bounty Hunter and his elf sidekick looked belligerent. I gave them one of my patented glares, and the four of them scurried up the stairs.

ChecklistFor the next half hour, Miles and I walked around the house with Guy, checking on switches, outlets, ground-fault circuit interrupters, circuit breakers, and a bunch of other things, as the repair technician marked off each item on his checklist. Then he excused himself when his cell phone rang.

“Bill’s ready. Let’s go out and look at the heating element.”

Miles and I followed Guy back outside. My Foreman and my Young Hero had joined my Old Dwarf and my Gypsy, and they were all watching Bill.

“Okay, why doesn’t everyone go back inside, so Guy and Bill can work?”

My Old Dwarf stayed where he was, but my Foreman and the lads filed past me and into the house. The three of them lowered their heads and tried to hide identical smirks. I frowned, wondering what they were up to, but decided I didn’t have time to find out. I turned toward Bill, who glanced up and smiled. “Well, the switch is on, and the outlet is working.”

I raked my hand through my hair in frustration. “I believe we’ve already determined that, Bill. We just spent the last half-hour going over all that on Guy’s checklist!”

repairman 2Bill smiled. “Yeah? Well what did you decide, Guy?”

“I think the heating element isn’t working.”

“Ya think?” My voice was sharper than I had intended. “That’s what I told your receptionist when I called, five hours ago! I’m so glad we’re all in agreement. Now what do you plan to do about it?”

Bill smiled. “Well, what do you think, Guy?”

“First thing we’ll have to do is get all that ice out of there, so we can examine the heating element and see where the problem is.”repairman 2 turned

Bill smiled. “I’ll get the equipment and a ladder.”

dwarfMy Old Dwarf hefted his axe. “Ye be needin’ some help wit thet?”

Bill smiled. “What do you think, Guy?”

Guy frowned. “I told you, Gramps, you can’t use that axe on the ice. It will damage the roof shingles or the gutters.”

I expected another outraged outburst from the old reprobate over the use of the term gramps. Instead, my Old Dwarf just smirked. “Oh, I do na be needin’ no axe. Mm friend here be an expert at meltin’ ice.”

Elf clericDragon, in her familiar guise of an elf maiden, stepped around the side of the porch. Guy gawked at her. “Wow! Your costume is even better than the dwarf’s!”

Dragon simpered at Guy. “You should see my other costume.” She started to shimmer.

Miles grabbed my arm. “Honey, do something!” But all I could do was watch in morbid fascination, the way people do at car wrecks.

Moments later, Bill wasn’t smiling any more. He and Guy were screaming so loud I think people three states away could hear them. They made a mad dash for their truck.

blue-dragon-facing-left

Within seconds, Dragon managed to melt all the icicles and eliminate the ice dam without damaging anything. Then, she transformed back into an elf and approached the truck.

“Now about that heating element.”

Bill smiled. Granted, his eyes looked a bit glazed, and he was babbling incoherently, but he was smiling. Guy was just trying to keep his eyes from popping out of their sockets.

Miles and I rushed over to the truck. Guy quickly locked the doors against us.

Illusionists“Hey, it’s all right! It was all an illusion!” Miles pointed at Dragon and my Old Dwarf. “These two aren’t mere Cosplayers, they’re also magicians . . . illusionists of the highest order!”

Thank goodness for my quick-thinking husband!

“Yeah, you know.” I nodded. “Like Copperfield or Blackstone or Penn and Teller.”

It took a lot of talking for Miles and I to convince Guy and Bill that what they saw was merely an illusion. Even after we had convinced them, they seemed wary of Dragon and my Old Dwarf. Finally, Guy opened the door of the truck just a crack. “Why don’t all of you . . .” he gave Dragon and my Old Dwarf a sharp look. “Why don’t all of you go back in the house? Bill and I will let you know when we’re done here.”

About an hour later, the doorbell rang. My husband went to the door as I glared at my characters, daring them to make a move. Miles returned a few moments later. “They left the invoice in the storm door. They replaced the heating element.”

“What’s the cost?”

Note 2

“It’s marked paid-in-full. Guy attached a note, though. It says if the heating element ever fails again, please call another company to deal with it.”

 

Ah, yes, the joys of having a house full of fictional medieval characters.

 

Be sure to come back and see what new troubles my characters can cause for me and my husband. We’ll leave the porch light on for you.

How to Weather the Weather

How to Weather the Weather

dwarf“Eh, I would na be botherin’ the big beastie, iffin I be ye, lass.” My Old Dwarf took a big bite out of an apple, and nodded toward the conference room door. “She be in a frightful mood!”

musical notes“Well, thanks for the warning, but I really wasn’t planning on bothering Dragon, or anyone else for that matter. I just need to get some notes I left in there.” I paused, listening. “But her mood can’t be all that bad. It sounds like she’s listening to music.”

