Following the trace of Moss Village pals
29496725 (Pieteikt ekskursiju)

Andrejs Upīts

SŪNU CIEMA ZĒNI („The Pals of Moss Village”)

* The happiness is here.

*Can’t we also clear Moss Village clean and sparkle?

*There are people living who can build their happiness- neither snakes sting them, nor weredogs bark, nor crows eat them up.

  1. The Three-crown Oak on the very top of the hill. Tired of the lengthy standing, it is leaning heavily, but don’t you dare move it. Two of the crests have withered, but the third one is alive- this is how my grandfather saw it and the following generation after you will. Elderly people and olden oaks live lives so long, this is what we will not happen to experience. Lie down under this greybeard and the jagged leaves seem to flicker around the grey moss covered curved branches just at the beginning. By staring longer and closer, they are not leaves any more, but green tongues heatedly chattering to each other, telling whatever happened long ago.
  2. The Great Stone down there, half-sunk in the meadow. There was once someone who tried to tear it, carved a deep groove on its back, but then got ashamed and quit. Climb this giant on a sunny day, and all you want is lie down and stretch on the green sun-warmed moss carpet and question it. What a teller it is! And no fear of falling asleep, this is how the Stone’s tale can be best heard.
  3. The third can be found right between those mentioned first. It resembles of a black eye pupil surrounded by the wreath of soggy yellow moss and marsh-marigold eyelashes, the Old Spring seeps here for a thousand of years. That is the eye of Earth having witnessed more than the first Moss Villagers. When you listen carefully what the tiny brook is telling you flowing down the dell, you can hear stories of what the leaning tree has missed from its upland, or that moss-covered old one has forgotten within the years.
  4. Look, what a funny, spooky pine! A real spook, not a pine! All the elderly people of Moss Village told stories about this weird tree, and where the road passing it turned directly to the Witch Tavern.

A pub was built by the road. The bartender there is a Polish woman, devil beautiful. Hop bine-like arms, coal-like eyes, braids triple-round the head ends reaching half-spine, voice of an oriole. Latvian men started visiting the tavern as there was not another.

Strange things with the tavern. Bartenders are now only old and shrivelled, and nobody knows where they arrive from.

  1. At the dawn, the Black Manor looked like a strange apparition against the frosting forest. The tall tower had stretched above the fir-tree tops; the shorter one was only visible to a sharp eye at bluish twilight. Over the wall, two lights were gleaming like wolf’s eyes.
  2. The cluster of alder trees in the lea of the Black Manor was half full of snow. Over there, there were birches and aspen, who knows which is that gives the best shelter from winds.

The Manor- what of a manor? Killers’ hollow it is. The landlord comes with his lads and takes the bear’s skin…

  1. That night, at the rise of the twilight, they started riding up a miraculously tall hill. It was not steep, but straight and long as all hills of Latvia in old days.

But then, all of them three, right behind the mare’s side, took a notice of a window glowing. It was wide and clear, hardly frozen, with each window pane as large as the four of Moss Village altogether.

The walls of the room smooth and white, the stove just as smooth and white, joists- white and so high above you could not reach by hand. But the nicest of all seemed the floor of pine wood planks, just as clean as a table with a bowl of porridge and spoons. There was a clock wardrobe, dark brown while aging and carrying the importance of the duty.

  1. The story of the Round Lake is as follows. Long, long ago, the lake was not there, just a plain hollow. All around there were swamps and marshes, but right in the middle, there was delve, round as the bottom of a bowl; neither bushes, nor grass were there, only ash-grey sludge. Once there was drought three years in a row. In the first summer there were fifteen raindrops, the second- ten, and the third- not a single one. Everything sallowed and dried, ash trees dropped their leaves, fir trees stood red as if burnt, only ferns seemed fine, but, as long as you put your foot there, they fell down as dust. And the Great Forest burned flames all over, once stopped in one edge, soon flamed in another, all round the summer three years in a row. And what a smoke! Hell for true, making you gasp for breath, tearing your eyes out; people walk as if crying; the hare’s always got its eyes open, they weep, the deer only has its eyes dry while sleeping; the crow perches on top of the fir, but tears, one after another, drip all over its beak..

Various creatures dwell in Round Lake. Not a beast goes to drink water from it, nor a bird glides over, making curves to avoid it.

So were the times…

There is no Moss Village anymore, now right there is the railroad track and a crushed stone- covered motorway with white poles on each side.