The traveler trod a tree-lined trail, macadam cracked and worn much like the boots on his feet. A menacing hedgerow loomed on his left, branches and brambles waving in the wind, willowy and weeping witches’ heads creaking and crackling in the bitter wind. What he believed to be trees to his right instead were a forest of gnarled, twisted hag hands, reaching pitifully for the cold, gray sky.

Beast and bird scuffled through the undergrowth unseen, but for a few feathered fiends, glinting like jet among thorns and thistle. The traveler trekked on, heedless of how his path proceeded. A step at a time, bracing himself against angry aerial avian gusts, gangs of obsidian obscuring the way.

Above in filigree fingers a shrieking, screeching scornful sound followed our fellow, frightening and frustrating him as he fought free, bleeding from the bedeviling battering of wings, a choking cloud of drowning darkness. The horrible howl of a Jay, jeweled in sapphire, diving dangerously down upon the poor retch’s hatless head.

Painfully pursued, plodding perilously as twilight descended, the wonderer wondered wearily whether weather would win, wearing him out til too tired to traverse the remaining distance. When suddenly a cheerful chirping chimed through the wood.

He hearkened, halted hopefully as the hateful Jay circled once again. Seeing the source of such satisfying song, a smile broke across the man’s mug. The Jay cried once more in defeat, dashing away into darkness as a pair of garnet-breasted Cardinals settled onto our hero’s heaving shoulders.

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