The Valleys – Fire Circle
It was still late afternoon, going on early evening, but preparations were well underway for the last big fire circle gathering of summer before the wind, snow and ice of winter returned. This evening there was much to celebrate. Tenzing and Asha’s coupling ceremony was due to take place and there was also the not so insignificant fact that the entire planet had not been taken over by huge vegetation destroying, marauding insects, with a serious attitude problem after all.
Planetary heroes or not, there was still firewood to be taken up to the fire circle and Jaak, Tag and Dieter were lending their paws to the work.
Jaak: C’mon guys, let’s get this load up to the fire circle then we can go up to the hot and cold springs for a swim before the gathering starts.
Dieter: We’re doing it slave driver!
Tag: Hey Jaak! It’s a shame it’s not winter, we could harness Diet up to a sled and he could pull us along husky style! Mush! Mush!
As it was, they did have Tenzing’s hand cart, so it didn’t take too many loads to empty out the beds of the pick-ups that had arrived with their loads of firewood. Judging by the pile of wood, tonight’s fire was going to be an especially good one. Soon the wood had been laid ready in the fire pit, along with a good supply of wood stacked up nearby to ensure the fire kept going all night.
Tag: Let’s go up to the hot and cold springs before someone gives us another job to do!
So the three boys set off up to the hot and cold springs a little further up the Hot Lake trail.
By the time they got there they were all starting to feel hot and dusty, and Dieter was panting like a steam engine, his long pink tongue jiggling back and forth as little bursts of hot breath came out of his mouth.
Jaak: Hot or cold first guys?
The hot and cold springs were so named because there was one cold spring, that formed a pond and a nearby hot spring that came out from a mound of steaming rocks that fed into a smaller pool.
Jaak had hardly needed to ask the question. As soon as they came in sight of the springs Tag was already peeling off his clothes and as usual ran stark naked up on to a rock by the cold spring, and launched himself off without any hesitation, in his now legendary, trademark star jump.
There was no one else around so Jaak and Dieter soon peeled off their t-shirts and shorts and joined Tag in the refreshingly cool spring. After they had washed all the dust and wood chips off they were feeling much more refreshed, so they headed over the the hot spring pool to warm up. The hot spring pool was small and only suitable for sitting in, but of course that hardly mattered as sitting was the perfect thing to do in a hot pool. They had been sitting in the hot pool for a little while when they heard a familiar voice from behind the rocks.
Ounce: Hey space boys!
Sure enough, Ounce and Chewie appeared from behind the rocks – had they been there for a while watching?
Jaak wasn’t sure how this was going to go – one never quite knew with Ounce and Chewie.
Ounce: Chewie here has something he wants to say to you.
Again Jaak and Tag exchanged glances – Chewie? Capable of original thought? This ought to be interesting.
Ounce gave Chewie a bit of a shove towards them.
Chewie: Well… um… you see… I just wanted to say thanks for saving our Dads and … er …saving the planet and stuff – what you did was… um… it was kinda neat.
For anyone that knew Chewie, this one sentence ranked right up there with any major speech given by any of the most famous people in history. Also for probably the first time in recorded history Ounce repeated something that Chewie said.
Ounce: Yeah, me too. It was kinda neat.
Jaak was a little lost for words, but he managed to stammer out an acknowledgement of what he had never expected to hear in a million years.
Jaak: Well. Um.. thanks.
Tag, was always the most generous of spirit from among the three friends.
Tag: You guys wanna join us? The water’s great!
Whoa! – For Jaak, that might have been a step just a teeny bit far and a little too fast, but it was too late.
Ounce: Sure – why not?
Jaak: Um… well… because we haven’t got any shorts on.
There was a moment of slightly awkward silence, but again in an astonishing display of independent thought, Chewie shrugged and started taking off his own t-shirt and shorts, who was soon followed by probably again for the first time ever, Ounce.
It would be fair to say that Jaak and Tag would never become close friends or best buddies with Ounce and Chewie, but for now it seemed that with everyone literally stripped bare – old animosities could be put aside at least for now, alongside the haphazard piles of shirts, shorts and undies that were littered around the hot spring.
Evening Dusk – Lighting of the Fire
The sun had already slipped down below the ridges sending a slight chill down the valley. It was time for the boys to make their way back down to the fire circle for the lighting of the fire.
