Winds 

Heaven forbid the winds of change have started to blow. We have started to peer behind the curtain and figure out the ruse. All we truly want is to live, laugh and love. To watch the sunsets give way to the nights path and see the sunrise grace the land again. To see the wonder in our children’s eyes as they awaken  to a pristine winters snowfall or to smell the rain cleansed freshness of a new spring morning. But they found the worst that was in us and enticed us with a shiny bauble and a wheedling song of glory in things not souls. The flowers that grace the meadows are free, the stars that decorate the night skies have no price, the heat of passion between two lovers comes not with negotiations but with  joyous surrender. On those times we embrace the magic of such , those of the dark places, those whose souls are an empty void, quake in fear.

When the storms uncontrollable roll across the land, when the lightening strikes with the fury of a lover scorned across the hillsides, when the very body of the  earth shakes like a dog beset by fleas they try to blame us. Put guilt upon us for the happenings they cannot control. By all costs they must have power . Alas they don’t realize it’s a poisonous dark power upon which they feed. Not the power of freedom and joy but the power of enslavement and hate. If by any chance we start to seek the light, embrace the joy and pull back the curtain revealing their deceit . They pit us one against the other taunting us with in the injustice of better baubles than the other. They know that should we  ever awaken and step off their treadmill, that their feast of darkness will subside. That we will turn as one, a force of light against the feasters of dark . Free will towards goodness is seven fold the power of thier enslavement and force towards what they preach is right. This they know and harbor deep within their disguise , yet they toss and turn in sleeplessness for that gnawing unsatiable hunger for power from darkness keeps their nights with out rest . But should we unite  and embrace the sunrise, smell the flowers , dance barefoot in the streams once again.  If we can finally find the heart to kiss our children,  hug our neighbors and throw the mighty stick of freedom into the gears of their cleverly built treadmill. They will starve and crumble feeding each upon the other . They will be cleansed from the earth by the brilliance of the light like a moldy fabric set out on a sun kissed summers day. 

So today as  phrases are parsed and photos are shared trying to enlarge the rift. Take the time to smell  the flowers , smile at your co workers and embrace the natural world. Be the stone that starts the ripple , for ripples turn to waves are and many become a tsunami. Rip back the veil and return magic to this land. For it’s there in songs of the birds, the blowing of the breeze  and the coursing of the babbling brook. Be what they cannot control. Thank the sun and moon, the clouds  and the rains, you’ll feel the strength and they’ll retch in fear. Be the ripple. 

Sunday

This day more than that, or more than those which had come before. I  loathed the thought of leaving. I preferred it back here in my realm of giant oaks and slowly moving waters. The trill of the crow in a far off treetop, the song of the cicada heralding in another day and the  softness of the moist sea air as it caressed my skin are the music to which I dance. The partitions between the times are thin here on the creek. One can hear the jingling of the coach horses harness of many moon times ago as easily as the croaks of the bullfrog on the waters edge today. It’s that proclivity I have to drift between the worlds past and those of now that is and always has been my fiercest addiction.

Nature with all her free wheeling souls has put no boundaries upon time and each of her loyal subjects lives with out fear of  a certain hour of the day. This is far more than I can attest to my fellow beings in the human world. That would be , according to a certain blue jay, why their ability to swing between realms is nominal or non existent. Now on this thick Sunday morning one must take the rantings of such a vivacious bird into hard account. Nature holds tight to her own and allows them gifts that humankind has long since left behind, yet covets with all their being. I tossed a large hunk of heavily buttered , strawberry jam laden bread his way, a reward for his insight and also his compassion for he knew I was one of the few that prowled the corridors of time and that I hated the return to the clocks. Those devices humanity had engineered to propel them ahead in hopes of attaining more power and control. Yet, they had lost the magic of history  along with the songs of the past , not the chorus mind you, but the gentle whispers of life. My Jay floated down from the moss laden branch upon which he held court and proceeded to pick apart his tasty offering.

The black brackish waters of the creek off to the side of  my porch, the place that was my haven, where I allowed myself the treat of drifting, had started to ripple. A signal that what had been a thick fat vein of water was starting a return to the sea. The Jay finished his morsel giving me the head tilted, bright eyed glance that I expected from such a delightful fellow. We both knew well the mothers heartbeat and that not far from our lush forest eyrie the tide was receding from the lands. Out on the beaches  waves would be starting to crash and roil as the sea pulled back . A lover slowly withdrawing what had been a long life giving kiss to the coasts of this rich landscape. There would be a scurry in the depths as the fishes raced back towards the big waters so as not to be trapped and vulnerable in the deceiving eddy pools left behind as the waters retreated. The deep creek dwellers would be awakening to begin their  search for the mornings repast on the soon to be exposed banks of thick black plough mud. I  shivered to my core as my modern humanity induced nature reminded me that it would soon be time to leave my idle for that restraining world of walls I so resented. Yet I so needed for the laws of this time said I must if I cared continue my existence. s1

My Jay gave a leap catching the air with one flap of his wings and returned to the branch where a free Blue Jay could look down upon an enslaved human. The glisten in his eyes intimated to me his amusement for it seemed  so many humans thought they were so smart . As  I met his eyes the harness of the coach horses jungled with the restless stamping of their feet and then faded into the heavy thud of the car trunk being closed. It was time, the snake that was the highway would soon embrace me in its venomous grip and the poison of the walled times would begin it steady debilitating drip into my veins. The bullfrog on the bank silenced what had been his steady croak, the crow’s trilling had subsided when the waters of the creek had begun their outflow to the sea and there on a gentle Sunday morning , myself and the Blue Jay locked eyes for not a moment in time, but for a moment in many.  You’re right I said to him as I rose to leave. Its time to flee the walls of steel, cement and millisecond’s. Its time to drift through the many prisms that are the realms and dance with the worlds within, take succor from the magic lost in history and engineer the catapult that breaks through the prison walls.   Yes, the highway is today, but tomorrow with be a soft dirt path. s3

