Thresholds: “Flight” by Reagan Dregge

The days are darkening. I bought some Christmas lights (known as “fairy lights” here, I think) and hung them up in our entranceway, where they create a golden glow. It’s been a week of grim clouds overhead and cold rain glistening on sidewalks, but the sun came out today to make shadow-patterns through the leaves.

The brilliance of scholars and artists here continues to dazzle me with tales of labyrinths and facades of the “real,” Biblical gardens and seas, pilgrimages and peregrinations. This week’s contribution to the Thresholds project also dazzles me: Reagan Dregge’s piece takes us on a mysterious journey through an unknown land. Enjoy!

Flight

by Reagan Dregge

Photo credit: Reagan Dregge

Dear Reader, The following is a mere fragment of a much longer tale, in which a young warrior must flee from a murderous enemy. Her only hope lies across a wild and lonely plain….

Trinith rode for a night and a day without resting, her jaw set northward. Narrows broadened, steeps shallowed. The gravel under her horse’s hooves echoed off the canyon walls, and the wind wrapped around her like her cloak, cooing in her ears and whispering to her loosened hair. Rocky ground gradually gave way to burned stubble and prickly shrubs. The rusted and purpled landscape faded to mute brown and yellow-gray. The sky, which she could see more of now without the mountain crevices framing her view, was wide and round above, but pale and hazy and endless.

She followed a scant trail across the plain. She wasn’t sure whether the trail was made by man or beast. Hunched over Zephyr’s neck, her belly uncomfortably round with child, she gripped the saddle and took another swallow from her canteen. The second night, she was forced to stop, to let the horse eat and rest her own muscles. A muddy creek hedged a few strands of dead grass, and she refilled her water. In the morning they pressed on.

On the fourth day dark figures appeared on the horizon. They were people, not trees. As they got closer she could see they headed east, and there were four or five of them. She doubted they were bandits. She kept her heading, and they kept theirs, passing before her and away with little more than a stare. Those were the only people she encountered on the plain, though she occasionally found marks and remnants of previous travelers’ camps.

Occasionally the ground would rise and swell like the crest of a wave carrying her and Zephyr along. The wind blew without obstacle now, and its sound was a moan that rose and fell and rose again, bending the thorny brush and thin, twisted trees. Her face felt numb from the relentless blast, her lips were dry and cracked, her eyes stung. A cloud of birds passed above them once at dawn, raucous and shifting. Now she traveled by night and rested in the early part of the day. She was able to snare a few rabbits and one grouse. The haze never seemed to lift, but she could make out the full moon’s blurry orb through its veil. That night coyotes cackled in the distant dark, and she had to dismount to calm Zephyr’s snorting and stamping.

The days were growing shorter, and the wind colder. One morning there was a silver frost spidering across the ground. The sun rose in a clear blue sky and hovered with a lucid burning glare. Far ahead a dark band cut across the plain. They had come to the river.

Reagan Dregge

Reagan Dregge and her family

Reagan loves names and words and stories. She once studied creative writing and theatre arts, but today she homeschools, writes handwritten letters, and salvages her own little house on the prairie with a husband, daughter, and multiplying menagerie (one cat, two dogs, a dwarf netherland rabbit, and a small flock of chickens). Her favorite seasons are winter, spring, summer, and fall. Follow her blog, The Grace Book, to read more of her work.

The Magic of Late Winter, Part III: Guest Post by Reagan Dregge and Kristen Kopp

Sunset over snow-covered trees
Photo by Kristen Kopp

This blog series on the magic of late winter has been a cross-country exploration of regional beauty – Kimberly Margaret Miller gave me a glimpse of winter sunlight in the deep South, and Loren Warnemuende showed me the snow and flowering dogwoods of southeast Michigan. This week’s post is written by Reagan Dregge, with pictures by Kristen Kopp. These writers are from Minnesota, the prairie, where Laura Ingalls Wilder spent a year On the Banks of Plum Creek and temperatures can drop to -30 degrees Fahrenheit in winter (wind chill can drop to -68 degrees).

