Wow! July 20th, 2019 is the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Where did the time go?
The Lunar Module Eagle landed on the moon’s surface at 4:17 p.m. EDT with, if I can believe what I read, less than thirty seconds of fuel remaining. The moon walk took place six hours later.
I was at girl scout camp in Pennsylvania at the time. We hiked up the hill from the tent sites to the activity center where the counselors had set up a television and we watched the events unfold. ‘Twas exciting. When I returned home from camp, I learned my dad had named our new beagle puppy ‘Moon Shot Duke’. The thought still makes me smile.
I’ve held a special place in my heart for the ‘moon’ ever since.
Finn inhaled deeply. His lungs filled with fresh mountain air. For the first time in months, he was free of fawning women. Free of the awkward position they put him in.
Patrick’s sword sliced past his face, drawing him from his thoughts. Rain streamed over his bare chest, mixing with sweat. He needed to pay attention. If he weren’t more careful, he’d do a face-plant in the mud.
“You fight like a lass, MacIntyre,” Patrick taunted.
“Hilt is slippery.” Finn cursed under his breath and sought a better grip.
“You must learn to fight under every circumstance. That includes rain. Could save your miserable life someday.”
Grunting, Finn barely ducked the next assault.
Patrick pulled back. “Enough!” He dropped the point of his claymore to the ground and scowled. “’Tis obvious you are not paying attention.”
Trying to catch his breath, Finn gulped air. He glared at his cousin-in-law. “This is supposed to be just for fun.”
“Ach, then. You must try harder to have fun, lad.” Humor lit Patrick’s blue eyes, and he unloosed the leather strip holding back his long chestnut hair. Patrick MacLachlan was a primitive man; to him a workout with the large two-handed sword was child’s play. “At times I forget we live in a modern world.”
Finn shook his head. “You are my fiercest opponent.”
Patrick laughed and placed a hand on Finn’s wet shoulder. “Come. The bairns are at the inn for Rory’s Thursday morning story time. Let us go and warm ourselves by the fire and listen to the old Highlander tell his tales.”
Finn yanked on a soaked t-shirt and followed Patrick across the wet lawn.
About twenty-five eagerly waiting children sat on the plush carpet in the parlor of the Whispering Pines Inn while gossiping moms relaxed on overstuffed floral sofas. A few dads stood nearby, appearing disinterested. Finn knew better. Everyone loved hearing Rory’s stories.
The crackling fire brought much-needed warmth to the dreary mountain morning. Finn joined Patrick at the hearth, hoping his clothes would dry.
Conversation ended when Rory MacNaughton entered from the rear door, his carved walking stick at his side. The elderly gentleman wore dress slacks, a brown tweed jacket with leather patches at the elbows, and a tam covering his white hair. He greeted individuals as he crossed the room and eased onto the tall stool at the center of the parlor. With an age-spotted hand, he motioned for his audience to move closer.
Alert eyes sparkling, Rory glanced at Finn and grinned. One of the men standing nearby snickered. Finn groaned, sure he knew the yarn the storyteller would regale them with.
Taking a deep breath, Rory began…
“The Sithichean, the faeries of the ancient Highlands, had a special affinity for moonstones. Enamored by the pale, lustrous, blue color resembling that of moonlight, they found the best of these unique stones on the shores of their sensuous faerie paradise Tir-nan-Óg—land o’ heart’s desire—having washed ashore on the tides when the sun god and moon maiden were in a particular heavenly harmony.”
Rory leaned forward. “Ye ken this miraculous occurrence happens only once in three, seven-year cycles of the moon…”
He held up an index finger. “Just once in a verra blue moon,” he whispered.
A hush fell across the parlor.
“Handfuls of these precious stones belonged to a beautiful flame-haired faerie with eyes the color and brightness of the most costly emeralds.”
“Caitrina?” a precocious little girl, with red curls and freckles sprinkled across her nose, whispered. Her blond-haired friend giggled, and Rory smiled at the pair.
“She bestowed upon the moonstones magical powers, gifting them to deserving mortals. Some of these charmed stones had the ability to reunite lost lovers. Others gave the bearer the gift of second sight. One especially large gemstone she forged into the hilt of a magnificent Highland claymore, and with a kiss enchanted it with extraordinary power.”
His eyes wide, a boy in front pointed at Finn.
Finn glanced down. He must be a sight, his soaked shirt clinging to his chest and his wet kilt slung low on his hips. He’d grown his hair long and now the knotty, wet strands hung around his shoulders in disarray. Beside him, his sheathed sword leaned against the stone of the fireplace, the large moonstone in its cross-section plain to see.
Rory chuckled, locking gazes with him. With tight lips, Finn shook his head no. He didn’t want the kids to think his sword was the one of which Rory spoke.
“Over the ages, the sword brought many a worthy warrior fame and fortune. That was until the day an evil, dark power used it.” Rory’s voice rose and his pace quickened. “This could not be borne. With green eyes shooting flames of fire, the one who fashioned the splendid weapon cast it far away to vanish in the Sands of Time.”
The storyteller lowered his voice an octave and slowed his speech. “There are those who believe the lost sword of the fae has been found.”
Finn refused to listen to more of the man’s fantasy. He signaled to Patrick he was leaving.
Patrick followed him into the foyer. “Why the rush, lad?”
“My claymore doesn’t have supernatural powers. It’s just an antique sword.”
“Ach, well. Dinnae take offense. Rory means nae insult. He merely wishes for the bairns to believe in a wee bit of magic. Nae harm in that.”