Where are the Entries for Barbara’s Journey?

9 03 2007

I have transferred all my entries to the Lemurian Grand Tour. Hope everyone will come read about new adventures in Lemuria. Thanks.

Barbara F.





Safety and Danger — Day 5

7 03 2007

 

Damascus plods along the Owl Creek Road with Pigeon on his back. I walk along side of him, sometimes skipping a bit, sometimes singing a few lines of a ditty. Although Damascus warns me my gallivanting will use energy I will be wanting later, I cannot not help but show my excitement traveling on Owl Creek Road. On my way to where, I cannot imagine, but I know there is a mine ahead and I’m sure it will provide adventure. Well, I’ve never been one to shirk from a little sport, and I am in the most pleasant of companies, so I am happy. But after we walk hour after hour, with no end in sight, I begin to question my donkey’s wisdom..

“Damascus, where is this creek? After all, this road is Owl Creek Road. Surely there’s a creek. My canteen is empty and I’m getting quite thirsty. Hungry, too.” After an afternoon of walking, I am uncomfortable and a little whiny. The road covers me with a heavy layer of dust, and I also swallow my share. My mouth is so dry, I can hardly force my words out.

“Be patient, Dear. I was warned you travelers are an impatient bunch, and that’s truly true. The creek is several miles yet. A sharp curve towards the mountains and then we will travel along the cooling water. Then you can drink until your body and spirit are quenched and I shall greedily join you. Do you not think beasts of burden thirst and become uncomfortable, yet I try not to complain? And have you noticed that Pigeon has been gone quite awhile? It would be wise for you to pay attention to your surroundings instead of dancing about. As for Pigeon, I daresay he has already partaken of his share of liquid refreshment.”

I become quiet. Damascus is right, of course. He is right most of the time, I discover. It is good that I try to pay more attention to his words. Words from Donkeys are surely of a magical nature.

“I am sorry, Damascus. I suppose my human-ness is showing.”

“Why, Dear, do not fret. Do you not yet know a Donkey’s patience is seldom tested? Now look up ahead and celebrate a bit if you must. Here is the curve in the road. See the stream; it is ahead.”

I must admit I half-run to the flowing waters. It races clear and cool, passing over small rocks and sandy flats. I pull off my shoes without further thought and wade into the sand. Scooping water with my hands, I assuage my thirst and splash my face and arms. Damascus joins me, stepping into a rocky portion of the creek, slurping water and spraying it upon my clothing.

“Stop. Stop. You are acting like a wild animal.” I laugh at his antics. I think he is laughing, too, but remember it is hard to read a donkey’s facial expressions. He is braying though, and that seems to indicate he is pleased. I spot Pigeon bathing in a shallow pool.

“Pigeon, where have you been? I have hardly seen you this entire day. You must stay with us for it is now dusk and our dinner can’t be far away.” I try not to let my worry show.

“Do you not know my job in this foreign land?” he cooed. “I am the look-out, watching the road for the least sign of danger. Do you think I am flying about on a lark?” Pigeon sounds indignant, as he may very well be. He is right. I do not notice what I should.

For the second time in as many hours, I find myself apologizing to one of my companions. I hang my head down; I want to cover my face and cry. “Sorry,” I say. Of course you are doing me a great service.”

“You better believe it, Dear. Now look ahead. Lights twinkling from a window. We have come to our place of rest. You rely on Damascus and me, we will care for you as if you were a helpless babe, crying in your cradle.”

Now chagrined at my lecture from Pigeon, I refuse to speak until we arrive at the house. Before I open the rose covered gate, the door to the cottage opens and an enormous man stands in its interior’s illumination. He steps forward, and I see an sparkling grin on his whiskered face. His frame fills the entire entrance.

“Welcome. Welcome. Damascus said we would have company tonight.” He waves a hand and belly-laughs.

I slip Damascus a surprised look. This donkey is worth more than I first figured. Here I thought I would be caring for him, and it is I who am being cared for. Just then Pigeon lands on my shoulder. I stroke his feathers and he ruffles himself. I am lucky to be in the company of my two friends.

I turn my attention to my host. “Why, thank you. I do admit we are tired and hungry. Damascus said we should stop at your home. I hope we are not causing trouble.”

“Trouble? Heavens no. We have dinner and a soft bed prepared for you and accommodations for Damascus and your bird friend. Rosa has a tub of steaming water for you to bathe in and dinner is nearly ready. I shall feed and bed down Damascus and I believe I have seed here for your bird. Go on in.”

