Leonard has some questions answered

Leonard left breakfast alone. It was the first time since he had arrived that he had gone anywhere without one of his friends. The counselors had been encouraging them to make other friends but Leonard, Greg and Melly hadn’t done it and now Leonard felt very alone in a camp where he had discovered he really wasn’t alone. It was a weird and uncomfortable feeling. He guessed he had to reach out now but using magic and other magic users in public still felt wrong to him.

 

He heard someone walk up beside him and he looked up. Puck was walking beside him with his hands tucked in the pockets of his green pants and chewing on a piece of grass, humming to himself.

 

He turned to Leonard, “Still feeling a bit like a fish out of water?”

 

“Yeah, I went in a few days to thinking it was my family and Melly to this.” Leonard pointed around him. “Why didn’t anyone tell me?”

 

“We’re used to keeping silence even from each other.” replied Puck with a serious look. “After people started being tortured and murder for just being who we are it was dangerous to speak. In your modern world it gets you locked up and on medication and people tell you, you can’t really do the things you can do so we keep silence.”

 

“It’s still hard to think about my mom and dad as magic users and now my friend, Greg’s family is too?”

 

“Why do you think you became friends with Greg?” asked Puck.

 

“Well, once I learned he why he stared at me, I really liked him.” replied Leonard slowly.

 

“Leonard, you need to know there is no such thing as an accident to people who are magical. We always find each other when we are open to it. Sooner or later you would have met Greg or anyone else that is here now and just like in mundane life there are people you will like a lot more than others but we are all here to teach each others the great mysteries of life.”

 

They had reached the long green meadow, Leonard turned around to look for Puck and he was gone. Leonard sighed. He supposed he was going to have to get used to that too.

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Grandma adds her 2 cents

Leonard picked himself out of the dirt and walked up the hill to the Dining Hall. He’d better help with finishing the dishes. Tonight had been a very strange evening in an already strange place. 

Leonard helped Greg and Melly finish their table of dishes and headed off to bed. He wondered what Puck had meant when he said they weren’t special yet? Did Puck know the future or did he mean something else. 

Leonard burrowed down in his sleeping bag and was soon asleep.

“I see you’ve met a family friend,” remarked his grandmother. He should have known she’d show up, he thought.

“Yeah, he brought tutors for our elemental tests. How do I know which one to go to?” Leonard asked. 

“You’re most comfortable with Earth, so far?” his grandmother asked. “Why don’t you start there. I bet somewhere in the back of that hard head of yours you want to study with all the tutors, don’t you?” His grandmother was laughing at him.

“How did you know that?” 

“I know you, Leonard,” his grandmother answered. “And you’ve met Celedon too, I know. She can help you a lot with your aversion to Water. Water and Earth are usually compatible. It’s Earth and Fire that don’t always mix well. Or Fire and Water for that matter. I’m sure you’ll work it out. Everybody does.”

“What happens if you don’t work it out,” Leonard asked.

“You go crazy,” his grandmother said.

“Oh, great,” Leonard thought to himself, “Another thing to worry about.”

His grandmother continued as if she didn’t know very well what her grandson had just thought to himself. “Start with Earth tomorrow and you’ll do fine. I don’t know Ben but I’m sure if Robin picked him, he knows his stuff and as a fairly young cedar he should be more flexible than an older teacher. But then cedars are more flexible than most trees. They’re better at handling troubles like lightning and fire than most trees. You’ll be alright.” His grandmother looked thoughtfully at the stone walls of their teaching room. 

“You gonna be alright without Melly and Greg by your side?”

“I think I’m gonna have to be. Melly seems to be Air and Greg is Water.” 

“Well study hard. It will all come in handy, may be sooner than you think.”

“What does that mean???” Leonard shouted and then realized he was back in the cabin and he’d yelled loud enough to wake up Greg. 

Greg was looking at him with an odd smile. “Your grandmother again?”

Leonard nodded and they both fell back to sleep.

Leonard learns a lesson

The whole camp went up to the Dining Hall. Leonard could see groups of campers talking excitedly all around him and felt strangely alone. He knew where he was supposed to go at least at first since he felt most at home with Earth but he really want to learn from all the tutors. He wondered if they would get the chance to talk to the other tutors. He knew he could speak to Celedon. She had made that clear but he wanted to talk to Inger and Ara and, of course, Puck most of all. 

Who wouldn’t want to learn from one of the oldest magical beings on the planet? Leonard was absent mindedly following the crowd back up the hill to finish the dishes. He was thinking so hard he had fallen behind the crowd. 

A figure slid to a stop in front of him. “So… you want to learn from everyone, do you?”

