A mysterious blue mountain peak seems to rise out of the mist
“Unveiled”, 12in x 9in, acrylic on canvas

“We’ve seen this dreadful mist before.” I stretched out my hand into the bone-chilling fog, then shook off the drops.

“Yes,” you said. “Farther east, on our search last spring. I recognize the villainy of it.”

This would make for a troubling day. 

Last time, it had wrapped itself around our camp and dampened everything — our gear, food, spirits. We couldn’t get a fire started. Then the mist pursued us along the trail, clinging to clothes, dripping into eyes, and obscuring the world around. We had to give up on our quest.

Now we had come back to these parts, trying once more to catch a glimpse of a rarely-seen mountain peak, which eluded even the most experienced mountain hunters. We had tracked it for days and were sure it had stopped nearby for the night. So we set up camp overlooking a valley surrounded by a crowd of snow-capped peaks — perfect camouflage for a shy mountain.

But the mist had returned as well, intent on thwarting our expedition.

I gazed upward. Moisture settled on my face like a mask and ran in cold streamlets down my neck. “Will it conceal everything again? We had a nice vantage point on this hill.”

“I think that mountain likes to hide in this fog,” you said, “using it like a cloak. We’ll have to rise above it.”

We headed up above the foothills, shadowed by the persistent mist, which taunted us by raising curtains of heavy drops we had to pass through.



Above the treeline now, scrambling up steep trails slick with dampness. The beastly shroud refused to retreat, grasping stone outcroppings with gray tendrils to pull itself up after us, flinging icy spray against our backs then whirling around in front to hide our path. 

We felt our way forward, nearly blind on a sunless slope void of color and outline. The only sounds were our own breaths and the muffled clomp of boots on rock. The landscape around had ceased to exist.

I looked back and couldn’t see you. Or were you ahead of me? I couldn’t remember, then wondered if I had been alone all along, would forever be alone in a world without light or blue sky or life; where sight and sound had faded from memory, leaving only the feeling of weight — a numbing, dank heaviness that dragged me down into a welcoming oblivion.

You touched my shoulder. “Are you there?”

I grabbed your hand. Awareness seeped back into my senses. “I was starting to think I was alone.”

“I know. The mist is playing tricks with our minds. We have to keep going.” A touch of urgency in your voice.

Up we climbed, almost in a panic, determined not to succumb to the fog-induced stupor, though we could feel our strength giving out.

“Next time,” I suggested, “let’s find some nice dry desert to visit.”

“Uh-huh,” was all you managed between labored breaths.

We eventually pulled ourselves up onto a ledge and could begin to see the faint definition of rocks around us. The pale sun shone in the east as wisps of vapor burned off in the warming glow.

“It’s fading!” Dissipating is what I meant.

“It’s too heavy. This thin air can’t hold it.” You whipped off your coat and swung it around, sweeping back our pursuer, which lurched back in surprise, wavered, then let go its tenuous grip, finally giving up the chase.

Down it drifted, a sinking cloud. And as it fell we seemed to rise, to float in relation. Just an illusion, one last deception as the mist dropped away below.

We looked across the dizzying valley. 

“There.” The elusive mountain that few have seen, unveiled in the morning’s light.

In the Tangled Green

Deep in the forest, dark trees rise up into the green and yellow light
“In the Tangled Green”, 12in x 10in, acrylic on panel

The brook we sought was gone. Stolen in the night by brook-thieves, I assumed. More likely hiding in the undergrowth, you suggested.

You bent to look. “It must be here.”

I looked too. “Unless it’s dry. But we’ve had rain. It must be here.”

We walked farther into the forest shadows, stepping over logs and watching for ground wasps, which are easily stirred to anger by an ill-placed foot. Still no sign of a brook.

“Maybe we should whittle a water-witching stick.” I nearly tripped up my tongue trying to say that.

“There’s no hazel here,” you replied. “A witching wand should be hazel. Do you know how to use one?”

No. All that schooling and we never learned how to wave and dip a forked stick to feel for water underground. We’d have to use our natural senses instead. Typical.

You noticed the slithering sound first. I listened closer where you looked, and nodded. Water slid beneath the tangled green, still coyly hiding, so we followed as it whispered, “Come this way.”

It began to sing a rippling song as infant streams merged to join the chorus. Soon we saw glints of silver where thin rays of sunlight squeezed through the bushes and glanced off the water, revealing the brook to our searching eyes.

“There it is!” Our prey was in the open.

It ran and we chased with quickened steps, pressing on where it led, heedless of perils ahead. That was a mistake.

Our eyes on the ground, we didn’t notice the silent trees that moved to block our way. The brook by then had grown to a rush of cold churning water. And fish! Did you see them? 

You grabbed my arm. “What’s this?”

“Where did those come from? They don’t seem friendly.”

Trees with dark looks crowded around us, wielding branches of menacing sweep. We were trapped. Had this been the brook’s scheme all along? Unlikely. It gurgled and laughed by our feet, unaware of the danger we faced.

It’s times like these I depend on you to devise a quick plan. Perhaps I helped by saying I had hoped we could see how far the brook went.

“Jump in!” you cried.

“Now?” Of course, how foolish, when else? I followed your lead. 

Branches swung and thrashed the surface as we struggled to escape. We grabbed onto rocks to pull ourselves to the bottom, barely out of reach of our attackers. Holding our breaths, we flowed past the trees until we saw daylight and blue sky above. 

It took only a minute but seemed much longer. We crawled up the slippery bank and lay in a meadow, then looked at each other — “Another close call” — and laughed like the water that saved us from the grip of shadowy woods.

After drying off in the sun, we continued our journey along the brook until it dropped into a rocky gully, where it joined a river that joined another, and so on to the sea. 

We had found what we came to find, and didn’t need to go farther. 

We wished the brook well, though we knew its travels through populous lands allowed for no more free running. Flow-stopping dams and farm-water pumps would be as fearsome to it as the threatening trees had been to us. Such is the symmetry of the world.

“Why were those trees so unfriendly?”

“I don’t know that I want to find out.”

We took a different way home.