VIDALIA – From the Doolittle Chroncicles

Nightfall came early now, as the clocks had been turned back to start the season. Moonlit walkways revealed themselves to the pedestrian sooner than the sun splashed avenues one was familiar with earlier in the season.

It was Autumn. And it was time for Vidalia’s brothers and sisters to start falling away.

Vidalia knew it would be her time too, and soon.

She flew along, landing on various surfaces, stopping a moment to stretch her legs. Never lilting too long on one particular place, for she was well aware she was not well liked by many. Her life span was short as it was, and so she did not take care to make too many friends or develop deep relationships.

Vidalia never quite figured out what her purpose in life was. She knew she was put on the earth for a reason, but didn’t quite grasp the significance until after she was gone, a mere remembrance of a summer’s day.

They traveled in packs, most of them looking out for one another, instinctively hovering over the small ones, those whose wings had not developed and were forced to squirm amongst each other. One by one, their wings did sprout and they quickly flew to wherever the scent of the day directed them. They flew great distances in a short period of time, for they were always hungry and always amorous. Whether they were flying to meet their true love or land on a basket of apple blossoms, they achieved their task with great determination and perseverance.

I spoke to Vidalia as she had reached the final leg of her journey, arriving after many days of non stop flying and amorous adventure. She had landed on my bare leg and was washing her face, looking up at me with a satisfied smile and a knowing sense of accomplishment. She knew her end was near and she finally knew what she had to do.

“My brothers and sisters have fallen away” she started.

“Yes, I know” I replied a little uneasy. I knew very well how soon her end would be arriving, although I did not know by what method would cause her demise.

Up on the horizon I spied Riley’s dad coming towards me with two cups of steaming hot coffee wrapped in a kitchen towel, one of our rituals to end a beautiful fall evening. He saw me sitting on the rock near my favorite spot on the waterfront, and motioned with his head to make room on the rock for him. He had not heard my conversation with Vidalia.

“Do you have any regrets, dear Vidalia?” I asked solemnly as she made herself comfortable for her final journey.

Vidalia looked at me with peace and contentment shining through her eyes, and let out just the teeniest sound of a forlorn sigh.

“None, Emeline” she answered.

“Although I would like to share with you the secrets of the universe if you have the time. The answers are shared between mother and daughter from generation to generation, and to be shared only with a human deemed worthy of receiving such information.”

“What?” I sat up astounded.

“You have figured out the meaning of life? The answer to all the great questions asked by the Masters? Shakespeare, Rodan, Ovid!”

She nodded. “Yes, I have spoken to them all, and I am ready to share it all with you, are you ready to receive it?”

“You have spoken with Isaac Newton, Galelio, Michelangelo?”

She nodded, again.

“Madam Curie, Jonas Salk?” I could not believe what I was hearing!

“All the great questions, whether they be regarding politics, science, music, literature. I have had great debates with the likes of any of those learned people. So I ask you again, Emeline. Are you ready to receive the answers to questions which have been asked for centuries?”

“Yes! Yes! Honey!” I called to Rileys Dad.

“Come here and listen to this! You won’t believe it!!!”

“What?” he answered calmly, bringing the towel he had wrapped the hot mugs of coffee.

“Listen to this, it’s absolutely astounding, you won’t believe…”

“Hold still” he said suddenly and slapped the towel upon my knee, killing Vidalia instantly.

“Damn fly…” he muttered.

“You were saying?”

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NOVEMBER IN DOOLITTLE

The change of season was in full swing. The winds of November were upon the inhabitants of Doolittle, and although they felt no chill or briskness in the air, it was apparent to Emeline she was experiencing autumn in the Kingdom. She remembered back to when she was a child in the convent, where the Sisters of Mercy tended after her and held her close when she was lonely or afraid. She closed her eyes and memories of varied smells and aromas filled her nostrils, bringing to her mind the smoky remnants of burning leaves among the hay. It was a bittersweet memory.

Vespertine the Ladybug could see the change in the surroundings as well, but it did not affect her very much. Her underside was becoming soft and wooly, forming a winter coat she would need to protect her from the elements, should she travel over the footbridge with Emeline.