Voices

I watched the cream melt away into the darkness of my coffee cup. The thick light swirl took the darkness of the potent brew away and turned it into a lighter shade, a sort of dawn. I drank it down, hot and rich, with any bite that was the darkness now assailed by the light that was the thick rich cream. Just another Monday when we rolled into another week, another month and another year. A cavalcade of many which all seemed to move by so rapidly they were akin to the blurred advertisements on the side of a passing city train. In any case I was thankful for the sheer joy of  just being outside, the air didn’t hurt my skin like it seemed to in the  ever so efficient climate controlled offices  where I often spent my Mondays. There was no honking of horns here in the country, no mad rush up to the lunch hour. It was simply sweet bird song and the rustle of a morning breeze in the Magnolias near the tables by which we were seated. My dreams of mental escape seemed instantly destroyed when my compatriots all picked up their cell phones with which  to begin their exchanges, receiving the guidance and data that would begin our day. I just stared at my coffee. No manila envelopes full of papers handed out this time round, no making of notes or in my case, no sheets of white paper upon which to doodle Lilly pads, frogs and shooting stars. Yet the loss of the simple folders was barely noted by the rest . There would be nothing to hold, no paper to rustle as decisions were made and ideas collaborated upon.  I found this sacrilege distasteful at best. The cicadas started their song to herald in the heat of the day as I  simply excused myself from the table, took a last gulp of coffee, and dropped my phone in my purse as I rose to depart. Oh yes, I could sense the amazement felt by some at the sheer fact that I had done such a thing. Surely if I was going to the ladies room I could continue from there via text, never missing a beat in what they all felt was to be an exciting interaction, me not so much.

I wandered away from the place that had once been a peaceful veranda, where farmers and traders had ensconced themselves over an early morning repast, speaking of weather and tides, fast horses and strong mules. Today it was a world I cared not to recognize, inhabited by those who would never notice or even acknowledge the pair of Towhees busily foraging beneath the fragrant gardenias next to the rail. Yet they were very comfortable texting with the girl on the other end of the phone complaining about the trials of   her commute into LA. I think I was at that point done. I wondered  away down the hall of the historic old Inn where they’d housed us, the worn boards of the  floor visible, yet the with the voices of  old  sealed forever in  a heavy gloss of plastic and wax, not creak nor a breath, just frozen in time. By the time I made the back door and headed down the path away from them all the vibration of the phone in my purse was simply as much of an after thought as the deerfly buzzing around my head. A blood sucking thing, which needed to be swatted and banished into the eons of eternity.

The black and grey low country dirt beneath my feet looked cool and inviting. I made a brief stop to dislodge my tennis shoes allowing myself to feel it’s cool reassurance under my bare feet and between my toes. Rich dark soil from the inlands and sandy patches from the coast, soft yet gritty. I became a little more alive at this point. My path was a sweet one with giant ancient oaks on either side whose branches reached upwards towards the glorious life giving sun, each out reaching limb adorned with heavy swaths of Spanish moss. These magnificent ancient sentinels gave my escape route a cheering audience of birds and tossing leaves encouraging me on as I ambled. In the distance I heard the leader of our little pack on the verandah utter a few choice swear words and then I was too far gone to hear nor care.  Cropland in full summer growth spread out around me on past the oaks who had become my guardians as I continued my flight. I came upon a moss laden water trough, one of the old stone and cement kind, full of crisp clear water with the mud at its base churned up by many years of stock coming for refreshment from an oppressive summer’s heat. You could see the hoof prints from the most recent visitors and if you were one who knew this place, had it beaten into your soul with everyday living, you would know who had come by the simple shape of the print.  The base of the stones was surrounded by thick fragrant mint which melded with the scent of the sea in the heavy coastal air and the odors of verdant growing crops giving each breath I took a cleansing effect. I felt my senses become sharper and the long lost electronics drowned reality of simply being, living in the moment, actually feeling part and parcel of what counted becoming stronger and more clear.

As this occurred I stared into the waters of history there at the trough, that watering hole of old, no creatures  around to take on replenishment at this moment, they were all back off across the  pasture in the woods where they would sleep out the mornings heat in hopes of a cooling early noon thunder shower . I knew this to be fact and I knew it more than I knew the lady who had slipped off her shoes to go through check in for her flight to this place the night before. The lady who moved through a life dictated by clocks and commerce, a life that was a vague reality to her core, yet did so because it was what was to be done.  But the ghosts of history often screamed at her in the darkness of night, in those hours when one’s sleep is the deepest and the mind is allowed to drift  down the immortal path ways that  our world has so often forgotten. A dragon fly circled the waters finally landing on one of the delicate branches of mint, its iridescent green the most vibrant of colors, shiny and slick. The voices were strong here on the edge of the meadow. “The muscadine wine is next to the sweet butter in the spring house, but watch out for the bees in arbor as you go ”. Yet the spring house had long fallen to rubble , this was a mere whisper from the past echoing through the voices of history. Then the one thing I knew, more than the fact that my steadily buzzing phone needed me to state my stance on this or that, was that these voices needed to heard, that they counted and their songs were true and their history was a sweet prism of million different lights.

Off towards the coast storm clouds were building and lightning cracked across the sky. Yes the storm was coming, but not until this singer sang her song. I reached my hand into the soft leather of my rather expensive purse. The type with someone’s initials on it, someone I had never met but felt it of grave importance to have their initials upon my purse . I caressed the cool slick case of my cell phone, it enticed my fingers to slide across the glass and check the world inside it. Yet the caw of a large black crow out across the corn field announcing the arrival of a hunting hawk warned me off. I simply grasped it, pulled it from its resting place and dropped it gently into the waters of the trough. Let the nymphs and sprites have at it, possibly the iridescent dragon fly could deal with the frustrated lady in LA. I watched the bubbles as it sank, the brilliant colors of screen become confused and that strange electronic world fade into black.

Clearcut- Coming Summer 2017

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I guess she swore off love somewhere between Tennessee and Montana. The pain she felt as she rolled through the hills of North Carolina, the tears that rolled down her cheeks as she crossed late night into Tennessee dried with the sunrise. The world behind her, a miasma of pain and loss. Who was he? The man who brought so much to her heart and yet destroyed her world? A world she’d built from pain and sacrifice. Did he even know what his machinations has caused? She hit the gas as she rolled for the Kentucky border. Who was he and why had such a brief encounter disturbed her world so much? She could still smell the fresh cut earth, she could still feel his embrace that made everything good in a bad and evil world. She could smell the musk of him as their eyes locked, the magic of their embrace that night under the hot Carolina moon . But she’d read him wrong, or so she guessed. The look in his dark eyes was fire, passion and eternity. Yet he’d sold out. She reached a hand over and caressed Duke the ancient hound that had refused to leave her rig when  she’d loaded Lycan and rolled out. Storms a still arching  behind her over the Carolina hills. Yet sun was cresting over the great Mississippi as she rolled into Missouri, gateway to the West. She wiped her eyes and drove on . He was simply, not what she had had thought.

