Sunday, September 1, 2013

'Oywen' & 'Ray'

“We have not long to live in any event. Let us spend what is left in seeking the unpeopled world behind the sunrise.” 

- C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

     When I was a kid, I used to wake at sunrise and sneak out of the house with my best friend. We would  balance across a log bridge and scramble into the woods just as golden light pierced the trees and mist. We carried a bit of breakfast, a thermos of English Breakfast tea, and a book.

     Once, it was 'The Voyage of the Dawn Treader'.
     Then, 'A Wrinkle in Time'.
     And so many others.

     We made our way by secret signs marked on the trunks to our hallowed sanctuary: the Fallen Tree.

    The Fallen Tree was no ordinary tree. It was enormous, at least a yard in width, and it had been an ancient giant of the forest for so long that no other tree had dared to grow nearby. The clearing all around was a monument to its greatness, though the younger saplings showed no respect. We used their waving tops to guide us as we climbed it, for the Fallen Tree had cracked neatly in the middle and formed into a long, ascending path. It was just wide enough at the top for a body to perch.

    I remember the crackling bark against my shins when I sat cross-legged at the top, twenty feet up, and the ungainly manners at our precariously tilted breakfast.  'Oywen' and 'Ray' would share tea and savor the perfect silence --- I mean, the raucous sounds of North Carolina bugs and birds under our own constant chattering.
    We were girls, after all. 
    But when the crumbs were wiped away, and at least three items had fallen from the tree into the brush below, we would begin reading aloud in turns. At the most wickedly thrilling chapter endings, we would shriek and pass it to the other saying, "Hurry! Hurry! Read faster!" And when the long passages that described other worlds went on and on, I would lean back on the trunk and stare up at the brightening sky and wonder.
    I wondered whether I would find a wardrobe and step away into the fantastic.
    I wondered what sorts of worlds waited, and whether I would be brave enough to defeat IT. 
    I wondered how anyone could put pen to paper and create an aroma, a salty taste, or a shiver of goosebumps - and I wondered if I could be one of those Writers.

   I still wonder.

   But I think I might give it a try.
   I already write about my life as a walking comedy, and if you need a laugh, you can indulge in my daily catastrophes. But here, I am 'Oywen', the tree-climber, the reader, and, hopefully, the Writer. 

  Notes, notations, reviews, and thoughts to follow.

P.S.   'Ray' is already an award-winning author, and if you haven't read her Tales of Goldstone Wood, then go right now and buy them, find a tree, and don't leave it until you've read them all. (Better take a sandwich and some tea). 



  1. Oh, what a wonderful glimpse into Anne's and your childhood! It reminds me so much of the prologue in Heartless. I have to ask though--what sort of characters were Oywen and Ray? Were they princesses or daring adventurers or fearless warriors? Or all three? :) Were you entirely human...or was there a bit of faerie blood in there?

  2. Sounds like a wonderful way to spend a childhood! Thanks for sharing with us. It makes me smile and want to find a tree to relax on and read a good book. :)

  3. Dear Hannah ~
    It happened like this.
    I had never had a nickname, as 'Erin' isn't easily made into anything cute. (Try it. See?) I was 'Airhead' once. Didn't help. I lamented.
    But once, long ago, AE's father saw a heron on the lake, called out 'Heron!', and I responded 'What?', and everyone laughed - and thus, I had a nickname.
    Then it became a game to find workable nicknames, so AE dubbed me 'Erwin' and she became 'Ahnee'.
    THEN we discovered an 'Erwin' in very, very old classic movie, an 'Erwin' whose best friend, Ray, has an accent that made the name sound as 'Oywen'. A series of unfortunate and hilarious hijinks ensue, whereupon the characters are forced to run about shouting, "OYWEN!" (and response: "RAAAY!").
    It stuck.
    Of course, now that I read that, I wish I could have just told you they were fairies. Or dragons. Or something. But fear not! We did have a series of fantastical names for hunting orcs, and I'm sure those stories will turn up in later posts. :)