The very next day, the garden was covered with a very fine layer of snow covering everything. The most beautiful flowers and the largest plants were all covered in white, giving everything a “frozen in time” appearance. The house inhabitants had never seen snow, so when the first workers saw it that morning, they didn’t really know what to think. The low temperatures that winter were something they had never seen either so it was a very particular season for everyone.
The first person to see the garden covered in snow was Mrs. Ross, the cook of the house. She had been living there for so many years but had never seen anything quite like that. She was so surprised that breakfast that morning was not ready on time and some people and the family had to wait or go hungry for a couple of extra hours.
As curious as everyone was for what was happening, every person coming late to work, showing up minutes later for a date or simply not coming because they had seen snow, were all excused as if it was the most normal thing. The snowfall lasted for about a week and then it disappeared. People were very disappointed when snow melted and everything they had thought was so magical was now covered in this very thick layer of mud that was nowhere near as attractive as snow. People returned to their normal lives and the winter experience was soon a thing of stories.
The house were the garden had been covered suffered severe transformations between the first snowfall ever and the following one, which took place fifty years later. Some of the people that had seen it the first time as kids were still alive and they didn’t get tired of telling the story once and again, as if people were not living through it. It was possibly because of the excitement and because not a lot of things happened around there.
The garden of the house was still there but the place was no longer a private place. It had been converted not so long ago into a museum after the family that had lived there for generations had decided to sell to the best bidder because every single part of their business, now related to the technology industry, was located nowadays in the city and having such a grand state in the countryside was very expensive to maintain.
So the building had become a place where people could learn about the past but also where they could remember and experience in a very special way the two times snow had fallen in the region. There were pictures and poems and various others artistic manifestations, remembering what had happened in a variety of ways.
There was even a picture of the cook that had been the first one to see snow. Her descendants came for the opening day of the museum and were very happy to see their relative love forever in such a fabulous space. More pictures, drawings and so on were placed all over the house, which had been decorated in a way it had never probably been decorated before. The museum had disguised the house as something it wasn’t, trying to get more and more people to come and enjoy the place.
Soon, that wasn’t enough so they had to integrate the various areas surrounding the house, in other words the rest of the state that was still being exploited by a private company. Some parts of the land were used to grow various organic vegetables and others had fruit with the largest portion been dedicated to grapes and a small processing plant where the best grapes were chosen to be sent to another place where they were turned into a very decent wine. It wasn’t the best but it wasn’t bad either.
The people who ran the museum decided to make it all part of the daily walks around the house. They wanted to show the visitors how farming worked in the region so they also created a small petting zoo and worked with a foreign company in order to use the grapes in the farm to make their own brand of wine. Of course, the first few bottles wouldn’t be very good but with time they could end up having one of the best products because of the experts they were hiring to ensure that everything was as good as it could be.
People really enjoyed the new additions to the museum. Now it was a more complete experience and many visitors didn’t even care to enter the museum, the enjoyed themselves thoroughly in the fields and with the animals. Various vegetables and fruits were added to the crop selection and the wine started being sold to supermarkets in the city with a very special sticker that invited everyone to witness the creation process of the beverage.
That proved to be a very good move and visits increased once again. The bad thing was that the museum was not being visited as much as it had been before. The situation was so bad for the house as it was that they decided to make it a free entrance if you cared to buy a pass for all the rest of the attraction in the state. That helped the snowfall story become well known once again.
The place was renamed Snowfall Fun Park and they dedicated themselves to find new ways to attract more customers each year. After the name change, they were able to convert a small yard that had only been used for maintenance into a small food court selling various foods from around the world. The place was packed daily.
The biggest news coming from the park was the announcement that they had bought the whole neighboring terrain, which was almost as large as the one they were operating in currently. They would use all that land to build an area for rides and overall entertainment. Every single thing would be themed around snow and winter sports. The main attraction would be a huge roller coaster named the Yeti, which had almost no relation with the region except for the fact that those fantastic creatures allegedly lived in the snow.
The construction of that area was halted when they discovered some bones and rock alignments that seemed to be very interesting to the scientific community. As it turns out, it had been forgotten that the area had been the place for the old homes of the main house workers were located. The famous cook had lived right there and it was her bones that the machines almost crushed to dust.
When her DNA was picked up from them, traditionalists in the region were appalled that such a beloved person would have been died in a place no one knew about and now they had discovered she had never been properly buried anywhere. Many signed a petition to have her remains be buried in the garden of the main house, as a gesture of respect to her legacy and the lives of all the other workers and farmers of the region. After all, she had been a very humble woman, not wealthy or anything like that.
