Winter Issue 6
Of Plums and Coons
By Kirsten Tarves
Once upon a time, near the mountains in the far west, there was a town. The land there was very green and good for growing things, and it yielded a harvest both rich and bountiful every year, and remarkably delicious fruits were gathered from the orchards in the autumn.
Now this was a very long time ago indeed, long before there were many towns and many kingdoms, when the world was quite young still. Aubrey was still king of the elves and the other little folk on the Mountain, and there were many fewer humans than there were other creatures with minds and customs of their own.
Now it so happened that Aubrey fell in one day with a villager walking home to his village from the Big Market. That was several days’ journey away from the villages and the Mountain, and was held once a year in the town at summer’s end.
“Good day to you,” said Aubrey cordially, coming alongside the villager.
“Good day,” said the villager, wondering where this person had come from so suddenly, and who he might be. There were plenty of tales of Aubrey’s Folk in that part of the world: masters of disguise, one never knows when one is talking with one until, usually, one finds oneself in the midst of some mischief or other.
“Where might you be coming from?” asked Aubrey. And the villager, forgetting his fear, told Aubrey all about the Big Market, how enormous the prize fruits and vegetables were there, and how pretty the tents and town dances.
“I’d’ve stayed longer too, if only my Anna would’ve let me,” said the villager regretfully. “But the Plums there!” said he, smacking his lips. “Better than the wine of the Folk, and that’s no lie.”
“Are they really?” asked Aubrey, at first annoyed. But Aubrey was a sensible person, and instead of hexing the villager for a misspoken word as many other, less reasonable elvenkings would do, to himself he thought, “Well, perhaps they really are.” And bidding the surprised villager a sudden farewell, he set off immediately for the Mountain and called together the Folk under the great flat-leaved Witching Tree.
“Friends!” he said, “I have need of a good quick-witted creature to go among the Big Folk. Who will go?”
There was no shortage of volunteers. A very great number of the Folk were willing to do this, and did this for amusement’s sake anyways. But Aubrey, as we have learned, was a sensible king, and believed in giving the younger ones a chance to prove their mettle. Therefore he chose a bregan (that is the proper name for a flying rabbit) called Kin, and a very young and enthusiastic coon that had been jumping up and down waving his paw from the very beginning. His name was Blenkinsop.
Kin was quite experienced in the ways of the Big Folk, though a little high-strung at times as all rabbits are, flying or otherwise, and prone to over-fearfulness. Blenkinsop was given to thievery, as all proper coons are, and that is why Aubrey chose him. He thought it might be rather a good experience, and thought too that Kin would provide the necessary caution and experience for the endeavor.
“I have need of the Plums of the Big Market,” Aubrey said to them. “I know little of the place, but I bid you bring me back as many as you can carry.” And he gave them a little brown packet made of dry leaves. “A bit of Luck for you,” he said. “The last of ’67; that was a good year.”
Kin and Blenkinsop left for the Big Market the next day. The town of the Big Market was several days’ away for one of the Big Folk, but for the Little who know the secret paths through the Mountain, it was only a matter of hours, and they reached the town of the Big Market while it was still early.
The Big Market was enormous, sprawling from the town square to the river bank. It lasted an entire week, and drew traders and minstrels and townsfolk from all through the land. Kin and Blenkinsop, paused in the shadow of a thornbush, were quite overawed by the sight of it.
And here is where the first mishap occurred. Kin and Blenkinsop, distracted by the noise and appearance of the Market, did not notice the greedy-eyed little boy coming down the hill behind them. Nor did they notice when he noticed them, and stooped to pick up a stone. In fact, they only noticed when Kin (settled on a thornbush, and swaying gently in the breeze) went tumbling away with a scream because the stone had hit him.
Blenkinsop flew at the boy in a rage, biting and scratching as only a coon can. The boy fled in terror, with Blenkinsop rushing after him, bumpily coon-fashion, growling and snarling and making hideous threatening noises.
Kin was still shrieking when Blenkinsop came back. There was nothing in fact the matter with him, but that is the way with all rabbits. They are very theatrical at times, and it makes them forget all their common-sense and training, often permanently. Kin was not an exception to this. Still shrieking horrifically, as only a rabbit can (it really is a very terrible noise; I hope you never hear it) he rose up into the air and flew over the river and into the forest on the far side. It so happened that he settled there, marrying a lovely young rabbit with soft grey ears and gentle eyes named Dora, and they had many rabbit-children together and lived very happily all their lives. But that is not really part of this story.
