Monday, 18 April 2016

War in an age of innocence: 2

Link to Chapter 1

 When Kiri woke the next morning he was in his bed. He remembered that he had fallen asleep listening to Samo’s music. Today there would be stories. He got up, dressed, and went to the kitchen. No one else had woken yet so he ate a piece of bread and drank some water sweetened with honey. After he finished his breakfast, he went outside and was pleased to see that there was no rain. It often rained early in the morning on their part of the coast, although it would clear later, when the sun got higher. One of the sheepdogs greeted him and he played with it for a while: he ran off in one direction, and then another. Each time the dog would chase him, sometimes nipping at his heels, sometimes rushing to get in front of him where it would stand with its legs stretched wide, ready to spring at an instant if need be. If he stayed still for a while, the dog would lie down and watch, intently, for any sign that Kiri was thinking of moving again. Kiri ran off again, this time, he kept changing directions as fast as he could. The dog barked at him excitedly. Mara appeared at their doorway.

“Kiri! Keep that dog quiet. You’ll have them all barking next, and everyone is still asleep. The tide is out. Go down to the sandy beach and dig me some clams”.

She handed him a basket and a small bone spade and he set off along the path between the fields to the other side of the headland. The path went through the bog at the bottom of the gully just past the last field. Kiri spent a little time jumping on the sticks that had been laid along the path, and watching the mud bubble up from between them. He didn’t want to waste too much time, and he ran the rest of the way to the beach. Today would be a big day for him. Normally, he would collect some lugworms, along with the clams, but he knew there would be no time for fishing today. After everyone visited the circle of stones, the stories would start. Then there would be more music, dancing, and everyone would see the Danai off on their journey home, or to other villages down the coast. There were a lot of clams that morning and it didn’t take too long for him to fill the basket.

When he returned home everyone was about, preparing for the days’ festivities. Mara was making honey cakes in the kitchen and Boro was stringing amber beads for her necklace. He had obtained some beads already made and some small pieces of amber for making more later. It was a time-consuming task to make the beads and there would always be some breakage, especially when the hole was bored. He took pride in his skills, for he never wasted too much of the precious material. He had enough amber for several more necklaces, and he would take these, with the green stone axes to the southerners next month.

There was a scuffling, and a grumbling from the passageway to the guest rooms, and one of the Danai emerged at the opening and stretched when he entered the kitchen.

“Good morning everyone”

“Good morning, Urho” Mara said, “You remember Kiri, don’t you.” Kiri smiled at their guest.

“Indeed I do. My, you have grown since I was last here. One day you will be as tall as me!”

The Danai never missed an opportunity to tease Kiri’s people about their short stature and this was even funnier coming from Urho, as he was very tall, even for a Danai. He had long, shaggy, blonde hair and a full beard and moustache to match. He was wide, as well as tall, and had a great, booming voice that almost echoed off the stone walls of the kitchen. He was one of the storytellers, and Kiri’s favourite. Vara had been sitting on the bench by the wall combing her hair. She liked to look her best when visitors came, or when they all went to the circle of stones. She put the comb down on the small table near the bench, and looked in the stone oven to see if Mara’s last batch of honey cakes were ready. Then she stared at Kiri’s feet.

“Would you look at yourself!” she exclaimed, “Your feet, they are covered in sand and mud. You had better go outside and wash them. We will be leaving soon, and you can’t go looking like something that just crawled out of the bog.”

Kiri did as he was told, and by the time he was finished, the household was starting to leave. Samo was the first to leave, helped along by Kata, Mara’s mother. He moved slowly because of his great age and needed a stick to walk at all. Looking at him, you would never believe that he could produce such lively music. Boro and Mara came next, followed by Vara and Urho. Kiri joined them. They soon passed Samo and Kata, slowing down to exchange pleasantries as they did so. It didn't matter who arrived first or last at the circle of stones. The path to the circle was lined with some smaller upright stones. Families were dotted along the path, in front, and behind them. A large group was already waiting at the last stone, and some had started back again. The ritual had been going on for as long as anyone could remember. Samo had told everyone that his grandfather had helped build the circle, but most did not believe him.