“But I don’t even know who you are,” I say, hesitating at his invitation.

Damascus rolls his eyes and hummfs at me. Under his breathe he mumbles. “I never got a proper introduction from Dear until Pigeon stepped in, and now she questions my good friend! What manners do these travelers have?”

I hear Damascus and blush with embarassment. “I am Barbara, although my new friends call me Dear. I am pleased to stop at your home.”

“And I’m Tom Tubby. Pleased to meet you, Dear. Now up and in over the threshold. Rosa is most eager to have some woman-talk.”

Damascus whispers to Tom Tubby and Pigeon hovers over the two of them. I slow my walk so I can hear too. “Any trouble lately? You both doing okay?”

“No. It’s been quiet and I hope it stays that way while we have a guest. Our dogs are out and about. Jess and Jobie will set up a ruckus if they come anywhere near.” Pigeon looks over at me, hesitating on the stoop. “Big ears,” he says, so they break up their meeting and get to the evening chores.

I wash up and change into fresh clothes while Rosa takes my dusty shirt and pants and soaks them in a pan in the sink. I bring my sketchpad and pencils into the kitchen. “Can I help you do anything or would you mind if I sketch a bit and write a few words? I want to remember everything.” As if I would forget, I think to myself.

“Go right ahead, Dear. I gather we’ll hear your stories over supper, and a treat that will be. All these days passing, with only a man to talk to. Gets a frightful bit lonesome, though don’t take that as complaining. I love my Tom Tubby.”

She scrubs my clothing with lye in a pan of water. “I usually use the creek for washing, but it’s not always safest outside. The dark brings out all manner of creatures. You never mind though. Our home is cozy and safe. Now go ahead and do a bit of writing. Your clothes will be fresh in the morning.”

Quite awhile later, Tom Tubby squeezes himself through the door. “Let’s dish that stew up and pile that cornbread on the platter. Why, Rosa, it all smells so grand.” He rubbed his belly and turned to me with a big grin.

“My Rosa is the best cook along side the whole of Owl Creek,” he boasted. “And Rosa, Damascus says our traveler has had herself an exciting time since entering Lemuria. We’re sure to hear a good tale tonight.”

The couple and I exchange pleasantries over the hearty food, and then the real conversation begins. I tell them of the day’s happenings. They cluck and tsk over my story of the anchor and I feel embarrassed for a second. Then they say how fortunate I was to have the tiny anchor, and they think that everyone from the Old Place would be well to have one while in Lemuria. They do not know of le Enchanteur’s parting gifts.

After the hearty supper, Rosa scoots me off to bed. I lie awake in the comfort of the feather bed, piles of quilts covering me, and think over the day’s events. I am drifting into my dreams when I am yanked fully awake by a spooky howl. The howling is not in the distance; it is too nearby to feel comfortable. The dogs begin barking, and I hear shouts downstairs and a door slam.

“Rosa,” I call as I clatter down the steps. “What is happening?”

She is looking out the only window in the cottage which faces the barn, dressed in her nightgown with a quilt thrown over her shoulders. “Why not go up and climb back into bed, Dear? Tom Tubby can handle everything.” She turns away from me and peers closely out the glass. Again I hear the piercing howls. Again it is nearby. I find myself unable to leave Rosa; I look out the window, too.

“Ah-ooo! Ah-ooo!” I see dark shadows nearing the fence which surrounds the yard. It is only a picket fence and provides decoration, not safety. “Hee-haw! Hee-haw!” Now Damascus is braying from inside the barn. I see Pigeon no where in sight, but surely he is safe from whatever travels on the ground. His wings carry him far from danger.

“Not to worry, Dear. Tom Tubby has a gun. He protects us when the wolves attack.” My heart does a double beat as I hear a gun fire. Then several more shots ring through the air. Tom Tubby is yelling, but I can’t make out the words. Minutes seem like hours, but finally the door latch turns and Tom Tubby lumbers through the door.

“They’re gone, Rosa and Dear. Gone for now. I’m afraid they were after Damascus, but we fought them together. Your donkey is safe enough.”

“You both fought them? How is that possible?”

“Why, Damascus does a sort of kick-boxing. Didn’t you know? All the companions of travelers are trained in the arts of protection. You couldn’t ask for a braver donkey. Afraid he’s got a bit of a wound on his leg, though.”

“Damascus is hurt?” I start for the door, but he holds me back.