Blenkinsop stared after him, dismayed only for a moment. He had not entirely expected this, but folk from the Mountain tend to not worry about losing the odd partner here and there. Also he was a practical coon, though young and unexperienced. So he shrugged his coon shoulders philosophically, and made his way down into the Big Market by himself. What he had forgotten, though, was that Kin was carrying the Luck. Of course, it hadn’t been working quite as well as it was supposed to, at least not for Kin; but that is just like Luck, even from the best years. It never is entirely reliable.
At the foot of the scrub-covered hills Blenkinsop paused. The Market rose up before him, a wall of brightly coloured tents and noise. Blenkinsop began to wonder what a Plum looked like. He resolved to wait until the end of the day, when, so he reasoned, the townspeople must surely return to their homes. Then, surely, he would have time to wander through the Market and discover what Plums were. He crawled beneath a convenient (though prickly) bush, and there waited for dusk.
Pierce Pettis' Father's Son
By Alex Strohschein
Father’s Son, Pierce Pettis’ first solo album in ten years, was released on January 18; given the long wait in-between, one wishes the album was longer than its mere ten songs. I am particularly dismayed that one of my favourite new songs of Pierce’s, “Choices,” did not make the cut (you can watch a live performance on YouTube). Still, it features what fans have come to expect and respect about Pierce’s music: lyrical eloquence, Pierce’s gravelly voice, a nod to the past, and a Mark Heard cover.
Pierce appears to be reflecting on the travelling troubadour life; along with a cover “A Showman’s Life,” Pierce includes the autobiographical tune “The Adventures of Me (And This Old Guitar”) where he sings “I can’t always clearly tell / Between the right way and the wrong / So I just breathe in all the details / And sometimes exhale a song.” Gazing at his own mortality, he ends the song with the verse “Someday I’ll leave it to my kids / And I hope they’ll understand / As close to me as they can get / Is when they hold it in their hands.” Here, Pierce’s guitar is his companion, his confidante, his mouthpiece (given that two of Pierce’s children have released their own albums, it’s clear he has imparted to them a musical heritage).
Pierce frequently mines history for song inspiration. On this album, Pierce recalls kindly Mr. Zeidman, a Holocaust survivor who “wore long sleeves / To keep an ugly thing from view.” Despite surviving the concentration camps, Mr. Zeidman is haunted by the loss of his loved ones. Pierce alternates between Mr. Zeidman’s tragic fate and a happier life before World War II, singing, “It was a beautiful world / It was a beautiful time / For a boy and a girl / In the prime of their lives / Heyman, look, the baby smiles / He looks so much like you / In the spring of ’39 / How the apple blossoms bloomed.”
As ever, Pierce weaves faith into his songs. The song “More” (co-written with Andrew Peterson) begins in a cemetery but Pierce insists “This is not the end here at this grave.” He continues, proclaiming that “There is more than what the naked eye can see / Clothing all our days in mystery / Watching over everything / Wilder than our wildest dreams / Could ever dream to be / There is more.” This is a hopeful song, a resurrection song.
The album closes with “Instrument,” a song that can be prayed. Pierce asks “Let me be a tool in your hand / Crooked and warped though I might be / Let me do some good here while I can.” Pierce doesn’t point to himself but to Christ, praying “Let me be a kindling of your light / Fan the flame until it blazes through / So if anyone should pay me any mind / Let them catch a little glimpse of you.”
IPIAT: The Twelve Apostles
It is happening! We warmly invite you to reserve the evening of March 1st, 2019 for the PREVIEW of The Twelve Apostles, written and directed by Mini Choi. How can The Twelve Apostles be relevant to us today? How can the ancient text of two thousand years ago relate to our contemporary lives? Where can we find faith in the city? The film excavates the connection between the ancient text and the contemporary world. Please join the mini art exhibition right after the preview of the film. There will be an exploration of what has contemporary art to do with Christianity and its biblical heritage? Come to engage with the film, mini art exhibition, discussion, and enjoy light refreshments.
Please check here to watch the latest trailer: https://www.facebook.com/136301214920/videos/543890999424806/
Date: March 1st, 2019 (Friday)
Time: 7 pm
Venue: The Regent Chapel
Poem: On Winter
By Edmund Evanson
Dull skies, frigid air,
A blank, misty horizon:
The snow fell at last!
Wet slush, biting winds,
Inconvenient snowfalls –
Clumps of thick, white snow
Balanced on bare tree branches –
Crushed hurriedly underfoot –
God’s work overlooked.