Archive for December 11th, 2021

Advent 2021 – December 11

December 11 – Indi

Neil’s words echoed in Molly’s head as she watched the next person come up. “Sometimes, it’s something you just stumble across that’s what you need.”

That could be the motto for Carter’s Cove, Schrodinger said. I mean, just look around you. How many of us just managed to find our way here when we needed it? Even those of you who were born here.

“I can’t deny that,” Molly said out loud, and Drew looked over at her, puzzled. Schrodinger and she had a deeper bond than he and Drew had, and sometimes she forgot that he couldn’t read her mind as the CrossCat could. “Talking about the motto of Carter’s Cove,” she said, and explained the conversation to him. She didn’t mention the seeing of the visions. That felt like it was something only she and Schrodinger were privy to. 

“He’s not wrong,” Drew admitted, and pulled her close to his side. “After all, I had no idea I needed to be here until I came.”

“I’m glad you did, and that you didn’t leave like you intended to,” Molly said, grinning up at him. “I’d still be in my brownstone apartment.”

“And I’d be eating my own cooking, which while not terrible, is not as good as yours,” he replied, grinning back at her.

Get a room, Schrodinger grumbled good-naturedly, including Drew in the mental conversation. Some of us are trying to listen to the stories.

Drew and Molly shared another smile, and then she put her head on his shoulder as they watched their friend Indi come up.

Indi and her family ran the skating rink that formed every year in a sheltered inlet of the Elizabeth River. In the summer, it was a good swimming hole: the faster current curved around the edge of the two spits of land that cradled the cove, leaving the water smooth and perfect for swimming in. But in the winter, it came alive in a wonderfully magical way. The calm waters became a glassy ice rink. Indi had strung white Christmas lights in the trees around the beach, and there were old sofas and chairs that had been donated over the years for tired skaters to rest and eat some of the burgers and other fair food that came from the small kitchen trailer.

“My family has lived on our land for seven generations now,” Indi said proudly. “We’re old Carter Cove stock – one of my ancestors came over with Captain Carter. And we’ve always loved hosting people in our little cove.” She held up her ornament.

When the grey cleared, Molly and Schrodinger were standing in the skating cove, but it was far different than they were used to. Instead of all the lights, the only light source was the full moon that hung overhead, giving a silver gleam to the ice and the snow drifts. There was a small fire in the rocky island in the middle of the cove, where in the present, there was a large bonfire that warmed all the skaters. There were no speakers, no Christmas music, and only one person was skating around the ice.

She was young, her long hair held back from her face in a single plait that fell to mid-back. The mittens on her hands matched both her scarf and the earwarmer that framed her face. She had on a short skirt over tights, and an oversized sweater, and it was apparent that she was in her own world.

Is that Indi? Schrodinger asked, as the girl skated in graceful circles around the island, switching feet and direction as if she had been born skating. 

“I think so,” Molly said. This Indi’s hair wasn’t shot with silvery strands, and the laugh lines on her face weren’t there yet, but it was definitely the skating owner. “I’d heard that she competed as a child, but that she quit. I never knew why.”

She’s so good.

The sound of clapping from the beach shattered the quiet, and Past-Indi glided over to the man who had been watching her. “You’re spying on me, Daniel.” she chided him.

“Guilty as charged,” Daniel said to her. “Are you surprised?”

“No, I guess not.”

“You’re throwing away a career, you know,” he said. “You could be on the national team. Don’t you want that?”

Past-Indi shook her head. “No,” she said. “I want to stay here and enjoy my skating. I don’t want it to be a job. Besides, it costs too much. Even with you donating your coaching time. There’s costumes, and travel…”

“You could get sponsors. You’re good enough.” Daniel stepped onto the ice and put his hands on her shoulders. “You’re too good to moulder here.”

She pushed away from him, skating backwards as she shook her head. “My heart’s here, Daniel. I’m sorry. But I don’t want it as much as you do.” She spread her hands. “I hope you find someone who does.”

The scene faded and Molly watched Indi hang the gleaming white skate on the tree as the woman said, “The thing that I like best about this town is that they understand, on some deep level, that not everyone has to be a bright star in the middle of the solar system. Sometimes, stars need to remain in the darker part of the galaxy to share the light with the shadows.”

