The Problem With Poppets

“Once there was, and once there was not…”

That is how the old stories start, isn’t it?  Once there was, and once there was not a village far, far away,  just over that ridge there, that bordered a forest as old as time and older than sin, and in that forest was a little house the color of brick and old blood in which there lived a witch…

What?  Yes, dear, I know that’s a run-on sentence.  It’s an old woman’s right to ramble.  Hush, now,  and let your old Baba think.  Where was I?  Oh, right…

…in which there lived a witch…

As witches go, the villagers didn’t *think* she was a bad one, but they weren’t sure, and one can really never be too careful when dealing with uncertainties like that, can we?  After all, her house looked more or less normal, and she hadn’t actually eaten anyone, that they were aware of, and her cats seemed nice, as did the odd man who lived with her, but her garden had a tendency to grow things with berries that looked too much like eyes looking back at you, and fruits that were just a little too strangely colored to be quite right, and then there were the poppets….There was a rhyme about them, though no one knew where it came from.

“Poppet of bramble, branch, and twine

Face like moonlight, and voice of chime…”

Damn, I can’t remember the rest of it.  Something about flattering them and asking them not to steal things that were yours, like your name, or your shadow or something like that.  Don’t get old, kids, your memory gets to being fuzzy and you forget things at the most inopportune times…

The poppets were odd little things.  They should have been much more disturbing then they were, but they had a certain whimsical charm to them I’m told.  Well, at least as long as the sun was out and you knew there were other folks around.  I wouldn’t swear that they were as charming when the sun went down, and I don’t want to find out for sure.  Like the rhyme goes, they were odd little figures, human-like, cobbled together of sticks and bits of brambles and leaves, held together with fine twine, with heads of bleached linen and faces that were drawn onto the fabric.  The witch had placed them around the property, gathered in little groups in the trees and on the fences and you would swear they were watching you when walked by, whispering and chattering among themselves, with voices that sounded like those tiny little wind-chimes you see at the flower shops.  No one ever saw them move, but they were rarely where you saw them last, even if only a few moments had passed.

Some things it’s just best not to think about…

Some folks swore they heard the poppets chiming in the village in the middle of the night, but everyone knows that once the sun goes down, you’d best be indoors and you never look out the windows.  There are things out there in the dark that don’t need to be met, and it’s best to just  let some things be.

What was that, my dear?  Ah, yes.  So it is.  I’m sorry, my children, but I’m told that it’s time for your old Baba to take her old bones to bed.  It’s getting late, and you should run along home before the sun goes down.  Remember to close the curtains, and if you hear the chimes, it’s probably just those little metal chimes from the flower shop blowing around in the breeze…

                                                                              *  *  *  *  *  *

No, I have absolutely not been staring at the tangled vines outside the window, and thinking how much they looked like little people sometimes and wondering if I could remember how to make little dolls from sticks and string like I did when I was a kid.  Why do you ask?

Thus The Wheel Turns And Time Begins Again (plus, bonus mushroom soup recipe).

I have now, officially, re-written this post five times.  Or rather, I have wrote 3 different posts yesterday while making mushroom soup, scrapped them 4 times, and am now working on another one, because there’s so many things to say and it’s hard to pick what direction to go in sometimes.

Today is New Year’s Eve, and this wretched year is almost done.  I mean, it had good points.  I figured out roughly what I want to do with my life.  I got the sweetest asshole of a black kitten. I accepted that I don’t actually want to be a Fine Art painter, but that I do love painting silly little things and while I might be a landed person now, I’m a routewitch at heart and I need to be out exploring and that’s a thing I’m allowed to be.  It also had far more death in it than any year should have, and I’m so tired of burying people.  It had far too much horror and despair in the overarching national and world arenas, and just…blarg.  

It’s been a long century, this last year, and I’m glad that I chose the word “Play” for my word to focus on for it.  It was a Very Needful Thing to remember to engage with, just to stay reasonably sane and functional.

Some people make resolutions or goal lists for the year, I pick a couple of words as focal points to work with.  Last January, I only picked one.  I knew it was going to be a rough year to start with (we knew my step-mother was dying at the beginning of the year, and we knew that it was going to cause a lot of sweeping changes in the family…I’ll be honest, I didn’t expect there to be as much as there was, so that was a thing), and so I wanted to keep it as simple a thing as I could.

This year, I’m choosing three words: 

Wonder. 

Focus.

Build.

The world is not going to become a magically better place when the clock ticks over tomorrow, and so I will need to cultivate and maintain a sense of wonder to carry me through. My curiosity and inquisitiveness will be something that will stand me in good stead for what I plan to do, as it is always a good thing to start a question with “I wonder…”

I will need to take what I learn and find, and focus on what I can do with it.  Instead of being scattered and drifting through, I will need to hone in and bring things further into focus and clarity.

With this, I will work to build the framework onto the foundations that I have found, and shape it into the life I want.  I will build more networks and strengthen those I already have. 

I will spend time contemplating what these words mean, and how they apply to the situations I find myself in, as each can have multiple ways of being interpreted.

That’s the idea, anyway.  I look forward to seeing where this all goes, as I look forward to having y’all along for company on this ride.

And now, as a reward for slogging through all that… have a copy of my mushroom soup recipe.

Ingredients:  

4 Tbs. butter

1 small, or 1/2 medium onion, chopped fine

8 oz. package baby bella/crimini mushrooms, chopped fine

2 cups unsalted chicken broth

2 Tbs. fresh parsley, chopped (dried can be substituted, if you don’t have fresh)

Pepper, to your taste

Cooking sherry

Directions: 

Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Add onions, and cook until soft and getting a translucent (maybe 10 minutes or so).  Add chopped mushrooms, and cook for 8 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add chicken broth, parsley, and pepper.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for about an hour.  Remove from heat and add cooking sherry to taste (I usually use about 2 or 3 tablespoons).  Using a stick (aka immersion) blender, puree to desired consistency.  I like to leave some chunks of mushrooms for texture, but ymmv. Enjoy! 

This soup is one of my favorite things to have on cold, grey days, along with a  nice bit of peasant bread.