Some even argued that the remains of the houses should not be moved and should be integrated in the project, in order to bring back the main interest why people would go to that place. The company that operated the park was at first very reluctant to make any changes because of the investors but they eventually saw a way they could win with it.
The excavations of the remains of the houses were left alone. The design of the roller coaster was changed in order to not have any negative effects over any of the older structures in the park. Every other building stayed the same as in the original expansion plans except for an area where they would have meet and greets with actual farmers and have classes for interested visitors. That was moved to the farm area in order to surround the exaction area with a low fence and feature it as an attraction.
Five years later, the third snowfall was registered in the region. It had been so many years since the last one that people were happy to have their museum in order to remember the story. Parties and festivals were organized and the legacy of a single moment in history kept on living on the minds and hearts of the people.
martes, 30 de agosto de 2016
lunes, 10 de agosto de 2015
When I woke up, I felt the scent of grass invading my nostrils, as well as the scent of dirt. I lay there for a while, not really wanting to move but that didn’t seem to mind as I stood up almost automatically and started walking slowly. It was very strange, as I didn’t really want to do but, nevertheless, was moving. I decided it had something to do with why I had woken up just on the side of a dirt road, below a big pine tree. I walked some more but then stopped, as I reached a small wall on which I stood up to see the surrounding view: there, very far to the north, I could see a castle or at least its shape. And by the east, there was a small river coming down a mountain range where a big mountain had smoke coming out of it. It was a volcano. Closer to me, I could see more tree and a building. I decided to walk towards there.
I walked with decision towards the building, feeling very strange still. I tried to remember what I had been doing before waking up by the road but I just couldn’t remember. It was as if there was nothing to recall. Then I stopped, as I head a strange noise coming from behind. I looked up to the sky and there it was: a plant or an animal, something floating up there very high in circles. I stupidly walk towards it and it noticed me: it had razor sharp leaves and it was about to hit me when I ran as fast I could towards the building, which happened to be a farm. I stopped on my toes as I passed the two houses that formed the ranch and realized there was a pasture area behind them, as well as a granary.
There were horses and many chickens and a girl. I hadn’t seen it right away as she was sitting on the ground feeding the animals. When she saw me, she greeted me as nice as one can greet a stranger and told me that I looked funny, as she had never seen a boy like me. Apparently my attire, which I hadn’t really paid attention to, was not very common in these parts. She told me that the best thing for me to do was to pay respects in the temple close the castle, where every wish could come true. Then, she taught me how to sing to the horses and lend me one of hers. Before leaving the farm, she told me I could come back any time but that her brothers may not be as nice to me as she was.
The horse was fast and elegant, soaring through the bushes, over the grass and elevating dust all over the place. We finally got to the castle, just as they announced hey were letting in the last group of people before drawing the bridge for the night. Some others seemed to be entering too but they looked more like peasants and people trying to buy their stuff in the castle. After the group entered, the bridge was elevated and, just before they had finished closing, I could swore I heard the call of a wolf. That made me a little nervous but I decided to move on. Suddenly, everything went black.
When I woke up, it was morning already. I had no idea where I had been sleeping but the horse wasn’t there with me anymore and I just happened to be in the middle of the morning market. People were everywhere, pushing other buyers as they moved from one post to the other. There were also games and dances bursting up a little bit everywhere but I finally saw what I was looking for when I walked into an alley: a big white building with the symbol of the land on top of it. That had to be the temple the girl in the ranch had told me about. The castle was not far, as I could see it when entering the temple. Inside, there were no chairs or places to rest; people would just stand and pray before a big altar and nothing more. None of them would take long there and I started to get anxious when I didn’t see anything that could help me. So I just prayed and left.
My next move was to go towards the castle. I felt I had to go there so I went through the market again, which seemed even more crowded than before, and then on to an open road which lead to a big gate on small canyon formed by very high hills. There was a guard there and told me I couldn’t move beyond that point as the royal family had it strictly prohibited than anyone walked into the castle unannounced and without proper permission. So I went back but only some meters, where the guard couldn’t see me anymore. There was a vertical wall on the side of one of the hills and plants had grown over it so I just climbed to wall to the top. My next move was to cross the gate from above and then move from tree to tree, hiding from the guards.
I finally got to the main entrance of the castle, were two guards were busy talking to each other. The thing was I had to pass by them to reach the entrance, unless I swam across a small pond of water, which seemed to come from inside the castle. With great disgust, I submerged myself slowly into that water and moved cautiously, in order not to alert the guard. I finally go to the end and there, found that the door was closed. I couldn’t force it because that would be making too much noise so I just looked around and saw a big hole on the wall that seemed to be crumbling. I snuck up through there.