Advent 2021 – December 10

December 10 – Lisa and Neil

Several ornaments were then presented, along with the stories of when they received or made them, and Molly noticed that as each was placed on the tree, the evergreen seemed to shine a bit brighter. It could just be nothing, but she doubted it. Something was happening. She just couldn’t put her finger on it yet.

You could be overthinking this too, she told herself ruefully. Sometimes a tree decorating is just that. It doesn’t have to be anything else.

Except look at the people who started it,  Schrodinger said dryly. There’s always a deeper motive for at least one of them, and probably all three.

As if he’d heard, Old Man Winter looked over at them and winked.

Truth, Molly conceded.

The next people to step up were neighbors of Molly and Schrodinger. Lisa and Neil Jackson owned the farm next door to CrossCat Farm, and they had, among other things, a herd of reindeer. In the winter, they (like many other residents of Carter’s Cove) preferred to hitch one of the reindeer to a sleigh and travel that way. It was easier, especially on the outskirts of town, where the snow tended to drift high. Molly, Drew and Schrodinger had their own sleigh and often borrowed one of the reindeer to pull it.

“We came to the Cove late in life,” Lisa said, looking at her husband. “It’s our retirement home, and Starfield Farm has been good to us. We’d both been physicians, you see, and lived and worked in a big city. Now, well, it’s good to take care of ourselves and the people around us.”

Neil nodded. “The Farm, and the Cove, taught us how to slow back down. Smell the roses, or the evergreens, as the case may be. It’s something that the rest of the world seems to have forgotten.”

“And we found it by accident.” Lisa laughed. “We took a wrong turn and got lost. The realtor was not happy with us.”

The grey descended, and when it cleared, Molly and Schrodinger found themselves out in the summer woods of Maine. In front of them sprawled a large farmhouse with the roof of a barn peeking over one of the ells. As they watched, a small car drove up the dirt road that disappeared into the trees. It was definitely a city car – small, energy-efficient, and easy to park on crowded streets. In front of the big house, it looked like a toy a child had abandoned by a dollhouse.

Neil and Lisa got out, and looked around. “It’s perfect,” Lisa said happily. 

“I don’t think this is where we were supposed to be, though,” Neil said, looking around. “I don’t see a for sale sign anywhere, and wasn’t the realtor supposed to meet us?”

“Maybe she’s running late?” Lisa suggested. “I mean, it’s possible.”

“Maybe.” Neil sounded dubious.

As they stood there, the woodland silence enveloped them. Starfield Farm, like CrossCat Farm, was isolated from the main road into town, and so the muted noises of cars and trucks on the highway to Portland or Augusta rarely intruded. 

“Let’s just look around while we wait for her,” Lisa said, setting off to the farmhouse. “I’m sure she’ll be along.”

She climbed the wide steps to the front door, and then stopped in shock. An older woman had stepped out of the front door, a puzzled frown on her face. “We don’t get much visitors here,” the older woman said finally. “You lost?”

“We’re..ah, we’re here to look at the farm for sale?” Lisa said, faltering a little. “We’re the Jacksons.”

The woman continued to frown, and Molly found herself holding her breath. “Where you from, then?” the woman said finally.

“Boston,” Neil said, coming up beside his wife. “We’re retiring. Looking to get away from the bustle.”

“Do some writing,” Lisa added. “And maybe pottery. Grow vegetables and flowers.”

“Farm’s a lot of work,” the woman said. “Not a toy.”

“No, it’s not,” Neil agreed. “But it’s a different kind of work, and one we’re both looking forward to.” He looked down at his wife and smiled. “Getting some animals. Splitting wood. Getting to know the woods.”

The woman looked around. “This is a long way from Boston.”

“Which is why it’s perfect,” Lisa said.

“You’ll get lonely?” It was an odd question.

“We’ve got each other,” Neil said. “A couple of dogs. And we have two boys that will bring their friends over.”

“Writing retreats,” Lisa said. “Pottery friends. And lovely time away from everything the rest of the year.”

