Ghost Horse Hollow ... because a Fantasy should last a lifetime!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

THE HOLLY KING, a Family Holiday Tale #7

Chapter III of THE HOLLY KING continues at the homestead of Jake & Hannah MacKennon in the Appalachian Wilderness one hundred years in the future. We welcome you to our holiday blog ...

Ghost Horse Hollow is an imaginary world
based on real places in eastern Kentucky and Tennessee

By the time the farmer had crossed the Third Troll Bridge and had reached the bottom of the steps leading to the MacKennon’s inviting front porch, Hannah had opened the screen door for her husband. She already knew that something was amiss. Perhaps he had given his secret away by subtle changes in his confident stride. She sure looked pretty in her homemade, calico patchwork dress and white cotton apron. Her expressive hands were dusty with flour from kneading her famous buttermilk biscuits.

“How’s the best cook and baker in the whole territory?” Jake asked casually.

“Don’t carry on so,” Hannah MacKennon replied with a touch of modesty in her voice.

“Now, woman, everybody says so.”

“That’s just because my success in the kitchen is due to the fairies helping me around the stove by day and sleeping in the pantry at night. The winged folk guard all our herbs, eggs, spices, cakes, pickles and pies, jams and jellies, cookies and candies from the night critters that want to steal them. You know as well as I do that one hungry raccoon can do a world of damage in a well-stocked pantry.”

“Well, I reckon we better let the dogs in at night to help guard the larder,” MacKennon prodded his lovely wife.

“Not gonna happen, Mr. Plow Man. Dogs are not permitted anywhere near my fairy pantry.”

One of the dogs that you will meet in Ghost Horse Hollow is named "Mountain"
He is loyal, smart, and brave. Eight dogs guard the Mackennon homestead,
two for each side of the wrap-around porch.

Jake smiled with the smile of man that had lost this particular argument long ago. He topped the front porch steps with a lighthearted leap. It was good to be home. Hannah followed her husband into the spacious, warm kitchen with its pine-board floor and massive, creek-rock hearth. A long, wooden table with matching benches anchored the center of the room’s mouth-watering activities. Three other ladies assisted Jake’s wife with food preparation on the farm. Every meal was a magic meal.

At the head of the dinner table sat Jonas White Hand’s older sister, Lyla Morning Sky. She was calmly shelling speckled beans. A soft wool shawl hung over her elbows and peasant blouse. Lyla’s indigo, turquoise, and crimson skirt brushed the floor. She gave the farmer one of her looks that seemed to understand all of his potential mysteries and hidden fears; for Morning Sky was a genuine Medicine Woman, instructed in the old ways by her tribal grandmothers and other sacred teachers.

“Close the door! Close the door!” demanded a shiny crow perched on Morning Sky’s right shoulder. The black-beaked creature was more than her pet. The fairies referred to him as Lyla’s familiar, an animal sacred to her heart and destined to share her visions. The Native woman called her crow “Pelbert,” after the name of a seed company that had caught her fancy. Pelbert bobbed his head up and down, greeting Jake with a cackle and a whistle.

“I thought we were gonna cook that bird for supper. Things sure would be a lot quieter around here,” MacKennon joked while he stole a fresh bean from one of Morning’s Sky’s piles.

"Alma is fixing dumplings instead," Lyla remarked dryly, without looking up from her work station, "I suggest you steal a bite from her pot to snack on, instead of my beans.”

Hannah and the ladies of Ghost Horse Hollow are famous for their magic meals.
Visit the Fairy Cookery on our website for recipes:

Jake glanced over to the polished iron cook-stove, with its handy bread-warming shelf, and nodded at Miss Alma Barder. Missy, as some folks called her, was even older than Morning Sky, who was pushing sixty. Lyla’s dark, thick braids could have belonged to a much younger woman. Like her brother, Jonas White Hand, she aged very slowly in appearance. Alma Barder, on the other hand, was nearly seventy-two, with a white bun atop her head and a wrinkled smile. She claimed to be hard of hearing, but Jake found that Alma did not miss much.

Alma’s life centered on romance. When men-folk were visiting, Missy Barder loved to laugh and carry on. She was a well-known flirt who had never married. She had taught in a one-room school in the Eastern Woodlands since her sixteenth birthday. Alma truthfully claimed that she had helped to raise a thousand children—or youngins, as she lovingly called them—before retiring and coming to live with the MacKennons. Jake and Hannah had taken her in willingly, so charming was Alma’s disposition. The only drawback was the old lady’s tendency to dabble in love potions for animals and humans alike. The well-meaning schoolmarm often confused the important ingredients. This led to disastrous results, such as the mule falling in love with the cat, or the billy goat following Lady Hannah around the farm for several days. As Jake surveyed the kitchen, Alma smiled warmly and waved a messy spoon at the farmer.

