Eventide is a town with cheer

There is a village drunk in many small towns.
They are not always the heaviest drinkers.
But they are the public drunks.
The ones the local constabulary deal with while sighing.
Perhaps you have seem them shuffling through town muttering to themselves.
There are three package stores in the village, also beer and wine can be purchased at the pharmacy, gas station and bait shop.
In Eventide the current village drunk, Robert Earl Mundin, has been sober for two years, ten months, thirty days.
To be more accurate, he has not consumed a drink in two years, ten months, thirty days.
He saw Something two years, ten months, thirty nights ago.
Since then, Robert Earl Mundin has not let alcohol touch is lips.
Since then he has carried an unopened bottle of vodka in a brown paper bag.
He cradles it like a baby.
Robert Earl Mundin, sober, pious and sane, waits for his three-year anniversary to roll around.
If he sees Something a third time, he’ll know for sure.
He’ll know for sure whether what he saw was real, or a product of the bottle.
He has to be sure.
Third time is the charm.

Restful Eventide

There is a disfigured cemetery keeper with pruning shears, shovel and rake.
His name is said to be Sholto McCabe.
It is the left side of his face that draws the eye.
The wrought iron fence around the graveyard is never overrun by ivy or weeds.
The dried leaves never pile up around the headstones in the fall.
The iron gate facing the village is oiled after every rain.
The lawns and pathways are neat.
The lychgate which opens onto the corpse road leading from That place is painted every spring.
The eager young priest Reverend Young does not pay for a sexton.
The village council does not pay for a caretaker.
Sholto McCabe lives quietly in a little shack on the edge of the graveyard.
He maintains the cemetery.
He seldom speaks.
He tips his hat to passersby.
He prunes and rakes.
Snip-snip. Scrape-scrape.

Crossroads above Eventide

There is a murder of crows that perch in the dead tree at the crossroad.
They go oddly silent whenever Letitia Thatch walks by.
She is a young woman and lives by herself in the shadow of the big wood north of the village.
The crows, usually raucous, changed their demeanor the very first time she walked by.
She goes into the village proper every week or so for groceries and the post.
They do not caw, they do not squawk for as long as she is within earshot.
The murder watches Letitia Thatch.
They do not take flight or even hop along the ground.
While she walks by, they barely move at all- lining the stripped branches of the lone tree.
They know better than to attract her attention.

There are two churches in Eventide Village

There is a burnt out church on the hill that locals shun and refer to as That place.
It has been shunned for over forty years.
The newly arrived Reverend Young intends to clean it up and hold mass for the first time in decades.
In the weeks leading up to All Saints Day the older villagers begin gathering at dusk at the foot of the hill.
They stand in a line along the low stone wall. Their eyes are fixed on the crest of the hill.
They stare into the pitch dark and wait for dawn.
Each morning Reverend Young arrives to continue restoring the old chapel.
Each morning Reverend Young is confounded by fresh scorch marks on the recently scrubbed stonework.
Despite scrubbing and polishing the stone and wood the previous day, each morning the scorch marks have returned.
The villagers can honestly report no signs of fire in That place.
Not for over forty years.

Welcome to Eventide

There is a deserted hollow in the woods where no wildlife goes, no bird stops in flight, no insect makes a sound.
Only fungus grows.
A biologist went there once to take samples.
She came back through the village of Eventide and returned to the city.
The samples she keeps to herself.
She never reported her discovery and discussed it with no one.
Sometimes she takes off her shoes and watches the slow and inexorable progress of the grey mold along her toes.
Only one is still recognizably human.
She has dreams of returning to the hollow; communing with what lives there again.
First the dreams were nightmares.
Now she is beginning to like them.

the Riddle of Wood (part 2)

So the kids have Viking fever.

Part of child-led parenting (and homeschooling) is letting the children figure out what they are interested in and encouraging it. This often leads to some funny and weird rabbit-holes of study. But overall, it works well for us.

“I want to be a warrior princess, like Astrid from How to Train Your Dragon.” Grace told us.

Well then, I told her, you want to be a Viking.

shield faces

So we’ve been working on shields. The outer-layer is single-ply cardboard. The shield boss is a biodegradable paper bowl. The rear layer, grip, and edge are still being constructed. But there will be more pictures shortly.

Sam thinks Vikings are cool- “they are like Pirates, but they don’t have cannons.”

Grace likes weapons training.

“I am really good at blocking,” says Grace- and she is. She is fearless. She yells out entreaties to Thor when she fights. Not sure where she got that from. She also likes to kneel with her sword in front of her and put her forehead on the pommel. “Don’t I look so tired from the fighting?” she asks. She is very dramatic. “Thor, give me strength.”

I ask both kids what is more important, the shield or the weapon. They both tell me it is the shield.

“Also, I can hit you with my shield,” Sam reminds me. “So even if I don’t have a sword, I can still fight.”

“Axes are better than swords, because you can break shields with them,” Sam adds. “And then you are gonna lose.”

We spend a lot of time talking about the farming, sewing, knitting, mending and sharpening that would be the daily life of any Norse family. But c’mon, they are 4 and 8 years old. They really love the fighting.

the Riddle of Wood (part 1)

I think Sam was about three when we got him his first lightsaber. One of the 9.99 (or 11.99? It was five years ago, I dunno) collapsible flick-yer-wrist lightsabers. No light up, battery powered noisy stuff. Plus, with the economy model it was affordable to get a 2nd one. This was pre-Grace. The 2nd one was for me, so I could fight back.

We had neighbors with a little boy roughly Sam’s age. He seemed like the average little boy to me- loud, boisterous, sort of mindlessly destructive. A lot of his play seemed to involve things crashing. Once, they threw out a lightsaber- nearly identical to Sam’s. Except this one was battered, bent, and half-destroyed by violent play.

It bummed me out. I rescued it from the trash, used hot water and more or less straightened the plastic blade. Good thing too, because soon Grace showed up and we needed a third lightsaber.

We don’t use the lightsabers much anymore- wooden swords have replaced them. But they are still in a bin, and with the exception of the rescued one, neither is battered or bent of broken from destructive play.

I am not humble bragging. I am full on bragging. I’m proud. My kid’s haven’t shattered their toys. They haven’t crashed their cars together or thrown their airplanes into walls. I think a large part of this is because I never taught the kids/showed the kids that these were “JUST” toys. If they break their toys, the toy stays broken and ceases to be- so why be destructive?

We gave Sam and Grace wooden swords when Sam was- I dunno, six? GL was three? They’ve played with them A LOT since then. But we’ve taken the time to explain to the kids that while they are toys, they are toys with potential consequence.

High horse time- I think giving kids “safe” swords, soft-cell foam swords that “they can swing till they are tuckered out, little buggers can’t really HURT anyone!” is a terrible idea.

I don’t say this like: “We Made the BEST parenting choice and you all suck!” because I didn’t make this choice and my wife didn’t either. It sort of happened.

But now, looking back: why are my kids so good with their wooden weapons- how is it we have had no bloodshed, no broken stuff, no broken swords, no tears and very few minor (knuckle) bruises? Because we taught them to respect their weapon play.

Give a kid a foam weapon, and the hit HARDER. We gave Sam & Grace weapons that they learned to respect.

That last part sounds creepy. I promise I don’t chase after them, swiping at their little legs and arms screaming: “NO PRISONERS!!” in my worst Peter O’Toole impersonation (it sounds like a confused Lance Henriksen).

Still. I’m proud of them. This weekend we are making viking shields. I’ll let you know how that goes.