Forgotten Art: Jasper – Liam 1


Dear Liam,

I suppose an old man like me shouldn’t be surprised by mysteries. But you know how life goes. Sometimes, we fall into the pattern of the mundane.

“An old Irishman in a young man’s body.” Now there’s an intriguing introduction.

In fact, the hints sprinkled throughout your letter point to mysteries that, for now, I will simply let lie. While investigative by nature, I’m not one to pry, and I’m sure that all I’m intended to know will be revealed through time.

You and I seem to share a love for wood.


I’ve been working in cedar lately. It’s not the best for carving, being soft and splintery, but I’m drawn by the scent which reminds me of youthful days roaming the coasts of the island off Windenberg.

“There truly is magic in the world,” you write.


What do I know of magic?

Only the magic of the everyday, that inexplicable spark that can arise between two beings. Or maybe, staring into vast space, the magic, simply, incredibly, of Being.

But magic of the sort in which wizards and warlocks deal?


I know nothing more than what I’ve read: Shakespeare’s The Tempest. The old folk stories. The works of Carlos Castaneda. A few dabblings with the Tarot and the I Ching.

I’m a scholar, not a magician.

But I will have eager eyes and an avid heart for any mysteries you care to reveal.


So we’re both acquainted with loss, are we?

That’s the price of life.

Condolences on the passing of your Maggie.

My wife and I never had children–by choice, inclination, and temperament.

Bess, my wife, passed years ago. I forget to count. It feels like an instant, but I know, by the lanterns hanging on my tree, that it wasn’t. Each year, since her passing, I hang a new lantern. I’ve stopped counting.


Bess loved Jane Austen, like your Mathilda. It’s something to be married to a woman who reads Austen, don’t you find? Always gazing at us with that wry grin, as if each stoic action we display revealed depths of which we never comprehended we might contain!


As for me, I specialized in American lit of the 19th Century. Of course, I centered much of my study on the New England Brahmins–Thoreau and Fuller, in particular, though I also came to appreciate Alcott: Lousia May, not her father.

Towards the end of my career, I became engrossed in pioneer literature, the diaries and journals, in particular. I suppose I got there by way of Thoreau. His writing led me to John Muir, and from Muir it was only a stone’s throw away to the pioneer journals.

I’m currently trekking my way through Shakespeare. I hate to admit it, but I have not yet read all the works attributed to his name. I’m currently on the histories, and taking my sweet time.

Retirement has shown me that I can take time with all my endeavors. So I hope you’ll pardon my long-winded and round-about correspondences with you!

It’s sweet balm to write to another who’s lived and lost and survived to love on.

Life. Man. What a trip.


With warm regards, and anticipation, already, for your next letter,

Jasper McCumber

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