Sunday, September 22, 2013

An Atlan Journal, Entry 1

My name is Lacelia. I am an Atlan historian. Yesterday marked the end of my 12th year, and I received my first journal, quill and ink. No longer will I try to formulate my thoughts and observations on slate with chalk or charcoal; now I can keep them for years and years, and eventually, my journals will join our growing archive.

Knowing that what I commit to this parchment might well be read by future generations any number of times, I tried all night to decide what my first entry should be. This morning, Opaan, my mentor, asked why I had not written in my journal yet, and I told her of my difficulty in deciding on a topic. "I have not had any adventures. I have only the hum-drum chores of my life."

"This is a common complaint of young historians, for we seldom leave the village and those chores. But we are charged with recording history for all the Atlans, not just ourselves. When someone returns from the Outside, many of us will sit and listen to their tale, and commit it to our journals. But in the meantime, we hone our skills by recording what we see and know around us. This is how future generations will learn about us, and thus, where they came from."

"Surely they do not need to know we sweep our cottages and wash our clothes! Everybody does that!"

Opaan nodded. "Today, everybody does that. But I have read the first journal of Tolka, the first historian of this village. In it, she reports that the founding mothers of this village were refuges from some terrible disaster at the original Atlan home, which was an island. The total number of refuges that found their way here were six, and four of them were under the age of fifteen. She did her best to report the important facts about this disaster and how they came here, but she was a child of the youngest of the six, and the two who had arrived as grown women had become feeble with age."

"I certainly don't have anything as important as that to write about!"

"I should hope not. But that journal was well used, and obviously had been consulted many, many times, although, not the pages dealing with the disaster and its aftermath. Those pages were much cleaner and far less wrinkled." I wondered why anyone would have consulted a book without bothering with such an important story, and Opaan continued. "Tolka had also described such things as the local berries and fruits, where they could be found and when they were most likely to be ripe. How to plant certain grasses and harvest the seeds, then grind the seeds into flour and make bread. Noxious weeds that would cause distress to the livestock, and less noxious weeds that would dissuade wild creatures from invading the gardens."

"But the Plant Women and the Cooks would have that knowledge."

"They had none. And like Tolka, when the first of them were born into the village, they had no one to teach them these things. Without mentors, they would have had to start their learning process by trial and error. As you did, when you were learning to ride a horse. Luckily, somebody realized the knowledge Tolka had in her journal, and used those clues to help them find their own Power, like caring for plants and cooking."

"Yes, but that was then, Opaan. At last count, we had over 500 Atlans in this valley. Plenty of mentors for any of the 27 different Powers."

"Then consider this, young one. Tolka reported that the village had grown too large to shelter under the waterfall anymore, and had started to erect huts made of twigs and mud. You could follow her instructions and make one, if you wanted. They bathed in the river. These days, our sturdy cottages are of wood and stone. We have constructed a reservoir that is filled by the waterfall, and pipes to bring that water to each building. We bathe in tubs. Things have changed since then."

I thought maybe I understood. "And some day, our descendants might want to know about such things?"

"Exactly. So, make your first entry. And once the first page or two is written on, you will no longer hesitate to write more. Or, at least, I didn't."

I think she might be right. Unless something more interesting comes up, tomorrow I will write about my family.

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