Another long silence. Then the woman said, “Well, why don’t you come in for a cup of tea and some scones? We can talk. I wasn’t planning on selling, but…”

Lisa looked aghast. “Are we in the wrong place? I’m so sorry!”

The woman waved her hand. “I’m Laurel. Come in and we’ll talk.” The frown dissolved into a smile. “I made the scones this morning.”

As they mounted the steps, the scene faded, bringing Molly and Schrodinger back to the present. Lisa held up the reindeer ornament. “If it wasn’t for a map-reading mistake, and our own enthusiasm, we might have never known the wonderful people we know. I’ve never forgotten that, and we still get Christmas cards and postcards from Laurel. She loves to know how the farm is going.” She looked at the ornament. “She gave us our first chickens, and the beginning of our reindeer herd. I can’t imagine life any other way.” 

“It’s taught us that what you’re looking for isn’t always what you think it is,” Neil said. “Sometimes it’s something you just stumble across that’s what you need.”

Advent 2021 – December 9

December 9 – Noemi

Molly wasn’t surprised to see the final member of the Terrible Trio, Noemi Miller, take Sue’s place once the cardinal was installed on the tree. Noemi was the quietest of the four of them, but her serene countenance hid a wicked sense of humor. She was a computer specialist and helped, among other things, keep the computers at the Gate Station running. 

“When I got the invite for this, I too knew instinctively which ornament I wanted to give,” Noemi said. “I wasn’t born here, but I might as well have been, since we moved here when I was two. My earliest memories are of this town, and the amazing people who make it up. There’s just something about Carter’s Cove that calls you back, even if you leave for a bit.”

What does she mean? Schrodinger asked. Where did she go?

“College, in New York City,” Molly said. “She got a full scholarship to Barnard, and it was an opportunity she couldn’t pass up. I’m glad she came back, though.”

Me too! Otherwise, I wouldn’t have gotten to meet her!

Noemi held up her ornament, and Molly nodded to herself. The grey clouds wrapped around them.

Is this NYC? Schrodinger asked her, when the clouds cleared. 

“Yes. This is where the college is located.” Molly looked around the bustling crowds and colorful decorations. “It’s called Morningside Heights, near Harlem. There’s an amazing pastry shop, and we went there when we visited her. Among other places.” 

It’s busy. But I like it! Schrodinger sounded as if he were surprised.

“It’s busy,” Molly agreed. “But it’s fun for short visits.”

She watched as Past-Molly and her three friends walked down the street, arm-in-arm, as snowflakes drifted down from the sky. “I’m so glad you were able to come!” Past-Noemi said. “Now I can show you what I love about this city.”

“Love enough to stay after college?” Past-Lai teased gently.

Past-Noemi laughed. “No. For all the wonderful things about New York, I miss home.” She looked around. “There’s not enough snow, and while seeing the Macy’s parade in person was neat, it would have been more fun watching on the tv with you guys, eating Molly’s cookies and danish and drinking hot chocolate.”

“You only have 3 more years!” Past-Molly said. “And then you’ll be back! Besides, I sent you cookies!”

“You did, and they have been a good link to the Cove,” Past-Noemi said.

They stopped, and Past-Sue looked at Past-Molly and Past-Lai. “Should we show her now?”

“Show me what?” Past-Noemi looked at the three of them.

“This.” Past-Lai pulled a present out of her leather bag and handed it to Past-Noemi. “Something to help with the home-sickness.”

Past-Noemi opened the present and gasped. “Oh, you guys! This is awesome!”

“We thought you might like it,” Past-Sue said, and the other two nodded, grinning.

But what is it??? Schrodinger half-stood on his back paws, putting one of his front paws on Molly’s leg to see better.

Past-Noemi pulled a small evergreen wreath from the box. It was about the size of two hands cupped together, and in the center was a gingerbread man holding a small wooden sign that said, “Welcome to Carter’s Cove South” on it. 

“Sue made the wreath,” Past-Molly said. “I made the gingerbread man, and Lai painted the sign.”

“And then Molly worked her magic on it,” Past-Lai said. “So it won’t ever fade.”

“Ever?” Past-Noemi asked.

