Monthly Archives: November 2011

Hopping Mad

At approximately 3 o’clock this morning, a great shriek and a crash echoed through the house. There were bellows, furniture went flying and a brown furry creature the size of a small ottoman rushed past me as I wound my way through the hallways to Silas’s room.

Apparently, Suluk brought back a pygmy yeti from her travels last month.

Apparently, said pygmy yeti bit off Silas’s supernumerary toe.

You must understand: everyone in our family is born with a supernumerary toe. It is often on the left foot for men, and the right foot for women. And we always lose our supernumerary toes in odd and adventurous ways (naturally).

Cousin Octavia lost her toe getting drunk with sirens off the coast of Cuba.

Uncle Ruprecht lost his toe whilst in the Congo. It seems that he was bare-chested wrestling with a chubacabra in some sort of strength display.

Cousin Cate lost hers whilst playing polo on a hippogriff.

Great-Uncle Ebenezer lost his hunting with korrigans in Scotland.

Aunt Agatha lost hers in a freak accident whilst dancing with a Japanese Tatsu.

Silas had managed to keep his toe the longest. Most of us lose ours at a fairly young age, doing something reckless and dangerous. Silas’s ability to keep his supernumerary toe had become a point of pride with him, and the family often theorized on how he would finally lose it.

I suppose losing it to a pygmy yeti – currently a cute and fluffy little cryptid the size of a beagle puppy – was too much of a disappointment for poor Silas.

He left in a black rage before the sun came up. I have his toe in a jar, along with all the other toes of the family (we’ve always kept them, organized and labeled).

And now I have a pygmy yeti. I think he’s rather adorable, don’t you?

Hibernacle

Silas has been hiding in his room for a week, now. I’ve nearly got him convinced that the barghest sighting portended nothing and Bubo’s cooking has really helped. It appears Silas is quite the gastrosnob. But we knew that.

It’s almost as though he’s turned his room into a hibernacle, and with the coming of winter, that is rather apropos.

Hibernacle is a noun meaning that which serves for protection or shelter in winter; winter quarters; as, the hibernacle of an animal or a plant.

It comes from the Latin hibernaculuma winter residence. (The plural being hibernacula for winter quarters.)

Botanically speaking, hibernacle refers to the winter-quarters of a plant. For example, a bulb or a bud, in which the embryo of a future plant is enclosed by a scaly covering and protected from injuries during winter.

And yes, my dears, you are correct; the word hibernate is related. So clever, you etymological recidivists, you.

I will keep you apprised of the Silas hibernacle debacle as it continues. I’m hoping he comes out soon. For his own mental and emotional safety, of course, and having nothing to do with the fact that he purchased three pounds of delicata squash and I haven’t the foggiest what to do with the gourds. Bubo wants to make hats out of them, but I’m sure Silas had something tastier in mind.

 

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The Yokchi Solopi

Oh, my dears. It’s been a long week. And it is Friday night. The sky is dark, the moon is traveling past the stars, and much of the world is readying for bed. Curl up and listen to the tales I weave, until your eyes grow heavy and you slip into slumber, ready for the Dream Maker.

Deep in the Okefenokee Swamp, within the cypress forest and the acres of marshland, the ghosts of snapping turtles gather. These are solopi, soft and pink and so different from their earthly forms. They haunt the “land of the trembling earth”, often finding the skull or remains of one of their recently departed brethren, and gather there. These spirit-world yokchi murmur and chatter the stories of creation, the stories of the sky people, and the stories of the swamps. They speak the ancient language of the native peoples of the Okefenokee – Hitchiti – and they tumble and giggle through moss and bog grass.

Free of their terrestrial shells and leathery skin, the yokchi solopi luxuriate in their new forms, playing with alligators and Sandhill cranes. They tickle the carnivorous sundew plants and whisper the ancient stories to the newly born turtles of the swamp. For this is how snapping turtles keep their histories alive. They pass their stories from generation to generation through the voices of the just-passed to the voices of the just-arrived. They tell of the arrival of man in 2500 BC so that they can accept the presence of man now. We know so little compared to the yokchi solopi. It is so easy to believe we contain more wisdom than these little leathery beings, but we are wrong. They possess the knowledge, we merely possess the thumbs.

If you find yourself in the Okefenokee Swamp, between the blackgum trees and the peat bogs, keep yourself still and quiet if you come across the bones of a snapping turtle. Clear your mind and close your eyes. Let the solopi tell you their stories.

Sleep tight, my pets. Dream deep.

 

Barghest

Silas has been a nervous wreck, his wings are constantly, yet subtly, fluttering and he’s making the entire house edgy. He’s tossed salt over his shoulder, spit, and lit a candle in the garden.

You see, Silas ran across a Barghest last night.

A Barghest is a dog-like goblin said to portend misfortune or even death. It has been described as monstrous, unspeakably large, and is said to have enormous teeth and claws. Some say if you see the dog, you will die soon after the encounter, though most people agree that you will just enjoy terrible misfortune.

The word is said to have originated sometime between 1725 and 1735 (most likely from someone seeing said creature and shrieking like a maniac). An Old English word, it’s a combination, apparently, of bar(row) + ghest or gaest, a variant of ghost.

Whatever the origin, Silas says he saw it across the street when he came back from his run through Prospect Park (he runs at night, since his eyes are so sensitive to daylight) and he’s not been the same since. I’m not sure what Silas considers a great misfortune; some might consider breaking the last egg a great misfortune, though I think Silas is worried about something more sinister. Losing a limb or the like.

I just wish he’d snapped a photograph. Or sketched a quick picture for me. I’ve never seen a barghest.

 

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