 

Ash Denton stared in the mirror as he straightened his tie. The tinkling of glasses at the party below a background to his existence but not to his heart. He raised his eyes to the TV on the wall. A news story played out from one of those small towns that never really effected a man of means such as himself. Yet it rolled across the screen. His blood drained, there she was, the blonde from his project, his saboteur. And by all the Gods known to mankind the woman he loved more than life itself. “Don’t deny it Ash” he told himself. Not a minute had passed since he had touched back down into his world of high rollers and city lights that he’d not thought of her. Smelled her essence and  felt her heat which had absorbed his soul under that hot Carolina moon. The news story was simple, a dam broke in the new development up on the hill, flooding the low country. His dam. His project. The blonde stared at the camera, golden eyes, heartbreak and tears running down a gilded, freckled cheek. As the story rolled the sound of gunfire echoed in the background. The announcer said no lives had been lost but a mule had been put down. Luke, his breath caught in his throat. He stared at the screen, the gun fire, and the blonde winced in pain. Here he stood, millions at his disposal, a party in full swing celebrating some achievement, of his of which he had no clue. His body went limp his breath would not come. Ash Denton, always so in control felt his world spin.

 

Tessa Mcreary pushed her rig across the river towards the Missouri countryside. She had stopped along the way to walk the big stallion Lycan and the acceptance at the truck stops had been great. A leggy golden blonde accompanied by a golden horse, well the thumbs up had been many. A girl in love with a black eyed city man who had broken her heart was another story.  A story that was one she would never let anyone read. The gunshots from when she’s lost Luke the mule echoed in her brain and she so wanted to hate him, the man from the city who had destroyed her gentle world. But by all the stars in the sky, she could not. She could simply follow the only path she’d ever known and run from the pain. So she rolled west, towards the big sky, anonymity and freedom. Put that time with him in her past if she  could, but she could still feel his eyes, those moments of being lost in them, his touch,moments complete.

Some point before the acceptance speech, Ash Denton, man of fortune, leader of business, just went crazy . He had heard the gunshots , seen her pain all on a video screen and felt detached from his world, yet it was his world, this one of power in which he reigned.  yet, he couldn’t smell the earth, hear the roar of the waters, save Luke, nor her. With all his power, all his money, a world outside of his grasp had spun wildly out of control. The crystal glass of high end vodka turned end over end as he threw it at the screen. A man who had just realized being a man meant so much more than accolades and millions. A man whose heart pulsed with a wild undying love written on the stars and uncompromised by the restrictions of society proper. He tore his tie from his neck and headed for his car, I-95 would take him south, he’d hit the blue ridge by dawn. So this is the story Ash Denton, a man of incalculable  means chasing his heart into the night and this is the story of Tessa Mcreary, a runner from a world that had caused her pain and heartache.  Yet this is the clashing of souls, the story of destiny and the story of love beyond the boundaries.

Roses to run for….

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What the heck has happened to the Kentucky Derby? The Run for the Roses? My Old Kentucky Home? Where are those folks that prayed over a blue grass field on a cold January day as a new foal tested its legs on the winter hard ground? A smile of understanding on their faces as legs new to this world found their strength and gave flight to the babe across grasses green. Where are those who live and breathe the scent of fresh pine shavings and horse sweat as the summer heat swelters in across the pastures? They struggle, they budget and they do without, yet they embrace the passion of something deeply encoded in their DNA and keep going even though the odds are long. All I’ve seen today is some sort of detached Red Carpet Gala. Who’s wearing who’s what and who’s with who. Where are those who mucked the stalls and mowed the fields, cutting back here and there in hopes that young colt they’d been raising could run for greatness? But Oh look Boink Boink has on Givenchy!

Well to be honest I’ll tell you where they are, or to be more correct where we are. We’ll be the tired lady who’s pulled a 60 hour week in a world we detest, but the one who does it with a smile because it allows us to be here. No not sipping champagne and hoping to be the next viral hashtag of the moment. But here, here in the seedy sale barns and desolate kill pens that are located all over this land. We won’t be dining on Lobster or winking at Billionaires. We will be cracking that ninety nine cent can of Vienna Sausages and watching the kill buyer. Yes, if we’ve got to wink, we might and yes, if we’ve got to do more, well, we may. But somewhere this side of a Lady on TV with more names than a Hanoverian Warmblood Stud who’s telling us the pedigree of her billion dollar bet. We will be the ones with our hearts caught in our throats as a beat up, half-starved relative of Hanoverian ladies billion dollar bet stumbles into the auction lot. We will hope and pray. Sometimes we’ll remember the payday loan place we passed a while back, add, subtract and calculate that we’ll have the money the pull the beaten soul from this hell. Somewhere in the back ground we’ll hear the semis rumble as they fire their engines and get ready for long, cold, waterless, hungry, journey to the north. We will smell the diesel, our blood will run cold. A journey that will carry the beat up, half-starved gray filly a relative of the fancy ladies bet, north to have a bolt shot through her head. Dead or not even quite, she’ll be chopped, minced and packed. Brilliant eyes will shine no longer, a gallant heart will beat no more and hooves will never again find their flight across the grassy green earth. But oh look, Edna Farquar Mills Helms Rosenburg Jones is wearing a daringly short skirt at age 78. Who’s it by?

The winds will blow, the kill buyers will shout and the scared filly will run up and down a 20 ft lot. Miles away surrounded in glory and grandeur a well attired man will smile to himself as he places his money on a colt. More money than the lady in sale barn has ever known. He does it simply because he likes the dam’s name. The same dam that gave life and nurture to the terrified filly now shuddering under the vicious crack of the sellers whip as she runs back and forth with nowhere to go. The well attired man sends a text to his well-heeled buddies to take the gamble on the colt upon which he’s laid his thousands. At the same moment the tired lady places a post on Facebook to her friends begging for money, if she just had enough she can save the gallant gray filly. The filly, it’s in her eyes, she has fire, and she deserves a chance. The whip cracks again and the scared filly runs.

