Once, in a time that was, and was not, a time of Transition, there were three settlements, in a wooded area in the southern Hams not so very far from the famed town that was not too big and not too small.
The first settlement to form took it upon themselves to include the pathway as part of their territory, for they said, a toll could perhaps one day be charged, to bring income into their community.
Later two more settlements sprung up; one lower down the hill, on the road to the market place, and one higher up, on the top of the hill, in a wooded glade.
The people of the lower settlement were in general a young people, they built swings, and quickly established their shelters, and they delighted in clothes of the brightest of hues, and costumes that remembered styles of old. Dashing were the young men, with robes and turbans, and bright young faces. They became known, over time, as the Stylists.
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The people in the middle named their settlement Crown Land, for they had a princess, the Princess Edda, who wore a crown of pastel shades, golden sparkles upon her cheeks, and who spoke the language of those parts better than any other in her community, except perhaps for her advisor, an older man, who also cared for those who needed support in the community.
With time it was inevitable that the people of the lower settlement should have cause to meet the people of Crown Land. Times became challenging, and trade with other places was becoming more expensive. The Stylists went off to see if they could negotiate with their nearest neighbours.
The Stylists, maybe because of their youthful exuberance and their liking for carrying fine wooden spears, did not meet with a friendly reception from the Crownlanders. Rather, a wooden gate did they find, blocking the way forward, and the townsfolk stood at their side of their finely constructed gate, and drove a hard bargain. To come and trade with us, a toll must you pay.
Well, the Stylists liked this not. In the spirit of good neighbourliness it was not, and with youthful passion, stormed the gates with their spears.
For some time to come relations between the two settlements were not friendly with unexpected assaults on Crown Land happening by day and by night. Crownlanders were not fair traders, declared the Stylists.
Within the borders of Crownland, however, the tale was another. Their neighbours were warlike, said they. They were constantly having to defend their gates against assault.
The Princess Edda was graceful in her reception of the Storyteller, took her on a visit of the territory and the fine green castle that afforded the royal family with peace from the multitudes when things were stressful, and from where she commanded her subjects do her will, with “if you so please”s quite unexpected from one in her position.
Came a young woman, suddenly, breathless like a young hunted gazelle. Escaped from the Stylists, said she. The trouble was, for folk like her, from the settlement at the top of the hill, to get to market meant passing by the community of Stylists, and they were become ever more warlike with each day that passed.
It turned out that the people from the top of the hill had come to an arrangement with the Crownlanders for payment of the toll. For in their pleasant grove was much fine building material; long thin flexible lengths of the most attractive wood. With this had they traded free passage through the territory of their neighbours, and now the two were in alliance, and the menfolk of their community had joined with Crown Land in the wars that had ensued with the fierce Stylists.
In the grove at the top of the hill peace radiated as if no ill feeling had ever passed through the minds of the womenfolk living there whilst their menfolk defended their place from ever being disturbed. Signs of the activity that had begun before the wars were evident; a beautiful dome shaped construction covered over with fine silks of the brightest of hue lay half finished to the side of the main square, where the women folk sat in council, and dealt with the challenges that came day by day for with each foray to the market for supplies, news came of what was happening in their world, and find solutions they would.
Peaceful Grove was a veritable haven of quiet presence. Nature was abundant, birds could be heard, the air was soft and warm, and the people welcomed visitors gladly. Occasionally a little excitement broke the tranquillity; the menfolk back briefly from the wars, the arrival of the ones who had braved their lives on a trip to the market, and the sharing of the news, and the council that then formed to decide what was to be done.
The tale of Peaceful Grove began not so pacifically. The people there remember, back when, before they had moved to Peaceful Grove, how it had been that their people had not been so harmonious; one person kept wanting to take charge and organize everyone without listening to others’ opinions. The people organized a meeting to talk over the problem. They had beer and music, and all was well.
After the move to Peaceful Grove refugees from the war had come to their settlement. They were made warmly welcome. They were immediately introduced to the trade system, and the community agreements. They were given free beer, and asked to tell of themselves their stories.