Tonight it seemed as if almost the entire population of the valleys had turned out. The fire was to be lit at dusk, and it was considered to be a high honour to be given the lighting of the fire task. It was a simple ceremony, but one eagerly anticipated by those gathered.
Tsomo stood up high on a rock so everyone could see and hear him.
Tsomo: May I have your attention please! The time has come for the lighting of the fire!
A loud cheer erupted from the crowd.
Tsomo: I now call forth those who have been selected this evening to light the fire!
Pukajaak – Sugar Snow; son of Altai! Come forth! Taqqiq – Snow on Ice; son of Gazza! Come forth! Dieter – Warrior of the People; son of Ambassador Schönheit! Come forth!
The three friends looked at each other in astonishment and grinned at each other, as an even louder cheer rose from the crowd.
They were each given a flaming torch, and they took up their positions evenly spaced around the awaiting fire.
Tsomo: May the fire now be lit!
The boys then stepped forward and in unison they placed their torches against the dry brush tinder under the set wood. The crowd cheered again as the fire quickly caught and dancing flames soon began to warm all those present against the evening chill.
Chewie: Show us the effect!
The three boys looked at each other, grinned and then reached into their pockets and took out their cyan stones. They were glowing brightly. They held out the stones in their paws, and they began to revolve slowly in their palms. Next they started to move from one boy to the next, forming the now familiar pattern of triangular blue light. The fire burned brightly in the centre. Faster and faster the stones moved until they became a blur. The now roaring fire in the centre of the fire circle changed. It went from yellow and orange flames to flames of brilliant blue.
The crowd watched on, transfixed as they marvelled at the phenomenon playing out before them. Then the stones slowed, the flames returned to their normal colour and one by one the stones came back to the paws of the three boys. Another cheer rose from the crowd.
It was now time for Tenzing and Asha’s coupling ceremony. In keeping with the way most things in the valleys were done, the ceremony was simple.
Tsomo: I now call forth from those gathered here, Tenzing son of Kenji and Asha daughter of Lian!
Tenzing and Asha both came forward from the crowd. They were dressed in brightly coloured striped linen clothing, and they each had a cream silk scarf draped around their necks. Each also held a small bunch of wild summer flowers.
Tsomo: Asha, do you agree to be coupled with Tenzing?
Asha: I do with all my heart.
Tsomo: Tenzing, and do you agree to be coupled with Asha?
Tenzing: Myerooow! You bet I do!
Tsomo: You both have now agreed to be coupled by your own free will as those gathered here bear witness. Please exchange your tokens.
Asha and Tenzing exchanged their silk scarves by placing them around the neck of the other. They also then exchanged their bunches of flowers.
Tsomo: Tenzing and Asha! I announce to all present – you are now coupled!
A loud cheer and applause rang out from the crowd. There was now only one announcement left to be made and one that was eagerly anticipated by all.
Tsomo: Let the feast begin!
The feast was magnificent. Even Dieter had his mouth so full that it was quite some time later before he was able to declare it the best end of summer feast ever! The valley’s musicans played, people ate and talked and then they ate some more and talked some more.
Jaak, Tag and Dieter were sitting together when Altai came up to them and sat down beside them.
Altai: I just want to tell you boys how proud I am of all of you.
Altai then turned to Dieter and addressed him directly
Dieter, I have to be honest. When I first met you it took me some time to get used to the idea of being friends with a Hunde.
Altai gave him a smile that was warm and genuine
The butt sniffing, the barking, the licking, the tree peeing.
Call me old-fashioned but that’s the way it was. I don’t feel that way now.
With that Altai knelt down on one knee and gave Dieter a rub on his chest, in just the right spot that Altai knew would send Dieter’s leg jumping up and down in a spasm of pure delight.
Who’s a good boy then… eh? Dieter’s a good boy! Is that the right spot? Oh yes… there it is – you’re a good boy!
Dieter rolled on to his back, his leg in a paroxysm of joy, pink tongue lolling deliriously to one side and his tail thumping out a rhythmic beat on the ground.
They all sat together for a quite a while watching the flames of the fire and listening to the music, too stuffed full to do anything much else.
Jaak: Um… Dad? Can I ask you something?
Altai: Yes PJ? Of course you can.
Jaak: Do you think we could get a flush toilet installed at our cabin now?
End of Part Three