A busy café in downtown Manhattan. The place to see and be seen. Two wealthy businessmen dine on filet mignon, sucking down gin and tonics. They both grasp their phones as the incoming texts vibrate the table. Their well attired boss at the Derby just gave them a line on a horse encouraging them to place a wager. The waitress at the bar, waiting on another round of gin & tonics, cringes at their stares and checks her phone. She sees the post, a wild eyed gray filly scared to death, in a kill pen in Montana, a lady she’s never met, but has followed her threads needs money. She’s trying to save the starved terrified filly. She loads the drinks on the tray and heads back to the businessmen. They are not so busy texting that they forget to ogle her. She smiles to herself, here you go girl, maybe I won’t ever run free, but by God in Heaven, you will. She smiles at them and leans in close as she serves their libations. She cannot stand their eyes upon her, nothing more than an item for their play, but she sees the filly spinning in the kill lot, hears the crack of the whip and decides her path. The men smile as their phones go off once again, the well attired man informs them of the windfall. The bet he made on the horse by simply the name of the dam had paid off. They smiled, polished off their drinks, asked for her number which she gave and left her a more than generous tip. In busy café in downtown Manhattan a waitress makes a call.

The lady at the sale barn cold and exhausted raises her hand, offering her last dollars in a final plea to save gray filly terrified for her life. It’s not enough, her world spins. Her phone vibrates, a girl in New York who she’s never met has the balance, and she’s sending it now. She places the bid, the filly turns sharp in the far corner of the pen and crumples to her knees as the whip licks her sweat tendered flesh. Time stands still as the words “Sold” echo across the pen. They did it, one tired lady, one fed up waitress and somewhere unbeknownst to him, a well attired man, saved a filly to run free another day. Oh but did you hear? Instagram sensation Lula broke a seventeen thousand dollar heel coming back from the paddocks and had a wardrobe malfunction.

So what have they done to our Derby? But more than that, what have they done to our horses and to us? In any case a well-dressed Billionaire has just decided to go into the horse business deciding to follow a certain mare’s bloodline. A waitress in Manhattan has just packed her car, picked up her last check and is rolling for Montana. One exhausted lady is kicked back in her pick up eating the last can of Vienna Sausages with a tired gray filly munching hay happily in her two horse trailer and damn they taste good. The woman with more names than a Hanoverian stud? She doesn’t give a crap, but hey neither do we.

2017

Funny how they  failed to sense us. How they did not see us coming ,nor felt our heartbeat. How they ignored us. Those who did not dance in the light but stoked the fires that made it shine. Yet they did not. So we watched, we worked, lived, loved, laughed and waited. Oh yes, they ate the costly roe of the sturgeon and drank the gilded bubbles born of the chalk hills. But we were always there. A grease stained paper bag of biscuits on a wood smoke scented morning, full of heart and sustained with passion written in our souls since birth. Yet today they scream, shrill and penetrating. How did we? How could we? Don’t we see? Well my dears. Yes, yes we did. We saw very clearly and very well.

After time upon time of being told “who we were” what we felt and how we should think. The people of this great Country cocked their heads to the side and said “We know who we are, But who are you?” You’re alien to us, you who dictate from your pedestals who we should be. Allow me to clarify in the most explicit of ways exactly who we are.

We are the young girl in her twenties, slathering on lotion so her legs will be soft in her first apartment. A simple place she can call her own, no it’s not much, but it’s cozy. It’s enough for her to have time with the man she loves. A space to find herself and find out if the blue jeaned, flannel draped fella she’s felt a connection with will be able to take it to the next level. Not a whole lot, marriage, children .Maybe their futures will hold more, but for her a small place full of love will be enough.

We are the mechanic on a hot August afternoon, sweat stung eyes, aching back, looking for the 5 o’clock hour when he gets his pay check. Hoping there’s enough left over after the bills are silenced for a thick grilled steak and few cold beers. A gentle rub with a work worn hand on the silk soft head of his youngest as he watches the sun set over the valley and he finds the strength to go another week.

We are the second generation rancher who’s felt the drought coming and dug a pond in the corner pasture for his cattle to refresh themselves and drink, only be told by some wall eyed hippopotamus in Birkenstocks from the EPA that this is not his right. He gently bows his head, looks toward his rangeland and returns the rafts he bought for his children to the store.

We are the young girl whose horse,( which had been her wings she was young) colicked on a trail ride one July morn. Her joy of just making the cheerleading squad at the local high school shattered by the harshness of reality. A young one whose tears flowed, for her family had not the money for the vet to save him. (Fear not for, magic is reachable and I tapped the well, she kept her friend.)

We are the people of this big, great, once free land that know exactly who “We are” So when we receive the checks for our hours of labor, see the dollars, be they many or few, each and all in its effect, seized and utilized to our detriment, we rear like a stallion on the mesa and strike out.

We are not you in the concrete towers, we are man and metal, worn and beaten. We know a good dinner after church on Sunday, the hugs of a child, and the hope of each and every sunrise. So no, you did not see us coming, but we heard a clarion call loud and clear. A man for whom we’d have paid no attention reached out to us, a man from, yes, a gilded tower. But a man in the truest sense of the word. A man with the foibles of his existence, yet a leader with nobility, fire and brilliance. He had all in all the definition of kings and towers, but he looked through his window and saw us. The sweating mechanic, the love struck woman hope for the future blazing brilliantly, the farmer letting his ranchland run dry, and yes the hopeful cheerleader who learned that magic was real that day in the hot Carolina pines.15826343_1186917394717219_5263238553884853353_n

So as the Year of Our Lord 2017 comes upon us, we have been returned to the light. Hopefully mankind returns to freedom. The future is on the shoulders of the individual for we are not a collective and the power that emanates from each and every free choice is the one and the all. Unity of fragments verse the pulsating existence of one. Run the numbers. But I have great hope for your future. Please Make America Great Again, kill the parasites and cauterize the wound for this mage is tired and there are fish to feed in another realm.

Sunday

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It was one of the last of the days of the shortening light. A grey misty December afternoon where the light was fading all too soon and the blustery winds of winter swept in across the valley. A lone Hawk perched high in the naked limbs of a weather stripped tree calls out to his kindred across the expanse of openness that is the fields. Fields that will glow emerald when the sun returns to the land and the hours of light overflow the hours of dark. For now I am content to sit on the back of my winter coated horse and watch the meanderings of the foraging birds. Allowing the last of the darkening days to feed my soul, to allow me to gain peace, for one must embrace the darkness to savor the light.   A scent of wood smoke from a distant hearth drifts on the breeze, in my mind’s eye I can visualize the glowing embers and the warmth of a family gathered round. A peace that is the cawing of the crow, the rustling of the birds and whisper of winds through the pines provides solace to my ever turbulent thoughts. This could be a vision from a medieval time hundreds of years ago, or the view from the first farmers of these gentle fields, but today it was simply those of a woman escaping the hectic pace of her century. This is my time, my space. Wicked, wild and untamable. Nature’s realm.  Here I draw my strength. An immortal reckoning that has sustained those of my kindred for more than a millennia, longer than time has been tracked by the fastidious records of man.

