Finding the Light

Finding the Light

Image Source: Young Shanahan Wikipedia

Harper inhaled a couple of times, trying to shield her cigarette from the rising wind.

“I can’t believe you’re lighting a smoke,” Dia said, nervously looking around

“Why?” Harper said. “There’s no one here except that old man over there and he’s not gonna notice. Likely couldn’t care less anyway. Not like anyone really does,” she said as she blew some smoke into the wind.

“I’m just saying.”

“Who cares.” She plunged the spade into the soil and started digging. “I mean, why worry about it? This is just a temporary thing to teach ‘you teens how to take responsibility for your actions.” She mimed the last part, pretending to quote the words of the social worker, assigned to their case. Dia laughed at Harper’s words and continued to also dig her holes.

They continued to work until their dinner break. Dutifully, Harper and Dia walked over to the picnic tables where they usually take their break.

“How’s it going girls?” Mr. Oldfield said, giving them their bags. “If you need to fill your water bottles, it’s best to use the water in the shed. The water from the hose is just meant for the plants.” Dia smiled.

“Thanks, sir.” Mr. Oldfield smiled and then walked away, picking up the tree saplings and moving them to where they’ll be planted.

“Why’re you sucking up to him?”

“What’ya mean?” Dia said, turning to look at Harper.

“Thanks, sir,” she said, imitating Dia.

“Just being polite,” she said, taking a bite of her sandwich. Harper rolled her eyes.

“He’s an old man who’d much rather be lawn bowling or whatever, than making sure two rowdy girls don’t destroy his beloved community garden.”

“Well, all I know is he seems really nice.” Harper rolled her eyes, each bite an expression of her aggravation.

After they finished eating, Harper and Dia headed back to the area of the garden they were working on. The idea was to extend the community garden and prepare it for planting.

Harper dug down again, everything floating through her mind, remembering her dad was coming to see her at the weekend. She hoped he didn’t bring his new wife. Harper couldn’t stand the woman who was just about ten years older than herself. It was stupid and really kinda pathetic.

But her mind went to her mother who was currently away with her girlfriends to some amazing card game or something. She was sure it’d just be an excuse to drink and squeal and whatever they do. I mean, act your age. What a waste of time. Sinking her spade into the ground with some added strength, fuelled by her assorted grievances with life at the moment.

“What’s that,” Harper said as she scraped away some dirt from something in the hole she just dug. Kneeling down she reached down and identified some sort of chain. Pulling more at the dirt, she was finally able to reveal what appeared to be a pendant.

“Hey, Dia. Come look what I found.” Dia dropped her shovel and came over.

“What’s that? Was it in the dirt?” she said, as she scrutinised the pendant Harper was holding.

“Yeah. I was digging in the ground and then this was just in the dirt. Weird, eh?”

“Yeah. What’s on it, Harp?” Harper started to scuff off the dirt. There appeared to be a three part spiral design. “It’s weird. But it’s cool, hey.” She smiled and gave it to Dia who turned it around, polishing it a little.

“What’ve you found girls?” Mr. Oldfield said. Harper looked at him warily, the same way she viewed all adults.

“Harper found this when she was digging,” she said, holding it up for Mr. Oldfield to see. She looked at Harper, ensuring it was okay to ask, but Harper just stood there with her arm resting on her shovel and looking at Dia and Mr. Oldfield.

“Oh, isn’t that interesting,” Mr. Oldfield said, taking the pendant and turning it over and around.

“Do you know what it is?” Dia said, taking another quick look at Harper.

“Most certainly. You’ve got yourself a nice little find. Looks to be gold, too. Someone must’ve been wearing it and it came loose. Is the tie broken on it?” Harper looked.

“Doesn’t seem to be.”

“Oh, well, who knows. Maybe it was meant to be,” Mr. Oldfield said, smiling. “I’m not sure how this place was used before they decided to use it for the community garden.” He looked into the sky, trying to think. “Although I seem to recall it used to be an old residential area. But they fell into disuse decades ago. I think I was only a boy at the time.” He laughed.

“But do you know what that symbol is?” Dia said.

“Well, yes. It’s very well known. It’s called a Triskelion. Thousands of years old,” he said as he held the pendant up to see the symbol more clearly. “It’s beautiful. But yeah, it’s often termed a Celtic Triskelion. But as I mentioned, it predates them. Although, it’s something they adopted to adorn many of their objects. I mean, it’s a symbol used across Europe, really. How it travelled from one place to another isn’t known,” he said. Harper came and looked again at the pendant.

“That’s pretty amazing,” Harper said.

“And it’s actually really amazing because in a few months, we’re going to have midwinter.” Harper and Dia furrowed their eyebrows. “Well that’s when we officially enter winter. It’s the longest night. And actually the Triskelion is one of the images carved into the rock at Newgrange.”

“Where’s Newgrange?” Dia said.

“It’s in Ireland. And with at sunrise, a shaft of light enters a roof-box over the entrance and then shines down the passage-way.”

“Wow,” Harper said. “Imagine that. They must’ve really had to work to make sure everything was lined up properly.

“Oh yes. They were a clever lot, that’s for sure.”

“So, every winter, this happens?” Harper said, turning the pendant around in her hand.

“Every winter. You figure out what the sunrise is in Ireland come winter solstice and that’s what’ll be happening.”

“How do you know all this Mr. Oldfield,” Dia asked. “You’re pretty smart.” He smiled.

“No, no. I just read a lot, I guess. If you go to the library, I’m sure you’d be able to find several books on the Triskelion. You could even just look it up on the internet. No doubt, there’ll be a good bit on all of these things.”

“Seems really special.” Harper said, mostly to herself.

“Well, it is very special. Things like the Triskelion and all the beliefs centred around it remind us of our connections with this world.” He raised his hands, gesturing all around. “It’s our connection with the universe. It gives us a chance to put things into perspective a bit.” He looked at Harper, their eyes meeting. “Do you understand what I’m saying?” Harper looked away. “These people worked from dawn until dusk. The most important thing to them was the returning of the light because that’s all the winter solstice meant to them. More than anything, it meant their continued survival. Do you understand?” Harper looked again at him, slowly nodding her head.

“Ah, Mr. Oldfield, that’s just beautiful,” Dia said. “I just want to give you a hug.” She hugged Mr. Oldfield, her eyes closed as she smiled brightly. Harper looked away, off into the horizon somehow gathering her thoughts.

“Anyway, girls, I think we’re done for the day. I’ll see you tomorrow. That’ll be your last day, won’t it?” Dia nodded her head vigorously, smiling.

“But it’s been fun, hasn’t it Harp?” Harper shrugged her shoulders, picking up her knapsack. Mr. Oldfield smiled at Dia.

The next day, Harper and Dia came with the social worker. Mr. Oldfield was already there puttering around the garden. Harper and Dia got out of the car and walked over to Mr. Oldfield.

“How are you doing girls?” Mr Oldfield said.

“Not too bad, Mr. Oldfield,” Dia said.

“How about you, Harper?” She just gave him the thumbs up, her hand involuntarily going to her neck. He smiled, their eyes meeting. “You understand what I said about your pendant, don’t you?” Harper nodded her head slowly, being fairly sure he knew she was wearing it. It didn’t matter. She’d cleaned it up last night and felt the urge to wear it.

“Yeah, I do. It’s important to always be strong and to know your place in the world, to know your have a place in the world.”

“That’s my girl. You’ve got it.” Harper smiled. She and Dia took their shovels and, knapsacks on their backs, went off to further extend the community garden.

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