Puck had appeared in front of him and none of the others stopped or noticed. Leonard, for a moment couldn’t answer so he nodded. 

When he could stop staring he asked, “How did you know?” 

Puck sat down cross-legged on the ground and motioned for Leonard to do the same. Puck cocked his head and smiled, “You are a lot like your mother.” 

“You know my mom???”

“Not lately, she’s too busy nowadays with you and your family and her job. But I see her from time to time. Been watching you, Tadpole for a long time. Your grandmother thought you’d be something special when you were born.”

Leonard’s mind at that moment felt like it had a crazed hamster on a wheel. 

“Do you know others in my family?”

“I’ve known your family since the beginning.”

This really had Leonard thinking. Puck had known his family for farther back than Leonard could imagine.

“Don’t get that excited,” laughed Puck, “I’ve known every person in this camp’s families since the beginning. It’s not an accident that you all end up here. You aren’t that special, yet…”

“What does that mean?” Leonard demanded. Leonard forgot who he was talking to for a moment.

“Well, without the proper training, none of you are very interesting, to be truthful. Your bunch seems to be special though. You all shine brighter than the ones who came before you. You could make the world change and maybe let those who can’t be seen now, be seen again someday.”

Puck stood up and started to turn around. “And yes, if you want to you can study with us all, even me.” 

Puck turned again and disappeared and left Leonard sitting there in the dirt,

Leonard learns a lesson

The whole camp went up to the Dining Hall. Leonard could see groups of campers talking excitedly all around him and felt strangely alone. He knew where he was supposed to go at least at first since he felt most at home with Earth but he really want to learn from all the tutors. He wondered if they would get the chance to talk to the other tutors. He knew he could speak to Celedon. She had made that clear but he wanted to talk to Inger and Ara and, of course, Puck most of all. 

Who wouldn’t want to learn from one of the oldest magical beings on the planet? Leonard was absent mindedly following the crowd back up the hill to finish the dishes. He was thinking so hard he had fallen behind the crowd. 

A figure slid to a stop in front of him. “So… you want to learn from everyone, do you?”

Puck had appeared in front of him and none of the others stopped or noticed. Leonard, for a moment couldn’t answer so he nodded. 

When he could stop staring he asked, “How did you know?” 

Puck sat down cross-legged on the ground and motioned for Leonard to do the same. Puck cocked his head and smiled, “You are a lot like your mother.” 

“You know my mom???”

“Not lately, she’s too busy nowadays with you and your family and her job. But I see her from time to time. Been watching you, Tadpole for a long time. Your grandmother thought you’d be something special when you were born.”

Leonard’s mind at that moment felt like it had a crazed hamster on a wheel. 

“Do you know others in my family?”

“I’ve known your family since the beginning.”

This really had Leonard thinking. Puck had known his family for farther back than Leonard could imagine.

“Don’t get that excited,” laughed Puck, “I’ve known every person in this camp’s families since the beginning. It’s not an accident that you all end up here. You aren’t that special, yet…”

“What does that mean?” Leonard demanded. Leonard forgot who he was talking to for a moment.

“Well, without the proper training, none of you are very interesting, to be truthful. Your bunch seems to be special though. You all shine brighter than the ones who came before you. You could make the world change and maybe let those who can’t be seen now, be seen again someday.”

Puck stood up and started to turn around. “And yes, if you want to you can study with us all, even me.” 

Puck turned again and disappeared and left Leonard sitting there in the dirt,

The tutors arrive

The campers had their eyes glued on Puck. What was going on? 

“I’ve heard this new group will be special so I have some tutors to help you with your elemental tests.” Puck made a gesture at the fire and a large lizard-like creature appeared in the flames of the campfire that had been lit. “This is Inger, She is a Fire elemental. Tomorrow morning those who think or feel they have an affinity for Fire come see her.”

Leonard looked around the circle, even the counselors and staff were sitting with their mouths hanging open. Obviously this was not part of the planned lessons or tests. Leonard laughed to himself. He guessed even the counselors that had been here as campers had never had tutors like this. 

Puck looked up and looked directly at Leonard and winked. This made Leonard wonder if Puck read minds but he didn’t get a chance to follow that thought because Puck waved his hand again an a small incense cedar tree broke free of the dirt and walked slowly to Puck’s side. “This is Ben. As you can see he’s a tree and who better to teach Earth magic than a tree?” 

By now everyone was whispering to their neighbors, “Quiet! I’m not even close to being done yet.” Puck waved his arm again a breeze came across the circle and the campers could just see the out line of a strange person hanging in the air. The leaves and dust blew gently away from the area her feet should have been in. “This is Ara, she’s a Sylph. She will meet with you Airy types up on Star Hill tomorrow.” 

