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Practically Snow White

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Practically Snow White

Once upon a time, not so very long ago, a young couple yearned for a clean and wholesome environment in which to raise their newborn son. The man and woman scraped together all of their savings and put a small down payment on a beautiful piece of land on the side of a mountain, deep in the New Hampshire forest. They went through many trials and tribulations but eventually they began to build their dream home. While still unfinished, the couple, anxious to begin their new life, moved from their noisy apartment in an ancient Round House on top of busy train tracks into the quiet new house in the middle of the forest. When they arrived, they imagined that the most difficult part was behind them and looked forward to the next step in their journey together.

The house in the forest represented the dreams the couple shared for their future. However, the beginning times were very hard. The couple realized they had been overly optimistic and naïve in their hopes. They were quite poor so the man was gone many long hours, from dawn to dusk, working. When he was home, he was grumpy, tired and distracted and disinterested in engaging with his family. For much too long, the only time the couple spent with each other was when they worked on finishing the house together. It was an arduous life.

Each day became more wearisome and demanding then the next. The woman was isolated and lonely and still struggling with the baby blues. Then tragically, she lost her beloved companions. Her two best friends in the world, the dog and cat, died within a short time of one another. This circumstance would be sad for most people, but the woman was especially sensitive and extremely attached to her pets. Her grief became overwhelming.

Of course the woman desperately loved her child so she forced through her grief and unhappiness to provide a show of good cheer for the now rambunctious toddler. It was exhausting, and without break because the bright and wild child refused to take naps. However there was something that would calm the child into sleep, car rides and long walks in his stroller. Unfortunately, the car was long since dead and the family was too poor to afford a new vehicle. So the woman was left at home, in the middle of the forest with the stroller as her only option.

A peaceful walk down a country lane sounds like a lovely pastime for a mother and child to enjoy. That is until one realizes at the end of this adventure the woman had to hike up the mountain pushing 50 pounds of sleeping baby weight to get back up to the house. Seems like a lot of effort for a 30 minute reprieve, but she thought it was well worth it, for both of their sake. After struggling up the mountainside driveway, the woman would then haul the heavy toddler and stroller up the steep steps and into the house, leaving the door open so she could listen. As a reward she was then able to rest a moment outside on the back porch while the boy slept.

Lo and behold, the most astonishing turn of events began during one of those quiet afternoon nap times. The Woodland Spirits who had been observing the woman for quite some time, finally agreed that she was worthy of their acceptance. So they decided to bestow upon her the great gift of the Old Knowledge where myth, magic, legend and reality become one, and all of the wonders of Mother Nature’s secrets are revealed. In the moment their gift was received, it was like the glory of the sun peeking through the clouds, the woman’s entire world suddenly became brighter and the veil of sadness had been lifted.

The wild animals began to drift forth from the forest depths to honor the newly enlightened woman. A red tailed hawk dances on one leg in the ferns. A hare pauses expectantly on his hind legs, then winks and shakes his ears before darting off into the brush. The deer gracefully cascade toward the porch in long legged elegance, keeping an eye on their spotted fawns stowed away in the tall grasses. Green frogs vie for attention, croaking loudly as they splash in muddy puddles. Ladybugs decorate leaves with their festive polka dot patterns while bees buzz diligently from wildflower to wildflower. An army of wild turkey hens parade past, puffing and clucking, proudly showing off their feathery brood. Crows wisely observe, speaking raucously, providing commentary and sharing private jokes from the trees. Skunks roll and tumble about, showing off their acrobatic skills. A porcupine waddles comically past, hurriedly about her business. A heron sails heroically above in the bright blue sky. Mourning doves nod and shuffle, while performing their eerie serenade. A handsome barred owl makes a special daytime appearance, promising to enact his concert later in the evening. The groundhogs whistle and chomp and brag to their neighbors of the good fortune found in the woman. Red squirrels chatter and scold while the more curious and friendly gray squirrels and chipmunks glide nervously about the woman. The opossum lurks shyly in the shadows, preferring to do his formal introduction under the cover of darkness. At night the coyotes solemnly howl and fox mothers scream their reprimands at fox fathers late for kit duty.

A bold and sassy raccoon aggressively addresses the woman in hopes of sharing her snacks. Much to the raccoon’s delight, the woman complies. Inspired by the easy reward of delicious treats, the raccoon soon became quite familiar, perhaps overly familiar in her rather lowbrow way. She was a forward type, but with good reason. She soon proved herself to be a mother in need, with five very hungry babies to feed. Of course the woman was charmed and delighted by the fluffy little bandits and immediately agreed to help. From then on, every afternoon the two mothers would enjoy a meal together and laugh and commiserate about their naughty children. It must have lightened both of their loads because they soon bonded and became great lifelong friends. It was in these moments on the back porch where all of the wonders of the woodland world were seen, heard, understood and deeply appreciated by the woman. She was the happiest she had ever been.

