“I was taken by this fresh, light-heartted romance with a twist, a turn and a touch of modern life melded with life of old. The landscape descriptions, truly give a sense of Canadian terrain, and life in all seasons. A diverse cast of characters with brilliant personalities came together to form and remain solid unity throughout the book. Cocooning the Butterfly is as deep a metaphor as the author’s bravery in exposing her emotions.” Review by M. Tillotson ~ British Columbia Canada
“Beautiful first chapter (chapter reveal) by this fresh. young writer. We’ll undoubtedly be hearing more from her and her new writings. Good, visual opening. Reader gets pulled into characters early on, when identification is so necessary, then gets pulled up by the scruff of her neck to learn the protagonist (at least one of them) is The Buffalo. Fascination point of view for the story.” Review by Jay Squires, Author
I was introduced to the music of Texas Tenors today, and I must say, there can be no better depiction of the heart and soul of my character, Joseph Tanner, AKA The Buffalo, than this video and song – Sometimes I Dream.
Joseph, like Halya, dreaming of each other from the time they were old enough to have feelings, thoughts and yearnings of true and honest love, slept with the figment of the other in their nightly dreams. Reaching out to each other, seeking and calling out for the other as they slept, their destiny is to join. I cannot, or rather have not, come across another song that digs so deeply into Joseph’s warm, gentle and country heart, that this.
I hope you can feel Joseph’s heart, aching and calling for his soulmate, Halya, The Butterfly that futters gracefully about his emotional being, as he waits for her, and no other.
Canadian, country, old-fashioned and naturally rustic this prairie view ranch with its back to the Rocky Mountains is definitely a rare and rugged find.
The Circle B Ranch was established in 1895 and is now 116 years old, but living stronger than the day when the old-timers first hung its gates. From the first day of becoming established, the Circle B Ranch has raised beef, pioneering a herd of buffalo some years back, as well as the typical farm animals, but has never left the bloodline of its original owners. Maintaining ownership until young Joseph and Halya were old enough to inherit this land, was a task only men of perseverance and loyalty could master, through the will and grace of a much higher power.
The house is set back on rugged land and nestled deep in the rolling foothills of Alberta. The Circle B stretches far, both north and south, flowing eastward and down into the flatter lands of the prairie, then westward, climbing into the mountains of Kananaskis Country. A spread of 100 sections of land, 64 000 acres, Joseph was born and raised here.
The Ranch’s outbuildings, corrals, barns, silos, sheds, shops, and shelters have been well kept and in good repair. Each additional building added over the years, planned for position and smooth flow of its beasts and critters, eased the workload on the wranglers and farmhands. Bunkhouses, supply barns, riding gear, farming tools and machinery all have their place, just as each man is well versed in his duties. Now, the time has come. Joseph Tanner, the Buffalo, will be master and lord.
Waves of dark brown fur can be seen in mass as the buffalo move throughout the snow encrusted meadows and fields, muster in the shelter of an ancient oak, cluster of fir trees or against banks that block the chilling winds descending from ice-covered mountain peaks; as are the smooth silky black hides of the Angus steers. Wranglers riding healthy and spirited horses of breeds like those of the Mustang, Belgian, Clydesdale or Percheron, dispersed over the rolling lands, ride in to take their afternoon meal and break next to the chuck-wagon sleighs. The boss speaks briefly to his lead wrangler before he heads to the house to have his lunch with his wife; Halya, Princess of the Knight Riders, her arrival at the Circle B was one that marked an end to the feud and brought life back to the ranch.
This kind of ranch demands the strength and performance of a man who possesses solidity of mind, ruggedness of character, a gentleness of heart, a most honorable deportment and assuredness of power with the steadiness of hand. Joseph is much more than that as he sits tall in his saddle, proud and with good humor, but he will not take shit from anyone. He has worked hard here all his life. It never occurred to him that this land was destined become his own until he met Halya and learned of his rightful heritage. However, their paths to each other, influenced by the existence of the Butterfly Bed, the Circle B Ranch, ancient promises, and a long-standing feud had formed the foundation of a heritage that played the cards of manipulation, perseverance, and faith that would offer them both a Living Hell and a Life of Heaven. If not for a man Joseph met only a few short years ago, all of this would have fallen into the hands of his feuding rival decades ago, given by law to a hellish Demon for drugs, weapons, and damnation. However, as fate should have it, that man and his power to control matters of evil, brought the feud to its end when he brought Halya and the Butterfly Bed to the Circle B.
As Joseph approached closer to the house and yard, Gringo, his prized Belgian horse beneath him trotted through the powdery snow with ease on a path created with this daily routine. Chaps and slickers, woolen clothing and leather riding gear; it is so cold the saddle leather creaks and groans in the frosted air. A trickle of smoke from the chimney, a flicker of light through the windows, the scent of food on the air, he gave Gringo a gentle kick and picked up the pace for home.