Puck turned gently around and gestured toward the lake area. Celedon appeared. Leonard, Greg and Melly got their first really good look at their new friend. She was wearing some kind of gauzy green gown that moved like water around her. It made Leonard kind of dizzy to look straight at her.

“Some of you have already met my friend, Celedon.” Puck looked at the trio now trying to sink into the log they were sitting on. “Celedon is an undine and lives in your lake so if you have an affinity for Water you need to be at the dock tomorrow morning and wear your swim suits. You never know how wet you’re going to get.” 

Puck stood up straight and laughed and pointed at his chest. “And I, Robin, will be teaching the spirit folks!” He turned around and he disappeared and all that was left was his laugh. Their tutors all had departed too except Inger. She was still luxuriating in the campfire. She looked up at Blue Sky and Oak who had come to stand by the fire. “What! Leave a nice fire like this? You must be joking.” And she burrowed deep under the burning logs.

Everyone burst out talking at once. This was really going to be an interesting summer. How the heck would they decide where to go and who to see and what about the older campers? Where they going to be in the lessons too? Didn’t they already know their elements? Thoughts whizzed around Leonard’s brain like the otters in the lake.

The summer gets more interesting

The group headed off to change for dinner in the Dining Hall. Leonard hoped it would be something good. He was really hungry. He could hear the crew that was on kp duty having fun up in the Dining Hall getting the tables ready.

Greg and he hurried to change out of their wet clothes and into jeans and clean shirts for dinner. Melly had headed off to her cabin. They had agreed to sit together at dinner. Campers were encouraged to mingle and sit at any table they wanted but they liked sitting together because they didn’t get to be together most of the day and they still got to eat with 5 other people this way.

Leonard and Greg followed their noses up to the Dining Hall and lined up for flag lowering with the rest of their cabin. ‘Thank heaven it wasn’t their turn to be color guard tonight’. Leonard was too tired to remember all the rules, he thought. “I’m glad we have it later in the week.’ The camp flag came down and then the national flag as the campers stood quietly with their hands over their hearts. Blue Sky let each cabin go separately up to the Dining Hall so that it didn’t explode at once in the rush. Greg and Leonard hurried up the stairs to a table in the back and saved a seat for Melly. Leonard snuck a look at the Menu board at the front of the Hall. Fried Chicken and yeastie beasties! Yum! That made the memory of being pushed in the lake by an otter that laughed at him recede and made his stomach rumble. Soon the tables were full and the meal served by the kids doing kp. Time to eat!

****
Dinner was over and everyone was doing their dinner dishes at the table. Everyone took turns doing the dishes after every meal. Two buckets were brought to every table. One camper scraped the leftover food from the plates into the trash. One washed, one camper rinsed and one camper stacked the dishes in a basket for dipping in the kitchen into a sterilizing bath. This happened after almost every meal unless it was a cookout and by now the campers were pros at getting it done quickly but tonight something was a wee bit different. When the buckets had been brought to the tables the soapy water was in each bucket was a different colour. Leonard’s table had gotten a bucket with suds that were blue. Greg looked at Leonard with one eyebrow raised and shrugged and started to wash. Leonard was going to rinse and Melly was going to stack. Something strange started to happen. A large blue bubble started to rise out of the bucket and Greg backed up quickly. All around them at the different tables huge bubbles were rising out of the tubs and floating to the doors. Someone ran to the Dining Hall doors and threw them open and the bubbles went floating slowly out the doors and down the hill.

The whole camp was following the bubbles as they floated towards the campfire circle. Even the staff seemed mystified by the event and they followed too. Down the hill and around the circle the kaleidoscope of huge bubbles went and the campers and staff made their way into the circle and sat down. What on earth was happening?

They heard a laugh and everyone turned to see a strange man (?) standing there. He was short and carried a flute and was dressed all in green. He swept his hat off and bowed low to Blue Sky and Oak. “Merry Meet campers! Do you know who I am?”

By now Blue Sky and Oak had moved up to the visitor and were laughing. “It’s always exciting when you visit. We never know how you will arrive. Would you please introduce yourself to our campers?” said Oak.

“If these shadows have offended…” started the visitor.

“In plain English,” interrupted Blue Sky with a laugh. “They may not be ready for Midsummer Night yet, that’s next week’s all camp activity.”

The visitor looked amused at being interrupted.