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The raw power of the beast between my legs gives me wings to fly. An animal so strong he could kill me without a second thought. Yet a creature of the wilds as well, who chooses to be my accomplice as opposed to my opponent. For it seems, when we choose run the grasslands and hillsides, our beings feed on each other’s joy and reckless abandon. We tempt the fates over the fences that block our paths and hinder our flight. We dance through the mists all powerful and in an ecstasy of unity that few can comprehend. I am his sustenance and he is my light. Woman and equine, the rawness of the life giver who must abandon fear of pain to do her duty and the nobility of the steed that carries her so gallantly in a unity of power and mind. Yes tomorrow the world awaits. But the time is now to savor that from which I will draw my solace when the days in the pulsating chaos of the city become tenuous. When the noise of the dissatisfied masses reaches a crescendo, I will allow myself to detach and revisit that oxer that seemed so incredibly high, yet my companion and I cleared  with such ease. Take my mind to that moment midflight when we both cared not if we if landed at all, the freedom of being untied to earth an elixir we drank uncaring if it destroyed us in the end. Such experiences allow one to defy fear and silence the sounds of things we care not to have visited upon on our being. The ability to simply leap and fly to the other side of the miasma and move on.

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Oh yes, in few hours I’ll be back in my car in the endless blood red river of taillights that takes me in to the city. I’ll turn on my computer and see the ruminations of my likeminded sisters all over this great land who’ve done the same as myself. Photos of rocky ravines negotiated, snowy fields raced across and mountain vistas viewed. Fences that were too high, yet sailed anyway. Streams too flood swollen, but swum anyway. Speeds far too fast, yet galloped anyway. Horses still green to the rider, ridden anyway. Oh yes, the glove snug jeans will be shed, boots will be left in the entry way, and tomorrows business outfit of choice will be assembled. But when morning breaks and  we amble out the door into the world of commerce, I’m quite certain we will all give a wistful gaze to the crumpled jeans and the barn muddied boots. This weekend in the pastures was sweet fiery mead to our wild essence, but Monday morning will be strong black coffee to our fiery spirits. So we will jump the worlds fences far too high, swim the world’s streams far too swollen and run through the week way too fast. But come dawn Saturday that Hawk is going to call, those winds are going to whip and I like many are going to once again eschew the cement world and ride the open expanse that is the breath to our once again pounding heart.

 

The Cider Press

The final day of September and the cider press has arrived. It showed up in all its glory packed in Styrofoam peanuts and bestowed upon me by the brown uniformed UPS man. Needless to say my world is all abuzz with excitement. Great plans for this fine item. Of course I do have to note that we are short apples, to be exact we have only three. Now the fact that no one’s been home in the past few weeks to add such necessities to the cupboards might account for this dilemma. Of course I think my significant other’s purchase of this item had been prompted by visions of a late afternoon drive, top down, up to the orchard with the goal of obtaining locally grown crisp red apples. While the image of shifting up through the gears and putting a well-crafted Italian engine through its paces on an early fall afternoon may have been enticing .The fact that the needed several bushels of apples would in no way fit in the fine automobile seemed to have eluded his grasp. But I’m not going to judge at this point. I am simply going acknowledge that we are now the proud owners of a cider press.

My best friend and purveyor of all things southern, New Yorker Edna Greenburg joined me on my patio to await the arrival of, as we were now calling them “The menfolk”. I had strategically placed the box containing our exciting new item” the cider press” on the long table in the hallway where it would be a joy to great my beloveds’ eyes as he returned from a hard week of annoying people in boardrooms all across this great land. Edna had switched from a summer of White Linen perfume to her fall fragrance of choice, Marlboro Light and Private Collection. Now to be honest, I was sure that Estee Lauder had stopped making it ,but my husband had alluded to the fact that he found it somewhere and had Saul, Edna’s other half, stockpile it in a warehouse or something. That being said the Marlboros were from the 7-11 and they had plenty. But Edna was a longstanding Friday cocktail guest at our little week’s ending revelries and we loved both her and Saul dearly. Not to mention, who was to aid in the assembly of our fancy new cider press? Both Edna and I were fairly certain it would end as had the deep fried turkey of 2014. We went out of town Thanksgiving 2015 and thank goodness because there were rumblings of another fried Turkey event. All I can say about the last one is that the new deck on the Mountain house is very nice. And who can forget the GD Christmas lights? Since pre lit was out and it had to be a fresh evergreen, plus we were not about to be so frivolous as to buy new ones every year.Oh well, I’ll never know how they braided themselves into such a tangle and of course ours had the magic one light to magically expire  which took out the whole lot of them once he had them perfectly aligned. GD Christmas lights!   But tonight in the three apple house was  the assembly of our very own cider press and the acknowledgment that wifey hubby time roaring through the foothills,top down,  would be in the backseat of Saul’s SUV to pick up apples.. Both Edna and I cracked open a beer.

