The Wren, the Wren, the King of all Birds by Dawn Marie Hamilton

It’s that time of year again. I so love the Christmas season. One of my favorite things is the Christmas music. We have a large collection that we start listening to the day after Thanksgiving.

Again this year, while listening to The Chieftains’ The Bells of Dublin and the Wren in the Furze song, I wondered aloud how the wren became the king of all birds. My husband jumped on it and did an internet search. He found a site, The Little Brown Wren, which explains via folklore. It seems the world of birds decided they wanted to have a king same as the humans. But how should they choose who among them should be king. They decided to hold a contest…whichever bird could fly the highest would be the king of the birds. On the day the contest was held, the eagle climbed ever higher into the sky. After the other birds gave up and fell to the ground, he smugly began his decent, believing he was the king of the birds. But above him, a wee wren fluttered her wings and sang a beautiful song. Having hidden within his feathers, she’d ridden into the sky on his back and became king through cleverness.

There is more to the story. Check it out at The Little Brown Wren.

There is a tradition in Ireland to ‘hunt the wren’ on the feast of Saint Stephen, which is celebrated on December 26th. On Wren Day, the wee bird is secured to a decorated staff and paraded through the village with music and dancing and much celebration. Fortunately, in our modern times a fake bird is used.

I’ll think of this tale every time I watch the wren in our backyard flutter from the shrubs near the house to the suet feeder.  Or when it sings its beautiful song mid-winter.

wren cutout

The Chieftains, The Bells of Dublin (1991)
Wren in the Furze

The wren, oh the wren; he’s the king of all birds,
On St. Stephen’s Day he got caught in the furze,
So it’s up with the kettle and it’s down with the pan,
Won’t you give us a penny for to bury the wren?

Well it’s Christmas time; that’s why we’re here,
Please be good enough to give us an ear,
For we’ll sing and we’ll dance if youse give us a chance,
And we won’t be comin’ back for another whole year!

We’ll play Kerry polkas; they’re real hot stuff,
We’ll play the Mason’s Apron and the Pinch of Snuff,
Jon Maroney’s jig and the Donegal reel,
Music made to put a spring in your heel!

If there’s a drink in the house, would it make itself known,
Before I sing a song called “The Banks of the Lowne”,
A drink with lubri-mication in it,
For me poor dry throat and I’ll sing like a linnet!

Oh please give us something for the little bird’s wake,
A big lump of pudding or some Christmas cake,
A fist full o’ goose and a hot cup o’ tay (Tea),
And then we’ll all be goin’ on our way!

The wren, oh the wren; he’s the king of all birds,
On St. Stephen’s Day he got caught in the furze,
So it’s up with the kettle and it’s down with the pan,
Won’t you give us a penny for to bury the wren?

 

gorse

Furse is another term for gorse; a yellow-flowered shrub of the pea family, the leaves of which are modified to form spines.

I hope you have a wonderful holiday season!

~Dawn Marie

*images from Pixabay

 

Holiday Novellas by Dawn Marie Hamilton

One of the things I love about the holiday season is the abundance of wonderful holiday novellas.  Holiday novellas are sometimes part of an author’s on-going series, or part of a collection with other authors, or stand alone. What ever the case, they bring the joy of the season.

I just finished reading a fun, contemporary romance by Roxanne St. Claire from her Dogfather series–Bark! The Herald Angels Sing. Loved it! Made me cry! Made me laugh!

I have a Christmas novella from my Highland Gardens series on sale. Just in Time for a Highland Christmas is $0.99  through the end of December… 

Cover for Just in Time for a Highland Christmas

Can a determined brownie craft a perfect match in time for Christmas?

Get it at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, or Kobo.

And…

Twelvetide: Twelve Nights of Highland Magic is exclusively available at Amazon for $0.99!

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He has twelve nights to gain her love.
She has twelve nights to save his soul.

Get it at Amazon.

 

~Dawn Marie

 

Stay Cool with Christmas in July

Just in Time for a Highland Christmas

Just in Time for a Highland Christmas
A Highland Gardens Novella

The 3rd tale in the series.

e-book sale:
$0.99 through July 31st

(regular price: $2.99)

 

Can a determined brownie craft a perfect match in time for Christmas?

When the Chief of Clan MacLachlan travels to the stronghold of his feuding neighbors to fetch his betrothed, she is gone. A year later, she is still missing. Making life more vexing, a band of reivers are stealing clan cattle, leaving behind destruction. Archibald MacLachlan determines to capture them and administer harsh punishment.

Though once in love with the man, Isobell Lamont refuses to wed her clan’s enemy. After running away, she joins the band of reivers set on revenge.

Can Archibald forgive the raven-haired beauty? Will a journey through time bring them together for a Highland Christmas?

 

Snatch your copy today…

Kindle : Nook : Apple : Kobo

 


Twelvetide-200

Twelvetide: Twelve Nights of Highland Magic
A Highland Gardens Novella

e-book:
$0.99 or KU

 

He has twelve nights to gain her love. She has twelve nights to save his soul.

Fulfilling a childhood promise, Ashley Dumont returns to an ancient Druid garden in the Black Hills of Scotland on the eve of the winter solstice—a time when magic hums and the veil between realms thins and tears, allowing all manner of supernatural creatures through. Will the ghost who claimed to be her destiny still be there?

