year in momentsthe year in moments, caught in birds

Every moment of the year gets a bird, and somehow there are always enough to go around.

The positive things caught in the purple birds.

Negatives in the red.

Twittering and sparkling.

People call some years purple years or bemoan the accumulation of so many unexpected red birds, but the hidden truth is that the polarity of each moment does not matter, not once they have reached their respective birds.

They all sparkle. They all sing.

For a moment here at the end of the year we gather all the bird-moments and put them on display, the red and the purple and the ones that shimmer somewhere in between.

We consider them, look them over, weigh the year in glitter and feathers and loses and gains.

Then we let them all fly away.


About flax-golden tales. Photo by Carey Farrell. Text by Erin Morgenstern.

anxiously awaitinganxiously awaiting

They know it is almost time.

They can feel it in the air.

They gaze up expectantly. Wide-eyed and curious.

Waiting for snowflakes and surprises and sugarplums.

Preparing themselves for spiced punches and brightly-wrapped packages.

Waiting by their trees, twinkling-lit, festive in their sweaters.

Ready to sing and laugh and drink and cheer.

Ready to ride out the year in a tumble of joy and merriment and peppermint-bright hope.

Ready for wonder again.


About flax-golden tales. Photo by Carey Farrell. Text by Erin Morgenstern.

seasons greetingsseasons greetings from george the toad

He greets everyone warmly, old friends always even if you’ve only just met. If someone refers to him politely as Mister Toad he will chuckle and say that Mister Toad is his father and do please call him George.

George offers cocoa and tea and mugs of warm soup made with winter squash and cinnamon and sage. To take the chill off, he says, even as the snowflakes continue to fall on your hat and in your soup.

(But he is correct, it does remove the chill as gently as unravelling the scarf around your neck, though your scarf stays cozily in place.)

Mr. Toad hops about under your chair and fusses over the sparrows in their house to be certain they have biscuits with their tea, explaining that the biscuits with the sugar icing birds are their favorites, resulting in a flurry of twittering cannibal jokes from the sparrows.

George tells stories and shares recipes and rhapsodizes about this magical time of the year, going on at length about how delighted he is to have such lovely company.

“He used to be a prince,” someone whispers quietly to their neighbor.

“He still is,” comes the deft reply.

George himself says nothing about the matter, but he winks at you as he refills your tea.


About flax-golden tales. Photo by Carey Farrell. Text by Erin Morgenstern.


Step 1 is not the hardest, though it has a reputation for being such.

(It has been worn more than all the others, by countless feet that have passed before you so it is softer and lower and easier to climb.)

Step 2 and Step 63 are the most difficult, for very different reasons.

There is no step 72, for superstitious reasons.

There are 59 different steps filled with doubt.

Step 99 will boost confidence, but only if stepped on with both feet.

On step 147 you will realize whether you should be going up or down.

(It will likely be opposite of the direction you had been traveling, but you will find new steps on the reverse trip.)

You may stop and rest whenever you need, revisit past steps or never look back.

The steps are what they are, for you to use as you decide.


About flax-golden tales. Photo by Carey Farrell. Text by Erin Morgenstern.

the gulls who guard the lakethe gulls who guard the lake

they call them seagulls because lakegulls is not a word

but they are gulls of the lake and it is the lake that they guard

they cry alerts that are too often misunderstood

interpreted as demands for scraps of bread

guardian gulls are not beggars

their reputations are tarnished by ill-mannered gulls who call less treacherous waters home

no one thanks these gulls for their service

but they keep their watch, never sleeping

they know what lurks beneath the waters

they fret, concerned that when the time comes, their warnings may not be heeded.


About flax-golden tales. Photo by Carey Farrell. Text by Erin Morgenstern.

bargain-priced wisdombargain-priced wisdom

I can feel them sneaking glances at me from across the room but they don’t swivel their heads and fix their giant owl eyes on me until I get closer.

“We will share with you the Wisdom of the Ages!” one of them chirps.

“For less than 30 Euros!” the other adds.

“How much less?” I ask, even though I can read their price tag.

“One cent!” they chirp in unison before bursting into hooting laughter.

The shopkeeper thanks me when I buy them and appears to enjoy muffling their exuberant cries about going on “a box-journey” with tissue paper as she packs them up for me.

I put them on the mantelpiece when I get them home. They criticize my taste in furniture and complain that the fireplace makes their feet too warm.

I contemplate returning them and then they start doling out the Wisdom.

They punctuate each mind-expanding revelation with hoots and bad jokes but I’m too busy looking for a pen to care.


About flax-golden tales. Photo by Carey Farrell. Text by Erin Morgenstern.

secrets in the seasecrets in the sea

You may whisper your secrets to the sea

And the sea will keep them for you

Cover them with crashing waves

Carry them out on retreating tides

Pull them under

Tuck them into coral-adorned recesses and between the curves of seashells.

The sea will hold your secrets in its depths

And if you need them back, you need only ask

They will be returned to you

Damp and salt-kissed and safe.


About flax-golden tales. Photo by Carey Farrell. Text by Erin Morgenstern.

story treesthe story trees

They string histories and myths and fancies and fables together and hang them in the branches of the story trees.

The garlands of tales catch the light and shimmer in the branches, half-hidden in the leaves.

If you listen closely, you can hear fragments and quotations repeated by the wind.

They add new stories and old stories and retellings often.

Daydreams and nightdreams and wishes and lies.

Fairies rub story-shoulders with murderers and innocents and lawyers.

Happy endings lead to new adventures and lost loves and never-there loves and new loves and back again.

There are always more stories to add.

But the branches are strong.

There is room for them all.


About flax-golden tales. Photo by Carey Farrell. Text by Erin Morgenstern.

sunset-colored deathsunset-colored death in a temporary cage

I caught Death in a cage in the backyard.

It was mostly an accident.

The cage was supposed to be a trap for ghosts but it didn’t work the way I expected it to.

Death looks like a sunset that got torn up by the cat.

I thought death would be darker, or heavier. Bits of sunset float and curl around the bars and almost glow, but not quite.

At first Death was very quiet, then it started making a low humming sound but after awhile the humming turned into words that felt like music in my head though I could never remember what they said.

The cage didn’t last long since it was made of paper, the wind and a little bit of rain pulled it apart until it looked more like streamers than a proper cage.

I couldn’t tell when Death left exactly, it was there and then it felt like it was still there but it wasn’t anymore.

Even though Death is gone I can still hear it in my head.


About flax-golden tales. Photo by Carey Farrell. Text by Erin Morgenstern.

zombie lawn pirateszombie lawn pirates

We tried vinegar and baking soda and chili pepper and citrus, a whole grocery list of alternative pesticides and they didn’t even blink, not that they have eyelids. Some of them have parts of eyelids.

They seemed to like the limes.

There was some debate over trying something stronger but wine keeps them from causing too much trouble, even cheap wine. And they only show up in October, though once one shambled across the lawn in the winter, dragging a tattered flag and looking confused until it disappeared under a snowbank.

They’re annoying, but it’s a manageable sort of annoyance.

They flop out of the shrubbery and yell “Arrggghhh” and one of them sometimes says “Avast!” but other times his jaw falls off before he can get the whole word out and he slinks embarrassedly back under the leaves.

They sing songs we assume are supposed to be shanties but it’s difficult to discern any words so we can’t be certain.

They’re only really problematic on Hallowe’en, because of the trick-or-treaters.

We warn them that the pirates bite, but they don’t always listen.


About flax-golden tales. Photo by Carey Farrell. Text by Erin Morgenstern.