Historical setting: 589 C.E. Châlons to Luxeuil
The well is restored and now I’ve gotten myself out. The four barbarians are here with the people from the cottages and they are passing a flask of ale and celebrating the success of the well water I’m doused in. And here I am, shivering, unnoticed, uncelebrated. Dear God, have you also forgotten me here? At least Ana would think me the hero of this. But the women and the monks aren’t here. I ask.
The would-be psalm-burning barbarian answers with the slur of ale. “They’ve all gone to the fields to gather straw and glean the last of the grain.”
I look beyond my little woes and see the donkey and the cart and some figures moving in the field far away. Right now I don’t know which I want most, Ana’s compassion or my warm fleece from that cart.
Some of these people from the cottages come with more ale and a whole bale of fleeces they’ve bundled for trade, along with a deerskin, all for our payment for the restoration of the well. With only a few swallows of ale I am flat out on the heap of fleeces, waking to Ana telling me we also have sacks of grain, bundles of hay and straw enough to fill the wagon bed, covering over the tools and the ropes and the bell. We still have the Psalms and the velum sheets and inks. The villagers have water. The barbarians have fleeces, the monks and the cow and the donkey and the mules and the women all have food and warmth… And I am on earth above, once again. Dear God, thank you. Amen.
We stay another night as guests in the straw above our beasts. And now, today we set out again on our trek. The November sky, flat, veil of clay is above and a hardened colorless earth spreads out below leaving hardly a walking space between the layers of cold. But now we have supplies, and also, a true expectation that it is a journey. Those who thought it would be an easy day’s walk don’t believe that anymore, and now all of us are prepared. It was a misunderstanding.
But Ana and I who came from Annegray on horseback expect we will not see our cottage again at this pace until the Christ Mass or even the Solstice. May that also be a misunderstanding.
(Continues Tuesday, November 22)