Amazing how the whole house vibrates when the garage door opens or is it the fine Italian engine which is supposed to purr like a kitten? Anyhow the first of the menfolk had arrived, the owner of the cider press and the one I laid claim too. Being a early fall afternoon the windows were open allowing the breeze off the mountains to blow in through out the house and sounds to carry. I heard the jingle as keys hit the slate entryway floor and I knew my lover had dropped them as he spied his latest acquisition. Edna and I looked at one another as the sound of tearing into the box emanated through the house. I turned up my beer. What no kiss hello after a week apart? Ah, the sound of metal parts hitting the table. Footsteps down the hall and my dreamboat appeared waving a paper. First a quick kiss, no passionate embrace, but I must see this. Instructions. Assembly required. Oh dear visions or flaming turkeys and arching Christmas lights flashed before my eyes. Luckily the cider press required neither electricity nor extreme heat and boiling oil. Edna and I both heard the heavy tires on the gravel road as Saul, Seer Sucker Saul as my husband called him, due to the fact that he wore nothing but during the summer beach months, pulled his Ranger Rover onto the drive. Now he would be in khaki slacks and any of a number of shirts adorned with their favorite college football teams logos. Schools neither had attended, but both were totally enamored with to the tune of thousands in Athletic fund donations. My precious one smiled to himself as I noted his realization that there were only three parts of “the cider press dreams were made of” to attach together before pressing could occur. Which would not take a hot second with three pithy apples. Oh but wait a minute, I heard the back hatch of Saul’s SUV opening. Dearest sweetheart looked up from his “Cider Press Assembly Instructions” stared straight ahead, and the only way I can describe it is how one looks when one clicks on an interesting Facebook post. Blank at first, then a sparkling recognition and finally understanding flashed across his face as it always did when a plan came together. Saul had brought the apples. Edna across the table simply admired her new nail color, slick and glossy in favorite team colors. I simply shook my head, they must have coordinated it from the air. My ever astounding life’s partner tracking the shipment on his IPhone, and  I hoped he had made dinner reservations too for the larder was bare.

 

Now there is nothing like an early fall afternoon in the Carolina Mountains. Everything seems to be holding its breath waiting on the heat to break and first nip of cool to roll in over the forests. This time of year is also a feeding frenzy for all creatures great and small, the last chance to put on needed weight before the scarcity of winter. I could smell Saul’s cigar floating on the breeze as the master of the Cider Press instructions trotted off to meet him. The excitement was too much. It was also possibly sheer joy over the fine aged Kentucky bourbon they planned to mix with said Cider, but the excitement of presenting the concoction to fellow rabid football fans at tomorrow’s game was palpable. So much for Stan Hicks succulent slow roasted barbeque which was a mainstay and a long held tailgate tradition. I would say since boyhood college days, but since neither Saul nor my love attended during those days, I just have to guess they met through some fundraising function and bonded over their mutual passion for the team. In any case we’d been tailgating with Stan for as long as I had been attached to the man of my dreams and that man challenged the fame of Stan’s barbeque every chance he got. As for barbequing a pig himself, let’s just say we had been down that path and the new garage is very nice and even bigger than the old one. But for this game it is going to be fresh pressed cider and a very fine aged Kentucky bourbon. Edna and I cracked open another brew.

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In the activities of all things female vs the activities of all things male. We discussed our ensembles for tomorrow’s game and festivities. Yes we had brought sweaters, but if it was going to be as hot as it was today, so we probably would wear sundresses, team colors of course. The heat of this Friday afternoon was palpable and somehow being too heavily dressed and imbibing Bourbon Cider cocktails did not seem to have a promising outcome for even making it to halftime conscious tomorrow. I watched several Yellow Jackets and assorted other insects feast on the last remnants of nectar in the flowers around the patio, semi oblivious to the hurry of activity as my soulmate and his accomplice brought one now fully assembled Cider press, apples and large jugs to collect the sweet juice to the corner of the patio so Edna and myself could bear witness to this noble feat. In his glee to pursue the art of cider making, darling hubby still had on his basic oxford cloth shirt although untucked from the shorts he had managed time to slip into, sleeves rolled up, a man on a mission. Saul on the other hand simply wore his well tucked polo and long khakis. Edna and I watched the process, absorbing the warmth of the day in that peaceful haze one gets when all seems right with world and those you love the most are with you. The freshly washed apples went into the press, the manual gears  turned by the man I had given my hand in marriage, a joyful boyish glee in his eyes as the sticky sweet apple scented juice flowed into the large jugs purchased for just  this sacred occasion. Saul stood back, cigar in his mouth and watched the apples being pressed into cider, remnants tossed aside onto the lawn. Rather organic to return them to nature I thought. A gentle breeze blew over us fragrant with apples as my husband attended diligently to his task.

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At first it was about five, drawn from the surrounding woodlands by the scent of sweet apple cider. But a clarion call must have gone out across the valley for they came from all points on the compass and they came quickly. Yellow Jackets, those voracious southern bees that bite and sting. They came by the hundreds and soon they were busily hovering swarming and landing on all things apple cider and more. The top of my beer, Edna’s ash tray, the remnants of pressed apples, and the jugs of juice. They simply dove into the tops of the jugs and floated to what must have been a death in pure apple ecstasy. Saul was blowing smoke at them, which seemed to only heighten their intensity to feast. My beloved? He was a man demon possessed, swatting, and stomping trying to knock them away. My protective instincts must have been nonexistent as I opted for self-preservation and retreated behind the screen door to the interior of our happy home. Outside my heroic knight in shinning armor was on the defense, trying to seal his open jugs and move his now Yellow Jacket covered Cider Press. Oh I could hear his many well executed obscenities as highly irritated Yellow Jackets flew up his shorts taking bites of delicate nether regions and stinging his hands when he slapped them. But always a trooper he grabbed the jugs and with hungry yellow jacket hoards in hot pursuit made haste for the garage. Saul had the forethought, Cigar still dangling from his lips to hose off the cider press before carrying it to  perceived safety . The last Yellow Jacket covered Bushel of apples would have to wait. I heard the front door open, a multitude of choice curse words targeted at the worlds entire population of bees, car keys being grabbed and the door slammed shut. Edna pulled two more beers from the refrigerator handed me one and a Marlboro light. As I flicked the lighter I heard the sound of fine Italian engineering firing up, a car door slam shut and the garage door being lowered. The gassing of the bees had begun. It would be awhile before we knew the outcome of my dear ones revenge upon the voracious Yellow Jackets of the South,but hopefully the cider would be safe.

So this fine Carolina evening my heart of hearts began what would become a passionate romance with Benadryl and Cortisol 10. Tomorrow he would itch beyond his wildest imagination, as for the cider and bourbon? Well he has cracked open one bottle of Bourbon , my suggestion he bathe in it was not accepted in manner it was delivered, but we had overcome moments like this before.He and Saul retreated to his office. I looked at the all knowing eyes of Edna who had ridden the waves of many a turbulent “Really Great Idea” with me, they were sparkling in with some mischievous humor. She extended a well-manicured hand with next week’s football tickets, Georgia Tech, the Yellow Jackets. Well let’s just be thankful for small favors it was not this week’s opponent because we had already lost. So this last Friday of September Edna and I toasted each other and froze as our eyes locked on  the man with which I planned to spend eternity’s misplaced cellphone as the screen lit up. An order had been placed, look out world boiled peanuts are coming!

