Yesterday morning, the little girl's mother had cut a pair of slices of bread; one for herself, and one for her daughter. She placed them in the toaster, drew down the metal lever... and it slid smoothly into place, the grills illuminating, with the promise in a minute or two of an invigorating bristling of the tongue, under brown cheese spiced with cardamom, or piquant blackberry jam.
She stopped in her tracks. What had become of the high-pitched scraping to set one on edge, and chastise one with the thought of all the little imperfections of a household?!
She peered down into the toaster for a clue as to the cause of this remarkable metamorphosis, but none was evident. The little girl observed all this, and it was with a loving gladness that she observed her mother's astonishment.
This morning, as the little girl and her mother opened their door on the way out, the mother prepared herself resignedly for the usual tug-of-war to close it again; the lock did not catch correctly, and the hinges were not quite aligned, so that the door would obstinately dig in its heels a millimetre or three short of where its maker had deemed it should reside. Yet... today it swung into place as smoothly as a skater on ice; like clockwork, indeed! The little girl's delight was as heartfelt as her mother's incredulity.
It was now the early part of a very cold winter's night; the night of the December full moon. Expansively, softly haloed, high above the forest, it gave the night an air that was both sharply truthful and inscrutably mystical.
Upon the storm's abatement, the elder had lucklessly taken up again his semiotic search, from ant hills to nests. But in the moonlight, close to the lake, a beautiful juniper1 tree, with profoundly blue berries — three years in the making — now came to his sight. Something in the fall of the light on its frosted, star-like needles invited him to cut off a sprig; and this he carefully did.
At the same time, the little bearded fellow — on his way for a fourth time to the home of the little girl and her mother, with lantern in hand — stopped as he had done before by the lake. Noticing him, the elder silently moved closer, until he was rather near both the little bearded fellow and the water's edge.
It was as though the entire heavens had gathered in constellation throughout the sky, myriad stars shimmering in subtleties of brightness, infinitesimally near to one another in every corner of the night — a night that the ancients would have revered, and which it is the tragedy of the town-dweller to have never experienced.
Under the ice of the lake, light appeared with an intensity that the little bearded fellow had not yet seen: long shafts of radiant yellow, gliding in and out of being. The elder saw, and with all the depth of his feeling knew in his soul that here, in this wintry conjunction of a full moon's celestial array, of a juniper's ripeness, and of a lake's mystery, was at last a sign.
This is the ninth part of an episodic tale written in November and December 2022. Previous part. Next part.
Last updated: 18:39 (GMT+1), 10th December 2022