A deep sigh could be heard coming from the third of Hannah’s kitchen helpers, who was working to the left of the big stove. Gracie Farrow’s slender form, disguised in a smartly pressed black dress, was bent over the kitchen sink. She was scrubbing crockery bowls, wooden platters, and an assortment of tin cups with a sad, but determined, look on her face.

Jake recalled that the teenager’s fiancĂ© had been killed that very summer in a barn fire. The tragedy started after Gracie’s father, John Farrow, had stored freshly mowed hay in the loft of his barn. An ugly rumor circled about that he had not allowed the grass to dry thoroughly in the sun before tossing it in his loft. Everyone said the damp hay started decomposing and suddenly burst into flames when the temperature of the compressed grass reached a critical point. Darren Carter, just twenty-two years of age, had died trying to save the Farrow’s livestock from the fire, as did Gracie’s father. The milk cows had made it out of the collapsing structure in the nick of time, but the two men had perished in the smoking wreckage. Jake always felt that Azastra, the Summer Fairy Princess, was to blame. The fire had foul play written all over it, because Darren and John were very careful farmers. They would never have stored damp hay in a confined space. Jake also knew that Azastra, selfish to the core, enjoyed playing with fire.

Hannah insisted on taking the girl in, for Gracie was barely seventeen and had no living relatives, except one uncle that Hannah disapproved of mightily. Jake’s wife considered Hank Farrow to be a drunken fool. Such a pretty, vulnerable young lady as Miss Gracie had no business living in her uncle’s rundown hunting shack in the backwoods, Hannah had said.

The Fairy Lore of Ghost Horse Hollow was inspired by Celtic mythology.
Miss Gracie is a child of a Silkie, a Seal Maiden from the British Isles.

“Evening, Miss Gracie,” Jake spoke politely, a little unsure of how to address the mournful teen. Gracie smiled briefly in the farmer’s direction and continued with her task of lifting a pot of boiling water off the stove and pouring it into the sink along with shavings of lavender dish soap. Her rich auburn hair, fine complexion, and wide, earth-colored eyes would, indeed, have made her a target for an isolated drunk.

The fairies whispered that Gracie was probably a child of a Silkie, a seal maiden from the Ancient Isles across the sea. These mysterious ocean-women had large, kind eyes that were filled with longing. Perhaps Gracie would one day return to a faraway home beneath the frothy waves. Jake, in any case, had fully supported Hannah’s generous offer, for the Farrow’s family homestead was adjacent to Ghost Horse Hollow. Jake had always thought very highly of his neighbors and was happy to help others in their time of need.

“Here, girl, let me give you a hand with that hot water,” MacKennon offered with a quick step in Gracie’s direction.

The homesteaders grow and raise their own food with the help of the Starlight and Moonlight Fairies.
The MacKennons are organic gardeners with a love for the Earth.

“Aw, you and your wife have already done plenty for me and my kin,” Miss Farrow replied, “and you know I like to do for myself when ere I can.” She shooed Jake away with a toss of bubbles.

MacKennon knew it was best not to insist. It would only lead to more protests, and it was true that the homesteaders had done all they could to ease Gracie’s burden. Miss Farrow had inherited her father’s apple orchards and bee fields after the fire. John Farrow’s last will and testament had specifically denied Hank Farrow from receiving any control of the land. There had been bad blood between the two brothers since childhood. Jake and Hannah were left to manage the Farrow’s estate as well as Ghost Horse Hollow, since Gracie could not possibly work the four-hundred-acre inheritance by herself.

“I made your favorite peach pie, Jake,” Hannah interrupted MacKennon’s recollections. “There’s cornbread in the oven and a deer roast, soup beans, and apple dumplings. Lyla cooked up a mess of turnip greens, and Gracie fried up plenty of catfish in the cast-iron skillet. Wash up now. Where is everybody? I’ll go ring the dinner bell again.” Hannah scooted out the front door to the porch, barely pausing for a sweet kiss from the man she both loved and admired.

Hannah's famous Chocolate Cake with Coffee Mocha Glaze
Food is important on a magical farm!

We hope you enjoyed the 7th Installment of THE HOLLY KING for the holidays. For gift items relating to Ghost Horse Hollow, please visit our website and scroll down to our handy craft boutique with products from We hope these shopping ideas will bring cheer to your hearth and home!
 Drop in tomorrow for the conclusion of
Chapter III : Meet the MacKennons!

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