THE VALLEY OF THE MOON (1)

The hitch-hiker felt dizzy and nauseas when they dropped him off at exit thirty-nine on the motorway, but the already discernible mountain air and the surrounding verdure were both soothing and settling. The Valley of the Moon, as his destination was called, lay only another six kilometres way. He decided to continue on foot and strapped his rucksack tightly to his chest and midriff, ready to enjoy the almost carless environment. The narrow winding roads of the mountain region were no longer appetising to drivers who had evolved a lust for straight lines and no velocity restraints.

“There’s no life up here,” complained the young inn-keeper over the bar where the traveller, sweating, had eventually stopped for beer.

            The only other customer, an elderly local man, lifted his white head, straightened his back and, with an elongated neck, smiled knowingly away from the complaint.

            The traveller, who had plunged into the sierra with misanthropic intentions, felt gratified by the announcement. Although he detected the ambivalent perspectives between the two men, a dialectic between Being and Becoming, it seemed perfectly natural that opposition should exist even in the loneliness of the unbeaten track.

            “In the summer, sure,” the young barman continued: “There are people here. But in winter, hardly a soul.”

            “Are you open all year round?” the traveller enquired, imagining gleaming icicles dripping from the doorway.

            “All year round,” nodded the innkeeper, and punctuated the statement with a sigh that was almost a whine.

The tavern had been erected at the eastern edge of the dam wall.

The traveller had crossed from the other side. Rising from the Village of the Moon in the Valley of the Moon.

In the village there had been little surplus, only necessity. Centuries old houses of sturdy stone, built to last a millennium or more.

Permanence is fulfilment in itself: the satisfaction of being without need to become. An old world knowing of happiness. Of being in the world with the world. Belonging to generations who had only the needs of absolute necessity; for whom surplus was a waste of time and space. Belonging instead of becoming. Growth was there, always there. Just enough to ward off lack.

Permanence in the village could be traced back eight centuries. The original owner the Count of Moon. Some medieval magnate who had conquered the valley from Islam and taken the Moorish crescent for his own family shield. Since that conquering count had died seven centuries had elapsed and at least two score generations had trodden the same earth, contemplating the same trees even, in this valley of the Moon. Fertile valley land – each home its garden. Vegetable patch self-sufficiencies. Vegetarian fulfilment. Sheep grazing on rich, green pastures – joy for omnivores.

The climb up from the village had been of geological interest to the traveller.

Though he was mainly ignorant himself of the igneous or metamorphic he could still enjoy the fine arts of geological accidents, and the upward stroll was as satisfying as any visit to world’s most renown art galleries, or even more gratifying: – that the artist was not man or woman but nature’s own chaos – he thought: – It became, then it was, it is – but then kicked a shard of rock from the path in front of him: – Wind and rain erodes and shapes. So becoming is constant. But is this shaping or deterioration? Creation or destruction? –

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