Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Magical Homelands

Y’all have already heard about the pseudo-mini-volcano we live next to. We also have a minor minor minor baseball team, the Woodchucks. (The stadium right now is in a reconstruction stage—they SAY it’ll be ready by opening day, though it sure doesn’t look that way right now.)

But one of the coolest things we have here is a wetlands marsh for nesting birds. There’s a bigger, more famous wildlife preserve at Necedah and also the Horicon Marsh, but we have our own as well that people have both guarded and left alone. The bridge to Rib Mountain (and the volcano) crosses a river that gets really shallow but never goes dry. It’s a mini-wildlife refuge for Canada geese, mallard & wood ducks, and cranes. People take photos with telephoto lenses from the bridge but no one goes down there to disturb them. So it’s the perfect place to eat and nest and raise babies before heading South again in the fall—before the snow (and ice fishermen) show up. And when the fog rises up in early morning and all you see are the shadows of trees on the island, and the birds on the water—and you hear the haunting cries—it’s magical. One of Tami’s favorite places now that she has a camera of her own.

City or country, state to state, every place has special and unique features that make your home different from everywhere else. What can you tell me about yours? What makes it your home?

“Tell me something magical about your homeland.” Mari’s attempt to understand Valkyn in my WIP (newest installation to the Guardians of Light series) Moonwitched. Since she’s a land healer and green witch, she’s really close to the land. Valkyn’s a warrior from the northern Isle of Ice, Isadorikja. (Think Viking & Iceland) He’s not really one to consider magic, but everything’s changed since meeting Mari.

Snippet from Moonwitched:
“Tell me something beautiful about your home,” she whispered. “Something unique and magical.”
He stared up at the stars. “What makes you think Isadorikja possesses magic?”
“Every land possesses its own power and majesty, a heart and soul that takes your breath away. There must be something to keep you there despite the hardships.”
“The warriors will tell you ‘tis Creataq’s Blood, a rare ore that in the hands of a master smith can be forged into weapons of unsurpassed strength. Why Svaaldur was built at the foot of Widowmaker Mountain, and why our clan took its name from it.”
His eyes took on a faraway gaze. “But Isadorikja’s a challenge to body and spirit—rugged glaciers that cut the sky, wild raging rivers and deep, silent lakes, with a short summer growing season and a long dark winter when the sun hides and the winds howl across the open plains. We’ve ways to keep each other warm, though.”
She waited him out.
“Keeps you strong, makes people work together.” His lips curved into a half-smile. “The lights of the ancestors, though—‘tis the true magic. A dance of colored lights in the sky—pulses of reds and pinks and greens, an occasional purple that shimmer and swirl above the horizon. It heralds the doorway to Halzyaq’s Hall, where all the fallen go when ‘tis their time. Some people swear they hear music when the lights appear. I’ve never heard tell they exist anywhere else in the world.”
Mari shivered. “I’ve never heard of such.”
“You should come see it someday.” His tone was neutral, casual. “I can’t think of anyone who’d appreciate it more.”
“I’d love to see it with my own eyes…someday.” Was that an invitation? Or do I read too much into his words? “So, tell me. Creataq and Halzyaq? They’re your gods?”
Hai. Halzyaq’s god of war and king of the gods, though our daq Aryk gives more credence to Creataq, god of the forge.” Valkyn frowned. Clearly a warrior would take issue with such a change in the hierarchy.
“And Saskia?”
“Mother of all, goddess of renewal, of birth and spring, sowing and healing.”
‘Tis naught more powerful than those life-affirming activities. “I, too, call on the Mother, though we give Her no name.” Odd how small and similar the world becomes, what changes and what stays the same.
“Indeed.” His gaze captured hers. “We celebrate the first dawn of every year in Saskia’s name—when she breaks the hold of winter. We extinguish the torches and turn to the sun.”
“There’s always an end to darkness,” she whispered. “Even this one.”
“Thessera’s dark, indeed.” His face was haunted with the memories.

“But even a single candle of hope can break the dark,” she told him. “Like the dawn, like the sun.” Mari buried her fingers in his hair and drew him down for a long, slow leisurely kiss, teased his lips with hers. Her breath hitched at the spark of wanting, but she didn’t want searing passion—not yet. ‘Twas a moment that spoke to comfort and tenderness, to seduction and wooing.


Tina Donahue said...

Moonwitched sounds wonderful, Renee - thanks for sharing an excerpt.

What makes Palm Springs home for me? Driving down the 101 (main drag through the Coachella Valley), seeing snow on the mountains, a flawless blue sky, and at sea level palms swaying in the breeze, the scent of countless flowers, 75-80 degree weather (even though there's snow on the mountains). An amazing sight. An amazing feeling. This is truly California at its best. :)

Renee Wildes said...

sounds lovely - especially when it's a cold & rainy April in WI!

Fiona McGier said...

I can't think of much about Illinois that I enjoy. My family is here...that's about it. Whenever we get a chance, we head to some other state to go camping.

Now ask me about Minnesota? Or Wisconsin? Now we're talking! And we're exploring more Michigan State Parks since one of our sons lives there now. These are the places I want to retire to...if we can ever afford it!

Renee Wildes said...

come visit me in central WI - I'll take ya around!