And just like that Foxy Brown is back. I was reading on the back porch of the Hermitage, looked up and saw Foxy moving eastward out of the Western Wild Lands into La Mancha. I grabbed my phone and managed to get a single, blurry image.
And now a blazing and muscular Summer has fallen over La Mancha. The locals say it’s going to be a bad one. When I open the door to the Hermitage it feels like I’m stepping into an oven. The sun throbs and shimmers and drains the colors of the landscape, leaving everything looking like an old polaroid photo. People avert their eyes from the sun, hide beneath broad brimmed hats, and scurry from one spot of shade to the next.
I met Dan last year when I arrived in La Mancha, and I immediately noticed how gorgeous he is. He’s one of the beautiful people. He just is. But his nickname comes from the way he dresses. Every day, so it seems to me, is a costume party for Fancy Dan.
I have found solitude to be beautiful and terrible, uplifting and overwhelming, nurturing and destroying, a source of joy and of pain. There is a heaviness to solitude when it comes rolling at you low and hard and constant. When it is every night. When your life has called you to it and you must obey. When you long for human contact but there is none to be found.
There is a pole near the International Bocce Court at the end of Gallagher Lane. Atop this pole is a bright lamp that is never turned off. All night long it blazes away, slashing beams of light through the trees and opening great wounds in the darkness of the Valley.
Few people know there is a secret entrance into La Mancha from beyond the Western Wild Lands. The old road behind the Lost Boys drops sharply downhill and then turns, ending at a chained gate. Beyond the gate is some sort of beatnik community, as best I can tell. Roxi lives out there somewhere. And I’m guessing so do the people who play the drums at night.
Roxi works on the landscaping in La Mancha. I met her months ago and we talk sometimes when I come across her and her dog Elijah working in the flower beds. But I never really saw Roxi until the big freeze.
Across the Valley the tree canopy rises and pulls your eyes upward to the Modern Wizard’s Tower atop the opposing hill, a sleek and shiny thing of metal, glass, and stone. At night muted blue flickerings in the windows bear witness to the omnipresence of the media gods.
The first thing to know is this: grownups cannot see La Mancha. That is both good news and bad.
Do I believe that when I become quiet in my soul and sit long enough in the Valley that the modern world falls away from me, I can hear the ancient echo of drums, a sound not heard in this valley for a hundred and fifty years?