Once upon a time the Littlest Druid got an idea. She wanted to do something special feast, the feast of Lughnasadh. Her teacher had told them all about Lugh and his feast day. She knew it was a feast of thanksgiving to celebrate the first harvest of grain of the year. It had been a good long and warm summer so the corn and barley had grown strong and tall in the fields. That meant people would have bread for the year and ale to drink on cold winter nights.
Her teacher had told them about the Lugh, the long arm, whose face was as bright as the sun. She had told them he was a wright, a smith, a champion, a horseman, a hero. He was also a swordsman, a harpist, a poet, a historian, a craftsman and a sorcerer. She thought he might be kind of scary and she wasn’t good at anything.
Her teacher told them that at the feast all the adults would get up and share some creation that they had made that year to honour Lugh. Aisling decided she wanted to share something too, but what? She wouldn’t be old enough to share for a lot more years but she really wanted to. She was always messing up and she wanted to show the grown up Druids that she was good at something. She really wanted to do it for the Chief Druid. He was always so nice to her when he didn’t have to be. He could have sent her home long ago but he hadn’t. He truly believed she would be a good Druid some day. Aisling had no idea why he believed it but he had told her so on one of their many talks after she had messed up again… So Aisling decided to see what she could share.
She visited the spinners and weavers and asked to help but her thread was lumpy and rather grey looking when she was done. Not every good at all. The head Weaver kindly said she could use it to make burlap sacking and Aisling left the weaving barn. Next she decided to observe the Smith from outside the Smithy. It was really interesting to watch him shoe the big horses but as the Smith was banging a horseshoe into shape a piece of hot iron flew off and landed all the way outside and on Aisling’s bare foot. She went hopping and howling around for a few moments while the Smith howled himself with laughter. She decided she wasn’t cut out to be a Smith.
She went to the tanner and the leather workers but that barn just stunk so much. How did they stand it? They must have lost their senses of smell. Peeewwwwoooooeeeeee.
She went and listened to the Bards practice. She wouldn’t begin to study with them until next year so she was curious about what happened so she spied through the window in their cottage. Three of them were lying with their eyes closed and wrapped in sheep skins. She thought that looked rather hot in this summer weather. While she was sitting there a drowsy bee came along and Aisling swatted at it absentmindedly and got stung in her bum by the mad bumblebee. This woke up the drowsing Druids who were trying to compose their poems and all three of them ran out to chase her away.
By now she was getting desperate. She was never going to have anything to share and everyone would keep thinking she was bad at everything. She took herself off to the sheep field. She thought she’d talk to the sheep and the sheep dogs. She had become friends with the sheep after she had sat with them at Brighid and this was where she came now when she wanted to unload her burdens.
She trudged out to the pasture. She knew the Druid shepherds were probably napping in the sheep fold. They were older Druids who still liked to be useful but now needed an afternoon nap after lunch. They always told her they weren’t asleep when she woke them up accidently. They were just studying the wonderful colours inside their eyelids and getting ideas for art work. Aisling doubted this because there was snoring coming from the sheep fold and she never saw any sign of an art work back in the village.
She climbed the hill and sat next to her favourite mama ewe. The ewe came over and butted her gently and her lamb crawled into Aisling’s lap although it was getting a bit big for that.
“What am I going to do?” She said to the drowsing ewe and lamb. “I really want to show the Chief Druid I’m good at something. And I want a gift to offer at the feast tomorrow.” She sat hunched over in a dismal lump. She knew if she sat that way in class her teacher would tell her to sit up straight but out here there was no one but the ewe to tell her so, so she didn’t.
“You there! Sit up.”
Aisling sat bolt upright. Who was that? She looked around and from the west where the sun was beginning to set came the shape of a man. She couldn’t see him clearly because the sun was behind him. All she could see was his shape.
“Who are you?” asked Aisling as the man came and sat down beside her. He was tall with very golden hair and a smile that made Aisling want to smile.
“Why so glum?” The man asked. “Isn’t tonight the big feast? I would think you would be excited to celebrate the feast. I hear the sharing afterwards is going to be really good this year.” He picked up a piece of grass and started to use it as a whistle.
“I wanted to share this year. I wanted to do something for the Chief Druid.” Aisling said quietly, “but I’m not good at anything I try. I just make messes of things.”
“Well, this lamb seems to like you a lot and this ewe doesn’t seem to think you are bad at anything. She doesn’t usually make friends of people.”
“How do you know that?” Aisling asked suspiciously. Only two people knew why this sheep liked her and one was a goddess. Of course, he could have been a friend of the Chief Druid, he knew but she didn’t think he had told anyone. ”Can you sing?” asked the man.
“The teacher says I can but that I need to grow some.”
“Well then, let’s write you a song.” The man laughed like that was the easiest thing in the world but she had just seen the Bards and they hadn’t made it look easy. Aisling looked at him doubtfully. He was kind of muscle bound for one of the creative types but she’d seen stranger things like stones dancing so who knew?
He started to hum a really pretty tune with his blade of grass. “Hum that back to me.” The man said so she did.
“Very good. Now what do you want to say?”
“I wanted it to say thanks for all our blessings, for the clean air and the clean streams, for all the people who make our food. I want to say thanks for being alive and being able to dance and sing. I really want to say thank you.”
The man nodded, “All great things, how about this,” and the two of them sat together and wrote a thanksgiving song for her to sing. It was almost time for the feast and the man indicated with a nod toward the village that it was time to go. Aisling grabbed his hand and they walked toward the village. Aisling was so excited she had something to share that it didn’t occur to her she still didn’t know the man’s name. Aisling walked into the banquet hall and everyone became quiet and stared. This made her panic. She was in her best tunic and trews and she knew she was still clean. Maybe she had a grass stain she didn’t know about. Then she realized they were staring at the man who was holding her hand.
“I came to celebrate with you. Is there room?” the man boomed into the banquet hall. The Chief Druid came over to them and made a place at the head table for both of them. Guests were always honoured so Aisling didn’t think it was that unusual. She couldn’t figure out why the Chief Druid hadn’t sent her to sit with her teacher but she knew he liked her and assumed she was there because she brought the guest. The supper started and all the good smelling foods were brought out and everyone ate and forgot about the stranger Aisling had brought to dinner. They were enjoying the foods and their friends and the rewards of their labours.
Soon it was time for the sharing and the tables were put away and everyone made themselves comfortable. The stranger stood up.
“We have a sharing!” He brought out the blade of grass and pulled Aisling up beside him.
“Aisling and I have a song to share to thank you for this wonderful feast.” He started the pretty tune and Aisling started to sing with her eyes closed the song that they had written together. She didn’t see him start to shine nor did she see the shock on the older Druids faces. She just sang her heart out until the end of the song and the tune stopped. She opened her eyes and looked up at her new friend and her mouth dropped open. She knew who he was now. She had brought Lugh to his own feast! She’d done it again!
Lugh looked down at her. “Never be afraid that being friendly or kind is a bad thing.” Lugh marched to the center of the gathering and grabbed a horn full of new beer from an astonished Druid. He shouted, “Slainte’”, took a deep drink and walked out the door and disappeared. Aisling sat down with a bump and looked at the Chief Druid. He looked down at her kindly, “You make friends of the most interesting people,” and just started to laugh as he hugged her. “You do just fine.”
This story is copyrighted and is part of a collection of The Littlest Druid Stories, due for release this coming Autumn / Fall.