Reagan Dregge‘s breathtaking imagery reminds me that we live in a world of wonders, a place just as wild and magical as Faerie. Kristen Kopp‘s images remind me to open my eyes to the beauty of the ordinary, the precious gift of snow and sunlight, leaf and sky. Enjoy!

Winter Magic

by Reagan Dregge
pictures by Kristen Kopp

You were made and set here to give voice to this, your own astonishment.
Annie Dillard

By late winter the air is scorched ice. The snowscape is sucked dry, colorless. Lungs burn. Skin stings. The ground is a slick slab of sheer adamant. Frost laces windowpanes like fractures into faerie. The frozen world is transparent. I can see through every stilled molecule, through trees that crack the sky, through the thin atmosphere all the way to the Milky Way wrapped like a scarf around our galaxy. The frigid stars blaze bright and sharp. I imagine standing on the surface of the moon. The constellations spin above in dazzling clarity.

Have you beheld a sundog-flanked dawn? The sun, shattered into shards? Three fire pillars pierce the cobalt firmament, diamond guardians of earth’s rim, or an archangel with two swords barring reentry into paradise? On winter evenings, neons melt on the horizon. Charged particles scatter solar flame. Unnamed, unnumbered hues are born in the bent beams, next to which rainbows are a faded polaroid.

Bitter winds writhe and moan across the plains. Windows rattle, porch bells ring. The shrill surgeon slashes and severs, casting withered sticks and shriveled limbs across the brittle bier beneath attending silver maples. Huddled hedges offer brief respite from the biting chill. Fog’s froth condenses and crystallizes, coating every stem, twig, and chain link with rime ice armor. Glass-sheathed grass sheaves gather at the edge of ditches. Lake waves freeze into a gleaming fleet of fairy sails. The cold cuts words short, and they drop to the ground like bubbles blown in subzero temps or evaporate instantaneously like a pot of boiling water thrown into the air. Weather fluctuations can be detected in the length of icicles dangling from every lip and gable, dripping into their own trenches or dropping like grenades in the night.

Spread out under an open sky the snow sparkles like champagne, and in the crisp gold light a toast is raised. Blizzards blow across the plains, covering forest and field with mountainous shifting drifts. The polar vortex unfurls its coffers and foams forth layer after layer over the bounding breadth. Clusters of vapor flurry and fall, spun and splintered and studded. No two alike, each flake a delicate intricacy. They melt the moment they touch tongue or alight eyelash, existing brief as a breath, fleeting as a flower. From wet heft to pellet sleet, snow’s forms are as bottomless as Mary Poppins’ carpet bag. The sounds of my walk down our quarter-mile driveway change with every day: creak, crunch, slurp, slush, swish, sweep, whisper-soft absorption.

Deep within the frozen earth, amphibians sleep in soundless stasis. Bird and butterfly have long since flown south, but woodpeckers and white-tailed deer remain, subsisting on bark and acorns. Rabbits and mice trace patterns in the morning dusting. I once saw a hawk’s wingprint stamped in a snowbank. Wisdom and miracle abound in this stark and solitary season.

To those who find winter blank and monotonous: you must write your psalm and I must write mine. There is glory hidden in the gray—look for it when the cold burns and the light dims. Look, and you will find winter crowning the year, robed in alabaster, strewn with rubies, fragrant as juniper, fresh as citrus, warm as cinnamon.

Reagan Dregge and her family

Reagan Dregge
Reagan loves names and words and stories. She once studied creative writing and theatre arts, but today she homeschools, writes handwritten letters, and salvages her own little house on the prairie with a husband, daughter, and multiplying menagerie (one cat, two dogs, a dwarf netherland rabbit, and a small flock of chickens). Her favorite seasons are winter, spring, summer, and fall. Follow her blog, The Grace Book, to read more of her work.

Kristen Kopp

Kristen Kopp
Kristen lives in a cottage on the prairies of Southern Minnesota. She works in her local Community Development Department by day and spends the rest of her time wandering in the woods, writing letters, and gathering with friends and family to share meals and play board games. Follow her on Instagram at @kristenannakopp.