Re-blogged today as it was one of the most popular posts on the blog.
For as long as she could remember, Otter had wanted to be a bard; She knew that being a fishmonger was a good trade, that not everyone could do it and that catching fish for a living was a very honourable tradition, but she wanted to be a Bard – she wanted to sing and tell stories and enchant people with history
She could sing, she knew that because sometimes she would hide in the reeds of the riverbank and harmonise with the birds who lived alongside – mostly they were not the greatest of songsters, the ducks, herons, woodpeckers, jays who lived in the river and the trees by it but they sat of an evening and made music for their own entertainment.
A bard, however, must know more than just singing – a bard must know history – so Otter sat under the trees and listened to them talking, she dived under the water of the river and let the water talk into her ears. Rather than just swimming through the water, she asked the water to tell her of its life, its experience, the mountain snows where the water had come from, the sea where it was going.
But the wise ones, the owls, the nightingales, the long-memory horses, the superior cats, the hunting dogs, the clever corvids all snorted and told her that bards were not fishmongers.
One night, when the animals gathered together for the solstice, each to their own stone, in a circle, facing the centre where the moonlight shone and the spirit made herself known, something moved the otter to stand on her hind legs and sing, sing the song of the river where she lived, the song of the trees who had stood for hundreds of years, the song of the stones under which she made her holt, the song of the earth where she breathed her sleeping snores each night.
And as she sang, each creature joined in for their own song was woven into that song until all life offered up one song – birds, insects, mammals, the stones and trees, all of creation offered up one song of Solstice to the spirit and a ribbon of multicoloured hue rose from the earth to the sky to tie them together. And in that moment the clouds covered the face of the Moon apart from one beam that shone on the otter to make a circlet on her head – the gold of a grateful Queen to her Bard.
Standing on her hind legs, her forepaws clasped to her chest and her eyes closed, the otter swayed to the music and knew that the next day she would still be a fishmonger but also a bard and for that she would be forever grateful.
This tale appears in the Anthology “Once Upon A Time”, the proceeds from which go to a charity for children with reading difficulties. Click on the picture to buy it.