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The Trading Festival
Every night at midnight, the purple clouds came out to dance with the blushing sky. But only one night of the year would the Sprites come out, and tonight was that night. Father says it’s time I learn the importance of the treaties that the kingdoms have in place, but why would I? Yes, I am the first born heir, but I'm not the first born son. That’s Michael, and while he’s only 9, he still has plenty of time to learn his duties. Apparently, all the daughter of the king is good for is to be a diplomat’s wife and to keep the “peace” between politicians. But, what about my peace? Nobody ever asks what I want. But, that’s okay, I don’t need them to. If the only freedom I get is now until when I am wed, then I will spend every grain in the hourglass doing what I want. And what I want is to sneak away the second father gets distracted to experience the festival in a way that members of the castle never have before. No later than the thought crosses my mind do I have my opening to disappear. Seldom am I so thankful to my brother for causing a scene. And just like that, I’ve slipped through the lilac bushes to make my escape. A few of the fragrant flowers decorate my hair when I emerge from the other side, but I don't mind them hitching a ride. I reach beneath my dress to grab the small satchel I have stowed in my crudely sown secret pocket. “Mother was right, sowing is quite useful”. The court seamstress would have a cow if she knew I had altered the dress she made from expensive fabrics traded from the nation of Selkies in the south. I remove the ribbons and hair coils that held back my hair and place them in the bag as I retrieve my shawl to hide my lavish clothes. Now looking more like the common folk, I pass through the streets illuminated by glow stones. There are more than I’m used to seeing. The mountain range running along our western border is rich with them. It makes sense that there are so many, as this is the biggest trading event of the year and they are our biggest export after all. On this day, every year when the portal to the Sprites world opens at midnight, merchants and buyers alike trade for things that only the other realm holds. It's the only time of the year the castle can stock up on certain herbs and fabrics before festivities end at first daybreak when the portal closes for another 365 days until it all repeats again. I'm ripped from my thoughts as the gong sounds to signal the gate is open and trading has begun!
Reducing Our Carbon Footprint, One Bite at a Time
Last week on my near-daily commute home from work, between the same overplayed Top 10 pop songs, the two hosts took a moment to make a joke about a random and lighthearted news story. A ketchup packet shortage had swept the nation’s restaurants. They had their laughs and faded into the next sensationalized new release. As I parked in front of my apartment, I sat in the car and connected lots of dots.