Only one person could stand in the circle at a time, and the rest would wait patiently for their turn. No one took longer than the time it takes to have a couple of thoughts. There were exceptions to the custom of one at a time: babies that had to be carried by their mothers, or those who needed help. There was also the case of twins. Twins were very rare, there was only one set living in their village at that time. Vara had explained things to Kiri last year:

“When we all started to leave the Oneness, we knew that we would become lonely, so we did not divide singly at first, but in pairs. That way we could share our thoughts with another. Before that was only one thought. As we became busy with the universe and the bodies that we created we began to drift apart from our pair. We learned how to communicate with others and sometimes shared interests with them as well. We all became different, but we were always connected with our pair deep in our hearts. As the wonder of everything started to fade, the loneliness returned. We could be with three times thirty people, and yet still feel that loneliness. Those of us who were the oldest souls felt the loneliness more keenly. We would look for our pair.”

“So are twins those pairs”

“Yes, we are certain of that. That is why they enter the circle together”

“But what if you find your pair, can you then go into the circle together”

“Only if you know that you will be together forever, even past death. Twins are at that state because they are even born together”

“But how do you know you will be together forever if you are not twins?”

“The Oneness is great, and the pairs, when they first reunite, share a glimpse of that greatness. Together they build something great for everyone. Everyone knows when such a thing happens. It was a pair that first made fire. One with the other produces something greater than either could produce alone. We all know this deep down. We all long for it. This is why we left the Oneness. The Oneness could not create.”

“Are my parents a pair”

Vara laughed, “I am sure of that. Perhaps one day it will be revealed that the greatness they created is you. Then they will enter the circle together.”

Kiri decided that he should do something very great one day. He was thinking about that conversation as they drew closer to the circle of stones. He suddenly became aware of the fact that he didn’t understand what the circle was for. He had been going there his whole life, and all his parents had told him was that when he entered the circle he was to be very quiet, stand there for a few minutes, and then leave. He knew that they did this on the shortest day of the year; on the longest day of the year; on other days that he didn’t understand, and whenever visitors came. He walked alongside of Vara, and took her by the hand.

“Aunt Vara, what does the circle mean?”

“The circle is nearest the centre of the Universe, the place we all started from.”

“So we are really lucky to live here. I bet that the Danai wish they could live here too!”

“The Danai have their own circles, and they are nearest the centre of the Universe as well”

“How can we all live nearest the centre of the Universe?”

“You are still too young to understand that. When you get a bit older I will explain it to you, or your parents will. All I can say now is that there is a quietness in the centre of that circle. It is a quietness that is felt by your mind, not ‘not heard’ by your ears. The clever ones, a long time ago, knew how to find such places. A few can still do it, but it is a talent that is getting rarer. I’m not sure why. It bothers me and I often worry about it. I am afraid that a day will come when no one will be able to find that quietness for the others. I don’t know what we will do then.”

“How can you ‘not hear’ something with your ears? Hearing things is what ears are for. I can’t hear things with my feet”. He lay on the ground, and pointed the soles of his feet toward Vara. “You’ll have to speak up Aunt Vara, my feet can’t hear you!”

Boro and Mara stopped in their tracks and started to laugh.

“What have you been telling the boy now, Sister” Boro said.

“Aunt Vara’s being silly” Kiri replied.

“I suppose I am,” said Vara, and she began to laugh too, but there was a sadness in her eyes that Kiri noticed. He hoped he had not hurt her feelings.

It was Kiri’s turn to stand alone in the circle. He tried to feel the quietness with his mind, and then he tried to not hear it with his ears, but it was all too confusing for him, so he just stood there quietly for a few minutes, and then he left, just as he was told. He thought some more about it on the way back. He decided that he did not like not hearing with his ears, or, at least, he thought he might not like it if he knew how to do it. He wondered if feeling the quietness with his mind was like not thinking. He tried not thinking, but found that he thought about not thinking instead. He gave up. He didn’t want to not hear. He wanted to hear. He wanted to hear Urho tell one of his stories in that big, booming voice.