The old reprobate took another bite of his apple before responding. “Oh, aye, she be listenin’ ta yer magic-box, tha one ye be callin’ a radidio. But she do na be enjoyin’ the tunes it be playin’ this day.”

I raised an eyebrow. “Oh? Why not?”

“Ye peoples be havin’ entirely too many sing-songs aboot the weather!”

I chuckled, then opened the door to the conference room. I was almost driven back by the surge of heat that met me. The room felt like the inside of a Dwarven forge, as my rotund, apple-munching friend would put it.

I looked across the room and saw Dragon lying rather morosely in front of her illusory fireplace. The radio was on, playing mostly holiday tunes. I crossed the room and pulled up a chair.

 

Dragon greeted me. “Go away.”

“And a good day to you, too!” I tried to hide my smirk.

Dark smoke began to rise from Dragon’s snout.

I raised an eyebrow at the big beast. “Is something bothering you?”

“Cold.”

Both of my eyebrows shot up at that statement. “How can you possibly be cold? The temperature in this room must be close to 90 degrees Fahrenheit!”

“I like it warm.” She looked at me scornfully. “I am a desert dweller.”

“I remember. The first time you met my Young Hero, my Gypsy, and Cleric, it was in your desert.”

Dragon nodded, and smiled at the memory. “I think the Gypsy was a bit frightened of me.”

I laughed. “That’s an understatement! I think Cleric and my Young Hero were a bit frightened of you. My Gypsy was terrified!”

Dragon giggled. “Yes, he was.”

“And you enjoyed keeping him terrified. How many times did you threaten to put him on your dinner menu?”

“About the same number of times I have threatened to char Master Miles’ shoes with his feet still in them.” Dragon grinned impishly.

“You are incorrigible.” I laughed again.

“No, I am cold.” Dragon started pouting again, a small plume of dark smoke drifting from her nostrils.

I furrowed my brow. “It used to get cold in your desert.”

sun“Only at night. With the rising of the sun each day, the warmth returned. Here, in this land of yours, the cold lasts for many cycles of your moon! It settles in my bones and makes me feel as if I will never be warm again!” The big beast sighed. “Yesterday was almost endurable! Then, without warning, the temperature turned as frigid as your cold box, where you store food.”

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

 

I nodded. “Yesterday was nice. Here in the Twin Cities area, it reached 57 degrees Fahrenheit, breaking a record that stood for 76 years for the warmest temperature on that date. Much nicer than the 25 degrees and snow we have now. But the drop in temperature was hardly without warning. The weather forecasters had been predicting it all week.”

“I no longer listen to your climate diviners.” Dragon sniffed disdainfully. “I have never seen such inept magic users.”

I chuckled. “They are not diviners, and they are not magic users. They are scientists.”

Dragon looked at me scornfully. “Magic user, scientist . . . what is that expression you have in this world? Po-tay-toe, po-tah-toe, to-may-toe, to-mah-toe?”

“Well, that is an argument for another day. I have work to do. Enjoy the music.”

Before I could grab the notes I had come for and leave, Dragon sat up and asked me, “Why are there so many songs in this world that celebrate the weather? Especially bad weather?”

I put the notes back on the table and took my seat again. “What do you mean?”

“In the years I have lived in your world, and been subjected to your music, I have heard countless songs about stormy weather, rain, snow, hurricanes, wind, lightning, dust storms, tornadoes . . . almost every form of undesirable weather. I have heard precious few songs celebrating sunshine and heat.”

I giggled. “I daresay there are as many songs about good weather as there are about bad.”

“Not in my experience.” Dragon snorted.

“I know you had music in your world. What did you sing about?”

“Human bards sang songs about heroes and epic battles and fantastic events. Dwarves sang drinking songs. Elves sang to their deities. My species shared lifesongs.”

music

She sighed. “No one sang about the weather. Here, every other song seems to be about the weather! It is so annoying! Just listen – this is at least the tenth time in just two days I have heard this horrible song about frightful weather and snow!”

I smiled as Dean Martin’s voice drifted from the radio, inviting the snow to continue while he enjoyed someone’s company in front of the fire. “Well, it certainly fits today’s weather, doesn’t it?”

“Do not rub it in. I hate this weather. What good is snow? It is cold, it is wet, it is uncomfortable, and it does not even taste good!” Dragon shivered and placed another illusory log into her fireplace. “I believe this year I will simply hibernate through this glacial season.”

