Thursday, August 4, 2011

Feeding the Flame

- From Candle Light
The cycle continued.
Still air cooled in the gathering dusk.  The valley floor was already steeped in evening-tide, receiving a fresh misting of dew.  While on the gentle slopes above, ridge-row trees stood flocked with liquid gold as the sun dipped below an unseen horizon.  Inexorably, yet more swiftly than one would imagine, that shimmering aura slipped upward until the topmost leaves of the highest trees could no longer hold the day. 
There was, for a moment, a sparkling silence: A complete absence of sound. 
In that moment, when the entire earth was still, an Old Man - a Teacher – produced a small lacquered box from the truck sack that was perpetually slung over his shoulder.  Sliding open its top, he withdrew one single match, then carefully closed the lid and replaced the box in his pouch.  Crossing to a special river stone prepared especially for this one task, he ignited the phosphor and touched it to the wick of a large candle.  He considered his action for a time, as he did for every action he took, holding the flame to the wick to make sure it was well lit.  This duty done, he removed the match and extinguished it in a small bowl of white sand.  Then he turned to face up the valley and watched as one by one, other camps scattered about the surrounding hills winked into illumination as their inhabitants, too, lighted their lamps in like manner to add their glow to the approaching night. 
A cricket sang.  A nightingale joined in chorus.  The residents of the nearby river struck a frog-like chord and a twilight overture began.  It was a prelude; one that promised to swell to symphonic proportions as the evening progressed.
He set about his preparations. First was his evening meal. 
          His diet, half by necessity and half by choice, had evolved from a meat dense youthful voraciousness towards one laced only sparsely with once motive proteins.  The volume of his repast was now those vegetative offerings from the well-tended community fields in the terraces by the river.  The river, its waterfall, and the mountain spring that spawned them never quite dried, even in the worst of summer heat.  Tonight’s bill of fare was to be one of green legumes and sweet yellow tubers.  Neither were attention critical to prepare, and it would not diminish their nutritional value significantly if he did not consume them immediately.
          There were other preparations to make this evening.
          The Old Man knew there were visitors coming to the valley.  One was a student.  One was a seeker.  And there were more to follow behind them who would decide the outcome of a storm.  It was not the weather that concerned him - it was the why.  

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