Characters With Minds of their Own
When Tolkien was writing ” The Lord of the Rings” series, he hadn’t planned on including Aragorn.
Imagine…No Aragorn. No king to return to the throne…
According to Tolkien’s statement, recorded in The Inklings, he had not known Aragorn existed, until the hobbits ran into him, in the Inn at Bree.
Books that write themselves and characters that don’t follow instructions…I am told it is not uncommon.
My friends and I have seen much of this as we work on novels, which grow and expand, but never seem to end. As time travels on, the characters become more and more real, until they are old friends (or enemies, as the case may be).
The following is an excert from a story gone wild...
Dragons Over Russia
One summer, growing up, I was awakened every morning by sonic booms. It was fighter jets flighing overhead. They were heading to an open area where they could safely (for those on the ground) practice dog fighting.
My brother and I often spent the first part of our day watching their antics, loving every minute of it.
We kept track of individual planes by carefully following the sun’s reflection, as the jets flashed silver across the sky.
That was my first thought when I saw the flashes in the cloudless wintry sky, the day I first saw Her on the mountain top. I watched, wondering if it was a military exercise, or something more serious.
Soon it became apparent that the flashes were reflections off the scales of seven young silver dragons. They rolled and frolicked through the crisp air, like a bunch of puppies; up, over, under and around six stately red dragons, who soared steadily northward. The red dragons were of middle age, large and disciplined. All were heading back, the way they had come, now that their leader lay dead on the cliffs below...
She added some twigs to the fire and rising, spoke angrily to Angell. He shrugged, looked down at his right hand, then steeling himself, he looked her in the eyes and spoke calmly. For a moment She tensed, lips sealed tight. Then She turned and marched into a cave, where She retrieved a small pouch from a saddle bag. This She gave to him, and, without saying a word, left.
He watched as She followed the path She had worn in the hard-packed snow, above the cave, and then she was off, out of sight. If She followed her usual pattern, it would be several hours before She would return.
He longed to follow Her. To see what had caught Her fancy. He would have followed Her, but his leg hurt so much, he could hardly stand. As it throbbed, he wondered how he had ever been talked into leaving his home.
His leg had been injured in the fall, when their dragon had unexpectedly died, mid-flight. Stranded in the Ural Mountains, with the snow falling, Angell wondered if there would be an escape for him.
Feeding another twig to the fire, he lifted the pouch onto his lap. He was begining to run low on fuel. Thankfully, the dragon's body was still giving off heat -- even though it had been dead for two days.
The leather pouch was a simple draw-string wallet with a long, wide carrying strap, that could be slung across the body for easy transportation. It was made after the manner of his people. Inside was a mixture of Hare’s Mirth, Orange peel, imported from a tropical out-cropping of his native continent, and gooey Pine Needles he had collected himself.
From a side pocket he withdrew a packet of small, white, thin papers and carefully separated one of them. The rest he stored away, his lips pursed, and eyebrows knit. How he wished that he could have brought a pipe, but She had been against it. She had said it would not travel well, that it would take up too much space, and was better left behind... "Ha!" His pipe was a beautiful little thing that fit in the palm of his hand. Its dark wood had been worn smooth through generations of use. It had been to war and back, many times!
Fumbling in the cold, Angell gathered a pinch of the fragrent herbs, then crushing them in his fingers, spread them evenly on the paper. He rolled it, and lit it with a twig from the fire.
As he inhaled the fragrant smoke, the pain in his leg eased, and his mind cleared. For a moment, he was very aware of their situation: Of Her intentions to leave him and of the others, who lived on the mountain. Then his mind flew far away, and he knew even more.
What was this strange mixture he smoked? What properties did it have? Was it just a pain reliever, or was it a hallucinogen, and what affect did it have on this man?
