There was a tale of a hermit who lived alone in a valley surrounded by mountains. He had not always been alone, for his home nestled within a once thriving town. In his youth, he had friends, family, even a lover. He had known work, leisure, and genuine joy. He was to be like his father and forbearers, live coddled by the valley and to brave its winters.
For you see, the valley could not forever be sustained. Though their summers were calm and transitional seasons pleasing, the winters, oh the winters, they were biting and baleful. For those ill-prepared, the winters would rip them away without remorse.
The village would prepare for these wrathful winters, stocking up on food and reinforcing their shelters. Even then, the winters would claim lives each year. Slowly the town dwindled, the winters claiming more and more every passing. Soon, only the hermit remained.
He lived alone until the wrinkling of his skin, dedicating all his time to preparing for the inevitable white. The spring following the cold that took his final family, his lover, away, he began to hear the music. It was faint at first, but with each braved winter it grew louder and clearer. It played during all other seasons, the din of winter’s winds too powerful. The melodies bounded over the mountains and danced over his valley, bringing with it promises of life without concern.
He couldn’t help but listen to that music while he toiled. It grated on him. Who could be so loud as their songs could carry over mountains? He mustn’t be distracted by them. He must prepare.
Another winter ravaged the town yet the music had such gaul to bare lights. Under the summer moon, bedazzling ribbons of every hue twirled about from behind the mountains. They were powerful and judgemental, turning the dark nights to day. They kept the old man from rest, he’d work in fatigue each day while he prepared. He must prepare.
Another winter. The music and lights made their way over the mountains and into the streets of the nearly abandoned town. Many, young and old, danced gaily through the streets. They had happiness all about them, their mirth harmonizing with the summer’s heat. They offered for the old man to join them. He refused. He had no time for such foolishness. He watched them dance over the mountain, their songs lingering for a few days more. He had to prepare.
Winter. The man huddled in his hovel. He kept warm by a small fire, a small box of rations his companion. He hoped, beyond all hope, he could last this cruel frost. It did not matter. He was old and feeble, he was unable to secure enough timber to keep the fire going. The following summer when the songs, lights, and dancers came through the town, there was no one to greet them.