Shortly before Gasper the Great passed on, he appointed Vespertine as the aide and lookout for Emeline. A surprise to many in the Kingdom, she quickly proved her competence with her agility and flexibility when traveling. She could get into places where many of the other animals could not even think of going. She was very much an asset to the woman as they procured tears for the Tear Jar, standing atop her shoulder or whispering in her ear, or even sitting in her coat pocket as they filled the clay vessels. It was from such a journey they had just returned. She had proven herself beyond any question.

Most of the leaves from the oak trees had fallen to the ground, creating great carpets filled with red and yellow and brown flecks. She flitted from leaf to leaf, sipping the morning dew deposits with her tiny tongue. She looked up toward the horizon to see the flock of geese that had just flown overhead, honking their arrival and acknowledging her presence.

She thought of the Grey Goose, the Great Gaspar, who had instructed her in so many ways. She missed him dearly, and wondered how much longer they had to wait for his return. It was a secret she had been sworn to withhold from her beloved Emeline. She watched the woman who had ventured closer to the lake, and sighed inwardly while settling down amongst the grassy hill beneath a mighty sycamore tree.

“Soon, dear Emeline” she said dreamily as she dozed off to sleep. “You will see him again soon…”

MAPLE LEAF SOUP

images[1] (34)I’ve written many stories regarding the escapades of a dog named Riley.

There’s been stories of imaginary animal characters, magical, talking creatures of the air and the land and of the sea, all living in the Kingdom of Doolittle with Emeline. I used them all as metaphors to display the immeasurable kindness of humanity and the insatiable desire of the soul to do good, sometimes amongst the stranger and sometimes in heartfelt acts of love for their neighbor.

Mostly they were conversations in my head, a way to convey a message of hope and faith to those closest to me, a nod in their direction or a slight scolding as to what they were currently doing in their life at the moment.

Things that I would never say to them, but Emeline could.

All these creatures were imaginary, but some among them have become real, serving as gentle nudging of love and commitment to beings that could not live alone and ask for little to survive, and loving so much in return.

But before there was Riley, before Eleanor and her sassy sister, Simmons, and before the queen and Emeline’s nemesis, Zeekee, there was someone else.

Before them all, there was Jack.

Jack was the black Labrador retriever that changed my life, even though he had passed away long before I met him.

Black Jack Riley, his full name and title, was the subject of another’s writing, a loving tribute to a faithful companion who brought much joy to those around him, especially those closest to him. He was put down on a cold winter’s day in an act of compassion, but breaking the hearts of those who loved him. The tale of the loss brought tears to my eyes, a shocking surprise to myself and to others who knew me.

I’ve pictured him in my mind as the kindly old grandfather that everyone loved, walking slowly down the gravel lane to the lake, and laying down amongst the cool rocks on the shore. I can see him in my mind’s eye as he and his master strolled during their daily constitution. I can imagine the love his master washed over him as he got more crippled and infirm as the weeks wore on, finally barely able to walk at all.

But I can also picture this animal of grace as a younger, sturdier, livelier Adonis of the canine world.

Jumping high with all fours outstretched, catching biscuits thrown in mid air in his mighty jaws, what a spectacle of health and athletic exuberance he must have been! His shiny black coat glistening in the sun, zig zagging back and forth as he played fetch and tug of war with a rope.

But there must have been a playful and mischievous side to him as well. Sitting in the passenger seat of the fire truck in many a Fourth of July parade, he would reign as the king of all station dogs, proudly displaying fake antlers at Christmas or a yellow fire chief hat, loving the attention and adoration.

Jack was the kind of dog that was adored by animal lovers and even those less trusting of his ilk. Never threatening, his master would have to search house by house to call his errant son home.

Come back and visit us again tomorrow, Jack!”, they would call after him as he would traipse down their driveway and into the arms of his laughing “Dad”.

As they traveled in the Autumn to their favorite haunts, there were many memories made as years went by. Not used as a hunting dog as was his nature, but a dog of inquisitive fun, he would stop at a puddle full of maple leaves and get a drink.

