I keep thinking I’ll get used to the mountains, the valleys, the vinyards, but with each new season’s turn, I find myself looking out the train window and thinking to myself, “but it’s so beautiful, after all!” It must have been Fate who wrote that my life should lead me here, for only Fate could think up such a clever trick– the mountains are all around me, and yet, they are so far away. The seasons turn, the trees change from gold to grey to green once more, and the train comes with regularity.
The scent of jasmine flowers fills the air, covering up the obnoxious cigarette smoke that otherwise seems ubiquitous. Their sweet perfume hangs so heavy that you can smell it even inside the bus, its windows open, as it follows the winding road down the hill. The forested hilltop gives way to vinyards, which themselves turn to cobblestone streets. The Earth has been changed by Man, and so too has my life been changed. The course of the river that would have carried me to the ocean’s wide expanse has been altered. It carries me now to the waterwheel instead.
The rain comes. The rivers fill their banks, rushing swiftly towards mountain lakes nestled amongst the hills and mountain tops of this ancient landscape. I want to climb those cliffs, to feel the sweat on my brow, to reach the top, and breathe a sigh of relief as I survey the valleys below. Once the heat becomes overpowering, I want to jump in the river and play in the water. But the waterwheel that once turned grain mills, now turns factory centrifuges and mixers, so the water has become polluted, and a swim is not recommended.
The sound of the noontime bell rings out over the town, echoing off the valley walls in a low bass. The bell stands for peace, but its booming voice breaks the calm of the summer’s day, while the clickity-clack of the clanks that raise it punctures the tranquility brought here by the gentle breeze. The bell calls out its warning to all who live in the valley below, but none answer its call. The bell keeps sounding at the same hour every day, as though one day, it will make all the difference.