Story of the Day: Of Gods and Grandmas - Baba Connridh
Baba Connridh, the novella about Gran Mara Connridh and her magic knitters, will be out this coming Tuesday. Here is one last look at now Baba gets the gods to work miracles in her favour and peel the potatoes:
Baba returned to the house, walking into the back room, feeling the smiles of a god who had an answer for everything oppress her.
“Where’d you put the milk and the water I asked you to get earlier?” Baba asked, lookingabout for the piggin and bucket.
Aoidhe waved a hand, and the piggin and the bucket appeared by the doorway. Instead of being astonished at the god’s abilities, or thankful for his efforts, Baba glanced into the piggin, and with an appraising look, said, “Aye, suppose it’ll do.”
“Had to charm the milk outta that cow,” Aoidhe declared, tucking his thumbs behind his overall straps. “Menor too. He had to god that water outta the ground, ‘cause he said the well was dry.”
“I know,” said Baba firmly. “That’s why I asked him to do it. I knew he’d do exactly what I needed him to. Couldn’t expect you to do anythin’ but charm a heifer outta her milk.”
Menor turned away to hide a smile, but heavier snow accumulated on his shoulders, and the mists around him swirled.
“What?” Baba simpered, glancing at Aoidhe. “You wanna medal for milkin’ that cow? You think I don’t know that cow’s not calved in a while? I’m not a senile, son. I know you had to use a miracle to milk her.”
“Don’t mind givin’ you a miracle, if it gets me more pie than Menor.”
“Depends on how good yer carrot peelin’ is. You want that pie, yer gonna work for it.” A sudden scent pervaded the house, the petrichor of coming rain tickled Baba’s nose, and she looked out the window toward the sky. “That rain’ comin’?” she asked, frowning at the clouds.
“Naw,” Aoidhe replied. “That's just Fuinnog tryin' to spy on us. He's just jealous 'cause of all this pie we're gettin'.”
Menor somehow doubted that their cousin was interested more in lamb pie than he was about making it rain, but the gods were being put to work, they were being led into the kitchen and set at the counter, they were being instructed to peel the vegetables, and Menor, taking up one of the potatoes, stared at it and gave a despondent sigh.
“Stop yer poutin’ over the potatoes,” said Aoidhe, peeling the carrots with a wave of his hand. “You’ll make ‘em feel rotten, and I sure don’t want no soft spuds in my pie.”
Here was a dour look.
“I know it’s real hard,” said Aoidhe wryly, “appreciatin’ someone’s makin’ dinner for us and all. Don’t know what you came here for if you didn’t want to have dinner.”
“I came here to fulfill my duties as Patron to the Elderly, not to take food from one of our oldest followers. We do not need to eat, Aoidhe,” his brother sharply reminded him.
“Aye, don’t need to, but just ‘cause we don’t need food doesn’t mean we can’t taste it. We don’t need a lotta things, but we can still eat for the joy of it. it’s like how it used to be, when we used to FEAST IN GRAND CENATION with all our kin and share the meals together on our holidays. We can’t do that no more. Now we just gotta watch everyone feastin’ and propinatin’ and such. Gettin’ to sit at a table with someone who knows us is like how it used to be. You even remember those days?”
Menor studied the potato. “Yes,” said he mindfully, his stone lips creasing into a tender smile, “I remember.”
The remembrance of spending every day among their doting followers prevailed, and the two gods peeled the carrots and potatoes in silence, each of them regaling in the fond conjurations of a Frewyn long passed. The bonfires ablaze in their honour, the songs strummed out, the hymns sung, the food prepared— several days at a time were spent under the Aegis of their Loving Gods, the daylight hours rife with joyous work and languid accubation, the gloaming ushered in with libations and games, and every night ended in a dance, one that included everyone and delighted everybody. There was animation, exuberance, camaraderie and carousing—everything to recommend Frewyn as being the happiest nation on the continents, but even the most exquisite serenity is not lasting: velitations broke out amongst the gods, disagreements and dissent spread amongst the clans, Frewyns had grown too numerous, their prosperity encroaching on other races that belonged to the land, and the fights over land sovereignty and the clan wars began. There were no more libations, no more games and songs; there was only the brontide of battle over every neighbouring hill and the clatter of swords on the ground. The clans fought, some lost and faded into obscurity, and by way of punishment for the violence and judgment they had forced on one another, the gods were bid to leave them, abandoning them to the misery of loneliness and the anguish of a nation divided. So ended the Era of the Gods, so ended the Rapture of Old Frewyn: the gods were separated from their children, those that once held a single god as their patron broke into villages and towns, and regardless of how much either side wished the other would return, the gods pleading with Diras to be allowed to return and Frewyns calling out to the heavens in contrition, it was decided that each side must learn to do without the other. The gods existed as legends and constellations, churches were established as prayer houses for the solemn and dejected, and the gods pitied their children, leaving caution aside and visiting them whenever prayers were said, but they could no more show themselves to their children than they could act on behalf of their interests: Diras must not know of their furtive ties, direct interference in Frewyn life was forbidden, and though Aoidhe disobeyed the edict several times a day, Menor and Borras and the rest of the gods did everything they could to help their children without incurring unwanted suspicion. Compunction and affection had driven them to disobey Diras’ order; they felt the destruction and dissemination of the clans was their doing, and if the only way to bring about the gods’ permanent return was to reestablish perfect peace, they must make it looks as though they had left their children to themselves until Diras, declare the thousand-year period of penance over.
That time was nearly come, and Menor and Aoidhe did their work with grateful smiles, gratulating in the prospect of being to sit again amoungst their children, and glad to be reminded of a time in which the exhilaration of equal worship reigned.
A voice roused them from their work.
“WHAT’RE YOU DOIN’ WEARIN’ YER BOOTS IN MY HOUSE?” Baba shouted. “YER NOT GONNA BE MAKIN’ A STY O’ THIS KITCHEN, I’M TELLIN’ YA THAT!”
Menor knew his innocence here; his brother was the one who insisted on wearing boots everywhere, and though no god had any need for shoes, boots kept in line with the Leabhar Maith’s depiction of how Aoidhe was supposed to appear to those who prayed to him: a hale and hardy farmer, in the bloom of full health, broad-shoulders and yolk-backed, features that were given to Aoidhe over the centuries, though Chune was considered the goddess of the harvest. His more important aspects, being also the God of Fire and Passion, were associated with his true form, and as he could not appear as the Burning Man without overwhelming his followers with his Divine Presence, Aoidhe kept with the image of the farmer, allowing him to move from farm to farm and attract as little notice as possible.