As a child, I was lucky enough to live across the street from an enchanted forest.
Really, I did.
An honest to goodness, full of magical creatures, enchanted forest.
You entered through a narrow gate on a little path. The first thing you encountered was a magic lamp post standing smack beside a little fir tree. It was as if it was lifted straight out of Narnia, that little lamp. It stood there, a silent sentinel, guarding the entrance. But it always let me pass.
The path meandered along through ancient oaks & towering pines, eventually reaching a tall stone castle. I rarely stayed on that path, preferring instead to wander off into the trees. In summer, it was always shady & cool. And in autumn, the oaks would burst forth in brilliant reds, yellows & oranges & drop their leaves for me to play in.
The treetops were filled with flocks of crows. They would watch as I walked along underneath, cawing in protest. They weren't actually crows, you know. They were really the evil guards of the castle were the wicked queen lived. I was careful to always walk away from that castle so that they wouldn't alert her to my presence. I knew what she had done to the prince long ago.
Squirrels scampered among my oak trees, pretending to gather acorns for winter. I knew better. They were really magical lions masquerading as squirrels, protecting me as I walked in that enchanted forest.
The wind played in the branches of my oaks, singing & sighing. It wasn't really the wind though. It was the voice of the beautiful princess that had lost her prince to the hands of the evil queen. She still sought him, looking behind this tree & in that hollow. I would help her look, never finding him.
I did find faeries disguised cleverly as flowers; dressed in sparkling white, purple & yellow skirts of petals. I also found faeries flitting around on butterfly wings. There were orange monarchs, yellow tiger swallowtails, & every great once in a while, the Faerie Queen herself would appear, in her black wings & shimmering jewels set in her swallowtail. And I would bow low to her & offer her something shiny that I would always keep in my pocket just in case.
At the top of the hill, my enchanted forest opened into a wide grassy field. The path reappeared & wound its way through milkweed & burr bushes down to the river. The river was where the tree spirits lived. The weeping willows, with their long "hair" reaching down to the water, & their wide "laps" waiting for me to climb up & sit for a while to listen to their stories.
You could see the castle turret from the safety of the willows. Every once in a while you could see the shadow of the queen pass as she surveyed her lands from the top of that turret. I would crawl further up the willow so she wouldn't see me.
I was safe in that enchanted forest. The magic protected me always & follows me to this day.
Other people never saw my enchanted forest. No, they saw only the trees, heard only the crows, & thought the castle was just a college campus.
But I knew better!
Oaxacan Black Mole - 8oz dried pasilla chiles hot water Spice blend: 1-2 TBS seeds from the softened pasillas 1 tsp ground coriander 1/2 tsp three peppercorn blend 1/2 tsp anise...