The Valley

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Down a long country lane, past sweeping fields, and apple orchards, there is a place. Its importance has been lost to time, it’s meaning long forgotten. Nary a soul passes this way anymore. The lane is lost in the overgrowth of nettles and wildflowers, the fields lush, but thriving on natural cycles, not those of farmers and plows. The landscape gives way, as the path goes on, growing ever the more wild, to gently rolling hills. Waves of the liveliest green, they are, like a sea suspended forever in time. Between the valleys of two such hills lies a lake, well, perhaps more of a large pond. Its waters, reflecting the scene like a mirror, are the color of the sky after a long rain, when the heavens have emptied themselves, but the air is still dark. The water is always calm, though occasionally rippled by the softest caress of a breeze, or a curious fish, breaching the smooth surface….

There are many frolicking creatures on the banks, and a family of geese meanders through the waters, the goslings trailing playfully behind their mother. On the far side of the lake, in the shade of a willow tree and partially hidden by cattails, is a lone heron, who stalks the banks, his visage more aristocratic than the noblest duke, his gait stealthier than the most skilled thief. He looks down his long bill at the other inhabitants of the lake, appraising them haughtily. His wings are cerulean, and his long neck the color of a raincloud. He picks his way through the shallows, surveying his kingdom haughtily. He is the regent of this domain, and his reign is silent and still, his subjects only having to fear his bill when he decides to feed…
The contrast of the water against the apple green hills is fairy tale-like, and the smattering of trees here and there creates a feeling of peace, and calm. The only sound here is the wind, whistling over the water, or rustling the leaves of a tree. The air smells of summer, and grass, and honey suckle…
The most tranquil scene, you would never think to notice the crumbling headstones littering the hill side yards above the water, or the old, petrified cemetery sign post, lying in the tall grass, almost completely overgrown with weeds. These monuments to the dead, rotting bodies below do not bother the heron, or the fish, for they cannot connect these ruins to their meaning. In fact, no one knows of this place, and consequently, not a soul realizes what marrs this picturesque landscape. One might even venture to say that the presence of this place of eternal sleep brings the valley full circle. There is life there, lush, thriving, in the form of flowers, and ducks, and birds, and butterflies. And then there is death, in the quiet slumber of those forgotten souls, beneath their carved tombstones. It’s a different kind of beauty, one not easily understood, but it exists nonetheless, in this forgotten land, where life and death are not hidden, but bloom, side by side.





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