Advent 2021 – December 7

December 7 – Lai

“Speaking of tea…” Lai Zhao, one of Molly’s best friends, came up to the tree as Father Christopher stepped down. Her long shining black hair hung loose to her waist, echoing the shine of her high boots. She was dressed in her normal jeans and a large sweater. “There was really only one ornament I could think to bring here.”

She looked over at Molly as she said, “I was born here in the Cove, but my parents moved when I was very young, and I didn’t have any choice in the matter. By the time I was able to move back, I was in grade school, and it can be hard to make friends suddenly at that stage.”

“Oh…” Molly’s hand came up to her mouth as she saw the ornament Lai held aloft. When the grey cleared, she was watching a much younger but still stylish Lai and her own grade-school aged self, peeking over the edges of their books at each other. They were in the library at Daughter of Stars Middle School, and Molly remembered wondering if this new girl would fit in. 

You really were a tomboy, weren’t you? Schrodinger said, and she smiled.

“Always,” she said, looking at the ratty jeans and her father’s handmedown sweater her younger self was wearing. “Dresses were the devil.”

Past-Molly finally put her book down and reached out her hand to Lai. “Hi, I’m Molly. I see you like fantasy too. Have you read the Dragonriders books yet?”

Past-Lai took her hand. “I think so? Those are the Anne McCaffrey ones, right?”

Past-Molly nodded. “My aunt runs the bookstore in town. Want to come with me after school? We’re decorating the tree, and Aunt Margie said she needed help.” She cocked her head. “And there will be tea.”

“Tea?” Past-Lai perked up. “Like, real tea?”

“Well, yeah.” Past-Molly sounded a little offended. “I don’t like regular tea bags. They’re too weak.”

“Agreed,” Past-Lai said. “I’d love to.”

You really do just adopt people, Schrodinger said. 

“I recognize kindred souls,” Molly admitted. 

So what’s the ornament?

Molly smiled, and closed her eyes. When she opened them, they were back, and Lai was hanging the delicate china tea cup that Molly had given her that Christmas. There were four of the cups that she’d found: one hung on her tree, and one each had gone to her friends, the Terrible Trio, as her mother had dubbed them. The cup was painted with elegant holly leaves and edged with silver, as if kissed by the snow before it was dry.

“What else would it be?” she said.

Lai looked over at her again. “I’ve never not put this up on my tree, and I know the others have theirs still as well. It’s a symbol of friendship that will never, ever be severed, and I treasure that more than anything. It’s fitting that it goes on to this tree.” She smiled. “Especially if you’re doing what I think you are.”

Jade looked innocent. “I’m just encouraging the resumption of an old tradition.”

“Sometimes, those are the best.” Lai stepped back into the crowd.

“What did she mean?” Drew asked Molly quietly. She wondered if he was seeing what she and Schrodinger were.

“No idea,” Molly said, although that wasn’t quite true. “I’m sure we’ll find out, though.”

Advent 2021 – December 6

December 6 – Father Christopher

“I agree, wholeheartedly,” Jade said, smiling down at Zoey. “I’m so happy that we could get to know you.”

Zoey stepped back, and Jade looked out over the crowd. “Who would like to go next?”

When should we go? And should we go together? Schrodinger looked up at Molly. All three of them had chosen an ornament to put on the tree. 

“I’m thinking more towards the end,” Molly said. “And yes, we can all go up together.”

Several of the townsfolk had stepped up, and soon the tree had more ornaments. Each time, Molly and Schrodinger were shown the images of the stories that were attached to each one. Then Father Christopher, the priest of the little church Molly had gone to for service since she’d been a child, came up and offered his choice.

“I’m another one who came from out of town,” he said, turning to the others. “I too was welcomed in as if I’d always been here, and although I’ve been offered other parishes, I’ve never once considered leaving. But when I received the invitation for this, there was only one ornament that I knew I had to bring.”

He held up a shining brass ornament. It was about the size of a tea saucer, and held the cut out scene of a church in the snow. “When I was a young priest, my very first parish was not in an rural setting. In fact, we didn’t have snow at all…”

The now-familar grey fog surrounded Molly, and when it cleared, she and Schrodinger were standing on a strange city street. It was hot and full of people rushing around, the din of hundreds of thousands of living bodies all around them. Schrodinger’s ears went back and his eyes widened. This is NOT the Cove!