Joseph could not help but to pause in his afternoon quest for home and lunch each day, but to halt his homeward trek, and take in the vision of their home. The rugged beauty and stately feel of the Ranch’s main house and yard, was one that captured his breath with a new found awe as each season came upon them; as though a revelation of a great spirit had brought upon the property a new form and apparition of life come any season of the year. The sun and shadows, four seasons of colors draped and drenched in nature’s artistry, each day seemed like the first day that he stopped on this mound to take in this vision; this wondrous land he could soon now call his own.
To Joseph’s back, the east fields span open in space to roll off into the horizon to greet the morning sun. To his right, toward the northern boundary of the Ranch, behind the grand old oak trees sheltering the length of a two-kilometer laneway, the rolling northern section of the western fields host the family cemetery beneath an aged willow tree on a high mound; wrapped in a white picket fence, the snow this year engulfed the cemetery to invisible. To his left, the barns, silos, sheds, bunkhouses and stables stand bright and cheerful with their red paint in contrast to crisp white snow. Farther off to the west, upon much vast and leveler ground, the majestic stance of the house, a log over stone rancher poses as a bison bull, steadfast and strong with its back to the northwest, and its face to the southeast.
Then straight ahead of him, to the northeast side of the house, squared off is a massive log and stone structure that dominates a full acre, sheltered beneath snow-covered glass is the Butterfly’s Eden. Gates constructed as double castle doors of solid knotty pine, a monarch butterfly carved deep into the wood, Joseph’s Butterfly bathes her soul and spirit there in floral and fruitful abundance during the warmer months. Willow branch arbors and lattice window shutters support a variety of flowering clematis ivies or vines of succulent berries and grapes. The surrounding walls of jagged stone conceal a garden of savory vegetables, melons, gourds, and herbs. Everything flourishes abundantly during the summer season, but now the companion orchards and gardens rest under a heavy blanket of snow. Halya’s ten acres of food forest upon rich loamy soil boast a lavish and lush sanctuary, sheltered within the protection of the Circle B Ranch. It was his latest gift for his wife, Halya, the Butterfly’s Eden that is, that signified an end to her sorrows as it brought upon Joseph’s heart those wondrous tears of glee that he strived so hard to achieve and maintain. Halya sought Joseph all her life and found him when she was about ready to give up; just as he too, waited patiently for that one gentle beauty he dreamed of to come into his world and bring him peace.
Joseph took this moment to enjoy their wealth. Hearing nothing but the wind eject from Gringo’s lungs, Joseph gave his horse a nudge and they were off toward home with a steady loping step. Gringo rested now and tethered to the hitching post within a rough winter-use shelter near the house, Joseph fetched a portion of hay and a ration bucket of oats from the supplies stacked against the shelters inner rear wall then fed his horse. A heavy blanket tossed over the horse’s back, to prevent the warm animal from cooling down too quickly, Gringo would wait for his master to return. Joseph closed the gate to the shelter then walked toward the house.
A wide deep porch encircles the log over stone two-story rancher; a massive building of old growth knotty pine logs over granite stonework. White painted railing and window frames, armchairs and tables, and brightly painted flowerpots and planters litter the porch in an artistic array of country flavor. They have enjoyed many mornings watching the sunrise or evenings gazing at the moon from the comfort of four swings, one to each side of the house, suspended from the exposed log rafters. The Circle B house has withstood many a cold winter and long hot summers with ease.
Chilling winds drifting the snow, Joseph made a mental note to assign snow removal duties around the house to his farmhands as he strode the length of the porch; his spurs chime with each step. Snow bluffs had nearly covered the porch floor and steps; he would see to it after his lunch. Joseph paused for a moment, took note of Halya’s RAM truck parked in the drive and petite footprints in the snow. Her truck was free of snow and ice; still warm from her drive to town, snowflakes melted as they lit gracefully upon the windshield. She had arrived home within the last hour.
The wide deep porch frames a welcoming double-door entry, constructed of etched glass mounted within ancient arbutus wood. An earthy warm reception presents the foyer; spanning high and airy the loft opens to a grand entry that echoes a past culture of people that fail to die here. Joseph entered the house, slipped his boots off then set them on the mat next to the front door, hung his winter slickers on the peg stand, black Stetson hat on an eight-point rack of deer antlers.
Stone tiles and solid maple floors, a rustic ranchman’s country interior and blessed by the Lady Love in his life. The house was quiet, but for the scent of warm bread, fresh coffee, and chicken soup. Halya had not greeted him at the door as she usually did. As he looked around their home, admiring all that he took in, he knew that life was good and that his Butterfly Wife was here somewhere. Smiling, he set out to locate her.
