The Poppinwood is seventeen miles from Cloverdale. The ancient trees of the Wood are lovely and dark, reaching upward to brush raindrops from the sky. Windy Lane is the only road penetrating the shaded wood. The Lane allows for one horse and cart to wind through the Wood, sometimes travelling uphill and then down and at times, circles all around. With patience, the Windy Lane succeeds in purpose, taking the weary traveller to the secluded hamlet of Poppin.
A few days ago I made the trek down Windy Lane to visit the Poppins of Poppinwood. This large extended family were celebrating the birthday of Anna, one of the clan's matrons. I asked Anna her age. She tapped the side of her nose and, with a smile, left the question unanswered. As a rule, the Poppins generally avoid the topic of time. The subject seems to have a different meaning for them.
I reached the Poppin's hamlet just after noon and found my good friend Alfred Poppins sitting on his porch enjoying his pipe. I joined him. Together we watched the sun's rays appear and disappear on the grass as the trees moved to the breeze.
"What time will everyone else arrive?" I interrupted the silence. He throught for moment as he puffed on his pipe.
“We are where we’re suppose to be when we’re suppose to be there,” he explained. “No need to worry. Things take care of themselves. That's how we live. Its the Poppin's way.” He patted my knee and stood for a stretch.
I envied his philosophy. Time was my antagonist, taking me in its firm grasp towards uncertainty, old age and finally the sleep from which we pray we all awake.
The sun continued across the sky. At what I perceived late afternoon Anna appeared from the woods.
"How are you Uncle?" she inquired as she collasped her umbrella. I looked up into a rainless sky and wondered. "Are we ready to celebrate another year?"
And then as if on cue , the Poppins began arriving. Each emerged from the dark shadows of the Wood and into the clearing. There were warm embraces lightened with laughter. The Poppins spoke of the weather, their hamlet and the Shire. They spoke of family far away and remembered their kin to each other.
A guest at a Poppins reunion always leaves the gathering befuddled. To this day I wonder how a cottage so small on the outside held so many people comfortably inside? It’s walls seemed to expand with each new arrival. Delicious food appeared effortlessly from a kitchen so small a dinner for two would tax it abilities.
During the celebration Poppins came and Poppins went. Their numbers far exceeded the obvious population of the hamlet, yet Cloverdale's few motels and bed and breakfasts all had vacancies. The Poppins let you know right away it would be impolite to ask how such things were done. They didn’t discuss their family’s business. To be a Poppins' friend meant ignoring the unexplained and mysterious.
I enjoyed the party until staying any longer would have meant accepting overnight accommodations. I declined their repeated invitations to stay and called for my carriage. A Poppins teen arrived a few minutes later with a carriage pulled by one horse. I said my goodbyes, stepped into the carriage and tapped on the roof telling the young Poppin that I was ready to go. A few minutes later the rocking of the carriage over the uneven lane put me to sleep. A few minutes later I awoke in Cloverdale, sitting in my flat's front room on my recliner. The clock on the wall showed twelve minutes had elapsed after entering the carriage seventeen miles away in the Poppinwood. I heard the carriage pulling away from my flat, its frame creaked as it passed over the cobbles stones. For a moment I wondered how I got home and into my chair so quickly and without waking up. Logic failed me so I stopped, remembering it would be impolite to take the thought further.
Some day I’ll visit the Poppins of Poppinwood again for they are the most unusual of the unusual inhabitants of Cloverdaleshire. Perhaps I write more about them, if they'll allow it.