Photographs and random musings from an artist living in the California mountains
Friday, October 5, 2012
Mysterieux Carnivale - The Silver Ticket
I'll never forget the October I turned 13, the year the year two carnivals came to our little town. One in the summer, just like it did every year, but the other one arrived with a blood colored sunset and lightening on the evening the first cold breath of autumn blew through our mountains.
My grandma looked out the window at the lake and turned white as a sheet. She pulled a little medicine bag out of her pocket and made me put it on around my neck, said it would keep me from harm by the Dust People. When I asked who they were she didn't answer me, she only muttered something in Sioux that I couldn't understand and made me swear not to take it off until the sun came up in the morning. She also made me promise not to leave the house, but that turned out to be a promise I didn't keep...but I should have.
I was pulled down through the woods in that terrible blood red light by something I could not put a name to and was powerless to resist.
And when I saw the ghost that haunts these woods, a spirit that is said to only appear in times of great danger to warn us, I wanted to run back to our cabin, but I couldn't make my feet turn in that direction. They kept carrying me on down towards the lake, towards the sounds and scents of the carnival. The closer I got to the lake, the more I realized that the carnival scent wasn't quite so sweet as I first thought. Like the calliope music, there was something wrong, something off about that scent. Under the sweetness was the smell of rancid, rotting decay.
When I got to the lake my friends were already there waiting for me. They said they knew I would come, knew I wouldn't miss a chance for another carnival. I said maybe we should just go on home because there was something really wrong with that carnival, didn't they see the red glow?
They looked at each other like they thought I was crazy and said they didn't see any red glow, they just saw a lot of fun waiting to be had.
And when I looked again, that's what I saw, too.
As we hurried down the steps to the ticket booth we could see people were having a fine time and I wondered why my grandma had made me promise not to leave the house.
But when we got to the ticket booth that red glow was back...but my friends still couldn't see it. And there was nobody in that ticket booth, but a ticket came sliding out of the window as if somebody, or something, was holding it out to each of us, waiting for us to take it...
A silver ticket that looked like real silver. Each of my friends grabbed a ticket, but I held back, wondering why, when we had paid nothing, we would be given a ticket and a silver one at that. The ticket moved forward, just a bit, as though someone were impatient for me to take it. But I didn't take it, I ran after my friends and as I ran I heard from behind me an angry hiss and felt a burning touch on the back of my neck...but when I turned to look nothing was there.
For a while, my friends had a fine time playing games and eating carnival food, but I could still smell that rotting scent under the sweet scents and I didn't feel like playing or eating. And it seemed to me that people were leaving awfully early. It was only 8 p.m. and the crowd had been considerably thinned, although I hadn't actually seen anyone leave through the only exit gate. Then my friends wanted to play the balloon game. "Kids play 'til they win!" the sign read and they wanted a sure thing. It was just one more thing about this carnival that gave me an uneasy feeling and I looked down at my feet trying to think of something I could say that would get them to leave with me.
When I looked up, what I saw froze the blood in my veins...but my friends said they saw nothing wrong and happily went to play the game. I looked around, really looking with "both my eyes and spirit" as my grandma would say. And with those eyes I glanced at my watch and saw that it was not a little after 8 p.m. as it should have been, but 3 a.m. - what my grandma said was "the hour of the demons."
Terrified, I saw the things of the carnival for what they really were. I ran to pull the little girls off of the possessed horses.
But the little girls vanished before I could get to them. I couldn't see them, but I heard them crying for help...and then I became aware of other cries and screams.
The only people left were the carnies-who-were-not-carnies and one lone woman who seemed unaware that her baby had vanished. As I was looking at her she also vanished, her scream merging with the others. I was alone. The carnies-who-were-not-carnies glared venomously and hissed at me as I ran by them, calling for my friends, running for my life.
I never saw my friends again, but I hear them and I wonder where that silver ticket took them. I hear them every October when the dry leaves scuttling along the pavement make a sound like old, dry bones rattling. I hear them when the first cold wind of October blows in with the scent of things sweet and things rotting on its breath. I hear them when the sound of a slightly off-key calliope floats by in the dark of an October night at 3 a.m., the hour of the demons.
I hear them.
(Many thanks to Marfi of Incipient Wings and Anna of Frosted Petunias for hosting this blog party)!
And some other Wildings, big and little, who kindly share their forest with me:
Miss Sunni, a Grey Squirrel
"To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded." Ralph Waldo Emerson
A Mountain Lion
A Black Bear
A Young Steller's Jay
Common to high altitude forests all over the west
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Our task must be to free ourselves...by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty. ~~ Albert Einstein
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But, there are always strays who need a loving home - so don't shop, ADOPT! Click the photo for helpful tips on adopting.
If they breathe, they live. If they live, they feel. If they feel, they love. If they love, they are aware. If they are aware, they have a soul. ~ Williams
I love cats because I enjoy my home and, little by little, they become its visible soul. Jean Cocteau
Courage, dear heart ~ C.S. Lewis
I think we are bound to, and by, Nature. We may want to deny this connection and try to believe we control the external world, but every time there's a snowstorm or drought we know our fate is tied to the world around us. ~~ Alice Hoffman
Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors and the most patient of teachers.
Charles W. Eliot
A person who collects or is fond of books. Also, a person who immediately feels safe, happy, even euphoric, when holding a favorite book.
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Boulder Bay, Big Bear Lake
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Lake Gregory, Crestline
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Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. ~ John Muir, from "The California Mountains"
A Favorite Quote
"I don't want life to imitate art; I want life to BE art." Carrie Fisher
I live in a little cottage with my furry "children" in a beautiful mountain forest where we enjoy daily visits from the little wild creatures. I love animals (you probably guessed), books, photography, tall trees, clear lakes, rain, snow, tea, the moon, and creating all kinds of art.