A.J. Walker


The Old Ways, Seven Streets and Seven Years

The Old Ways, Seven Streets, and Seven Years

They say this town was built along seven streets. Just seven. Of course there must have been one first then a second. So which of the seven was the first? And what of the eighth? Of course these may be reasonable questions and there may be answers out there for you. But maybe you are not asking the right question. What of the days before the seven streets - or the one - what came before?

There were the ‘Old Ways’ before there was a city here, before there was a village. And some may be coincident at least partly with the famous streets we now call the first of our city. There were old ways here long before the first people stopped and built here. These were paths taken between places before we became a place - to live and to dream in, to become a destination at all.

These were the questions asked - and at least partly answered - by the famous local historian, Hugo Skully who mysteriously disappeared (at the age of 63) seven years ago. The coroner yesterday issued the Declaration of Presumed Death. The fact that the law is that seven years is taken by the authorities would no doubt be seen as apt by Hugo with his wry sense of humour and his love of the city - and its seven streets. His quest to build on the history with his studies and conjectures was famous in and beyond the city. His talks and tours were always informative and fun - and extremely well attended.

He said there were good paths, and barely used ways across the grasses, the sands and the stones of the county - long before there were such human constructs as borders and taxation. Hugo would often be seen out on the beaches, the farms and the river banks with his bulky knapsack full of maps, notebooks and pens as he mapped and remapped our past. In the most recent years he was mapping what he saw as barely used paths, wrong paths and plain evil ways used by our forbears and peoples long forgotten. I wonder which of these ways should we know about, and remember - and which should be lost forever? Perhaps he was lost on one of the evil ways best forgotten. Or perhaps he found the route of some infinite path too compelling not to follow and he’s walking still. Maybe he’ll turn up in a year’s time. He did always have a fondness for the number 8; and the dramatic. And I’d love to see Hugo and his famous knapsack - which was never found - silhouetted on the skyline above a farmer's field once more.

Rest in Peace if you must, Hugo. But better still, we’ll see you next year if your path brings you back.

The Golden Harvest

A Golden Harvest in Yucatan

Kaax considered himself blessed in the balmy heat and bountiful climate of the Yucatan. His land provided the best beans and cacao for many miles, and together his beautiful wife, Akna, they had a wonderful, loving home. He felt he earned more than he deserved. As the years past by though Akna grew despondent as the farm’s bounty failed to be matched in their life. She lost three children before ever getting to meet them. Sadness engulfed her like sinking sand. Kaax was at his wits end not knowing what to do. He’d told Akna he’d be happy to live without a child if the gods were so inclined. She didn’t believe him, or didn’t care. She wanted a child - or her life would not be complete.

His mother said that maybe there was a way. She told him of the Golden Cenote two days trek to the west of their village. And that a gift of gold there to Ixchel - the fertility god - may be all that was needed to bless the family. Kaax laughed at first - he’d always believed most in hard work not prayers. In any case his farm was productive, but the village was poor. What gold did he have to give the gods? ‘But your bees?’ said his mother. ‘Honey. Give the gods your honey. What could be more golden?’

And so he collected a precious urn from his mother’s and over the summer proceded to fill it. It would be a product of hard work: and prayers. He didn’t tell Akna of his plans. He didn’t want her to know, to believe, to throw more hope her way - lest it be dashed.

Later in the year he rode two days on his brother’s donkey to the Golden Cenote in hope, not expectation. He prayed at the edge of the deep drop into the watery cave below the forest before finally presenting the urn to the gods. He threw it into the depths and quickly turned away before the return journey home to his beloved wife. Nine months later their life was complete beyond all hope when Yolotli arrived.

Within the community it was observed that Kaax became more of a believer in the gods after the birth of their daughter - and he always sings to the bees.