The Long Road Home - Part 1
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The past is beneath our feet.
It's Wednesday morning, and a sunny one at that. I'm having a healthy breakfast* in my kitchen-diner by the big back window. I have a day off work, and I'm lazily making the most of it.
I feel like a cat, basking in the sunshine.
[* And when I say healthy, I mean meagre and uninteresting. Muesli.]
As I munch another resistant mouthful, I notice my neighbour Abbey heading down the early-Spring garden. I smile as I take in her tousled red hair, her jaunty - almost skipping - step, the big smile, and the ever-bare feet. Pretty without pretense, this thirty-something lady is literally the girl-next-door. I'm not sure why she's in my garden, but it doesn't matter; she's welcome there, and I'm pleased to see her.
I knock on the window and as she turns her smile somehow gets wider. I wave her inside, and notice that she's carrying something small and square. I wipe the last spot of milk from my lips with a napkin.
Morning, neighbour! she beams as she breezes through the back door, the lightest of giggles bubbling through her words. I brought something to show you! Her sunflower scent has brought the Spring indoors.
She quietly pops a framed photograph on the table in front of me.
Isn't it amazing?!
It certainly is. A badger Freemason! And a very senior one, by the look of him. A memory shifts slightly. He's an important chap, too. The heavy chain of office, the ornate leather apron, the arm braces and gloves... if I had to guess, I'd say he was a Lodge Grand Master. My neighbour looks at me curiously. I laugh, realising her assumption. Oh, I'm not "On The Square". My dear old Uncle Jericho was highly placed in one of the American lodges. And talked a lot.
Our attention returns to the ageing photo. I can't help but laugh again; I love the moustache, monocle and top hat.
But a Grand Master?! He's a badger! I'm sure she's teasing me; she's been living here long enough to know how remarkable they are. And the memory shifts in my head again.
Well, Masonry is traditionally about craftsmanship, I note mildly, and these guys can build anything. Especially underground.
Like, say... tunnels? Abbey is now behind me, and now her tone is definitely teasing. Her tone jostles the thought again, and it suddenly tumbles free in a shower of gravelly memories.
Yes, tunnels! He's from the Grand Lodge of Tunnellers! Jericho told me about them when I was a kid. They're a smaller Lodge, but held in high esteem by the Brotherhood. My mouth moves silently. My jaw drops. Good grief, is this The General?!
She cheers and whistles, then hugs me. Yes, well done. It's The General, the first Grand Master of his Lodge. He has no other name that anyone knows about, and was one of the first badgers to work above ground. With people, I mean. Did you know he was actually a scientist by profession? I shake my head in amazement; the story is intriguing. But that's a story for another day. This photo was taken in 1953.
Incredible. A moment in history, a legendary figure, still with us through this simple photograph.
A new thought nudges me.
So Abbey, I frown, puzzled, how do you know all this, exactly?
Oh, she shrugs, Yavin shared what he knew with me. There's a slightly evasive quality to the words, and she doesn't quite meet my eye. And I'm still puzzled; I can communicate with Yavin well enough, but the old badger engineer doesn't say much. I wonder about how she had that conversation, but put that thought aside for now.
She's full of mysterious talents, is Abbey.
Well, I suppose he'd know the history of his profession and species as well as anyone.
True, but Yavin knows this bit of history especially well. She meets my eye. The General is Yavin's grandfather.
Wow. I had no idea. Life is full of surprises.
Today, the past really is beneath our feet.
Abbey grins. And he's just moved back to the garden.
Continued in Part Two - Elephants Abhor A Vacuum
This blog entry is protected by copyright © Indigo Roth, 2011