“No,” Molly agreed. “I think this must be…” Her voice trailed off as she watched a younger version of Father Christopher stride up to the large church that rose up from a patch of dry grass. This Father Christopher had no grey in his dark hair; indeed, the hair on his head was long and held back from his face in a braid with a multi-colored string tying it up. Instead of the long pants and soft sweaters that Molly knew him in, he was wearing a short-sleeved blue teeshirt that said “St. Andrews Softball League” on it, and long shorts. Instead of boots, there were what looked like Birkenstock sandals on his feet. His long legs and arms were tanned. Indeed, the only thing that was still the same was his smile, full of caring and warmth. Time hadn’t touched that at all.

“Father Christopher! Please, wait!”

Father Christopher paused on the top step of the church and turned. A young man came running up to him, sweat slicking his face and dark hair. “I know it’s late, Father, but please, I need a few minutes.”

“Of course! I always have time for you, Edward! What can I do for you?”

Edward reached him and dropped his head briefly, catching his breath. It was clear that he’d run from wherever he’d been.

“Is it true, Father?” he said finally. “Are you leaving?”

Father Christopher nodded. “I’ve been reassigned, I’m afraid. There’s another new priest coming in, but you know you can always write or call me.”

“That’s very kind, but that’s not why I wanted to catch you.” Edward swallowed. “I got the letter today, Father. I…” He paused, and then blurted out, “I got in! I’m going to art school! I got the scholarship!”

“That’s wonderful!” Father Christopher enveloped him in a bear hug, despite the heat. “I knew you could do it!”

“Not without your help, Father.” Edward’s smile was shy. “I wasn’t exactly on the right path when you came here.”

“No, but you did the work, son. Don’t ever forget that. God helps those who are trying, whether or not they fail along the way. Only God is infallible. The rest of us are just mortal and trying to do the right thing.” Father Christopher laid his hand on the young man’s shoulder. “When do you leave?”

“Not for a few weeks. The next semester isn’t until January, and I’ve got to make sure Mom is set up.” Edward handed him a small wrapped package. “But I wanted to give you this.”

The brass ornament flashed in the sun, momentarily blinding Molly, and then the scene was gone, the noise of the city replaced by the murmurs of the people in Carter’s Cove. “I’ve hung this church on every tree I have ever had since that Christmas, and I get a card from Edward every year. He’s an art teacher now, and still makes amazing ornaments,” Father Christopher finished. “I would love to have him come live here, but he says his blood is too thin to survive a Maine winter.” He winked at Old Man Winter. “Sometimes I think mine is too.”

Old Man Winter laughed. “Your blood is full of Molly’s tea and Katrina’s coffee, Father. Not even I can fight against that magic.”

Advent 2021 – December 5

December 5 – Zoey

Molly came back to herself again as Jade accepted the little gingerbread house. “But won’t your father miss this for the season?” the Snow Queen asked.

“No,” Sarah said, smiling. “He’ll be able to see it here every day. Besides, he’s the boss now. He doesn’t have to drive around if he doesn’t want to.” She looked slyly over her shoulder and winked at her father, who had just stepped up as the chief of police for Carter’s Cove.

Jade carefully hung the ornament on the tree as Sarah made her way back to stand with her family. When the Snow Queen turned back to the crowd, Molly saw that Lily’s best friend Zoey had taken Sarah’s place. In her hand was something Molly recognized instantly.

“This is from our very first year at Carter’s Cove,” Zoey said, holding up the snow globe. “I didn’t believe in magic when we moved here, especially not Christmas magic. I thought it was something that only little kids believed in. After all, I’d never really SEEN magic. Not like this.”

When the fog cleared, it was dark, and Molly smelled smoke. Not the comforting smoke of a Christmas fireplace – this was thick, choking smoke that forced its way up her nose and down her throat, carrying with it the tang of loss and fear. Schrodinger pressed himself against her. 

“I’d forgotten how bad it was,” she said, watching the firemen fighting to save Zoey’s home from the fire that had been started by an electrical spark while they’d been at the Snow Queen’s ball. The remains of the decorations that they had all put up in the family’s front yard were trampled, wet, and stained with smoke. The entire house had been a total loss.

