Love #9: In Ameria*

An early Spring breeze refreshes the bedroom with a hint of blossom. You sit, smiling into the distance, as workers return from far fields and the farm kitchen springs into action. I lean against a pillar smiling at you, watching golden shadows chasing each other as the sun slowly sets. 

"I am grateful you did not duck my grandfather's request."

I smiled and came to her, "You were trying to protect me from extra work. But, it has turned out better than I expected."

"Perhaps a break from the pressure of your legal cases was what my grandfather intended all along. Inspecting this estate may have been a ruse. If so, today has been perfect. I have walked along the banks of the Clitumnus River before, but today was special."

I laughed, but you remonstrate, "No, listen to me. Walking here, with you, made me appreciate it more than I remember."


"As we wandered, I watched your eyes, and you watched mine. We saw more together than we would have by ourselves. The river and its temples were all here yesterday, but if you were not here with me, I would have walked past them without noticing the river god swimming alongside us."

I think, "The curse of the familiar denies us the pleasure of the immediate. Instead, we seek experience through difficult travel when the riches sit before us."

Calpurnia laughs, "Let us relive the moment by writing to your mirror, Voconius Romanus, and tell him of the joy of the day. Let us tell of this discovery and make him wish he was here enjoying your day as a tourist."

[The past dims. In these cursed years of plague, we have had the singular pleasure of renewing our acquaintance with nearby beauty. I cannot fly to walk along the banks of the Clitumnus River and view the pagan temple to the river god rebuilt as a paleochristian church standing against our great enemy, Time. Instead, I will write to Voconius Romanus about another river God.]


You have never been to the Tuross, or you would have written to me telling me about it. On the contrary, you would describe it in such detail that I would remember your visit instead of my own. Well, for once, we have been somewhere before you, and you will have to put down your pen. Listen to me, for I have tramped all over the place and informed myself of all you need to know.

The river rises in high tree-clad mountains. It cascades down steep valleys at its wild head and leaps from the tops of cliffs into deep pools far below before emerging from the deep ravine it has cut to a broad coastal plain. The water is so bright and pure that you can make out every detail of the river bed, every pebble and stone, tossed from far by the tumult of the younger river, to settle here in its slow old age.

Close by the coast, it opens into a lake before venturing across a sandy shore to the wave-tossed ocean. In the vast expanse of its final journey, it is not a safe place for seagoing ships but instead delights in the moderate traffic of small boats and pleasure craft. But, while sun-soaked on the white sandy beaches, the water retains a touch of the icy cold from its birthplace, in the mountains to the west.

The icy cold holds a different spirit, for this is an ancient place, traveled for time immemorial. Like the Roman river god Clitumnus, the Tuross River's spirit once walked upstream, gouging great pools under waterfalls as it moved and stocking each reservoir with fish of every type. So it is said that, in times of great desperation, people may cross the boundaries into the wilderness and follow the river upstream. There they may live well for a season, on the donation of the spirit. Even if the flow fails, the pools are so deep that they will remain stocked with food even in the worst of times.

Today, along the coast, people live on and around the river, rejoicing in its gentle bounty. How could you resist the wild pleasures of such a place, particularly when paired with excellent food and accommodation? But wait, there is more. The spirit of this place so regulates its citizens that they pay homage to the river through theatre and song.

Even you may approve of such rustic entertainments, although perhaps you will also laugh. But no. I cannot imagine my good-natured friend making sport of those merely adoring the spirit of the land.


*Ameria, in Umbria

[Extract from the Novel "Letters", under construction here]

Copyright Dark Aelf, 2021 

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