Pythian Games

put on your track shoes and write the miles

Archive for May 2008


with 8 comments


I reach for a stone to drop down the well to check where the water level is.  The one I pick up is covered with seashell fossils from when these Ozark Mountains were under oceans millennium ago.  I place it in my satchel to add to the others I’ve collected.  It always amazes me that here, in the middle of the United States, there was once ocean.  Finding another plain stone, I drop it and listen.  No ‘splash’ of stone hitting water, but instead, the sound of ‘plop’ onto dirt.  OK, not a well but a tunnel as the stair-ladder indicates.  What else will I find?


Fixing the flashlight to attach to the side of my neck with the bandana I always carry and have used in this manner before, I free my hands for going down the narrow pieces of wood.  Turning around, I gingerly step backwards and down the first rung, using my arms to balance and thinking perhaps, I should get down on all fours and ease down.  I am no longer as agile as I once was.  I decide to use an overhanging branch as leverage to step down the second rung, then the third and fourth as I check for dry rot on each.  At last my hands can grab the wooden steps, trying to avoid splinters.  Finally my head drops below the level of the surface.  The flashlight shines brightly on the close earthen walls.


Ouch! What’s that?  My right hand gets cut as it moved to gain another purchase on the ladder.  An arrowhead!  When is this from?  I pry it out of the earth and examine at it.  As common as they are around here, I still thrill to unearth one.  Is it Osage, Caddo or Cherokee?  Hard to tell.  Could be from the very early days when many of the American Indian tribes criss-crossed this area either for hunting grounds or summer camps in the hills.  Or maybe from the Trail of Tears, or “the trail where they cried”, which passed through this area as over 1,000 Cherokees led by John Benge trudged through here in January of 1839.  I’ll put this into my satchel to check out later when I get back.



Finally I reach bottom.  I detach my flashlight from its cloth holder so I can maneuver the light better.  I fold up and place the bandana back into the satchel, then look around.  I’m standing in a dead-end of a tunnel that appears to slant downward from here.   


Do I dare go further?  I’m intrigued by all the recent TV programs on the Manhattan underground and London underground, and all the various tunnels for systems under cities for pipes, electric, water, sewer and subway systems.  Even underground cisterns as in Masada and New York City, and underground shelters in Roman times and in London in World War II – all fascinating!  Yet this is creepy, too.  Where does this lead?  What else is down here?  I think of all the stuff nightmares are made of: darkness, bugs, spiders, monsters, the unknown.  I think I should go back.


But what if it’s part of the Underground Railroad?  Or an escape route during the Civil War when the North/South line moved back and forth across this area?  I decide I’ll walk just a little further.


Cautious steps, one after the other, all going down a slight slope.  Something skitters nearby, causing me to stop as my heart pounds and I move my flashlight towards the sound.  It’s only a salamander.  How pretty!  It looks like a clown with those black polka dots on the bright orange smooth body.


A few more steps and I stop again as I hear another noise, but this sounds like water lapping softly onto the shore.  This intensifies as I continue along. 


Then I step into what appears to be a large cave with a rock ledge running along one side and expanding past a pool of water that is mostly calm but with just enough motion to create the lapping sound.  Is water flowing in?  I watch, but the water isn’t rising.  Maybe it is flowing in and out? 


Aiming the light so it follows the ledge out over the pool, I see some things piled there.  I climb up and walk out further a bit on the solid ledge.  An old bashe-in tin cup, maybe for getting pool water to drink?  Someone hiding out waiting to connect up with the Butterfield Stagecoach, which passes nearby?  Back here, near the rock wall, a pile of feathers interspersed with bits of disintegrating cloth… no, it’s burlap sacking.  Maybe this had been someone’s sleeping pallet… for a slave dreaming of freedom?  for a soldier dreaming of peace?  for a settler dreaming of escape?   


And of what do I dream as I stand here in this tunnel of history?  Of the interconnectiveness of all things, the ebb and flow of life, the weaving of patterns, the wonder of it all.  But mostly, of the even bigger Wonder beyond it all!


My reverie finally breaks.  A little further along the ledge, I see a pile of charred wood and something half buried in the ashes.  How long ago was this fire snapping and crackling?  What’s this?  A partially burned wooden carved fish!  Symbol of Christians being here?  Fisherman?  Fish in the water? 


I go to the edge and peer into the deeper part of the pool.  Yes, I see fish swimming, but they seem to be moving with a purpose, as a school of fish, from left to right.  Is that how the current flows?  I watch closely.  Yes, it is.  Yet I don’t see an opening into the cave.  Must be underwater.  I’m not a very good swimmer.  I think I’ll turn back.  This has been adventure enough and gives me plenty to write about.


But where are these fish going?