“Now worry does one no good, so let’s not think the worst,” Tom Tubby gently reprimanded. “Rosa, I’d like to bring Damascus into the cottage to care for him. He’s a gentle animal and will cause you no trouble. He’ll be safer in here if the wolves attack again. He can’t protect himself as he is.”

I held my breath, waiting for her reply. Would Rosa let a donkey inside their home?

“Of course Damascus is welcome. Let me get the spare blankets so he can lie down comfortably. Dear, help me move the table and chairs against the wall so there’ll be room.”

Tom Tubby and I went out and half-carried Damascus into the warm room. Damascus could barely put weight on his foreleg. We gently placed him on the pallet. My heart sank when I saw his injuries, but perhaps when the wound was cleaned, it would look better. My friend, Damascus, was hurt and I no longer had my donkey to accompany me on my journey. I burst into tears. Not only was I heart-broken, I was also terribly afraid.

 





The First of Many Lessons — Day 4

6 03 2007

The moment my feet touched the ground, I heard the most terrifying screech I could imagine. Although I looked about me, to the left and to the right and behind me, I could see no person or thing. But hear them I did. Horrid name calling that I had heard throughout my entire life was being replayed in my mind. Words that I thought I had erased from my memory, numbed from my consciousness, were being re-broadcast on my own personal tape recorder. Over and over, the caustic words echoed.

Panic gripped me as I listened to my past’s ghostly voices and then I felt my feet disappear into the mucky sand. Suddenly I remembered my companions and their pact. Were they really going to help me or were they going to ignore me in my predicament?

I turned about, searching for Damascus and Pigeon, as the sandy ground continued to suck fiercely, now engulfing my ankles. Damascus stood placidly at my side, yawning and swinging his tail. He was nonplussed by my situation; in fact, he was totally unaware of it. If anything, the donkey looked quite relaxed, almost asleep standing upright.

“Damascus, aren’t you going to help? You did say you’d help me, you and Pigeon.”

“Hmm. What’s up, Dear? You look a little troubled.”

“Troubled? Troubled? Of course I’m troubled. Those voices. Can’t you hear those devilish voices tormenting me? Screaming insults at me. And aren’t you worried about the quicksand? I’m sinking deeper and deeper. Can’t you see?”

Damascus took his time, but eventually he swiveled his eyes downward and examined the sand which was gripping me more tightly. He looked a bit irritated. Then he blew a warm swoosh of air into my face.

“Of course I can hear and see. What kind of donkey do you think I am?” I think he gave me a nasty look, but I couldn’t be sure. Damascus shook his head, pawed the ground. I noticed he was standing on solid ground. “I’ve heard of these sorts of problems, but I’ve never come face to face with such things. Voices, you say? Nasty ones?”

“Yes, nasty. Very nasty. Calling me all sorts of names. Stupid. Liar. Traitor. Crazy. Bad. Scaredy-brat. Even worse names and screaming in voices I recognize. Mother. Father. Friend. Teacher. Are you listening to me, Damascus?”

“Perhaps you need to clean house before those voices will disappear. It’s been said that one can’t carry old baggage in Lemuria, because there’s too much new baggage to carry. See those mining tools next to the brush. There’s our new baggage.” Damascus turned his head away, reached for a bit of grass and chewed it.

“But I don’t understand. Damascus, you aren’t making sense.”

“Dear, give up those voices. Throw off those names. Too much baggage, understand?”

I closed my eyes and underneath my voice I began to chant. I am good. I am smart. I am brave. I chanted over and over until I started to believe what I was saying. “I understand now, Damascus, about the voices. I can make them be still and disappear. I am in charge of what I hear, of who I am. Is that what you were trying to teach me?”

“Yes, Dear. A good lesson learned.”

“But the quicksand? I still can’t move.”

Damascus shook his head and snorted. He looked me straight in the eye. “Are you sure that old baggage is gone? Its weight can take fast hold of you, make you unable to go forward. You won’t be able to make progress until you forgive the past, focus on the present and plan for the future.”

“Those are pretty philosophical words from a donkey’s mouth,” I couldn’t help saying that, but he didn’t seem to hear me. Or did he?

“Yes, indeed. I’m a pretty philosophical fellow. If only you keep listening, we’ll get along fine. By the way, how are your feet?”

I lifted my right foot, then my left. “They’re free. Oh, Damascus, you know the answers. You’re wonderful.”

“Aw, Dear. Not wonderful. But perhaps old donkeys become wise, forever traveling strangers through this mysterious land. Now to be certain you’ve shrugged off those voices for good, open your bag from le Enchanteur and take out the little anchor.”