Time went by, and there was a really wet autumn and all the logs for the fuel got wet. The townsfolk moved all the wood into their polytunnel to dry and in the meantime they heated their homes with the energy they had generated from the small precious stock of oil they had and the solar panels on their roof tops.
During the time of the wars it became important to them to think about how they could celebrate when somebody became a teenager. It was decided to have a great big party with music. Drums were built out of the local wood. The new teenager would be given beer, and presented with his own scarf; a brightly coloured garment to be worn when he went out of the settlement to visit others.
Meanwhile, Crown Land had become deserted. Nobody knew whence the people had gone. Some say that there were some who knew; but none were telling. It was rumoured that their princess had been abducted, and that the townsfolk had gone out to rescue her, but no one knew for sure if this was true. At the lower settlement signs of determined activity could be spied. The Stylists were packing up.
“We’re leaving” declared their Elder. “This is not a good place for a community to settle; we are too close to the market place. Everyone has to pass by here, and we are not left in peace”
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The Storyteller journeyed through the woods with the Stylists. They were a sad people. They still wore their brightly coloured garments, but on their faces their vitality was gone. With great enthusiasm had they approached their neighbours, to trade, and with great sorrow had they learnt that not everyone’s idea of the truth is the same. When they had tried to defend their truth, fair trade, they had been shut out, and branded villains by all and sundry.
Through the woods they trudged, till they came upon a place that was to their liking, on the very edge of the known world. Pretty soon to their name they were true, and with the rising of prices, they stopped making garments from oil based products, and instead grew hemp and fashioned their beautiful costumes from that instead. They began to recover their spirits as they concentrated on the well being of their own community without trying to trade with the others.
High above them, in Peaceful Grove, the council had decided to spend money on one new thing for the community. They decided to complete their community round house, so that they could meet and celebrate together with other communities.
During this time though, some people kept insisting on taking on more projects than that group had time to do properly, and then they would complain about getting burnt out. It was decided to make a work schedule and spread all the work equally. Meetings were held about the work, and each person was expected to take responsibility for themselves.
Then a block of High Rise flats became empty, and it was decided to make them available for any new community members that arrived, but not until they had all had a make over and were beautifully interior designed. A film studio was put in the building too, and vegetables were grown on its roof.
By this time in our tale less and less things were being imported from other countries, and Peaceful Grove extended their field space, and started to preserve fruit. They found that they were consuming less and saving a lot.
Further down the hill the inhabitants of Crown Land were taking it easy after the tribulations of the war. Nobody knew what other challenges they had faced, but all could see that the princess and her people were glad they did not have to fight any longer. They had taken down their castle walls, and were lying down together in the sunshine, relaxing in the knowledge that they would not be attacked. The gates had long gone, destroyed in the war.
Down in the glade of the Stylists, a new bright blue structure had gone up, and beneath it, some of the warrior folk were reclining, resting in their new found peace, glad to be far away from other peoples.
Some of their people, however, were to be found on their bellies, crawling along through the undergrowth, on route, the Journeyman was heard to say, to kidnap the Princess Edda…
And then the bells rang out for 2030. A new year was born, and as was the custom in those times, all the peoples of all the settlements set out to the market place, together, to hear the tales of the past year, to wonder at the trials and tribulations through which neighbours had passed, to learn from one another’s experiences, to resolve conflicts, or not, and to celebrate those who had achieved great things. The scroll of the history of Peaceful Grove, who had quietly beavered away working on their local challenges without interfering with the lives of their neighbours, and held safe harbour for those who wanted it, was greatly honoured, as was its scribe, Kira of the wild gazelle running legs, for her steady organizing of her people.
The Elder of the Stylists lamented the return to what he said were quite medieval ways, whilst the Elder of Peaceful Grove was heard to declare that her community was quite a beautiful jewel. The Princess of Crown Land said that machines should remain part of the future, and the warriors of the warring settlements continued to lock spears at every opportunity. Life, it seemed was to continue much as it ever does.
Into the air the proud survivors to 2030 leapt; we did it! Together, in a circle, a-joined, the merry kids in the woods followed the lead of the Journeyman whose skills had supplied so much of their building knowledge, and celebrated that life is very much just as you find it, and just as you make it, and what you put in, you are sure to get out!
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