And yet, I’ll bet Zoey still thinks this is the best Christmas she ever had, Schrodinger said. He jumped slightly as one of the roof timbers fell into the flames with a crash. Even as they lost everything, they gained so much.

It was true. The entire Cove had come together to replace nearly everything that had been lost to the fire, and the family had been bundled into Molly’s own family for Christmas Day. And that too had been a day…

As if her thoughts had conjured it, the fiery night turned to the bright sunshine of morning, and she watched Old Man Winter’s sledge come up the driveway to the ruin of the house. Everyone got out, and Zoey opened the box that had been left for her under the tree from Santa. She took the snow globe out, shook it, and then stepped back, astonished, as snowflakes had shot from the ornament. They whipped around the yard and then into the hole that had once been the house. As they all watched, the house had rebuilt itself, including all the decorations that had been a gift to the family. 

Molly blinked, and saw they were back in the present. Zoey was saying, “I thought this was the worst move we’d ever made, coming to this town, because nothing ever happened in small towns. I thought I’d miss the city we’d lived in before. But Carter’s Cove is the best place in the world to live, because of the people.” She held out the snow globe to Jade. “The magic is just the icing on the cake. I don’t ever want to live anywhere else, because there isn’t anywhere else where people are your friends even if they don’t know you.”

Advent 2021 – December 4

December 4 – Sarah

The grey clouds swept around them, bringing them back to the present. Old Man Winter settled his figure within the branches of the tree, and Jade looked out over the crowd. “Who would like to go next?” she said.

“I would, if you don’t mind.”

Everyone turned, and the crowd parted as a tall, slim young woman stepped confidently forward. One hand clasped the handle of her service dog’s harness, and in the other, she held a small gingerbread house ornament that she held out to Jade. The house was tiny, about the size of her palm, but Molly knew every single decoration on it, sculpted into the gingerbread and dyed with food coloring. 

Sarah Ford was blind, but her sensitive fingers told her all about the world around her. Watching her, Molly was pulled back into the past again.

It was snowing, and she was in the tea room at CrossWinds Books, listening to WCOV play Christmas Carols. Molly watched a 6-year-old blonde child make her way unerringly to the younger Molly who was having a cup of tea by the fireplace. “Molly! Molly! I need your help!” little Sarah said eagerly, her hands outstretched.

She was so small!  Schrodinger said to the present-day Molly. And yet so independent!

Oh yes. Sarah’s never been anything but unafraid. 

Past-Molly helped her down into the chair next to her. “Anything! What can I do for you?”

“Mommy said Daddy is going to be on duty Christmas eve,” Sarah said. “Can we make a gingerbread house that he can bring with him?”

Past-Molly frowned, obviously thinking. “Possibly. What were you thinking?”

Sarah’s little face puckered into a matching frown. “Well, when you bring the gingerbread houses to everyone, they’re big and fragile,” the little girl said. “Can we make kind of a mini version that won’t break? That maybe he could hang from the window of his squad car?” Sarah’s father was a member of the Carter’s Cove police force.

“I think we can!” Past-Molly pulled out a piece of paper from her pocket, and the stub of a pencil. “If you want it to last and not to be eaten, I can make the gingerbread harden. And if we sculpt the decorations into the gingerbread itself, then there’s nothing to fall off.”

“Perfect!” Sarah clapped her hands together eagerly. “And then he will have it every year! Can I help?”

“Oh yes,” Past-Molly agreed. “I’ll make it so that it will never fade. And of course you can help! We’ll make it the best gingerbread house ever.”

Advent 2021 – December 3

December 3 – Old Man Winter

Molly and Schrodinger felt the memory fall away from them, and then they were back in the present. Who was that? Schrodinger asked her.

I don’t know, Molly replied. Maybe it doesn’t really matter? We can look and see later. Sue might know. Sue Elder ran the Carter’s Cove museum and history center. She would be able to help them discover who Logan had been.

The Librarian might know too, Schrodinger added. The Librarian was the knowledge keeper of his clan of CrossCats, and she would definitely be a resource to use.