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  1. Just finished reading Chapter Two. Great explanation of Oneness. As a reader I asked this question how is Kiri going to find the quietness of his mind. You are continuing to guide the reader to want to know more. Where will Chapter Three take the reader tomorrow? Will there be more questions or answers?

  2. Thank you, Tannis! I am relieved to hear that my goals are being fulfilled. I feel much better now!

    For the general reader: I am making sure to include many answers (by providing ten chapters)so as to provide a pleasant reading experience even if you do not buy the book, but forgive me if I present a few more questions along the way that will encourage to to do so!

    If you happen to be in a country where $3.99 U.S. seems far too much to afford and can explain why that would be for you, I will happily send you a PDF copy of the novel at no cost at all after the preview is finished.

  3. Questions are welcome and hopefully I can answer them. There is no problem with the cost since I live in Calgary. I will make you a deal if I ask and answer questions for you maybe I could earn the PDF copy. Can it be sent to my iPad?

    1. I would happily trade a copy in whatever format is best or possible for a Q and A on the Jungian archaeology topic.

      I have edited the chapters of the preview but have 33 chapters left to edit. Most of this is simple line editing, but there are a few more sensational passages I want to rewrite to make the novel appropriate for the younger readers and thus expand the market. Mind you, I dare say that a few religious fundamentalists will be burning it, anyway, or at least preventing it from reaching some schools! I also want to rewrite the ending. After all that is done, it will be ready to go. The Amazon Kindle version will be the first issue, of course.

      Robert phoned last night wanting to go for Indian food. I had already eaten though. He just got back from Chicago with a large selection of ancient Greek bronze coins in really nice condition (mostly Magna Graecia). So Tristan and I will be heading off to his shop after my late breakfast, but hopefully before the Calgary collectors swoop down.

    2. I cannot send a file directly to your iPad like Amazon, and any other method involves me sending you a link, so I will just email it to your sister and she can put it on a disc and give it to you. Then you can transfer that to your desk-top computer and then access it directly through Wi-Fi or upload it to Dropbox and then download it to your iPad.

  4. Thank you doing this for me. It will take me some time to work on the questions since I will be babysitting the grandchildren from Thursday evening until Friday evening.
    About your question about providing PDF copies of your book to those who could not afford it sound alike a very generous offer.
    The meeting at Fort Calgary went well and in the gift shop I found a book by Ian Anderson titled "Siting Bull's Boss". After I finish with it, I will pass it along to you to add to your Cypress Hills collection.
    May you find some interesting coins!

  5. Just got back from the dog park in Roxboro (again). Tristan really wanted to go to the river after we left Robert's shop, and then Roxboro was not that much further. There were even more dogs this time. I met two young women who were dog walkers, each with a "pack". They were friends and both artists. What a perfect combination of professions for Calgary! I commended them for following their dreams even though the renumeration was not that great (one of them was an installation artist and depended on grants. They both said they broke even on their art. I said that was something to be proud of here. Tristan and the two packs had fun in the river. The strangest meeting, though was with a woman who had a female coydog about six years old. We compared notes. Two coydogs in the same place would have to be a rare event. If all that was not weird enough, I met a man downtown who knew someone with an eleven year old coydog and I learned a Calgary expression for coydog: "Morley Mutt". Only a local would get it.

    Found some very interesting coins but the one I liked best was beyond my means.

    No rush on the questions, and thank you for the offer of the book. Walsh was a very interesting person. Tristan got to drink the river, I chose not to, so after about three hours in the sun, I'm drinking glass after glass of juice. It's like summer out there.

