The third Saturday of October in Crockerton is one of comings and goings, and toings and froings. It is the transition day for the entire community. It’s the day after the workshops have their annual clean, and the kilns relined with fresh clay. It is also the day that new annual employment contracts are made, and on which apprentices find out if they have been retained as journeymen.
To accompany this, it is the tradition that each new journeyman smash an unfired pot in the town square as a symbolic gesture that they too have not been fired. Yes, it is that which gives the third Saturday of October the name Shatterday.
It could hardly be called a garden; in fact, it was little more than a herb patch. The scrawled labels on the small beds bore names such as Dead Man’s Wart, and Feverfew. Alex passed through it with some apprehension as he approached the Canny Woman’s cottage.
He knocked the door and stood uncertainty on the step. After a few moments, a silver-haired woman wearing a threadbare shawl opened the door.
“Yes,” she said in a weak voice.
“Um – I’m . . . , ” he began.
“You are Alex White,” the old woman said.
Taken slightly aback, Alex said, “Yes, Mam.”
“What can I do for you, Alex White?”
“I have a runny nose, and my eyes won’t stop watering,” the young man replied.
“Wait here,” she said and shuffled past him into the garden. She then plucked several peppermint leaves, and a few dried stems of what seemed a dead plant. She then pushed past him again and went to a mortar and pestle in the cottage. She put the stems and leaves into the bowl, and then took a small glass container from under her worktop. She poured a little of its contents into the bowl and crushed all together.
“Take a little of this each day until the blossoms fade on the trees,” she instructed. Be sure to do it in the morning when the dew is still on the grass.”
“Yes Mam,” Alex responded, and took the little parcel of mixture and placed it into his shirt pocket. “Thank you.”
“You are welcome, Alex White,” she said and closed the door as he stepped away.
Turning back to her workplace she lifted the glass bottle and weighed it in her hand. “I’ll need to get some more Benadryl soon,” she said to herself.
For Kim and Sam it had started like any other walk to school. That was before they felt the presence of something following them. At first it was a bit of a snuffling sound, but as their pursuer gained on them they needed to act fast. Sam took a quick glance backwards.
“It’s a bear alright,” he said.
“What shall we do?” Kim asked nervously. “Should we run?”
“No, that would be the worst thing we could do.”
“Then what? I’m scared,” she said almost in a whimper.
“Do you see those trees ahead? The ones with the supports.”
“Yes,” Kim responded.
“When I count to three, freeze and pretend to be one of them.”
He laid awake and said the name into the night – “Butterfly.”
The forest was never silent, even in the night there was the cacophony of insects and frogs. Oh, for a moment in which the din would allow him to fully focus on her. It had been months since he last saw her, since that last evening together. She had worn her blue nightgown, the one festooned with butterflies. Her hair had shined against the pillow, and all was bliss. Butterflies, he though. In a world of mosquitoes, how wonderful would the sight of a butterfly be? The sight of Butterfly. Butterfly, that was his pet name for her. All he wanted was a few minutes away from this god-forsaken wilderness.
Liz and Don had their first real meal out since the beginning of Corona measures. The kids had been sent to Nana Suzie’s and they were free to check out the vegan buffet restaurant they had heard so much about.
They both enjoyed a first round of tasters, and Liz found the Cajun onion fritters and the cauliflower curry to be her favourites. Don, for his part, fell in love with the nine bean risotto.
After a wonderful meal, they headed home for an intimate evening of “cuddles,” while the kids were away. Don headed to the bedroom to light some candles for atmosphere, while Liz locked up. As she began her ascent she was given a stark reassurance that she had been right to tell Don that three servings of the risotto were enough.
Family tradition held that Great-great (or something like that) Granddaddy Reynolds had conquered the east cliff-face in a mere six hours back in 1887. It was quite a matter of pride on Mom’s side of the family. But now Sammy was a little less impressed. The view was pretty spectacular at the top, but he didn’t think too much of the family “record.” After all he just got to the top in five minutes. So what was the big fuss about? Sammy was pretty sure he’d never understand grown-ups.