Jack’s leaf hung on one of the branches, and now it was Old Man Winter’s turn. The big man looked out over the crowd until he spotted Molly.

“There were a lot of Christmases that I spent in Carter’s Cove, but it was a recent one that made me remember what I had forgotten,” Old Man Winter said. He held up a figure in his hand. “And now, I give this for you all to remember me.”

The St. Nicholas figure he held up was clad in bright red robes, with white fur trim and a merry spray of holly pinned to the front of his hat. The familiar fog wrapped around them, and then Molly and Schrodinger were standing in front of Crosswinds Books. The snowflakes danced around them as they watched themselves, Sue, Drew, and Lai load up a large sledge with boxes and boxes. Two huge shaggy reindeer were hooked to the sledge with holly wrapped around their antlers, large brass jingle bells bright on their harnesses. 

That’s us! The day we delivered the gingerbread! That was so much fun!!! Schrodinger bounced next to her. I wonder if we can do it again!

“I think that can be arranged,” Old Man Winter said, and both Molly and Schrodinger jumped. He winked at them, laughter rumbling up from deep within. “What, did you think you were the only ones here?”

“We weren’t sure,” Molly admitted. “Are we really seeing your memories?”

“Yes, and no.” 

How can it be both? Schrodinger asked.

“Magic,” Old Man Winter said simply. “Every story weaves another layer into the magic that makes Carter Cove what it is. This is a very special place, you know.”

“So everyone is seeing these memories?” Molly said.

“Not exactly. It depends on how sensitive they are.” Old Man Winter watched himself come out of the store carrying the final box, the gingerbread sculpture that Molly did for Schrodinger’s friend Sarah every year. The Old Man Winter in the memory was dressed very similarly to the St. Nicholas figure, although instead of a hat, his robes had a hood trimmed with white fur that was hard to separate from the beard that covered his face. “Many will just hear the stories. Some might even see hints of what you see, but I think the two of you are very much a part of the magic of Carter’s Cove, deep to the core of who you are. So you see more.” He smiled, looking a little wistful. “You are making gingerbread this year, aren’t you, Molly?”

“I am,” she said, grinning. “Will my St. Nicholas be up for a day of deliveries?”

“Oh yes.” He grinned back at them. “Now, enjoy the show. I think you’ll learn a bit.”

Advent 2021 – December 2

December 2 – Jack Frost

Molly blinked, and she was back in the town square. Jade’s snowflake glimmered at the top of the tree, just like it had in the…memory? Molly shook her head. Maybe I was just caught up in the story.

You and me both, Schrodinger said, pressing against her leg as if he needed help standing. Did you see the feast too?

Yes. Molly looked around at the crowd, but if anyone else had shared the experience, she couldn’t tell. The faces turned to the dias were shining with happiness, clearly enjoying the scene. Maybe because we’re closer to Jade?

Maybe. He shrugged. Here comes Jack.

Indeed, as Jade stepped back, Jack Frost stepped forward to take her place. “While I did not come to the colony for that first Christmas, I did have the pleasure of several Christmases with Captain Carter, and for that, I am glad. The founder of the town was a great man, and his spirit lives on in all of you.” He held his hand up, and a red maple leaf shimmered into view, silver frost highlighting the delicate tracing of veins throughout it. “The year I remember best, the snows were late, so the harvests had continued long after they should have stopped. It was a good year for the Cove, but not for some of their neighbors…”

The crowd swam in front of Molly’s eyes again. When the mist cleared, she and Schrodinger (she could feel his warmth pressing into her leg) were still in the town square, but instead of snowbanks, the ground was packed dirt, swept clean by the brisk sea breeze that tugged at her hair. The tree was in front of them, the Snow Queen’s snowflake shining on the top. Behind her, Molly heard a familiar voice, and she turned around.

“Are you certain you want to allow them in, Captain?” Jack Frost leaned back against one of the rough-hewn tables, stretching his legs out before him. Rather than robes, he was dressed in dark green pants and vest, leaving his arms bare to the shoulder. His skin was not so much pale as it was grey, the faintest hint of bark peeling away from trees, and his long hair was reddish in the light of the setting sun. “After all, you hardly know them.”

