From the Mountains to the Valley
The Roar of Awareness
There weren’t always dragons in the Valley. They used to live in the mountains, where people could never climb. It’s way too cold up there, but dragons are always hot so they had the place to themselves. On certain nights you could hear them roar back and forth with each other, as if in heated debate. You could even see flares of fire where the mountaintops meet the sky. Big bolts of orange light making the villagers tremble. It’s reasonable to conclude the dragons were angry but that’s not what was happening at all.
The folks in the Valley have large eyes that are patient and can see most everything. Their ears are tuned into the slightest breeze in the trees. Native Valadendrons, as they’re called, are farmers by nature, harvesting fields of corn and vast gardens of tomatoes, mostly for the red-yellow color combination, then adding arugula for a boost of green. Medicinal plants can be found in meadows everywhere, with an emphasis on lavender, marigolds, and purple gladiators. As a result, there is rarely a sick citizen to be seen. Known for their kindness but not for their courage, they stay close to the earth and each other.
After dinner and a little homework, Winika wanders through the lavender woods behind her house while the sun is softly fading. She loves to pick flowers for her parents who use them to make healing potions. Tonight she is not there for the picking, but just for the walking. It’s about staying calm, no matter what the all the newspapers say.
The feast for her senses is even better than at dinnertime. A sweet soothing smell, the soft dreamy light, the nice warm embrace of the forest. Such a stillness of air and spirit. That’s why she gets startled by a rustling noise. A loud crunch of leaves underfoot. Could it be near that evergreen tree?
“Hello?” she says, trying to sound brave but not intimidating. “Hello?” she says again, heart pounding.
She stares at the evergreen, shiny and bright, almost like Christmas itself. Yes, something is stirring around it, attempting to hide sight and sound. Winika inhales deeply and lets out her breath very gently. In response, a burst of flames flares up behind the tree. A flash of orange light that disappears in a blink. Communication at last!
“Please come out,” says Winika. “I’m not afraid, are you?”
“No, of course not,” says the voice.
A baby dragon takes two steps into view. He is pretending to be confident also. His color reveals he’s a Bronze Dragon mostly likely, and this is good news. They are known to be friendly as well as intolerant of cruelty.
“My parents don’t know I’m here,” says baby dragon. “I have to go back soon.”
“I can’t stay here either, my parents will know I’m breathing,” says Winika.
“I came to tell you that the grownup dragons are very self-conscious about their size and sudden outbursts of fire. When they give a big roar it could seem like they’re angry - but actually they’re just feeling insecure or frustrated.”
“Wow, really? Well, Valadendrons are so sensitive they assume any roaring with fire means anger, and any anger means danger.”
They pause to think about this for a second, listening to the silence of lavender all around them, until the sharp call of a mother in the distance.
“Winika! Was that you breathing? Are you okay? Come back to the house right now!”
“What is your name?” whispers Winika.
“I’m Finley and it’s important to realize you need help from the dragons. My great mountain tribe seeks the Valley.”
“Okay, but why?”