Friday, May 09, 2008

Sacred Mountain

A wide grassy field extends from a small parking lot to the edge of the forest. In the lot, there are several cars and trailers parked. Some of them are locked down, others are being unloaded by small groups of men and women. Most of them wear jeans and T-shirts sprayed with bright rainbow colors. An old man sits by his trailer, braiding sage sticks and telling stories. A young blond woman dances dreamily while a skinny boy plays the guitar and hums an improvised tune. Several men carry drums to a small circle at the end of the asphalt. The smell of marijuana flows throughout the space and people laugh intermittently without any obvious joke having been told. The field beyond the lot is quiet. From a distance, it appears as a flat blanket of even grass, but up close, the grass is tall and thick, and it hides a treacherous layer of red stones and muddy dirt. There is no clear path through it, only the quiet mystery of the green leaves and the dark earth beneath. Closer to the forest, the grass is thinner and the rocks are replaced by tiny pebbles and broken twigs. The trees are thick and old, crowned with complex webs of leaves and branches, which intermingle with each other, forming a continuous dark green roof that only allows for some light to come through.
At the edge of a small incline, there is a small orange tent. There are two sleeping bags inside and two large backpacks. One is light gray and has been left against a very thick root that marks a natural boundary around the campground. The other one is light brown and is next to the tent. Birds sing continuously as they flutter from one treetop to another and every once in a while the sound of a drummer testing his instrument travels over the field.
Above the incline, there is a clearing. Its floor is made of a thick layer of twigs and rich brown soil. In the soil, there are five circles of white stones arranged in a particular geometric pattern. Each circle is wide enough for two people to sit in comfortably. Above each there is a small drawing on the dirt. The sky is a dark blue, cloudless but no longer bright. The full moon can be seen along with some very bright stars. Looking up from the center (where one of the white stone circles is placed), the stars themselves seem to form a vast circle directly above the clearing.
One hundred feet away, there is a smaller clearing overlooking a steeper cliff. Here there are many broken bottles, piled up into a kind of rough pyramid. A short thick man stands over the pile, wearing a light brown hat and eating a power bar. He surveys the whole area, the trees, the bottles, the field and the gathering near the parking lot. Every so often he smiles. A second man, taller and skinnier than the first, sits on a dead tree a few feet away from him. He is wearing a blue jeans jacket and black corduroy pants. He drinks water quietly from a metal canteen and looks up at the mountain.
Towering above it all, the mountain appears to carefully observe these small beings that stand at its feet. It is crowned by a single wide peak and two smaller ones on either side. At the top, it is lightly touched by snow and ice, and several wide crevices, covered in tall trees and darkness, that extend all the way to the bottom. Columns of pine trees reach all the way to the edge of the huge rocks that surround the tallest summit. A sense of quiet purpose flows from the top, all the way to the two men, the clearing, the field and the people in the parking lot. A sporadic flashing light cuts through the silent twilight of the forest every so often, twinkling rhythmically with a simple ancient form of communication.
The two men look around themselves and at each other, and they calmly wait, breathing slowly.

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