“Ever,” Past-Molly said. “Or at least until we aren’t friends anymore, which will never happen.”

The grey surrounded them and brought them back to the Cove just as Noemi handed over the wreath. “I know it’s usually meant to go on a door, but I couldn’t resist bringing it,” Noemi said. 

“It’s perfect as it is,” Jade said, smiling at her. “We’ll find a place for it. Thank you for bringing it.”

And it’s still as fresh as it was in the vision, Schrodinger said, watching as Jade hung the wreath on a branch. On the giant tree, it fit perfectly.

“Of course it is,” Molly said, smiling. “We’re still friends, after all.”

Advent 2021 – December 8

December 8 – Sue

“I like the idea of celebrating friendship too.”

The next person to step up was another member of the Terrible Trio. Sue Elder ran the museum in town, and had been one of Molly’s friends since before she could remember when. Her mother and Molly’s mother were thick as thieves, so it probably wasn’t surprising that their daughters were too.

Sue’s dark hair was cut in a sleek bob, and Molly strained to see what ornament she’d brought. Not the tea cup, she was pretty sure, probably for the same reason why Molly hadn’t chosen that one. The cups were very delicate, and although now she knew that Jade wouldn’t let any of the ornaments break, she hadn’t known that beforehand.

“I’ve lived in this town all my life, and I’ve never wanted to live anywhere else,” Sue said, cupping her ornament in her hand. “One of the things I like about Carter’s Cove is how everything is treasured, no matter how big or small. I don’t know if that’s just us, or if the town encourages it, but I appreciate it more than anyone can imagine.”

When the grey clouds drew away from her, Molly and Schrodinger were back at the Daughter of Stars Middle School, although this time, they were outside. It was a cold, snowy day, and judging by the age of her former self, Molly figured they were about 12 or 13. Past-Molly, Past-Sue, and Past-Lai were seated on swings, but they weren’t swinging. Rather, they were watching a pair of cardinals flutter around a tall bush with dark berries.

“That’s a black chokecherry,” Past-Sue said. “They are good for the birds because their berries last all winter.”

“Can they really survive on just berries all winter?” Past-Molly asked.

“They can, but they eat other things too,” Past-Sue said. “Mom says they like seeds and suet too. And they will eat things like peanuts and popcorn.”

The three looked at the birds for a while in silence. Then Past-Lai said, “We still need to figure out what kind of project we’re going to do for the Winter Solstice.”

Past-Sue sighed. “I wish Noemi was here this Christmas. She always has good ideas.”

“Yeah. It just doesn’t seem like Christmas without her,” Past-Lai agreed, and Past-Molly nodded.

Where’s Noemi? Schrodinger asked. Why isn’t she with you?

“If I remember correctly, her family went to her grandmother’s that Christmas,” Molly said. “She didn’t want to go, but her mother insisted.”

Well, I guess that’s okay. Family is important.

“Yes.”

Molly watched her younger self and two of her three best friends as they tossed ideas around, none of them really happy with any of them. In the meantime, the bright red cardinal male and his brown and red mate continued to pick at the berries, both of them chirping occasionally, as if asking the other a question.

Then Past-Sue’s eyes widened. “I know! Let’s do a present for the cardinals and the other birds!”

“How?” Past-Molly said, frowning. “I mean, what do you get for birds?”

“And how is that a project for Winter Solstice?” Past-Lai asked practically.

“Because it’s a decorated tree!” Past-Sue said, bouncing excitedly on her swing. “What if we do strings of popcorn and cranberries, and make ornaments out of suet and seeds? I bet my mom would help us, and then we can take pictures and make a whole presentation!”

Past-Molly and Past-Lai looked at each other, and then at Past-Sue. “You know, I really do like that,” Past-Molly said. Past-Lai nodded, and Past-Molly continued, “I bet my mom would help too.”

“Let’s go find out!”

As the three ran out of the playground, the scene faded, and Molly was back as Sue held out a bright red cardinal ornament to Jade. “This town taught me that the best way to be a friend was to offer friendship to others,” Sue said, looking at the cardinal. “And that everyone, no matter how small, deserves friends.”