“I, Robin Goodfellow, Keeper of the Greenwood, also known as Puck, am at your service, good gentles.” He said with another sweeping bow. “I bid you welcome to this fleeting summer world and good joy in it.”

The campers goggled at Puck and erupted in questions and laughter. Leonard, Greg and Melly looked at each other and mouthed, “Puck????” at each other in surprise. This camp was getting more interesting all the time but how on earth or the heavens, had Puck gotten here to their mountains. He was half the world away from where he belonged. Leonard knew there was a good story here!

Leonard, Greg & Melly meet some new friends

Later, after a hot afternoon dipping candles Leonard, Greg and Melly got a few hours of free time to themselves. Leonard and Greg told Melly about the candle making and how Ash had raised the circle with no words and Melly told about her afternoon swimming which hadn’t been out of the ordinary for a change. She still had her wet swimsuit on and she had persuaded the boys to put theirs on for some canoeing in the lake if they felt like it.

Leonard and the other two meandered down the trails and out to the lake and sat on the dock watching the dragonflies chase each other and seeing the first of the evening swallows swoop after insects above the lake.

Suddenly there was a huge splash and all three of them were drenched. The three sat sputtering and wiping their faces and looked around to see who had gotten them wet. A few yards away tumbled an otter with a huge grin.

“Did you do that?” asked Leonard a little heatedly. He was worried this might be some magical friend he hadn’t met yet and he didn’t want to make them mad.

The otter nodded and gave his tail a flip and dove under. When he came up there were two more otters. All chittering and playing with each other. One swam over and pulled on Leonard’s foot and motioned to the water.

“You want us to join you?” Leonard asked the otter.

The otter nodded and motioned again. “But I don’t swim very well.”

Greg and Melly were already stripping down to their swim suits excitedly.

“Come on, Leonard! If they want us to play, it has to be safe.”

Leonard wasn’t too sure about that but if the other two were going he didn’t want to be left behind and took off his outer shorts in a hurry. Greg and Melly dove off the dock and into the lake.

Leonard thought he’d ease himself in when he felt a light push from behind and in he went. He came up to sputtering and looked at the dock. He’d let an otter sneak up behind him but now he was in so he swam over to where the other two were treading water.

Two otters jumped on his shoulders and pushed his head under insistently. Leonard sputtered and came back up.

Greg signed to Melly and Leonard to dive and open their eyes. He said he had an idea. Leonard and Melly looked at each other and dove down and opened their eyes in the dim lake water. What they saw was a woman who was green and looking at them with one eye brow raised who motioned to them to come closer. Leonard didn’t know about that so he shot back up to the surface. Greg and Melly followed.

“Who was that?” Leonard cried to the other two.

“Maybe if we’d stayed we’d find out Melly signed and said. “She looked friendly.”

“I don’t know about friendly but how’d she get here?”

There was a bubbling in the water next to them and they turned.

The green woman broke through the surface and smiled at them.

“Sorry about that but I needed to see who was in my lake.” Said the woman.

“Your lake???” the three said.

“Yes, my lake.” She said firmly, “Blue Sky and Oak brought me here to live safely. Leonard, your mother is the one who found me and told them where to come and find me.”

“My mom?” said Leonard in shock.

“She did, she found me during one of her landscaping projects and told me they were going to dredge the lake I lived in so your camp directors rescued me and brought me here.”

Leonard was realizing his mother might be more magically inclined than he thought. He’d have to think about that later but for now he was getting tired of treading water.

“Could we go closer to the dock?” he asked.

The otters started giggling at Leonard and the green lady said something to the otters that wasn’t in English and the otters stopped and swam over to Leonard and grabbed his arms.

“Dude! Relax!” That was it for Leonard. He swam to the dock and pulled himself out. He was not ready for an otter that called him “Dude”. He laid on the dock and saw Melly and Greg still treading water and looking at him.

The green lady swam to Leonard and Greg and Melly followed. “The otter called me, Dude.” He said to the lady.

“Sorry about that. They speak because I live here and they have been listening a wee bit too much to some of the other campers. And by the way, My name is Celedon. I also know you grandmother from long ago.”

“Pleased to meet you, Celedon.” Said Melly, spelling the name out for Greg and giving Leonard a look that told him that his manners were lacking.

Leonard said nodded quickly and tried to smile. His head was spinning and he was wondering when it was going to feel safe to swim again.

“I’ve been waiting to welcome you to camp and I hope you visit me often this summer there are some things I’m sure your grandmother would want you to know, if you can bring yourself to get in the water again.” She laughed and dove under the surface and disappeared and the otters followed her.

“That did not make swimming any easier!” Greg and Melly laughed and joined him in the sun on the dock.