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                                  Walking with my Friends 
                                    Masochistic Maiden
                   The beach glistened under the sun, still wet from the
                   ebbing tide. My friends and I walked along leaving
                   tracks in the sand. We stopped at a tide pool and
                   discovered a bunch of sand dollars. The mark of a star
                   etched in each of the skeletal remains made us think of
                   the star at the center of the pentagram necklace I wore.

                   One gently held the necklace in his hand as we talked
                   about the meaning of each of the points. Earth, Air,
                   Fire, and Water, and then spirit. We talked how each of
                   these is a gift from Mother then we walked on.

                   He ran ahead and found a broken sand dollar with a tiny
                   mollusk, barely bigger than the head of a pin, inside.
                   We were amazed that anything so tiny could be alive. It
                   made us more aware of all the living things we often
                   overlook. Beneath our feet the ghost shrimp rested in
                   their tunnels, ocassionally blowing water back from the
                   many holes that dotted the beach. The larval forms of
                   life that clung to shells, stones, and settled in the
                   masses of seaweed thrown up by the surf, each caught our
                   attention before it was stolen by the gulls and crows
                   begging for scraps of bread.

                   Soaring overhead, the wings of the gulls whipped tiny
                   eddies of air that stirred the whisps of hair that had
                   escaped my ponytail and lifted the front few strands of
                   his hair. His eyes reflected the shine of the ocean on
                   the sand, and his quick voice and ready laughter made me
                   feel fleet of foot and full or the joy of youth.

                   After walking the beach we climbed a nature trail
                   through the woods. We stopped to look at the flowers,
                   delicate white stars with pink stripes. Again we thought
                   of the pentagram. We also imagined the Goddess of Spring
                   with feathers and flowers braided into her hair. A
                   little further we found a deep puddle with a surface as
                   smooth as glass. The sky and the trees were reflected
                   back at us in such precision and perfection that we
                   talked for a while of what that perfect world beyond the
                   puddle might be like. We wondered how we could make our
                   side of the mirror so peaceful and clean looking.

                   We walked further and came to a tall ancient tree and
                   wondered what stories it could have told, if we could
                   but understand. For a moment we could almost see the
                   native americans stalking deer and gathering herbs. The
                   tree, covered with a mass of moss as thick as carpeting
                   neither denied or confirmed our thoughts. Suddenly, with
                   a smile I thought of the ledgends of Gnomes that live
                   beneath the trees. This old trees roots held deep dark
                   holes and the forest litter was not creeping in to cover
                   them. The arching root looked so much like a roof over
                   an entry way and the size of the root system above the
                   ground indicated that a large family of Gnomes could
                   easily escape human eyes. Just a wink of time and they
                   could scamper out of sight beneath the undergrowth. We
                   could hear, if we stopped to listen, the soft sounds of

                   the wet undergrowth being disturbed. Was it the hurried
                   movement of little men in peaked caps?  Gnomes, weren't
                   they the creatures of the Elemental Earth? We could
                   smell the damp earth all about us. This was certainly a
                   good place for them.

                   After forest's close embrace, the clearing was sunshine
                   and sparkles. We saw dandilions growing on the green
                   hillside. We recognized them as one of springs first
                   splashes of color and representations of the sun shining
                   down on us. Carefully gathering several of the golden
                   heads we carried them to the mouth of the nearby stream
                   as it lead to the ocean. We threw them into the water,
                   watching them float down to the sea. With each flower we
                   sent a more oil slicks....less
          some of the natural rain forests...each
                   of us remember to carry away a bit of trash every time
                   we go for a more whales more
                   drift nets dragging sea mammals to their deaths...a bit
                   of nature for every child...and healing for Earth mother
                   where she has been strip mined. Then we turn to leave,
                   neither of us really wanting to go.

                   James isn't three yet, and Scott is only five, but they
                   were my friends as we walked and they gave me a chance
                   to share the wonder and beauty of the beach and the
                   woods.  Take time with the young. There is much they can
                   teach us and give us when we take the time to share
                   their world.

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