In fact, the last story was about the Treasure Chest.
Gramps. as is his custom, is sitting in his rocking chair waiting patiently for the little ones to arrive. But this time, alas, they cannot sit in a circle on the floor in front of him.
Something utterly strange and bewildering has happened. People have been ordered to social isolate. If out and about, they must be at a distance of 1.5 metres from each other. Wash their hands a lot. Sneeze into their elbow. AND not touch their face!
What on earth is that about? Coronavirus of course. I’m sure you know all about this horrid little bug that is making lots of people very sick. So I’m not going to bore you with that stuff. If you have questions you simply must have answered, ask someone. An older person who understands.
But how, in the name of all that is holy, can we take part in Gramps’ story time if we can’t even be there?
The magic of modern technology is how. You see, Gramps got so lonely all on his own. Well, not quite all on his own. He does have One Eye, his ancient cat for company. But he missed seeing his favourite little people. And he wanted to hear their giggles, wriggles and whispers. So he had to do something very unusual for him. Gramps bought an iPad. Of course, he had to have the internet and wifi connected. That took a bit of doing I can tell you. The most challenging thing of all was – he had to learn how to use it!
He was all thumbs. But he was determined. And stubborn. NO way was he going to let a machine get the best of him. So he persevered. And of course he tamed the beast to his will.
So through the magic of modern technology, Gramps’ story time has turned into e-story time.
As always, the fire is burning and crackling cheerfully, warming the home hearth of the humble little cabin by the lake. Gramp’s nightly ritual is soothing and comforting in its familiarity. We know it off by heart yet it never fails to fascinate. The meerschaum pipe. The slow and methodical cleaning ritual. The smell of fresh pipe tobacco. That one you will have to imagine. Technology has not yet managed to bring smells over the wifi into our homes.
A hushed expectancy fills the airwaves. The only sound is the loud purring of One Eye , sleeping soundly on Gramps’ lap.
It has been a long time between stories, says Gramps, as he welcomes the children. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I’d be talking into a machine that brings you all into my cabin for story time. My, has it been a challenging time for me. But, here we are. Welcome, welcome! How it warms the cockles of my heart to see your happy smiling faces.
Let me see now, said Gramps, scratching his chin and thinking. What story will it be today?
One from a long, long time ago shrouded in the mysterious mists of time.
One from the future maybe, when we can travel anywhere and everywhere with the mere blink of an eye?
One from …. now?
The children hold their breath, filled with suspense. What will he choose. Or – maybe he will ask what they want. That’s what they all secretly wish for.
Gramps smiled, looked at all the suspense filled faces filling the screen of his iPad, and asked –
What would you like best of all?
Yes! He did it. He asked.
A chorus of excited voices shouted. The very same thing. Now, isn’t that interesting? I wonder how that happened. It’s a mystery of course. And that is the very thing they all shouted – the mysterious mists of time, Gramps. Pleeeeeease!!!
Gramps chuckled as he settled more comfortably into his rocking chair. One Eye opened his one eye and glared at Gramps for disturbing his sleep. Yawned. Stretched. Turned around seven times to get to the just right position. (He must be part dog. Either that, or a dog friend taught him the secret…) And then went back to sleep.
Slowly it grew and grew – until it was a bigger stirring. It was so big it really couldn’t be called a stirring any more at all. It swirled. And it twirled. So mighty was it’s swirling twirling that it filled the sky.
No-one was there to witness this awesomeness. More’s the pity. Because it didn’t just stop there. Once the sky was filled, there was a pause. A stillness filled the air. Some might even call it a pregnant pause. Like a waiting for something to erupt.
The earth shook. Slowly, it settled once again into a stillness. This second stillness was so very different. It was as if the air had been cleared. Cleansed. The earth breathed a breath of relief. Shrugged her shoulders and settled. A little bit like One Eye, except she didn’t turn around seven times. After all, she didn’t need to, did she. She was already turning on her axis.
Mind you, it had been a bit out of kilter, making her feel uncomfortable. Headachy if you know what I mean. Out of sorts. What the crash did, was to put her back into kilter, straightening out those kinks and crookednesses.
She slept a restfull sleep in the stillness and kilteredness. And while she slept the sky turned again. ‘Twas a wondrous sight to see. If only there had been eyes to see it. First, there was a curtain fall. (You can still see this wondrous vision in some places. It is called an aurora borealis in the northern skies.)
The curtain was a filmy, silky veil that swirled and twirled. But it was a gentle swirling and twirling this time. As if the sky was being painted in gentle colours. Or hugged. Who doesn’t need a good hug or two after such a tumultuous time.
In the hush of stillness a new dawn was being birthed. A beginning.
An emergence from the shrouded mysterious mistness of time.
Gramps stopped. The children waited impatiently for him to continue. They thought he had gone to sleeep, so long was he still with his eyes closed.
When he finally opened them, a mischievous glint could be seen lurking in the corners as his mouth curved into a big smile.
What do you make of that, he asked. Was it not a strange tale to tell? I wonder myself where it came from. No doubt somewhere from the deep, misty and mysterious recesses of my mind.
Perhaps as you go to sleep tonight, you will dream of what comes next. And when we meet again, it will be your turn to tell me a tale.