Once there was a wizard who sometimes left his secret room and went into the market place. He liked entertaining people with his tricks. They enjoyed it, and so did he.
"Come and see my magic bird... Watch carefully, " he said one day to the assembled crowd. He fluttered his fingers over the bird and chanted some strange words. To the astonishment of the crowd, the bird lifted a wooden plank which had been placed beside it. The bird then began to strut up and down with the large piece of wood.
"How can it do that?" cried a boy to whom the plank belonged, "That's very heavy!"
The crowd was astounded at this amazing feat. A young girl, however, standing at the edge of the crowd asked, "What's so clever about that? Any cockerel is strong enough to pick up a piece of straw." The girl had a four leaf clover in her hand, she could see things exactly as they were. The wizards magic had fooled everyone, but it had not fooled her.
Her words broke the spell and everyone saw the bird was merely carrying a piece of straw.
The wizard was run out of town, with the townsfolk crying, "CHEAT! CHEAT!" and the girl with the clover yelled loudest of all.
As it happened, several years later the girl with the four leaf clover was to be married. The townsfolk were dressed in their finest togs, and had gathered for the wedding procession to the church. They began walking through the fields to the church.
Suddenly those behind ran into those in front who had stopped short.
"What is happening?" they asked. They had come to a stream which was far too wide to jump, and there was no bridge over which to pass.
"We'll have to go back the way we came, and take the long way to the church," they cried.
"No! No! We can't do that," cried the bride who was the girl with the four leaf clover, "I'll be late for my own wedding."
To that end, she kicked of her shoes, pulled off her stockings, hoisted her skirts around her knees and waded into the stream.
"Brrr, it is so cold."
"Ouch, it is very stony."
"Oh, how slippery."
"Do not get your dress wet," cried the townsfolk as each in turn took off their shoes, gathering their skirts, rolled their trousers and waded into the stream.
Soon, everyone was wincing and shivering as each followed the bride.
"Where are your eyes that you think that is water?" asked a mocking voice.
All eyes turned towards the bank. There they saw the familiar face of the wizard. All eyes looked downwards at the chilly water below. Instead of water, they were wading through the grass and blue flax flowers. They were holding their shoes above their heads. They were all showing their knees!
The wizard was now having the last laugh, and now it was they who had red faces. How foolish they looked and how foolish they felt.
When we first came back to Canada, L and I lived in a small town an hour east of our current home. Because L had recently immigrated and did not yet have a work permit, I would make the commute into the city each day in support of our tiny household. My job at the time required that I be at work in the wee hours of the morning, and I would often make the trek in complete darkness. Although I had the opportunity to see brilliant Northern Lights displays and all kinds of wildlife on the road, I often missed subtle harbingers of the changing seasons.
The city was quite far away, and we would make monthly trips to visit major shopping venues and restaurants. I can remember driving down the highway with L, on our way to the city one day in early summer.
She was driving and I was lost in thought, staring out at the passing flatness, intently listening to piano jazz wafting from the car's speakers and wondering how any body could survive on this desolate and uninspiring prairie.
Suddenly, I was brought from my reverie by a modest body of water which I had heretofore failed to notice.
"That's funny," I said, "I don't remember a lake over there."