Totawka Regional Park & Fairgrounds
When Scout opened the door of her car she was immediately engulfed by the pungent odors of wood smoke and roasting meat, of sweetgrass and evergreens and incense. Gentle strains of music wafted along on the breeze – flute and fiddle, harp and drum. She felt her heart quicken. Down in the valley, Oberon’s Midsummer Festival was well underway.
Scout followed the music and the scents through the sun dappled woods, eagerly winding her way around the hastily set up campsites that would later house the all-night revelers. Passing stands of madrone and manzanita with their peeling red bark and gray-green leaves, slipping through groves of scrub oak and cedar and fragrant bay laurels.
Like most of the solar festivals, Midsummer was a two-day celebration. A balefire would be lit as darkness approached and people would dance and party in its glow throughout this, the year’s shortest night. Scout smiled as she remembered a time when her greatest ambition had been to stay and party the night away with them.
Well, maybe that’s what she’d do tonight. Since she had to be in Oberon anyway, she could think of worse ways to spend her time than in fulfilling a few of her teenage fantasies. Besides, she had to have some stories to take back to Larry.
She glanced down at the dog. The poor thing was already panting. "Not too much farther now, girl. Then we’ll see about getting you some water, hmm? Would you like that?"
The dog rewarded her with another hopeful wag of her tail.
"You’re such a good dog," she murmured, surprising both of them.
They passed out of the trees and found themselves at the crest of a hill looking over a large flat bowl of a valley. The grassy plain below them was dotted with brightly colored booths arranged in a loose circle around the bare patch of ground where, just after sunset, the balefire would be set ablaze. Off to one side, several carnival-style rides and amusements had been set up. And tucked discreetly away in what the organizers hoped would be a more or less downwind direction, an army of port-a-potties stood at attention.
A shrill cry above her head interrupted Scout’s thoughts. Looking up she caught a glimpse of a red tailed hawk, sailing the wind currents to its home on Mount Totawka. She smiled at the pleasant tug of nostalgia it evoked, and started along the path that would lead her down to the festival; the dog, as ever, following close on her heels.
The fairgrounds were awash with colorful signs and banners. Scout let the seductive pull of the music draw her through the crowd. She was at the foot of the stage before she recognized the insidious longing that had brought her there. The dream of being close to home, at long last, was flooding through her, again. She steeled herself against it.
She was here to observe, she reminded herself, sternly. To keep an eye on her dear, old friends, whose motives she had every reason to mistrust. To learn anything they might know that would help her in her quest.
But that was all she was here for. And although she might be willing to indulge herself with a few half-forgotten dreams during her stay, there was no way was she going to let any of them seduce her. Squaring her shoulders, she turned away from the music and headed off in search of answers.
©PG Forte 2004
Scent of the Roses
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