“I know that they are hungry,” Captain Carter said. “That’s all I need to know. This town will never turn away those in need.”

“And if they betray you?” Jack plucked an autumn leaf as it flew by on the breeze. “If they try to take control of this town you’ve nurtured, once they see what you have?”

Captain Carter shrugged. “They have already seen it. If they want to fight, then we will defend ourselves. Hopefully it won’t come to that.”

Jack stood up. “I hope so too. I will let them know.” And he vanished in a swirl of leaves, leaving Captain Carter standing alone in the square.

Do you know who they are talking about? Schrodinger asked her.

Molly shook her head. Not a clue. This is obviously after the first Christmas, but still early. There were several other settlements that were nearby, and not all of them survived.

And then, in another swirl of leaves, Jack was back, with another man who looked slightly discomforted by their mode of transport. This newcomer was dressed, not in leather and wool like the Captain and Jack, but in a long robe of dark blue, and his white hair was intricately braided with a leather thong and beautiful glass beads. His dark, weathered face was kind, and once he regained his balance, he held out a huge hand to Captain Carter. “Greetings, Captain.”

“Greetings, Logan!” Captain Carter clasped the hand warmly. “How are you settling in?”

The other man’s eyes clouded. “It has not been an easy year,” he admitted, and Molly could feel the pain in his voice. “The crops did not do well, and I do not know if we will be able to carry all our people through the winter.”

“Would you reconsider my offer, then?” Captain Carter said. “Please? We have more than enough room, and if we pool our stores, no one needs to go hungry.”

“But who will guard our lands through the winter if we move to the Cove, James? We may survive the winter only to be homeless when the snow melts.”

“That too, we can help with,” Captain Carter said. “With the crops gathered, our young people will be looking for things to help keep them occupied. The hunting parties can make sure no one else moves into your land, and your people will be warm and safe here in the Cove.” He put his other hand on top of the hand he still held. “Please, Logan. This will be the best for both of us, and I will not have to worry about finding your stubborn corpse frozen to the ground.” He paused and added, “Maria would never forgive either of us.”

Logan looked sharply at him, and Captain Carter winked. The big man laughed. “That is true! And to be honest, I am more afraid of her than I am of the winter.”

“You should be,” Jack said dryly. “Your wife is a force of nature.”

Logan and Captain Carter both laughed at that, and Logan added his free hand to their handshake. “That she is,” Logan said. “I shall go now and let my people know what we have agreed. But before I do…” He released Captain Carter’s hands, and reached into his robe. He withdrew a dark red leaf that he broke in half and handed one piece to Captain Carter. “As a gift,” he said. “To bind our groups together. As long as both of these parts are kept safe, our people will be as one.” He turned to Jack. “Will you witness?”

“Gladly.” Jack came to stand next to them, and he reached out and touched the pieces. Each leaf became a whole leaf, threaded with silvery frost. “Now these leaves will never wilt,” Jack said. “Until and unless the compact is broken. Witnessed.”

“Witnessed,” Logan and Captain Carter said in unison. Logan put his leaf back into his coat, and Captain Carter tucked his leaf into the tree next to him.

“Now, I shall go and get my people together,” Logan said. He squinted at the sky. “There will be snow soon. If I hurry, we can be back here within a week.”

“Do you need help? Carts?” Captain Carter asked.

“I will let you know once I get back,” Logan said.  “But I shall walk,” he added, as Jack reached out to him. “It is not far. And I will not vomit all over my wife’s clean floor if I walk.” He strode out of the square, his robes billowing around his long legs.

Jack and Captain Carter watched in silence as Logan disappeared between houses, heading for the outskirts of the town. Once he was out of sight, Captain Carter looked at Jack. “You still think he will cause trouble?”

“Him? No.” Jack shook his head. “But Logan is not the only member of his group.” He shrugged. “But perhaps I am a cynic.”

Advent 2021- December 1

December 1: The Snow Queen

Jade lifted her right hand, and a beautiful snowflake glimmered into existence. “I have given out one of these every year at the Ball, to a person who I feel needs it. But the very first snowflake I created for a tree was not given to a person. It was given to a town…”

Molly felt as if she were falling. The world swirled, and when it cleared, she looked around the town square as it must have been: a circle of snug houses, barely finished before the winter storms had tucked them into insulating blankets of snow. Beside her, the tree was straight and proud, barely five feet tall, the only tree left standing when the area was cleared. Instead of glowing LED bulbs, spheres that glowed with magical colors were nestled in the tree’s branches.

