Just Across the Lake

Three pyramid-shaped mountains with crackly horizontal striations stand by a blue lake
“Just Across the Lake”, 8in x 8in, acrylic on canvas

It seemed an ominous sign that we couldn’t track down one verified fact about the mountains we were hoping to find.

“They’re said to have been built like the pyramids,” you told me, quoting the old folk stories. “In layers and layers that were mangled and twisted by a curse cast upon them.”

“And the sky crackles the very stone.” A curious bit of lore I once overheard and never understood.

Well, what’s an expedition without a little mystery to ponder on the way? Especially these days when nothing escapes the scrutiny of probing thought and precise measures, which we call science.

No matter. We would eye the truth in a revealing light, if the sun obliged us. And we wouldn’t be stopped by the simple impediment of not knowing where we were going.

Wanderers and villagers we met along the road frowned at our question, furrowed brows to recall ancient tales, then vaguely gestured a direction. None agreed, and maybe no one knew.

Or maybe it was a fable. So much the better. 

Fables were our pursuit, so we hastened on and pieced together a mythic geography from the hints we gathered.

One day you were quiet, chin tucked into your parka as we crossed an empty grassland. Finally you stopped and looked north. Without a word we turned and headed that way.

It proved to be the missing fragment which completed our imagined map — a territory rough and wild, unmarked by roads or paths, unpopulated by any creature larger than rock-dwelling pikas. We sensed we were close and traveled all night, reaching the shore of a lake as the sun rose and lifted our hopes. 

Just across the lake, triangle peaks brightened in the early light, revealing their wind-ribboned stone and crackly patterns that had inspired those fanciful tales — of cursed kings and magic castles, heroic deeds and vile dragons — passed down the generations, never collected in any book. 

But the mountains were no less a wonder for being real.

“Fabulous,” was all you said. 

We were far along our journey home before I got the pun.