Vermont just experienced an unseasonable stretch of warm weather. While the first few days of it were nice, the longer it went on the more eerie it started to feel. The effects of climate change have been growing more apparent with every passing year. Less extreme winters are something that a lot of people in this region are coming to expect - with a lot of fear, sadness, and nostalgia for the past.
Thinking about this made me want to write something. This is short and it isn't the most polished piece I've done, but I think it works.
I am usually done with my wanderings by the time such late months approach, but the air has been gripped by an unseasonable warmth and I found I could not resist one more trek onto the trails that I’ve walked since the days of my youth.
The ground was moist with slushy thaw when I set out. My steps were muddy and squelching. The sky was gray above me and the trees were bare skeletons - emptied and colorless. It was not an ideal time to embark on a pleasure walk.
But I am old now and I can’t guarantee I’ll live to see the welcome of another Spring. Opportunities should never be wasted, even those that are less than perfect.
I traveled the way I’ve often gone: following the bank of the old creek, heading north toward the great mountain. It has been years since I’ve had the strength to attempt its peak, but it has always loomed over my life and I’ve longed to visit it again.
My grandfather used to tell me stories about it. He told me the mountain was once the home to a dragon. That wasn’t uncommon in those ancient times when our legends were first being woven together. This country, indeed, was home to beasts and monsters of all likes and kinds. Trolls and ogres roamed the hilly plains as nomads. Werefolk and fae emerged on summer nights like glowbugs. The passing stormcloud’s thunder was forced to share the sky with the flap of scaly wings.
The dragon lived in its mountain cave for a thousand years before it ever saw the first sight of men. It might have lived a thousand more if my ancestors had sailed to other shores. But they didn’t and, because the dragon frightened them, they killed it with cunning and iron.
The trolls and giants fell to similar fates not long after, as did the werefolk and the fae. Soon too, the common bears and wolves were cut down and the great forests with them. We razed the mysteries and dangers of the land until nothing was left but the known and comfortable. We made the countryside our own, until other men were the only thing left to fear.
I suppose I cannot rightfully complain. I have lived a long life and known peace. I can leave my home for long walks absent the dread of death. I go to sleep each night with a warm and crackling hearth and wake each day to the light of a tranquil sunrise.
Still, sometimes when I walk and gaze on the world that we’ve made, I can’t help but wonder about the world as it was before.
I have never known the fear of dragons, but I’ve also never known the glory of their spectacle in the sky. I’ve never fled from giants, but I’ve also never heard the rolling timbre of their songs. I’ve walked down forest paths, but never had the chance to get lost in the breadth of the wilderness.
It’s hard not to dwell on the sorrow of knowing some things will never be again. Just once I’d like to wander the trails of the mountain and see the glimpse of a dragon. I’d love to see the world as it was before we tamed it.