There were some guards in the gardens, but it was easy to full them through the mazes of hedges and flowers. Finally, I got to a big garden filled with the most beautiful flowers I had ever seen in my life. Every color was there and the smell was even better. That’s when I saw another girl. For a moment, I thought it was the girl from the ranch but soon realized that couldn’t be. This girl was wearing a dress that looked smooth and silky and a headband with a jewel on it. It was almost as if she was a princess. She finally noticed me and I thought she was going to call the guards but instead asked me to come closer.
She said that her father had asked her to exit the throne room as a visitor was going to be there. It was said to be an important man and, as such, women were not allowed to be there. It was one of those traditions she hated but had to respect. So the next best thing she had was to see the whole thing through a window that was just there in the garden. I came closer and saw the throne a big bearded man sitting on it. That must have been her father, the king. There was no one there on his side, which struck me as odd. I looked towards the other side and saw a tall and dark figure. But it was his robes that were black, as his skin was the color of olives. He had a big nose and looked more like a horse to me than anything else.
The big man approached the king and kneeled. They said something but I couldn’t hear behind the glass. Then, a voice behind them told them that it wasn’t very polite to hear other people’s conversations. It was a tall woman with short hair but not as tall as the man they had just seem. The princess asked her if she knew who the man was and she answered with a very somber expression. She only said the man had come from the desert to the west to pay respects to the kind and inform him that the kingdom could be calm as he had soldiers that would help the kingdom be much more secure. However, no one had ever seen his army and there was a rumor that he was a wizard.
The woman looked at the kids and told them it wasn’t their business anyway. She told the princess to stay there as she helped me get past the guards without been seen. She left me by the village, where I decided to distract myself with more games. But I couldn’t think about anything more than the princess and the tall man from the desert. He had a menacing look. To be honest, his whole physicality was very menacing, as the one of a giant or something like that. That night, I decided to leave the castle and go to the river and fish, to distract myself. I had very nice time fishing with a borrowed rod and the river was very nice place. The volcano, which was close by, was a very nice sight.
When the night came again, I decided to head back to the village but the drawbridge was up. There were no people waiting and it started to rain. I screamed and yelled but no one would open. When I got a little bit closer to see if they could hear me, the bridge fell hard and then a horse came running fast from inside the citadel. All I could see was that massive black horse that got scared to see me, as I was from it. He stood on two legs and in that small fraction of time I realized it was the tall man riding and, in front of him, he had the princess hands tied and with a cloth on her mouth. Something fell from the horse to the moat just before they rode away fast, disappearing from view in a few seconds.
I walked towards the edge of the moat and realized that what had fell from the horse had been a small flute that floated on the water. Just as I took it in my hands, I remembered the song from the farm girl. And I would have played it but then the world went dark and I wouldn’t wake up for a long time.
jueves, 14 de mayo de 2015
The fields of oranges were huge, covering many square kilometers. The best part though, was the smell of the whole place: it felt like it opened the nostrils and entered strongly into the body, making you feel more alive than ever. Here and there, workers picked up the oranges from the trees and let the ones that were in the ground for the eventual animals that came and ate them. Many machines existed to pick up the fruit but this farm kept with the usual method of using people, which were more careful. They had even go one more step further by hiring only women.
It was funny to be at the gates of the farm in the afternoon, when the shifts ended, and seeing all those women come out, like a horde of soldiers coming back from a particularly tough battle. And it was exactly that as many times, the climate was particularly harsh. The sun was always a bother but they also had to deal with various animals such as bees and wasps, that every so often tried to make a hive in the area. The women had learned how to deal with them long ago and they rarely sent someone to the main house to ask for help. They could deal with it themselves.
In the house there was only a first processing plant for the oranges, which selected the best of the best. But the curious thing was that rarely any oranges were thrown out because of their state. Those that were, however, were transformed into compost to feed the plants that existed all over the farm. The owner of the emporium was called Archibald Kostas. He was an English but with a Greek father and a German mother, an uncommon but effective combination as he had inherited all the good traces of both cultures.
Archibald had been born in London. His family lived there because of his father’s work and they were happy it was that way because they way all of this differences would make him a better person and a more intelligent one. His mother was always very strict but loving and his father was the kind of man that always brought a gift for their children when coming back from work. Archibald had a sister called Athena, who was also an English citizen. His father worked in a company that owned many shipyards across Europe and that’s why they always moved and why they loved the sea. They had always lived close to it and they wouldn’t change that for anything.
