Tuesday, March 29, 2005

NaNoWri ay yi yi 2

And so it begins.

Funny. Ever since I was small, and finally knew what I wanted to be, I imagined writing that line as the first sentence in my book of shadows. How it would glow with green fire there on the page, luminous, portentous. I wrote that sentence over and over in straggling capitals with the “s” spinning back and forth. Pretending, preparing for this moment.

And now, now that it’s really happening, as I begin my studies and the first of my books, it looks more pretentious than portentous. And the moment? The moment is ended, leaving only a footprint of ink.

“Footprints of ink.” That’s a better name for this volume that “book of shadows.” I thought that when I became a wizard I’d be . . . omniscient. All-knowing from the moment I traded my soft student’s hood for the peaked hat with the broad brim. But here I am, with all the trappings—the staff, the hat, the swirling cloak, and I feel no different than that boy of seventeen putting on the soft hood with its red first-year’s tassels for the first time.

All that I learned preparatory to this was but a candle’s flame in the sun of midsummer’s noon. A candle in the darkness may serve to light the way, but all that I had accumulated and held so dear is now washed into insignificance. Perhaps this is why we start these books, why we begin with the small things, the mundane things in our world. By noticing the everyday, and recording it, we can see the patterns that flow and begin our subtle alterations. The stirring of a butterfly’s wing can cause storms that rock the foundations of the land. The trick, of course, is knowing when to tickle which butterfly.

I walked in the market today, trying to be more observant of all that I saw. I noticed journeymen from the Assassin’s Guild out in the sun in their black and white fool’s motley. They were working the crowd for coin, telling jokes and singing songs of nonsense and merriment. It’s early in the year for their journeymen to be about. Usually one doesn’t see the latest batch of Painted Faces until the midsummer festivities, and here it is hardly spring.

If I am to sharpen my skills of observation, perhaps I should make note of what is normal and obvious. It hardly takes a genius to notice a green horse with two heads, but being aware that one’s usual mount is now a half-hand taller can spare one’s neck, as the saying goes.

The markets in spring are busy, it goes without saying. Winter has ended and the people are once again out and about instead of hiding from the Wolf’s Teeth that blows in through the mountain pass all the fiercer for its channeling. There are fresh bitter greens, and lamb, and suckling pig as the flocks and farrows are culled. Farmers in their worn and carefully mended best, the petite bourgeois in fanciful creations trimmed with ribbons and frothed with lace –the more bangles and buttons, the older the coat beneath. The rich in their carefully mended best, differing from the farmers only in the quality of the fabric and the tailored severity of their gowns. Their velvets and silks are clearly cut for one owner, and only one, without pleats and tucks that can be let back out to fit a larger person when the current wearer no longer requires that garment. They’ll pin rosettes of ribbons to their sleeves for Winter’s End, the first gathering to celebrate the turning of the year after Longest Night, but generally they leave the frippery to their poorer relations.

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