The Art

Fall has arrived in my Carolina foothills. Of course this is what they tell me as I stare down a succulent piece of crispy fried chicken while listening to my friends discuss Football. College football of course, one of the deeply held traditions in this part of the world I call home. Now inasmuch as I would like to think we were gathered around comfortably in our tweed jackets, well-worn jeans and soft leather boots, all this conjuring a picture of a colorful wood Smokey Fall afternoon. One must remember that this is the South and such visions are not to be, or least not to be for several more weeks. The heat is still on, and although the nights are cooler or seem so because the water in the pool is rather chilling to a late season swimmer. We are still in cut offs, T-shirts and the ever present flip flops. Yes, although long nights of barbequing a pig to crispy perfection are on everyone’s mind, the fact remains that it is hot and that’s a festivity to be enjoyed on the chillier afternoons. I guess for now we are simply satisfied a month has arrived with an “R” in the name allowing us the freedom to roast oysters and gather round the shucking table without guilt. Now I understand that in today’s world with commercial farms of everything edible this rule does not stand, but some of the best joys in life are the ceremony to which an event takes place. So if an oyster roast is to happen in my neck of the woods, rest assured that the oysters have been freshly picked out of the Carolina tidal waters, so thus we must have the “R”. No Risk. That is just how it’s done. Our feast of oysters is usually picked by whichever pair of golfing buddies plays a course in the low country and knows darn well they better bring back a few bushels as justification for such an outing. It’s simply tradition and we hold it close. As a matter of fact we hold a lot of things close, Traditions, Wives Tales, and Celebrations in general. Some may think foolishness, but myself, I consider it the art of life.

Life in this time has become mechanical, electronic, digital and fast. This I considered today as I burned a leech off my foot after an impromptu horseback swim in the pond below the stables. Yes, sometimes the horse likes a roll in the cooling water and when one slides off, well, leeches. Nothing a cigarette lighter won’t solve and Mister Leech curls up and releases. Not sophisticated, faux intellectual or worldly enough for you? How about passionate? Because as with all art, and that of living being one, passion is the key. These are my Carolina foothills and this is my life. It ebbs and flows without predictability. No I won’t be sauntering to the market for my raw honey, but I’ll be whipping it into Old Jim’s driveway. He’s been a beekeeper for nigh on 50 years and his clover honey is the best. As tradition lays out, the fall months are the best times to get honey, so I do. Yes, my compatriots will discuss College football and of course I will follow along decked in the colors of my Alma Mater. But it goes so much deeper than that. Long held traditions that are constants in the life I’ve been raised with and continue to carry on. I know the two old veterans that have the best boiled peanuts in the land will be parked on the highway to the Blue Ridge in the fall and the apple harvest is coming in. So all this heartfelt  thought from a run in with a leech you think? The answer is simply yes. I must say, we have learned to imbue our traditions with the cadence of nature. I know soon my pasture ponds will be cold, my summer swims will be a memory, and yes the leech will have been bothersome. Yes rest assured laughing about him on the cold winter days will bring memories of a hot summer sun, golden horses sparkling in emerald fields and wide open gallops as storms build in the distance on a summers evening.

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So it is the art of living that I embrace here on this hot September day. I cannot pull back from the passion and the life I live, these are my Carolina foothills, and this is the life I know. As the cold months roll in across our verdant lands, we shall do our best to hold on to it all. And as my people before me we shall embrace the memories, uphold the traditions, weather the storms and pass the torch on to our progeny so no matter where this wild life takes them they will always know the lands and the people that are their home.

Prelude to Dances 2016

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The tapers in the vestibule must have been beeswax this morning for Alexandra’s eyes did not burn after Midday Mass as they did when the simpler ones created from fat renderings were used. This was a good thing all in all, for she bathed this morning and wanted the scent to linger. The copper basin had been filled in the pre-dawn hours with water hot from the kitchens below. The boiling liquid had been infused with oils of rosemary and lavender. She had luxuriated in it as the fragrant warmth had brought her to the world after the night’s gentle sleep. She was not afraid to say she had admired herself although vanity was a sin Brother Barnababus has lectured her on from the very first days he noticed her budding beauty. Yes, she had raised each of her slender creamy legs to the sides of the basin propping them one at a time upon the soft rolled copper edges and admired their toned perfection. She had also taken the blade Mira the girl from the spice road had given her and shaved them slick. It had been weeks since they’d received the missive, a simple statement from her Father in Outremer and she had allowed a time to pass before beginning her preparations and questioning its content. Yes she had even taken the blade and sculpted the growth in her nether regions into a perfect triangle. Dear Brother Barnanabus would have been apoplectic if he knew she had admired herself in the long piece of polished silver she had in her room. If he knew she had smiled when she noticed the delicacy of her waist, the full ripeness of her creamy bosom and how her long legs flowed down from the now perfectly sculpted golden V of soft blonde hair the held her innermost secrets. Brother Andreas on the other hand would have lauded her embracing of her womanhood in all is raw uncovered glory. He would have approved of her taking what the hand of God had so perfected and making it better with the hands of man, or in this case woman.

Dear Brother Andreas, Alexis smiled to herself as she climbed the chiseled stone steps to the Parapet high above the city. He may never have danced to the music of passion but she was certain in the dark hours after Vespers he choreographed many a play. Even today as they recited the long remembered prayers she had seen his dark eyes sparkling as he noted how her dress, how her very presence electrified what should have been a dark and Holy room. Alexandra had been tightly laced into her finest frock of emerald green. Created from a soft delicate fabric found only the spice lands. A weave so fine it shimmered with every breath in the very the faintest of light. The low cut bodice trimmed with black lace at her décolletage allowed the snow like whiteness of her plump firm breasts to glow magnificently in all their splendor against the darker fabric. An eye drawing outline if she must say so herself. Brother Andreas had not missed it either. She had passed close to him as she left the vestibule where the simple daily prayers were recited. She had noted the beads of sweat upon the darkening growth of a midday beard across his upper lip  and in all honesty she longed to lick them off, to feel the coarseness of his new grown beard and taste his manly essence. His dark eyes may have held firm in the solemnity of the moment but deep inside them she could see the flicker of a flame, the caged passion of a lion roaring to be free. Alexandra always wondered what tortured demons lay so deep in the soul of such a man that he had pursued the way of the cloth. Too many times she had found herself adrift in his smoldering black eyes, felt her blood run hot when she passed close to him and smelled his musky male scent, he was coarse and vital is so many hidden ways. She paused a moment on her climb to lift her thick honey covered locks off her back and allow the sweet air drifting down the stairwell to cool her. It was brisk and refreshing allowing her once again to feel the full vigor of her womanhood, the subtle yet all-encompassing power of a life giver in her most powerful time.