Caelan Innes awaits her arrival. Unjustly murdered in the sixteenth century, a second chance at life depends on this woman. The Druids grant them the twelve nights of Yule to find love and save Cael’s soul. Will a trip through time and the treachery of enemies make the sacrifice too dear?

 

Find it on Kindle…

Kindle

 

Hope you have a magical summer!

~Dawn Marie

Celtic symbology and the holly maze in Twelvetide by Dawn Marie Hamilton

In Celtic symbology, the labyrinth, or maze, represents pathway(s) leading to the center of one’s spirit. ‘Tis said one should release burdens on the way to the center of the maze then accept what is needed most on the way out . For Twelvetide, I used a holly maze to unite the heroine, Ashley, with her destined mate, Caelan, her other half, and thusly combine their spirits. Or at least, that is what I hope the book’s readers take away from the symbology.

A post card from the 60"s of The Governor's Palace Maze Williamsburg
Postcard available at  CardCow.com.

The holly maze in Twelvetide was modeled after the maze depicted in this sixties vintage postcard featuring the holly maze at the Governor’s Palace in Williamsburg on sale at Cardcow.com.  I imagined the Twelvetide holly maze as more expansive and with only one tree, an ancient oak, at its center. The spot where Caelan awaits Ashley, first when she was seven and later, more importantly, when she was a grown woman.

Unfortunately, it is my understanding the maze at Williamsburg is now privet and shorter.

Twelvetide-1200

An excerpt from Twelvetide:

Ashley raced across the car park. The flame in the lantern flickered, its beam of light dancing crazily over the snow-covered, icy gravel. Slipping, she teetered, but regained balance. Hurry. She hadn’t come this far only to be too late. She slid to a stop at the gate and fumbled with the key. Dammit, her hands shook. Hurry. Hurry. She inserted the key and twisted. Crap. It didn’t fit quite right. With firm jiggling, she forced the key into position. The locking mechanism finally clicked. With a relieved sigh, she pushed the grille open and stepped within the ancient garden.

The maze wasn’t there. Was she too early or too late?

Precipitation no longer fell and the storm clouds slid away on a south-easterly wind. A bright half-moon cast silvery illumination over the landscape, diminishing the need for the lantern. She strolled toward the dolphin fountain. A dazzling light flashed in the sky, blinding her for a moment. When Ashley’s vision cleared, everything had changed.

The garden was as she remembered.

Bright sunbeams shimmered down from a cloudless cerulean sky. A warm breeze carried the mingled scents of roses and honeysuckle. Ashley parked the lantern on the edge of the fountain and dropped her wool coat to the ground as she had as a child. Pulse racing, she walk-ran over the stepping stone path to the holly maze.

With the key clutched in a firm grip, she hesitated at the entrance, swallowed hard, and entered the winding twists and turns. On her last visit, she’d had the blond-headed boy to follow through the maze. Where was he now? Would Cael be at the oak tree, if and when she found it?

Close your eyes and trust in your heart.

“Who said that?” The androgynous voice sounded corporeal, but no one was there. Was it a ghostly voice? Was Cael haunting the maze, trying to spook her with a disguised voice?

Why would he do that? He’d made her promise to return to him.

Believe in the magic and find your heart’s desire.

Ashley shivered, spooked by the voice in her head. Get a grip, Ashley. You’ve been waiting to return to the garden for what felt like a lifetime. She inhaled a deep breath and closed her eyes. Ignoring mounting anxiety, she groped with her hands like a child playing blind man’s bluff, and walked straight into a prickly holly hedge.

“Ouch!” She popped her eyes open and stuck a stinging finger into her mouth.

Damn. This wasn’t working and time was wasting away. She didn’t know how long she’d have with Cael before the magic expired. She shoved the key into a jeans pocket and took the first right. Hung a left. Another left. Turned right and hit a dead end. Grrr!

“Cael, where are you?” she shouted.

No response. With fisted hands, she retraced her steps then went right again. Left. Left. Left. Ending at a T-juncture. Ashley jammed her hands in her pants pockets and blew out a puff of air. Should she go right or left?

“Please, Cael, help me find you.”

Close your eyes. Believe in the magic.

That strange voice again. She swallowed uneasily, wary of such potent magic. Well, she’d just need to get over her apprehensions if she wanted to find Cael. And she did want to find him.

Okay. She closed her eyes, waiting, listening to silence.

Hmmmm. A faint humming. Should she? Slowly. One step at a time. Twisting and turning. She followed the hum through the maze. Astonishingly, she managed not to walk into the shrubbery walls. After taking a countless number of turns, the droning sound rose in pitch no longer mellifluous. She popped her eyes wide. The irritating noise instantly died.

In the center of the square clearing, the large oak tree stood proud as she remembered.

Her heart plummeted. He wasn’t there. Cael wasn’t there. Her shoulders drooped. Moisture pricked the back of her eyes.

Cael stepped from behind the tree, sporting a sexy grin. Damn, the man, the real man, was hotter than her dreams.

Ashley’s insides turned to mush. She ran toward him and stopped just short.

Enchanted Highlands
99 cents or free with Kindle Unlimited

Twelvetide is available at Amazon in the Enchanted Highlands collection from authors April Holthaus, Victoria Zak, and Dawn Marie Hamilton.

 

~Dawn Marie