He hummed a small chant reverently as he labored in the small cabin. He returned affectionately to the window sill. He held the small dusty bottle up to the light triumphantly.
The leaves had macerated since the last full moon. The sun had indeed turned it all into a lovely brown concoction. Shuffling his feet in his esoteric rambling around the shed, he finally found the block of beeswax and began melting it slowly over the open flame.
He dutifully strained the small bottle from the window. Smiling, he added the remaining oil to the beeswax, stirring it slowly with a thick, old wooden spoon. Forgetting his third ingredient, he indignantly scuttled back to the pantry.
“There you are cypress,” he addressed it, returning to his work. He moved the softened wax from the flame and muttering under his breath used the dropper from the cypress oil over the top of the wax. As the strong aroma struck his sinuses, he allowed himself the pleasure of a satisfied smile. He reached down, taking a small sample and massaging it between his fingers.
“Perfect” he said, quite satisfied with himself. Not giving it time to set, he spooned it into the waiting green jars, sealed them, occasionally returning to his fingers to breathe in the thick Mediterranean scent.
Walking over to the sink, he washed his hands carefully, returning his apron to its hook. With a gentle blow he extinguished the lanterns, enjoying the silence for a moment and the fresh smoke in the air. He stepped over the book of herbs and closed it as reverently as someone might close their bible.
As if on que, the grandfather clock in the corner struck six and the first fingers of sunrise peeked through the trees into the window. He dutifully toddled off through the yard to the house, returning back to the modern world.
He stood naked examining himself out of the morning shower. So this was what older looked like. He hummed Copland’s shaker hymn as he carefully braided his hair and then his beard. He took the ring out of his nose, placing it carefully in a tray on the sink, and replaced the big hoops usually in his ears with carefully selected garnet studs. She’d asked him to shave – knowing he’d ignore her – of course the beard was never coming off. It was part of him like rings in an ancient redwood.
He arrived at the church in his construction man’s pickup. It was that kind of whirling dervish that made people pray for his safety every time he got into it. Stepping out in the perfectly tailored dark green suit with a fresh flower in the lapel, even he had to admit he looked pretty good. There she was on the stoop. One day a frightened girl he’d walked home from school, the next a mother marrying off her daughter. Damned if she didn’t look older yet like he did. He supposed there were reasons for that.
She greeted him with a smile and a strong hug.
“Try not to turn anyone into a frog today, shall we?,” she teasingly whispered into his ear.
“For today. limited time offer, restrictions apply.”
He walked up the center aisle of the cathedral. The memories of this place traced back to before any of them were born. He could still here the theatrical creak of the main doors the last time he’d left here and put his collar in the top drawer of his father’s desk and never gone to retrieve it again.
With no pause, the other participants and then guests started to arrive.
He stood in the center as the groom nervously darted his eyes between him and the back door of the church. He wondered what generational stories the boy had been told about the esoteric druid uncle from the woods. He winked at the boy, which didn’t exactly have the calming effect that was intended.
His niece arrived in the back door, wearing his Mother’s wedding dress. She strolled forward with a disquieting adult confidence.
Beginning his opening words, he found his cadence and cast his spell over the crowd.