Historical setting: 563 C.E. Foothills of the Pyrenees
When is it ever that preparing for a long journey into winter is as joyful as this moment seems?
Dear God, thank you!
Here we are able to fit ourselves for a journey with substantial provisions. Nic has even purchased a donkey to take on the extra weight of these winter supplies. So we can take along The Rose’s favorite mix of oats and warm wools and fleeces for winter.
The slopes we see to the north and east are wide and gentle before the torn silhouette of mountains edge onto the sky.
“Have you gone this way before?” Nic asks.
“No, I’ve only come to Hispania by sea.”
“How will we find our way across the mountains?”
“I would suppose we would just go up, and look across the valleys for the easy paths, then when we have gone up as far as we can go up, we should just go down. Isn’t that always the way with crossing mountains?”
“Maybe so, Brother Laz, but I’ve never crossed mountains without an officer leading as though he knows the way.”
“And yet, two of us are twice as brilliant as any one officer. If we keep the sun on our right shoulder in the mornings, and our left before dusk, we will surely reach Gaul someday.”
So it is this morning we begin a single journey that settles both of our wishes.
The abbott and the monks offer prayers and advice.
“Go with God, brothers, via con Dios.”
This first day of the journey the mountains are a ragged line of shadow somewhere else, always seeming beyond us like the horizon itself but a ragged edge of particular peaks and places. I’m sure even the horses notice that this earth leads into mountains with every step a bit higher than the last — anticipation of a slow rising. The rivers run swiftly, and our campsite has a tilt to it that rolls us always on a downhill in our sleeps, a tilt we never even noticed when sitting by the fire.
(Continued Tuesday, October 13)