New World Symphony: Takes a Troupe

“I don’t know how you do it,” Jaclyn said to Cypress.

“Do what?”

“Stay married. To the same person. And not only that, live with him, day after day after bloody day.”

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Cypress laughed. “We’re happy!” she said. “I love McRae. He makes every day fun.”

“I love Davion, too,” replied Jaclyn, “but that doesn’t mean I want to be around him every single day. I’m getting tired of feeling like my wings are clipped.”

“But you’re free, right?” Cypress said. “My mom always said that in the right love, you find you’re free, and that’s what it’s like for me with McRae.”

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Jaclyn walked Cypress and Sempervirens out to the road.

“It’s not how I feel it,” said Jaclyn.

“Why don’t you come over tomorrow?” Cypress suggested. “I’ll show you the garden.”

“We can have ice cream!” Sempervirens said.

“For ice cream, I’ll come!” Jaclyn replied. She knew that Cypress really wanted her to get a taste of their style of domestic bliss: two tents and a kitchen in a big meadow. It wouldn’t change how she felt, Jaclyn knew this. But they were neighbors and friends, and she knew her love of freedom was in no danger of being persuaded away.

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She woke in a far better mood. The birds were singing, she was alone in her big bed, and she wasn’t expecting Davion to call or drop by.

She loved Davion, there was no doubt about that. And it had been her idea that he become her boyfriend. It wasn’t him–it was the whole “being a couple” thing that brought her down.

But this morning, with the sun shining on the empty road and not a single letter or bill waiting for her in her mailbox, she felt free!

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Sparkroot and Florinda Tea ran over the hill and through the meadow and dropped by just as Jaclyn was washing up the morning dishes.

“Are we too late for tea?” Sparkroot asked.

“You’re just in time for elevenses!” said Jaclyn.

“Ha! I told Ama we’d get our something to eat here! You’re always eating!”

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Jaclyn chuckled. “Can’t do to let one’s stomach grumble, now, can it?”

“I think that must be why you’re always happy! You always have something yummy and sweet to look forward to!”

“Well, I’m not always happy,” said Jaclyn, “but I did just get a fresh jar of marmalade that will taste absolutely delicious on a toasted muffin! And that’s something to smile about, certainly!”

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“We can’t stick around too long, Spark,” Florinda said. “We’re going to Little Green’s. You wanna come, Auntie Jac?”

“Why, I certainly do!” replied Jaclyn. “I was headed over that way myself. Shall I toast the muffins so we can eat and go?”

“Yes!” shouted Sparkroot. “With marmalade!”

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Sparkroot and Florinda’s ama was there to join them when they arrived at the big meadow.

“I brought over some basil seeds,” Cathy said.

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Sempervirens and Bryant Cho were having a conversation about family domestic arrangements.

“So, I live with my mom and dad, and you do, too, right Bryant?”

“No,” he said, “I live with my sissy and my ma.”

“Oh. Well, Jennifer and Bridget live with their mom but not their dad, and their dad lives with Mikaela’s mom but Mikaela’s dad lives with Pierce and Pierce’s mom. Whose mom does your dad live with, Florinda?”

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“Nobody, right, Ama?” said Florinda.

“That’s right,” said Cathy Tea. “Your dad lives by himself in his white and blue house and we live in our house.”

“But he comes and visits,” said Florinda.

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“We don’t even live in a house,” said Sempervirens. “We live in two tents, a kitchen, and a meadow!”

“When I grow up, I want to live in a forest! And I want all the moms and all the dads and all the kids to live together!” said Florinda. “Then, it’s not so complicated! You want to see your ada? Fine! He’s right there!”

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“That sounds a lot like my people’s way,” said Jaclyn. “My mother’s people, they lived together in tree-tops, all the elvene, and every man was your Osi’Tan, and every woman was your Osi’Nys. Selde were raised by the troupe.”

Florinda  imagined what that would be like. The more she thought about it, the less sure she was that it would really be something worth wishing for. Maybe she didn’t want to live in a forest with the whole tribe.

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Sure, it was fun to see her ada now and then–but not too often. Sometimes, their house was more peaceful when he was at his house and not visiting over.

And she sure wouldn’t want him to help raise Little Green or Bryant. What if he yelled at them, the way he sometimes liked to yell?

On the other hand, if they were raised by the whole village, then that would mean that she could also be raised by Little Green’s dad, Knox McRae.

Florinda thought that she would like that. Knox was a very kind and gentle man.

“Can I stay the night?” Florinda whispered to Little Green.

“Sure!” said Sempervirens, and they asked all the adults if it was OK.

After her mom and Sparkroot left for their home, and Jaclyn left for hers, and Bryant walked up the big hill to his house, Florinda sat in the kitchen with just Cypress, Knox, and Sempervirens, as if she were part of the family. Knox asked, “Would you like something to eat, Flor?”

He said it with such a kind voice, and his eyes were soft and gentle, too, and he smiled a real smile.

While she sat at the table with her stuffed potato, Florinda pretended, just for a moment, that this was her home and that he was her uncle–or maybe even, her dad, and that he always spoke to her with so much tenderness and kindness., without ever raising his voice. What a different world that would be!

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New World Symphony: Slow Walk

Moonlight is best for planting. The garden started with a wild onion seed that Cypress and Knox had collected in Granite Falls. That was the day that Knox had proposed. Cypress smiled to think that they’d remember that day with an onion!

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Knox planted potatoes and a few herb and flower seeds they’d gathered that day, too. They lined the garden beds with old stone fragments they’d found from the side of the property.