  6. Great to hearTrisatn and you had wonderful day out and about. The last time I checked the temperature it was twenty-seven degrees . No wonder you are having to replenish your body fluids. Question you don' t take a bottle of water with you? Sorry I am sounding like a mother.
    I have been making a list of ideas for the questions. I will reread the first section and work on developing a list for you to decide upon or rework to suit the direction of the discussions you feel will benefit the readers.
    On returning home from Fort Calgary I drove through East Calgary. It certainly has changed. I can not believe it took this many years to happen. My grandson Nathon had to come over he was under the weather. His mom picked him up after work. I think he had too much sun yesterday when they were outside for phy ed.
    At Fort Calgary, I saw a beautiful group of watercolor pictures all on wild flowers found around Fort Calgary. They were simple but elegant. I have as oft spot for water color paintings. I was taking a water color course before I became so ill and have not attempted since. I found my paints, etc in the spare room closet.

    1. What an excellent plan for the questions! The replies might have a natural order that would be unpredictable in the questions.

      Do you recall the short-lived East Village in the hippy era where you could take your monkey for a pizza while listening to live harpsichord music?

      The last time I was in East Calgary it seemed too big to enjoy on foot, not like Inglewood or the way Kensington used to be before the rent increases made fashion and food the only viable business.

      My favourite watercolourist is David Cox (1783-1859), and Peter de Wint's (1784-1849) small studies. As a draughtsmen: Thomas Girtin 1775-1802. For the French: Henri Harpignies (1819-1916). All landscape.

      Today, I first was just going to Robert's so I didn't take any water, then Tristan started trying to pull me to the Elbow River by st Mary's, then the dog park at Roxboro was not that much further...

  7. Glad to know you like the plan. I did not spend time in the East Village but one time during Teacher's Convention, we went to the St. Louie for drinks at lunch. They had the best cabbage rolls. I do not have particular watercolourist that is my favorite. If the piece is of excellent quality I enjoy it.

    1. It's funny how cabbage rolls can vary so much. One expensive Russian deli I tried had awful ones, The Elbow Casino's not bad when they have them. An old friends mother used to make the best I've ever had. She died a few years ago. She gave huge buffet style dinner parties in her apartment for her family and friends. Wall to wall people, most came for her cabbage rolls. There's a Ukrainian deli not far away I might try. The search goes on.

      Today was tiring. I only did a little research on T. E. Lawrence. The book that was due to be delivered today never showed up. Maybe tomorrow. Another early night is in the cards, too much sun takes it out of you. One good thing, I thought today was Wednesday so I'm not as behind schedule as I imagined!

  8. Something awful just happened my sister-in-law was just taken to the hospital. My poor brother.
    He is a very special person and she is so very fortunate to have him.
    I hope you were able to go for that curry dinner. Which restaurant Is your favorite? I have been to many different ones throughout the city. They each have their own unique qualities. Supper was steak, corn on the cob, garlic bread , sautéed onions and mushrooms with a side salad.
    Sorry to hear the best coins were the most expensive. It is just the way things go sometimes. Sorry I am typing without my glasses on so excuse the errors
    Won't Bill be surprised by the connection we have made ali because I was searching for him?

  9. I'm sorry to hear that, I hope that it turns out not to be too serious.
    The Indian restaurant was the Taj Mahal. I think it was a buffet held only on that day of the week. I've been before, no doubt I'll go again.

    I think Bill gathered people around him who were like-minded in some way. Some people didn't like him at all, others did. I doubt that anyone was indifferent though. Perhaps one day we will discover what illness took him.

    I think that I will expand the novel preview from ten chapters to twelve as that chapter first introduces the idea of war, specifically, and a main sub-plot is also resolved in chapter eleven. I might even give something of a preview of what sorts of things will follow and the places to where the story travels.

  10. Sounds like a good idea that way you continue to draw the reader into the story.
    Is your place hot? It reminds me of being in Hawaii but the humid was around 90%.
    Good night and sleep well.

    1. Yes, that's what I was thinking.

      Being partially buried in a hill (bedroom end), the front facing north,and another suite above me, it is usually quite cool. Only at the hottest part of the summer does it get uncomfortable. I sure noticed the coolness when I came in from the sun today.

      Good night!