A few more minutes of climbing the spiraled steps and she would be almost to the Tower’s top which hosted her secret room, her look out and her shrine. Oh the rotund and fretful Brother Barnanbus had riled against it, such isolation was not proper for a lady of breeding and shouldn’t she be in the nursery learning the ways of her kind. But her Father had overruled him and allowed her this concession knowing in cases of the spirit they were much more alike than further apart, and he himself was a thinker, a brooder, a solace seeker. So thus Alexandria had her sanctuary.

Suddenly she was upon it, her priceless perch from high above the castle walls where one could look out at the mountain valleys, weave her fantasies and craft her dreams. Oh the room, round with a large window overlooking all that she could not touch and lands where she could only dwell in the wild regions of her mind. It seemed brighter this time than upon her normal entry and she noted that the thick candle was already lit in its cradle upon the wall. Had she left it glowing the previous day? Surely not for it would have long since melted away. Quite possibly a member of the garrison had come to the Armory next door and entered her abode instead. She thought of the missive from Outremer. Although she knew not what it had said, she was truly hopeful her father would be returning from his service to the lands of his rule.

She fluffed the overstuffed goose down pillows as she positioned them next to the window. A steady rain was cascading down from skies and glazing the expertly set stones that formed her immediate world. It was a candle glow day she thought as the mists crept down from the mountain peaks and settled in around her tower top ,obscuring her view.  The burning candle flames gave the room a dim golden quality with the only light issuing from the burning candle on the wall. She lit a taper and gently moved around lighting her myriad of assorted candlesticks adding more of a golden glow to her eyrie. The brillaint jewel toned pillows she had fluffed combined with the earthy scent of rosemary branches and pine boughs strewn  across the floor gave an exotic quality to her surroundings. If Brother Barnabus were to see her now stretched out languorously on her pillows amongst her softly glowing candles he might have felt cause to burn her as witch. She smiled at the thought as she kicked off her slippers letting her feet be bare and removed the cumbersome petticoat to allow the silken emerald material of her dress to caress her now slick shaved legs. She untied her long hair letting it cascade around her head and loosened her restrictive bodice so her tightly bound breasts had some freedom of movement. She was catlike, she was raw. She radiated the unbridled femininity of a girl rising to the precipice her power and she was certain that mages throughout the land could feel her vibrant glow emanating from her tower to theirs. Alexandria settled back to dream.

She was not long on the pillows in the lands of her imagination when the door to her sanctuary opened, a figure entered turning to face the door as he pressed it shut, and yes it was a male. The identity of the being was less than discernable as he simply leaned face forward, back to her upon the large oaken door and stilled. Hands above his head, a simple piece of paper in his right as he took breaths of such depth she dared not announce her presence. She simply watched, feeling no danger and waited for him to turn. Oh but when he did. Alexandria felt her heart leap, Brother Andreas. But not as she had known him. The restrictive collared garments of the priesthood gone. Tight chamois leggings defined his thighs, a sweat stained linen shirt cut low at the neck showed a swath of dark curly hair that adorned his chest. Although sometimes given to heft, too many cakes she thought, and the animal power of his being pulsed from his very skin. Dark eyes appraised her, they were not solemn, and they were all at once those of a predator and then again those deep dark eyes that sparkled as a lover. Aware that her bodice was open at the top and her breasts all but visible, Alexandria shifted on her cushions in a fashion so her long golden hair would at least cover her somewhat. Her brilliant blues eyes locked with his dark ones as she did, but he was not a man who needed glimpses. He was a man that could take in the whole picture and at this very moment still waters rose as they drowned in each other’s gaze. Time ceased to exist between the two, a million thoughts one or the other had in the deep hours of the night passed through their minds  In the end Brother Andreas broke the silence. He simply raised the parchment in his hand and said “Outremer, your father has requested a Knight, a Templar. I am to serve”

The rains on the castle walls could surely have reversed themselves and poured through her window overlook upon her for the icy chill that ran down her spine. The large dark eyes of Andreas besieged her, and brought to light a fact she had denied for many months. Albeit untouchable, a Priest, one committed body and soul to their God, she loved him. She took in his visage, tawny skin, night black hair, a boyish charm when he laughed and a dark brooding look when he was lost deep in thought. Templar she thought? For a man such as this given to overindulgence of cakes and hours of study this was a death sentence. But she also knew quite possibly she was missing her mark in her assessment. The man held the fire of genius in his eyes and an indomitable spirit. She felt herself go slack, “Andreas” was all she could say as she stared into the mesmerizing darkness of his eyes.

The man she’d loved through times turbulent and testing stood at the door to her eyrie. The reality of the missive hung between them and was cast away. Brother Andreas was no more, he was simply Andreas as he moved across the room, grasped her close and buried his face in her golden mane. It was the power she felt within him as he was upon her, a masculine heat long held at bay, the rippling muscles of his arms as she ran her fingers down them, curious inquisitors, yet finding their grasp and holding on he was all and then he was not. She had never known the male body, only renderings, depictions, and stories passed by scullery maids in the night. Yet his lips found hers, both salty and sweet. The course hairs of his cheek caused a bit of discomfort, yet she felt her body submit as he arched above her, the weight of his loins upon hers, the scent of man and the power of desire. The mists rolled and the sweat poured, the hardness of his manhood pushed against the untried regions of her womanhood, and she succumbed to the weakness of submission, the two became one. So they united there overlooking the valley deep. A woman bred to the Throne and a Priest resonating with all the power of the dark lands. She tasted the salt of his sweat as he crested above her and he felt the sweet succulence of her surrender as she took his member time and time again as the sun sank over the valley. They were what they were meant to be, neither Princess nor Priest just lovers embraced in the ecstasy of what had been preordained for a millennia and they had no clue, just joy and a love that would outlive the world.

Ash Denton sat on his Jet, the results were back. Darn should he open the folder? He had come miles, made millions and yet his true birth right remained a mystery. So now the Church had released the age old documents. Ash Denton the mogul, the billionaire was about to know exactly who “HE” was…