When he was a bit older, just before college, Arbchibald traveled Europe with friends and discovered how much he really loved the sea and what nice warm climates made for his body and normal behavior. When he visited the Alps or the cities along the Danube, he was miserable. Not only because of the lack of ocean but because the environment didn’t made him feel good. Some people said it was the altitude and other that he was too used to the same thing that he had lived all of his life but it didn’t mattered. He discovered what he loved and decided to pursue it. In the end, most people had no idea what they liked so young in life, so he guessed it was good it happened to him.
Archie, as his parents and friends lovingly called him, received his degree in agronomy and decided, when he was only twenty-two years old, to fly down to Greece and settle there. Because it was the birthplace of his father, he knew the country very well and how the people were and what they liked. So with help from his dad he bought a good piece of terrain north of Athens and began exploring what would be the ideal crop to plant there.
There were a lot of options but Archie wanted one that would employ many people of the region and also be good for them. He wanted the farm to be completely ridden of any chemical agents or strange artifacts that were used in the huge farm of Europe and North America. He wanted something big but more relatable, close to the people. Citrus fruits were a great option and most of them were cultivated the same way so if the farm got really big he could mix things up by having many kinds in one same place.
He started with the basic citrus fruit, the one that everyone loved and that he knew would sell beautifully in the region: oranges. It took some time to have all the trees giving fruit but, when they did, he decided to hire workers from the region to help with the harvest. It was like that that it all began, with just a bunch of trees and some hands. Today, the farm spanned various hectares of not only orange trees but also other citrus fruits like lemons, tangerines, grapefruits, limes and many others.
At first, the farm sold only the raw fruit but when his father visited the farm for the first time, some months prior to his death, he advised his son to also process the fruits in another plant and turn them in to juice. People love all those natural flavors, rid of the chemicals that most brands put on their liquids and it was time people had another option. They could start by selling some bottles on the local market and then see if people actually like it. If they did, they could began expanding to bigger cities and then the whole country.
Archibald had achieved exactly that some five years after his father’s passing and, in his honor, had put a plaque next to the main gate of the farm to inform people that his father had always been a visionary, although frequently in the shipyard business. He had also been a great father and Archie would always thank him for being such a great guy, so relatable and supportive. Eventually, the juices that he sold all over Greece got the name of his fathers, Kostas. Every person in the region loved driving past the Kostas farm because of the smell that invaded the body and refreshed the environment nicely.
Archie, however, had not inherited his dad’s ability to form a loving and caring family. The owner of such a great enterprise was also a lonely man after three divorces and the death of one wife that surprisingly showed no signs of wanting to leave him until she died in a car crash not very far from the farm. From those relationships, he had gotten two sons and one daughter but they rarely visited him, after living with their respective mothers for a long time. Those women hated him too much to tell anything good about him to their children and it was clear they all resented Archie, for no apparent reason.
He invited them every summer, to the farm; in order to try to connect with them one more time but it was all a waste of time. They just didn’t like anything that he did, anything that he said. The only time he felt they were a bit sympathetic was when his mother died after a long and painful disease. He was broken and more alone than ever and seeing them in the funeral and staying some time in his house was comforting and he even go to think it would last but it didn’t. They were just being “nice” but they couldn’t keep up forever so they left and rarely came back.
When turning sixty, Archie had decided to stop looking for love. It had brought him nothing but trouble and preferred to live in peace in his farm, surrounded by helpers and workers that liked his company and that sometimes talked to him about the problems they had or about general issued that everyone had on their mind. Of course, he still liked to look at women but he had no intention of taking any of them as a bride. Anyway, he thought his looks had passed, being a thing of his early days so even if he wanted; looking for a companion would be very difficult.
The thing that made him happier than anything else was walking his farm, seeing the workers do their job and feeling the scent of so many fruits. He would take a small bag with him and walk to the edge of the farm, which now reached a cliff overlooking the sea. He would sit there and take out of his bag a bottle of orange juice and picture of his parents. He always remembered the first time they came here and knew how proud they both were of what he had done with his life. The way they looked all over was like seeing children in a candy store, in a really huge candy store.
He realized that precisely was the greatest achievement of his life. Not the farm itself, not his children or the millions of dollars won with the fruits and the juices, not even all that he owned. It was the fact that he made his parents proud and happy. It should be every son or daughter’s goal to make their parents smile and he knew he had achieved that. Unfortunately, he would never get to be proud of his children, as he didn’t even know them. He regretted it for a long time but then, he just didn’t care.