“And just why do I need an anchor in the middle of this country. I see no water anywhere.”

“And you’ll need no water for this anchor to do its job,” sighed Damascus just a bit. “Throw this net, yes it’s invisible but it will do, over the remains of the voice-makers. Now fasten it to the earth with the anchor.”

I lifted the anchor, but I could only move it a fraction. Damascus helped nudge it with his nose and together we pushed the anchor into place.

“You needed a mighty heavy anchor to hold down those memories, Dear,” said Damascus, ” but this part of your journey is done. Now if you would please load that pack of tools on my back, we have many stops yet to make. Let’s be off.” Damascus smiled, though I didn’t notice. It’s hard to tell when a donkey smiles.

“Wait. Let me signal for Pigeon.” I whistled through my fingers and there was Pigeon, perched on Damascus’ back.

Damascus brayed and Pigeon hopped from foot to foot. “Now we shall follow Owl Road while it is still light enough to see. I’m starving and I know just the place to find a home-cooked meal. Let’s take the welcomes while we can, for soon enough we’ll be eating many a meal from a cold tin, and looking over our shoulders at every sound.”





An Introduction to Damascus, the Donkey Day 3

5 03 2007

 

Again I hear a deafening racket in my ears. I squint at a large form hovering over me, then gasp. I see a large, a very large, donkey perched precariously on the rocky ledge of the mountain with me and braying into my ears. I tentatively look down — we are at least 1,000 feet above the ground.

“Shant we get going?” The donkey speaks. I am surprised. The donkey speaks the King’s English. “The others have left months ago, perhaps even years ago. And I was sternly commanded to wait for any latecomers. That would be you, yes?”

“Why… yes. I have just started, and I am very behind. I’m so sorry you had to wait,” I said , chagrined at what appears to be a poor first meeting.

The donkey humphfed. “Well, you are who you are, aren’t you.” He looked me up and down, scowling. “And yet I do not know. Perhaps we shall have introductions, as one does in civilized countries. I have already met your Pigeon, and we have had a long discussion about your travels. In fact, we have made a pact.”

“And just why a pact? What are you up to?” I was wary as this trip was proving to be most surprising.

“Simple, my dear. You are a lone traveller, a woman at that, and you will need us if you run into, uh, unfortunate circumstances.”

“I am perfectly capable as a woman traveler. In fact, I dare say women are better travelers than men.” I was perfectly incensed. “Since I gather you are to be my companion, perhaps you will be surprised by my capabilities in the wild.”

“Yes. Yes. But we are wasting time, perched on this rock. Your country must be full of rude people. Here we are having a rather proper conversation, and we have yet to be introduced.

Pigeon swooped down between them. “Sorry, sorry! My fault! Donkey, this is Dear, although she will answer to Barbara most pleasantly. And Dear, this is Donkey. His proper name is Damascus and he prefers you call him his proper name. There. Now let’s get you two down from this precipice. I myself will have no problem. I shall meet you at the bottom.” And pigeon swooped into the air, riding the currents, until he could no longer be seen.

“Now, to see us down.” Damascus brayed with pleasure. “Lucky for you, I am very sure-footed. Fasten up!”

I tied my pack to the side of Damascus, using several of the bandanas that softened the straps of the pack on my shoulders. Already my things were handy! Then I clumberred upon his back, unsure of Damascus’s abilities, or truthfully, unsure of mine too. I need not have worried, for my travel downward was very smooth. I was not one bit fearful.

Until, that is, we took our first steps upon solid ground!

Barbara Farhenbac





A Portal Passage — Day 2

4 03 2007

As goodbyes from the Riversleigh Manor residents still reverberate in the distance, deep fog in the woodsy landscape swirls about me. I find myself taking cautious steps, arms outstretched in front of me. Within minutes my hands touch a damp wall of mossy wet granite. I am perplexed; I do not remember rock formations in this part of the forest. The mist turns into rain, but luck is with me, for I fdiscover an opening in the rock. I duck into the drippy hole, a small cave in which I can barely kneel upright. As I move further inside the space diminishes, until I can only continue by slithering on my belly.I push my pack through the hole, wriggling it back and forth until it slides forward. Then Pigeon struts through, flapping its wings in excitement. But before I can follow, there is a firm tap on my back. I look into the shadows and am surprised to see le Enchanteur motioning for me to come to her.

“I have a gift for your journey, my dear. See? A tiny bag,” she says, smiling and holding a silken pouch towards me.