“I noticed he would always look up and wait for me to say what I always said,” his “Dad” would laugh as he recalled the memory to me.

“….And he wouldn’t move until I muttered the words. I swear he knew what I was saying.”

“And what was that?” I would ask, even though I knew the answer, for I never tired of the telling.

The Man would smile sadly and say it once more, as if it was yesterday.

“..’Oh Boy, a big pot of Maple Leaf Soup, eh Jack?’ and then I’d throw him another biscuit.”

The Man would talk to him all the time, and Jack would talk back.

It was the description of the dog that drew me to the Man, to this place, to this new life that I have, living in the Kingdom of Doolittle. Never a dog lover myself, the story of Jack made such an impression on me that I knew I had to know the person who had experienced such profound love and wanted to share it with others. I began to feel that love myself, when he taught me how to talk to the animals too.

If all dogs go to Heaven, I know that I will want to meet up with him, and share a pot of maple Leaf Soup with him. I’m sure he will let me run with him and I will ask him all kinds of questions about his life down on earth and the secret to his tenderness, the ability to change the lives of those around him.

He certainly changed mine. Surely an angel in heaven now, I’ll quote my friend the Man, and say you are the “Catcher of Slow Rabbits.”

The Lord sends us friends and companions when we need them most, helpers to aid our battered and withered souls when we are lonely, to make us smile when we are down and to show us love when we feel unlovable.

Gifts from above. Black Jack Riley sent me mine.

 

 

VESPERTINE – Another chapter from the Doolittle Chronicles

Vespertine was a ladybug who desperately wanted to be noticed.

She wore high black stilleto heels most of the time, as an attempt to make herself appear somewhat taller and perhaps more authorative when she walked. Slim and petite as most ladybugs are, she knew she was also a source of good fortune to those around her.

Unfortuntely, to be of any luck to those who truly needed it, she had to find them first.

Vespertine had no sense of direction. She couldn’t find her way out of a paper bag. Her habit of getting lost was legendary among the animals of the Kingdom of Doolittle, and it seemed to get worse every time she ventured out.

“How many times in a day DO you turn around, Vespertine?” they would ask, not unkindly.

The little ladybug would just smile and batt her little ladybug eyelashes. She was not against laughing at herself; what she lacked in stature and navagational skills, she abounded with humilty.

Although directionally challenged, Vespertine didn’t let that flaw stop her from travelling to the outskirts of the kingdom and beyond. She was an adventurer at heart and an explorer by nature.

Vespertine knew it was her destiny to become famous someday. But how did one achieve fame when they stood only several millimeters tall?

Running in her high heeled shoes as fast as her little ladybug legs could carry her, she often became so consumed by the task at hand she forgot that she could arrive at her destination so much sooner if she would just remember to fly! A simple fact was that she would sometimes run so fast, she would fall down, skinning her knees and ripping her pantyhose. It was only then she would remember to spread her silvery wings and flutter off to where she needed to be.

It was sometime the simplicity of things that were the hardest for her to see.

She was scurrying down the lakeshore one afternoon when she came upon Boyette, sitting among the rocks. She was shaking her head slowly back and forth, her gaze towards the path worn in the sand by Turtle Dave.

Vespertine landed on the small shale beside Boyette, and crossed her dainty ladybug legs.

“What is it?” she asked quizzically, also looking towards the intendation of the sand.

“Tsk, tsk” murmered Boyette. “That dumb turtle” she said absentmindedly. She had not noticed Vespertine.

“Why doesn’t he ask Romaine to be his true love, everyone knows how crazy they are about each other!” and she slowly got up on her thick bunny legs to hop away.

“Romaine?” Said Vespertine. “He still hasn’t said anything to Romaine? How could that be?”

“I don’t know” she said simply, now seeing the pretty bug for the first time. She began to hop away slowly, but then stopped in mid air, turning her head back around to face her.
“Somebody should go put a bug in his ear” and with that she turned around again, hopping into the tall grass along the side of the shoreline.
Vespertine smiled.
(Read “Turtle Dave” to learn about his infatuation with the beautiful pelican, Romaine.)