“And miss the holidays? Last year, you really enjoyed baking cookies with Cleric and me, and trimming the tree, and listening to the holiday music.”

Holiday fun

Dragon frowned. “Well, yes, I did. But it did not change the fact that it was cold. And if I participate in your holiday celebrations again this year, it will not change the fact that it is still cold.”

“I am afraid, my friend, that is a fact that can’t be changed. It’s winter, we live in Minnesota, and it’s cold.”

Dragon grinned that impish grin of hers again. “I wager I could change it.”

“Don’t even think about it!” I looked at her sternly.

“You are a killjoy!” Dragon frowned and tried another tack. “There is nothing to do in this weather!”

I snorted. “There is plenty to do! The lads have been enjoying having snowball fights and building snowmen, and learning from my Old Dwarf and my Foreman how to track animals in the snow. Cleric and Sorceress have also joined them for snow-shoeing and sledding and ice skating on the pond.”

Winter fun

Dragon scowled. “I notice that you do not participate in any of these activities.”

I sighed. “No, I do not. I hate the cold as much as you do.”

Dragon gave me a superior look. “Just think, then, how pleasant it would be if I changed the weather! If the weather were warm and sunny, your Foreman and the lads could ride their horses again. Everyone could go on picnics and help you capture images of the birds and creatures you encounter. Cleric and Sorceress could gather botanicals and other components for their spells. Master Miles could work on his vehicle. I would not feel as if I were permanently frozen. Everyone would benefit!”

I shook my head emphatically. “We would benefit until the world’s scientists tracked down the cause of the unusual weather! Then, your existence here, and that of your fellow characters, would be threatened.” I raked my hand through my hair. “How, exactly, would Miles and I explain the presence of a Dragon, some magic users, and other fictional medieval characters in this world?”

Dragon sighed. “Very well.”

I gave her a stern look. “You will not try to change the weather?”

“I will not.” Dragon curled up in front of the fireplace again and stared at the flames.

As I left the room, I had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that this was not the last I would hear of Dragon’s desire to instigate some climate change.

 

arrogant-one-facing-rightA few hours later, my Arrogant One barged into my office unannounced and uninvited. He addressed me in his typical imperious tone that endeared him to absolutely no one. “Why was I not informed that everyone is going on a picnic?”

“What are you talking about? It’s 25 degrees and snowing . . .” My voice died and my throat tightened, until I confirmed the state of the weather with a quick glance through the window to the backyard. “What are you talking about?”

“Well, if you do not know, then I surmise I was not the only one not to receive an invitation.” The annoying elf sneered and marched out of the room. I shook my head and went back to work.

Easter 128About an hour later, Miles walked into the room. “Honey? Why are your Old Dwarf, your Foreman and the lads emptying our refrigerator?”

“What?” I tilted my head and looked at my husband as if he were speaking gibberish.

“Well, they told me it was for the picnic, but I really can’t see them having a picnic in this weather. So do you know what they’re actually up to?”

Again, I glanced out of the window to assure myself that Dragon had not conjured an early summer. “No, I don’t know what they’re up to, but I guess we should find out.

As we walked out of my office, we saw my Old Dwarf and the others scurrying into the conference room, laden with food and beverages. Miles gave me that annoying See? What did I tell you? look as the door swung closed behind my Foreman.

We arrived at the door seconds later, opened it, and stepped . . . outside?

Miles and I gaped at the scene before us. I felt like I was in a popular sci-fi show, enjoying a program on the holodeck. The scene encompassed what appeared to be at least 50 acres. Dragon was basking in the warm sunlight, in the middle of a meadow bursting with wildflowers. Birdsong filled the air, and wildlife passed right by us, unafraid.

My Foreman and the lads were walking their horses toward a bridle path through a large tract of hardwood forest.

Sorceress and Cleric were laying blankets under a Weeping Willow on the banks of a gurgling brook, and my Old Dwarf was arranging the food and beverages.

My Bounty Hunter and my Arrogant One were exploring what appeared to be the ruins of an old castle on the other side of the stream.

 

“Dragon!” My voice echoed off the distant cliffs.

blue-dragon-2“What?” The big beast lazily opened one eye.

“You promised!”

Dragon grinned. “I promised only that I would not change the weather. I said nothing about changes to your meeting room.”

musical notesAn unseen radio began playing, “Oh, the weather inside is delightful. The scene is such an eyeful. And since we’ve a sun-drenched meadow, forget the snow, forget the snow, forget the snow.”

 

Gotta love a Dragon who knows how to get her own way! Be sure to come back and join us for further adventures. We’ll leave the porch light on for you.