Curious, I inch towards her. I open the bag’s tie strings, emptying its contents on a clean cloth she has spread upon my lap. There is a tiny metallic paper packet marked ‘Ten Dream Seeds. Use with care!’ Then I find a pair of spectacles, old-fashioned granny glasses, but I see nothing remarkable when I gaze through the lenses. Next I pull out a candlestick, (why a candlestick?), a tiny anchor which is surprisingly heavy in my palm, a well-worn medallion with the imprint of a faded Unicorn on it, and a set of miniature wings which unfolds like a very large map. I catch a speck of writing on one of the wings. There IS a map imprinted lightly on the nylon mesh. A double use — a set of wings and a map combined! “How clever,” I whisper to myself.

Le Enchanteur hears me and dips her head slightly. “One more gift,” she says in a pleased voice.

I search in the bag and in one of the corners, I find a wee bit of gossamer. Opening it in my hand, I discover a pair of amber scissors set with crystal blades.

“Be careful. They are so sharp they can cut through a brick of diamond ,” cautions le Enchateur, “and do not let this bag out of your site. Hang it around your neck and keep it well-hidden until it is needed.”

I place the pouch under my shirts, resting it against my heart. When I look up to thank le Enchanteur, I see only the swish of her cape as she disappears into the rain. Breathing heavily, I return to squiggling through the hole. Ahead I see Pigeon illuminated by light, watching and waiting for me.

I finally poke my head into the light, blinking my eyes as I pull myself through the portal. I am awe-stricken. Before me lies the land of Lemuria. I lean my back against the cave’s wall to catch my breath and nearly fall. There is nothing but air behind me. The hole has evaporated into space. I am alone in a mystical country of strangers with no means of returning to familiar land.

I think of this only momentarily. Then all of my senses are magnetized. As my eyes adjust, I see I am surrounded by pure light, but it is a light without sun. The luminosity is spread across an endless sky. I wonder if night ever falls in Lemuria.

A breeze drifts across my face, singing a whistling melody. I strain to hear the sound as it fades, then crescendos, then fades again. Aromas float in the air — a mild scent of mint and lavender. I become even more aware of my surroundings — it is forever a greenery of shrubbery and plants of all types, sizes, and color. I recognize only a few common herbs, nothing else in all of this vast region.

I take a step back, stunned with the beauty surrounding me. And suddenly I gasp in surprise. I bump into rock — again! I turn around and see that I am standing on a rocky outcropping protruding from a tall mountain. I now understand why the view has become so magnificent. I am high and I can see everything succulent and lush, shining in its glory. The country feels welcoming; I feel relaxed.

Gradually I feel drowsy. I sink down onto the rock ledge, lean against the mountain, and use my pack as a pillow. I sleep deeply. Until I am jolted awake by a deafening sound.





Packing for Tour Day 1

3 03 2007

 

So the message has been surreptitiously slidden under the door of my attic room. “Pack and leave at once on the Grand Tour. You are given permission to travel this road alone, as all the Riversleigh residents will be with you in thought. Find the portal to your trip to the East of Riversleigh, and do so with haste, for it may close at any time. Keep all of us posted.”

I pull the green canvas pack from it’s strorage nook. It is special to me; it was given to me by my Grandfather as he lay on his bed dying. It is strong and versatile. It is supported by bamboo poles and can be used as a backpack with its straps or as a bag with handles. The straps, which once dug into my shoulders, have been heavily padded with bandanas and strips of cotton material. (Perhaps those items will come in handy.)

Now as to the actual packing, I must hurry before the portal closes. I throw in practical items (from my many years as a Girl Scout). I have no idea if I will need such things on my trip, but I pack a string and a fishing hook, a metal case holding matches, a small first aid kit, and a canteen of water. Next I pack my layer of clothing. A black leotard, exposing only my hands and my head. One never knows when one might need to sink into the background. I will pull on an extra pair of lightweight, but durable and warm, pants. I will need a tee-shirt for warm weather, a long sleeved shirt for cooler weather and my all purpose cape.

On the top level I will carefully pack my journal, colored pencils, pens; my camera although I am rather a photographic novice, but it may come in handy; and a bit of charcoal and my Conte pencils. That will provide me with a wide variety of media. And my tiny book of an inspirational nature.

Finally I pack on the very top, where they may easily be gotten, I pack courage, persistence, curiosity, good will and a spirit of adventure.

I set my very tame carrier pigeon, named rather originally Pigeon, on the top of the pack and I am ready to go. I will go down to the east veranda and say my good-byes.