Longest Night - The Magical Light Tree

Bright winter sun bathed the Orchid Whimbles' wee cottage. It was the Season of Magical Light. Rudi poured two cups of jasmine tea and handed one to his twin sister, Sasha. Their Companion, Elspeth the Elfin Dragon, sipped her mint tea brewed to ensure healthy sweet smelling breath. "Can we go soon?" he asked. "Everyone will be gathering."

"Not yet," responded Sasha. "Be patient Rudi. I have to finish packing the baskets. You could help by handing me the pink and blue plates I want to use for our midday picnic."

Rudi retrieved his twig ladder. He carefully passed plates down to his sister who tucked them in a corner of one basket. It was already brimming with all sorts of delights - three kinds of cheeses, golden apples, and freshly baked gingerbread cookies.

The second basket waited on the counter top. Rudi peered in. "Oh me, oh my!"

 Tiny glass ornaments twinkled in the early morning light.

"They're beautiful aren't they, Rudi?" exclaimed Sasha. "The Winter Solstice riders helped. Each rider captured stardust in the night skies. Look how they glitter!"

With preparations complete, the Orchid Whimbles donned warm coats, boots and berets tailored to keep their long ears cozy in the nippy cold. The two stepped outside, climbed onto Elspeth's back.

The elfin dragon flew above The Maple Tree and Penstemon's Working Gardens, She continued up steep slopes to The Blue Spruce Grove. When Elspeth landed, the twins slid off her back and ran to the clearing. 

Everyone from Penstemon Farm was gathered around a magnificent fir tree.

"Just look at that tree, Sassafras!" exclaimed Rudi. "Moons and stars are dancing throughout its branches."

Ornaments were hung: pears and apples; copper and silver crystal balls; garlands strung with nuts and berries; Sasha's glass balls. The Solstice Riders flew to the higher branches with decorations. Executing a glorious "loop de loop," Elspeth placed her very own special gift, a golden egg, on the tree top.

The Orchid Whimbles and their Companion spread their picnic goodies on a emerald green velvet blanket. They continued admiring the tree while eating their lunch.

The tree sparkled like hundreds of jewels in the mid-afternoon sunlight. After one last look, the twins and Elspeth returned to their cottage.  Rudi, exhausted from the  excitement, fell into bed for a long nap.

His twin bustled about her kitchen. Two pies cooled on the windowsill - a chocolate pecan and a black raspberry. Colorfully wrapped gifts filled a large white felt bag. 

All was ready.

Behind Penstemon's barn the full moon began her climb into the velvety December sky to watch over Longest Night.

Snow began falling. Paw held paw, wing held paw, wing held wing in a circle around the dazzling fir tree.  

After honoring the tree, the group followed the pathway to the barn. The full moon and glowing gourd lanterns lighted their way. After the large central hearth and hot cocoa warmed the friends, the banquet began. 

Sweet Pea Whimble, Annabelle, carried a large covered tureen of wild mushroom soup to the table. Her Companion, Gillian the Tiny Field Mouse, set splendidly wrapped packages and gilded acorns at each place setting. Each course proved to be more wonderful than the last.

When The Moon  glimmered above the barn, The Visitor, Harmonium the Anciennan Ram, arrived as he did each year only at this moment for Longest Night.

Dessert specialties were served, first to the revered visitor and then to the others. And, when not another morsel could be eaten, all gathered about Harmonium. Soon the only sound was the crackling of burning logs. The Anciennan cleaned his glasses, looked about him, breathed deeply before beginning the most important annual tradition - the retelling of Caelumen's cherished Legend.

When the story was over and the wee ones tucked in straw beds, Harmonium bade both old friends and new goodbye. All others walked to The Hillside. Snowfall ended. The night was clear.. Snow crunched under them as they climbed. Finally they reached the highest crest and stood there quietly admiring the land below them. The Moon filled the night with her fullness and light. It was the longest night of the year, one to always remember throughout the new year on Earth just as it always is remembered on the Whimbles' Land of Caelumen so far away among the stars. (la fin from Penstemon Farm - Earth)