I told my sister of the strange twist, and as we considered these questions, we were reminded of other times when we had seen a similar mixtures: Once we saw someone meditating, with the aid of an incense made of these ingredients. We had quickly left that scene…not wanting to know any more. Another time, in another story, a group of men who were traveling in the winter had stopped at an empty cabin for the night. Just as they were retiring for the night, the leader had thrown something of the sort into the embers of the fire, and sleep had quickly taken the group. So, whatever this was, it was not uncommon, and evidently, was used for a wide variety of things.
Finding this inspiring, I decided to seek out the properties of each herb, and make up some of this mixture for myself.
Hare’s Mirth, or Lavender
Lavender is well know, and its sent loved by many. It is used for health, food and pleasure. Because of its availability, lavender is a popular herb. It is known to be useful for:
- Calming the nervous system.
- Inducing sleep. It is often recommended for insomnia.
- A pain reliever, for pain caused by sore or tense muscles, muscular aches, rheumatism, and sprains.
- Various respiratory disorders, including throat infections, flu, cough, cold, asthma, sinus congestion, bronchitis, whooping cough, laryngitis, and tonsillitis are benefited by lavender oil. It can be rubbed on the chest or placed in a vaporizer.
- Urinary health, as it helps to regulate hormones.
- Improves blood circulation.
- It lowers blood pressure and is used for hypertension.
- It stimulates the production of gastric juices and bile and thus aids in treating indigestion, stomach pain, colic, flatulence, vomiting and diarrhea.
- An antiseptic.
- An anti-fungal.
- It heals wounds, cuts, burns, and sunburns rapidly as it aids in the formation of scar tissues.
- Is used for hair care, as it can be very effective on lice and nits.
- It is used to repel mosquitoes and moths, and can be found in bug repellents.
Orange peels can help in supporting blood sugar and cholesterol already in the normal ranges. They are also a great digestive aid. Limonene, which comprises 95% of the oil in an orange’s peel has many uses and benefits.
- Dried orange peel is very flammable, and a great fire starter.
- Insects hate limonene. A mixture of water and orange peel applied to plants will help to keep insects off of them. This mixture can also be used as a bug spray, though some warn that the oil may increase one's chance of sunburn.
- Is anti-fungal and is used to treat ring worm and athletes foot.
- Orange peel is a natural air freshener. A bag of orange peels left in a closet will help to reduce musty smells.
- Orange peel is currently being used in herbal wait loss supplements.
- Medical uses for orange oil include anti inflammatory, anti depressant, anti spasmodic, anti septic, aphrodisiac, carminative, diuretic, tonic, sedative and cholagogue.
Pine Needles, used in the form of teas or oils are known to be useful for:
- A source of Vitamin C.
- A pain reliever for sore muscles, aches, pains and arthritis.
- Repelling fleas and lice, when used in bedding.
- Pine needle oil is used to reduce or eliminate the symptoms of asthma, bronchitis and other respiratory infections.
- Relieve digestive disorders.
- In bathes, to relive stress associated with mental and emotional fatigue.
- To bring relief to the conditions of heart disease, heart ailments, varicose veins, fatigue, kidney aliments, and sclerosis.
- Cleansing to the bladder.
- Better eyesight.
- Smoother skin.
- Cancer patients drink pine needle tea to make them feel better.
- Anti fungal, anti bacterial, and anti viral.
I found it interesting that all of these herbs are natural bug repellants, anti fungal and anti bacterial. Two of them are rich in vitamin C, and two are known for their ability to relive pain. There is also a common thread of being good for the lungs, cleansing to the bladder, and good for the skin. All are commonly available and inexpensive.
When I mixed some up and put it in a potpourri pot, I noticed that the kids were calmer and worked their differences out quietly. I also noticed that the air smelled cleaner, fresher. This was a great benefit in the winter, when it was too cold to open windows and the wood stove poofed ashes everywhere.
Where to get the Herbs
It is important to get herbs that were grown for human consumption, especially if you plan to ingest them. Pine needles and lavender can be grown in one's yard, most places in the world. Oranges are grown for human consumption commercially. Choose organic, if possible, or wash well with a mild soap, before using.
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