The afternoons with the animals on the back porch introduced the woman to magic and wonder and new friendships, relieving her emptiness and chasing away her grief. The man noticed the change in the woman, almost as soon as he began noticing the extraordinary visitors on the back porch at all hours of the day and night. The woman’s family had no idea she was now blessed with the Old Knowledge, but they knew something was different. The friendly animals began to provide regular entertainment and became the new normal for the small family in the forest. The woman was careful to caution and educate the child about their unusual situation, but it was his version of normal, so he never considered anything out of the ordinary.

The man never said much about the strange turn of events, but he was most likely relieved for the happier environment. To this day he still, perhaps a bit begrudgingly, picks up sunflower seeds and other snacks for the woman’s multitude of wild animal friends.
And so they lived happily ever after, The End.

Author’s Note: The House in the Meadow pictured above is a painting of the house discussed in the story. Practically Snow White was inspired by my real life experiences surrounding the first year or two building our new house. I wrote this tale intending to illustrate my deep connection to our land, my family and the animal’s kind enough to share this wonderful, beautiful, magical place with us.

The raccoon in the story was a very real part of my life. Her name was Rachael and she was a welcome visitor here for many years until she passed on. Her children and grandchildren are all still regular visitors to our little house in the forest.

My husband and I are happy with our decision to move to this woodland paradise, as nothing worthwhile is given. I truly believe the best rewards are those earned with hard work and perseverance. Life is often more difficult then we anticipate but we are made stronger for having lived it. We survived our early years and are doing quite well. Our house is still unfinished but I no longer care. And if you are wondering, I have had numerous cars since those early days, so technically I can leave whenever I want, but I hardly ever do so since most of my closest friends live right here in our back yard. Okay that, and Tonka, my 18 pound diabetic cat keeps me close to home, as he requires an insulin shot every 12 hours.

The boy in the story is 16 years old now and much less rambunctious, but still a delightful pain in the ass when he wants to be. He is loved beyond words, even if he does think his mother is completely crazy. He turned out to be a kind and gentle young man who is sweet and sympathetic to both animals and people.

Additional beloved pets have come into our lives since we lost Loki and Kitty, the dog and cat featured in the story. Sadly, we’ve lost more friends along the way, and each pet’s death breaks my heart deeply but I like to think I deal with my grief a bit better now.

So that’s my Snow White Origin story, and of course it’s all (mostly) true. I’m not completely sure why I associate Snow White with the forest animals except for that part in the movie where they come at her command when she starts singing. Obviously I was deeply affected by this as a young (practically Orphan) child. I might have desperately wanted help cleaning my bedroom or I might have just needed someone there to listen to me. Whatever the case that’s one Disney moment that profoundly shaped my psyche for the rest of my life. I still believe that animals know exactly what I’m saying and I will never give up trying to engage them in conversation. However, I am kind enough not to sing to them because, ah, how shall I say this? My singing to the animals could be seen as cruel and unusual punishment.

I hope you enjoyed my story and that you are living your best happily ever after!

As you can see from the paintings accompanying this story, I have honored my New Hampshire Woodland Animal friends by creating this Portrait Collection

As you can see from the paintings accompanying this story, I have honored my New Hampshire Woodland Animal friends by creating this Portrait Collection

Here is the Woodland Animal Portrait collection description: Adorable oval shaped animal portrait paintings inspired by the amazing animals that live with Amy on her New Hampshire property. The Woodland Animal Portrait series is prominently featured in her home. All of the animals represented are beloved friends. Each one has their own story to tell. However, the humorous antics that happen in the backyard, stay in the backyard. If you are picturing Snow White, it’s basically true.

The Woodland Animal Portraits are just the thing to bring warmth and personality to your magical Woodland Getaway, Forest Lodge or Secret Cabin in the Woods. Super cute in wall art sets, as cuddle worthy throw pillows and perfect as greeting cards!

Mixed Media. Border hand drawn in pen and ink. Portrait image painted in acrylic glazes. By Amy E. Fraser. All images copyright Amy E. Fraser. All rights reserved.

Click the link to see Amy E. Fraser's collection of New Hampshire Wildlife Drawings
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