To the left front of the house, the tall span of glass enclosing the house front disperses natural westerly light and life upon Halya’s dream kitchen; a rustic eat-in country kitchen, emitting the mouth-watering scents and flavors of a buffalo rancher’s wife with her heritage cooking. Hutches, chests, and tables have replaced the kitchen cabinetry. Faucets of antique solid brass sparkle with incoming sunlight. A hanger of cast-iron suspended above the main island from the rafters, the Circle B’s brand supports copper bottom pots and cast-iron pans. Drying flowers and braids of corn, herbs, and spices bunched and tied with twine adorn her space with a loving touch. The ovens have filled their home with the aromatic warmth of fresh baked bread, coffee, and hot chicken soup. With dirty hands, Joseph thought better of tasting from the soup pot and decided to allow himself an appetizing sniff then felt his hunger pangs grow to full force. Where was she? Reluctantly leaving the kitchen, he glanced into the living room from across the foyer, but she was not asleep on her favorite sofa.
Orchestrating steadfast and unwavering valor, the living room boasts oversized and overstuffed studded leather sofas, loveseats and recliners while many fragile antiques display feminine accent as balanced opposition to the vast space of the bold masculine aura of the room. The reconstructed fireplace and chimney of jagged stones and the colossal nineteenth-century arbutus mantel, support framed portraits of family and friends. Dressing tabletops of smooth silky wood rest oil lamps atop doilies of handmade lace. The indoor vegetation of purple and green grapes, a wide range of berry bushes or the various mix of nut and fruit trees, is in serious need of a foliage clipping. Halya has taken over the living room with her gardening in preparation for next year’s growing season; the height of the windows stretching from the main floor to the loft’s ceiling, provide ample lighting.
Strolling through the house, in search of his lovely wife, Joseph paused next to the woodstove that dominates the immense open space below the wide arc of the log staircase to the loft, between the kitchen and living room. Placing a hand out to feel for warmth, he took note of its need for wood. The house was warm, and that is how it should be, so stoking the fire within was mandatory. He tossed in four pieces of wood, checked the damper, then closed the doors and listened for the crackle of promised comfort. Halya would not work to heat the house, not in the condition that he suspected she was in; he would see to it that the house maintained its warmth and the wood supply remained plentiful. With snow piling up and more threatening to come, the house must remain warm.
The rooms flow as a whisper down a wide hall beneath the broad expanse of the loft’s upper entry, passing by the quiet mood of the formal dining room, and office/den, and then offering a peaceful approach to the soon-to-be nursery and master suite. Joseph opened the door to their bedroom and peered in to see if he could find Halya in their private rooms, and he did. She lay on their bed, curled in a ball, reminiscent of a child; glistening locks of curly auburn silk draped over the edge of the bed, gently brushing the hard wood of the bed’s frame, arms wrapped around her favorite childhood blanket, she slept like an infant.
The marvel of all archaic monstrosities rests majestically at the center of the room, faced upon an angle to view the beauty of their land through the lengthy panes of glass framing the stone fireplace that sits at the center of the east wall. An heirloom of old-growth European mahogany handcrafted in Helsinki, Finland, 1912. The story goes that an ancestor of remarkable wisdom, a legendary artisan, had built then sent this heirloom to his own Butterfly Bride. A bed made of true love, Halya inherited the blessing of this gift. Built for his bride with honored and cherished love, this stately piece of furniture, passed through the generations, and then gifted to Halya on her twenty-fifth birthday, 2007. An open-winged and fairy-like butterfly carved deep into the wood of the headboard, tiny butterflies swirl from the floor to seven feet high, reaching a butterfly-fairy atop the peak of each corner post; cherubims guarded a fortress of love. The Finnish words of the ancestor’s virtuous heart and balanced mind span the width of the footboard and read in his native tongue …
“Jos vaalit häntä sydämesi aarteena, Jumala siunaa sinua ylitsevuotavin aartein Hänen totuudessaan ja yltäkylläisyydessään; totuudessa, jonka tietää vain perhonen ja hänen kotelonsa.”
Translated into English the words have deep, metaphorical meaning.
“If ye shelter her in treasures of the heart, God shall bless thee with treasures abundant in His truth and prosperity; a truth known only of a Butterfly and her Cocoon”.
Nestled at the rear corner of the master bedroom, stand several wicker baskets filled with pillows or blankets, knitting or crochet projects, photos, or treasured mementos, as are the stacks of baskets next to the antique dressers and entertainment center. The heavily padded back-roll of the bed matches the embossed crisp white tapestry of the drapes. His & Her’s armchairs and footstools also dressed in white tapestry, arranged in a compact cluster next to the windows and fireplace, create a cozy reading nook with stunning views of the Canadian Prairie at Kananaskis Country from their Rocky Mountain Foothills Ranch at sunrise. A masculine solidity yet a graceful air of delicate femininity … if their home could speak, it would say …
“I am an honorable Ranchman’s home, and a sanctuary for his Butterfly to nest in.”
Quietly, as not to wake her from her slumber, Joseph lay a blanket over her then kissed her forehead, paused to admire her fragile splendor and peacefulness, stoked the fireplace then closed the door and returned to the kitchen for his lunch. Soon, he would enjoy his meals in the company of his offspring, passing on his knowledge of a rancher’s life, but for now, he would have to wait until their children were born.
Quoted Published Excerpt – Copyright 2017 by Laila Doncaster