Written by thalia

May 31, 2008 at 2:44 pm

Fairy Floss

with 11 comments

*This little fragment is something I wrote out of my own experiences of making and selling fairy floss with my husband years ago. For our friends in the US, fairy floss is the Australian name for Cotton Candy.

Sideshow Alley was in full swing. A long queue snaked down from the fairy floss stall, waiting with money in hand for a fluffy pink stick.

Imelda brushed stray wisps of hair out of her eyes, remembering too late that her hands were covered in fairy floss. A fine film of pick sugar extended up her arms and was now stuck to her forehead.

“I gotta wash this off,” she said to Jake, He was manning the other fairy floss machine, standing over the spinning bowl, catching the mist of spun sugar on a stick.

“Wait ‘til we got these people served,” he said. He leaned so close to the bowl that his face and hair were covered in fairy floss too.

Imelda handed her customer the stick of candy, slipped the money into her apron pocket and grabbed another stick. The smell of hot sugar was overpowering on this hot February night.

When the queue finally thinned out, Imelda lunged her arms up to their elbows in the bucket of water at the back of the stall. She swished her hands luxuriously, watching the water turn pink. Jake refilled the sugar bins, mixing a few grains of red coloring powder with the bags of sugar and stirring with a stick until the sugar turned the required light pink. Then he filled the containers in the middle of the fairy floss machines, ready for the next customers.

“Hey, we’re doing great,” he said, dipping his hands in the bucket.

Imelda splashed him playfully. “I’d be happy if I never saw another stick of fairy floss,” she said.

“You’ll be even happier when we have enough money for a proper eats joint,” he said. “Hot dogs, Dagwood dogs, hot chips – I can’t wait for that.”

Imelda smiled. Jake was a dreamer – when he got his eats stand, he would be dreaming about getting a set of dodgems, or a tiltawhirl, or even a roller coaster. He wouldn’t stop dreaming until he had his own carnival, right on the seafront, and a beautiful house overlooking the beach – she smiled, and shook her head. No, that was her dream. No more traveling, no more dusty country shows. No more fairy floss.

At closing time, Imelda washed the sticky residue off the machinery and the counter. The crowd was drifting away now, even the dodgem cars were silent. A family passed on their way home, a couple with their arms around each other and two poorly dressed kids at their heels.

Imelda called them over.

“Hey,” she said. “I got a couple of sticks left over. OK if I give ‘em to your kids?”

The kids were delighted and the parents smiled their thanks as Imelda gave them the fairy floss. Jake would have put it in a plastic bag to sell next day. But Imelda had known enough hardship to know a random piece of good fortune could really make a difference.

When the family had gone, she locked up the stall and made her way back through the carnival to the trailer. After a day spent with sugar, she longed for something salty and savory. Jake was cooking chops tonight.

She hugged her dreams as she walked back to the trailer. Dreams were like fairy floss, they were made of air and melted away too quickly. But the taste was so sweet.

Written by Gail Kavanagh

May 31, 2008 at 1:10 am

Working without a net

with 7 comments

circus-inspired collage by Kerry 2008

Written by kvwordsmith

May 30, 2008 at 11:24 am

my symphony

with 10 comments

My lips are numb, and from my throat

there comes no limpid, lyric note.

I can not breathe an air along

nor lift my voice in frivolous song.

Of harmony, I know no part,

and yet there’s music in my heart.

From the chapel in my soul

the mighty chords of feeling roll,

Transmuting joy and petty strife

into the Symphony of my life

Written by riverleigh

May 30, 2008 at 1:42 am

Posted in A Poem a Day

Lemurian Secret Society – Everyone Welcome!

with 8 comments

(inspired by circus prompt & Lori’s montages – my first attempt – for all you Grand Poobahs!)


Written by kvwordsmith

May 28, 2008 at 6:48 pm

Two Close Together

with 3 comments

I started to paint clowns. However, while working on the completion of a digital painting of two young Asian girls riding water buffalos close together, I imagined them in conversation about their time at the circus. Guess it is the facial expression without a face (I only gave them eyes) that struck me as circus like.

— genece hamby, contemporary artist & poet

Written by Genece Hamby

May 28, 2008 at 2:00 pm

Yet Another Scrapbook Page

with 7 comments

I made a page for my friend, after we spent the afternoon together last Monday. We hadn’t seen each other in at least a year, and she asked me earlier that day if I was free to meet up in the afternoon.

I brought my camera so we could take pictures of each other. When I got home, I used the first (and only candid) picture I got of my friend to make this scrapbook page. I chose the quote and the background images of Marlene Deitrich because my friend reminds me of those old time actresses who did whatever they wanted and still managed to be so nonchalant about it.

Written by foxndragon

May 28, 2008 at 11:26 am

Posted in Digital Scrapbooking, Portraiture

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