Next to the tree was the Snow Queen, and an older man who Molly recognized instantly from school. Captain James Carter looked out over the square, where the remnants of his colony were busy setting up tables and benches. While it was cold outside the square, Jade must have raised a clear bubble of magic that encased them in a warm atmosphere that left the snow unmelted. “I can’t believe we made it to Christmas,” Captain Carter rumbled. “I thought for certain that we’d never last past the first snow.”

“You’re far too pessimistic, Captain,” Jade said. “Your people believe in you, and you believe in them.”

“Belief only gets you so far, though, Jade.”

“But without it, you’ll get nowhere,” she replied. “You have good people here, James, and they’ll follow you to the ends of the earth.”

“And beyond, if I let them.” Captain Carter shook his head, unable to stop the smile from peeking through his grey-streaked beard. “Thank you again, Jade, for helping me protect them.”

“It was my pleasure.” Jade looked out over the small town again. “Neighbors like you are hard to find. You were the first to ask if you could settle here, rather than just taking what you wanted. You protected those who were already here. You integrated, rather than taking over.” She held out her hand, and he took it. “I will be happy to help protect your town, as long as it remembers the truth of being good neighbors.”

“As long as I am able to influence that, we will only be good neighbors.” Captain Carter laid his own hand over their clasped hands. “Sit next to me?”

“Of course.”

The food and drink were simple, but plentiful: roasted venison from the nearby woods, apples and squash and other vegetables that had been harvested during the waning golden days of fall, breads both sweet and savory. The ship’s cook, who was now helping to run a small general store, had even made sweets from honey that melted on the tongue and brought her back to the early summer when the large ships had first entered the harbor. They washed down the food with apple cider and tea and wine that the dwarves from the nearby mine had brought as their contribution. Molly’s mouth watered, and she wondered how many of the dishes she could recreate.

At the end, Jade reached out and placed a hand on Captain Carter’s arm. “I have a gift for you.”

“Another one?” He smiled at her. “I thought this was enough.”

“This will only last until the end of the night,” Jade said. “This gift, though, is one that will remain with you as long as the town stands.”

She held her right hand out in front of her, palm up. A slight breeze swirled around her, blowing piles of snowflakes into the air. As the cloud of snowflakes danced over her hand, one single snowflake dropped out of the crowd and remained. The entire village fell silent as the snowflake grew, looking more like a star by the time it settled into a gleaming silver. She sent it floating over to the tree with a flick of her wrist.

As it landed on the top of the tree, white streams of snowflakes burst from it and wrapped the tree in garlands of snowflakes and ships.

“This is the symbol of our treaty,” Jade said. “As long as we are in accord, there will be a snowflake to go on this tree every Christmas. This I swear.”

Advent 2021 – Day Zero

November 30

“What’s this?”

Molly McIntyre stepped into the kitchen, shaking snow from her hair as she did so. It had been snowing for a few hours, but that hadn’t stopped Zette from dropping off the mail. Now, she showed her husband Drew the elegant white and silver envelope that had come with the other letters and bills.

He took the envelope and turned it over in his hands. “It almost looks like a wedding invitation, but do we have any weddings coming up?”

“Not that I know of,” Molly said, slipping her feet out of her boots and into the warm slippers she’d left beside the door. “Unless Sue and Luke finally just decided to elope and this is the party invitation.”

Sue and Luke are eloping? Really? Do you think they’ll still do a fancy dress party to celebrate if they are already married? Schrodinger Barrett came barreling out to the kitchen, whiskers and ears alert. He loved fancy dress parties.

“I don’t know that,” Molly replied, laughing. “But they’re the only ones I know of who might be getting married.”

Drew held the envelope out to Schrodinger, and the Cross Cat sniffed it. Not Sue and Luke, he said finally. I smell Zette, obviously, but there’s another scent…familiar, but it’s a little muddled. It’s snowing outside still. Maybe that’s my problem.

