There is something compelling about reaching the end of the line, going to the place where civilization ends and wilderness begins. Behind is the safe and familiar, all you know and everything you have survived. Ahead is the mystery of possibilities and the birthplace of the stories you will tell when you return from that far country.
Beyond Engelbrecht and the Lost Boys, where civilization ends and the Western Wild Lands begin, there is an enchanted gravestone embedded in the ground and designed specifically to be urinated upon. This arcane ceremony is generally performed by inebriated wizard students after their long days of study at the Tower.
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.
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.
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?
Behold, Juniperus Perditor Mundi: Destroyer of Worlds. Gaze upon her name with wonder, for she is tearing First Mountain down, and there is nothing anyone can do to stop her.
I keep thinking about Foxy Brown’s den, which I found on one of my walks and greatly admire. You’ll find it at the end of the gulley that plunges into the Deep Valley behind Engelbrecht Inn.
A madman dives from the bow of Dulcinea into the valley below, arms outstretched, eyes closed, plummeting silently through the canopy of treetops like a skydiver passing through clouds.