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Knox built two birdhouses before he and his small family had a house of their own.

“It’s looking even better than I imagined,” Cypress said.

“It feels like ours, doesn’t it?” Knox said.

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They were happy living in the meadow, all three of them.

The baby seemed to love the outdoors as much as her parents. She never cried, and as long as Mom or Dad were there to sing to her and feed her, she was happy to spend her days watching butterflies, dragonflies, and bees, and her nights watching the dancing golden lights that hovered over the meadows.

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They measured their days by the growth of the plants. Before long, wild flowers lined the stone fragments circling the garden.

“Think we can live this way forever?” Cypress asked Knox.

“Doesn’t matter!” he replied. “Let’s enjoy it for now and let it all grow from there.”

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At night, while the baby slept, Cypress loved to play her violin in the garden. She’d heard that the plants loved music, and though she knew her intonation could still use a bit of work, Knox assured her that if he loved it, all the growing things would love it, too!

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When the neighbors realized that this tent dwelling seemed to be becoming a permanent installation at the Dresden House Estate, they stopped by to welcome them.

“And then once you get your permit, you’ll being building, is that right, Mrs. McRae?” Maaike Haas asked.

“It’s Cypress. Cypress Bough,” she replied. “And we don’t have any building plans as of yet, actually.”

“You do know that this is where Dresden House stood, don’t you?” Gunther Munch said. “To think of all the art masterpieces lost in that fire. And the books! Entire libraries. Shame to think that now it’s just a barren meadow.”

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Ulrike Faust looked towards the garden.

“Hardly barren, Gunther,” she said. “And what’s better? A painting of a field of flowers or the actual field itself?”

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When Cypress and Knox walked through their garden, they felt it was plenty.

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There was room to grow! New beds to be planted, new paths to be spread, new seeds to gather and sow.

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“You’ve got a great place here,” Sabreene said one evening as she walked past on her way to the waterfall trail.

“Thanks,” said Cypress. “Have you seen the flock of rock doves that forage in the field?”

And they talked about birds for a while, until Sabreene continued her hike, and Cypress went to feed the baby.

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As the garden began to take less time, Cypress remembered her dream of a club for gardeners.

“Let’s combine it with something health-oriented,” Knox said. “Yoga, meditation. That sort of thing.”

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They called their club “Greenies” and invited all those who love the outdoors.

Cathy Tea, Shannon SimsFan and her husband John, and their neighbor Jaclyn Ball all joined.

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“So, what’s the plan with this club?” Cathy asked Cypress.

“Oh, I haven’t really been planning it much,” Cypress replied. “It’s in response to this dream I had back when I was a kid living in the high desert. I just wanted to get together with other gardeners and talk about gardens. Then McRae wanted to add a health component.”

“That’s awesome!” Cathy said. “I can really get behind that! All things Wellness!”

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In the evening, John and Knox sat at the meditation circle at the edge of the meadow. They could hear the waterfall and feel the cool spray drift down the hill.

Knox felt a continuity spread through his life, from his days as a ranger in Granite Falls, through the time that he and Cypress spent in the high desert at Cradle Rock, and now, here, in this big meadow that had become home to his small family, the place where he welcomed his new friends.

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New World Symphony: Meadow

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The meadow stretched greener than dreams, reaching to the horizon dotted with granite boulders and outcroppings.

Cypress Bough breathed in delicious air: moist, fragrant with pine resin, and cool in the lungs.

Home, she said to herself, our new home.

She picked up Vi, her baby daughter, to show her the trees and grass.

“It’s different from the desert, isn’t it, little Vi?”

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Knox McRae watched his wife cradle their baby. Funny, he thought, how their dreams fit together. He couldn’t remember if this had been his dream first, or if it had come to him later, after he saw the way Cypress lit up when she was surrounded by trees.

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They’d make a family together here. There was room to build, room to garden, and space to just be, without crowds of people around.

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The land had sat vacant for years, long enough for the grass to grow over the charred ground, where Dresden House had stood. After their mansion burned, the Fyres moved to Oasis Springs. When Knox heard about the vacant property, which they were selling for a song, it seemed to be just what he and Cypress were looking for.

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They bought it sight unseen.

“What do you think, babe?” he asked. “Can we make this wide meadow our home?”

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It felt more like home than anything Cypress had known.

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Knox watched as she pulled a small golden pony from her bag.

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She had a playful, childlike side that delighted him.

“Every home needs a pony!” she said, galloping the golden little horse through the air between them.

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He felt the laughter from her circle him. They’d fill this wide meadow with their own feelings–their love, their jokes, that sense of family and belonging that grew between the two of them, nestling their baby daughter.

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For now, they’d live in a tent in the corner of the lot, as they got to know the character of this wide swath of land, as they felt the contours of bedrock and loam.

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They set up a picnic table and grill on a rock patio they built beside the tent.

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For two who love the outdoors as they do, this was all the home the needed for now: land, a tent, green grass, trees, and each other.

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As long as Mom and Dad were there, the baby was happy, too.

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Cypress felt gratitude like never before.

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How is it that one can have a dream, that one can send out a wish, and it can come true?

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Here she was, at home within a freedom unknown to her before. What brought about her good fortune, she didn’t know, but she suspected it may have come from the good heart of an ancestor long before, a legacy that was passed through the generations, waiting now for her, that she might live true and free, and send her own good intentions through every part of her life and to all whose lives she might touch.

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Cypress Bough and her small family had come home.

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