“Well, let’s put an end to our misery.” Drew opened the envelope, pulling out a pale green card. There were silver snowflakes and colorful autumn leaves intertwined around the edge, framing the following words:

“This is an invitation to a special party. Please bring an ornament that symbolizes the spirit of Christmas to you to the tree in Captain Carter’s Square this Saturday. We look forward to seeing you there.

Fondly,

The Snow Queen, Jack Frost, and Old Man Winter”

A party! Schrodinger danced around the kitchen, acting more like his best friend Jack than a Cross Cat. Molly could almost see the excitement rising off him. And ornaments! And friends!

“I guess we’ll have to find ornaments,” Molly said.

That Saturday, they joined the large crowd of people in Captain Carter’s Square in downtown Carter’s Cove, where a massive spruce tree had been decorated every year that Molly could remember. There were still lights glowing amid the dark green needles, but the normal garlands of starfish, dolphins, ships, and anchors were not evident. Molly looked around at all her friends and neighbors, and smiled. Christmas was definitely one of Carter Cove’s favorite holidays.

There was a small raised dias next to the tree, and standing on it were three of Carter Cove’s nontraditional residents. Jade, the Snow Queen, radiant in her silvery-white robes and with a small diamond tiara nestled among her blonde braids, stood next to Jack Frost, her hand in his. He was dressed in dark green robes, with autumn leaves and silver snowflakes dancing along the edges of the fabric. And behind them loomed the tall figure of Old Man Winter, ice in his grey beard, his blue eyes bright. To think we used to fear him, Molly thought. It seems so long ago.

The Snow Queen stepped forward and raised her hands. Instantly the crowd quieted.

“Welcome, my friends,” she said, her clear voice floating on the chill air. “I know this tree normally holds tributes to Captain Carter and his voyage here to found this town. But this year is a special year for Jack and I, and in the spirit of that, we’d like to share a tradition that Captain Carter introduced us to.” She laid a hand on the branch nearest to her. “That first year, everyone in the town hung an ornament that held a memory sacred to each of them, and told the story of why the ornament meant so much to them. We,” and she looked back at Jack and Old Man Winter, “thought that it was time to revisit this. And we are so very happy that so many of you decided to join us. So we will start.”

Contemplating the future

I started my morning pages today. I actually woke up, went downstairs, and did my pages with a steaming cup of tea and the sounds of my Deep Focus playlist. The only thing missing was a candle, but that’s fine. As I clean, I’m going to be putting all the candles together so that I know where they all are.

It’s weird, but I’m actually feeling like spring really is coming. I’ve been in the fog of grief and fear and indecision for the last 4+ years, but this year, for some reason, I’m ready to move forward. Perhaps Covid has been good for something: giving me the space I needed to move to a better mental place.

So I’m starting my own writing spreadsheet, and I’m going to be tracking my word counts. I’m going to be writing blog posts again, and working on the plot vomit portion of Dreams.

I’ve also realized that I’m not sure if I’m ever going to submit a book for traditional publishing again. Not because I don’t think my writing is good enough, or anything like that. But I have a day job that I enjoy, especially now, and that pays my bills. I write the stories I want to read, and while I do want to continue to share those stories with you all, it might not be as a paperback novel. I’m still mulling things over, so keep checking this space for updates.

Also, exciting news! Spence and I are in the process of opening an Etsy store for Fibermancers4Hire! More to follow on that too! Right now, you can check out our page on Facebook.

Coming out of Covid sleep

I don’t know how long it’s been since I’ve been here – a long time. But Covid has left me isolated and feeling too…off to write. And let’s be honest – it wasn’t just Covid. It was the entire world sort of falling apart on me for a while. I retreated into myself. I worked on fiber crafts, I colored, I did a lot of thinking. A lot of thinking.

It’s nearly March, and Spring is coming back into the northern hemisphere, and I’m finally, finally ready to pick up my writing again. I’ve pulled up the file with Belladonna Dreams in it and read it through, and I can feel the words starting to prickle through my fingertips.

So I think today, I’ll grab my notebook and a pen, and drive somewhere to park and write. My new goal is 250 words a day. They don’t have to be good words. They just have to be words. It’s hard to edit a blank page.