A Dragon's Tale

Once upon a time, they say, there was a place up north where it was very cold in the winter and the wind wound it's way through the boughs of the tall pines...sometimes so softly it was hardly heard and sometimes so strongly, it seemed, that one could hear nothing else.

Long ago, stories were told that in this place there lived a creature known only as "the Dragon".

Running between the mountains, the rivers make sometimes small, and sometimes quite large, valleys. Every year, as winter draws itself together and pulls away, the snow begins to melt and run in small rivers down the hillsides. As spring softens the land, the green returns to the valleys and then to the mountains.

As it happens, most of the people lived in the valleys and only a few, a very few lived on the mountains. Because of this, for the most part, the mountains were quiet places... except for the wind in the pines.

In this place up north, sweet as the short summers were, the winters were long and cold. Warmed by cast-iron stoves filled with the glow of burning ash logs, the people became accustomed to telling stories to pass the time. One of the stories was about a dragon. It was an old tale and the forgetting has erased some of the details. No one remembers why the story began, but every winter at some time or another folks remembered to tell the story.

The dragon, it was claimed, lived on the mountain, up from the valley where most of the people lived. As for what the dragon looked like, it was never said, for those who lived on the mountain were very few and never spoke of the creature. Everyone said that the dragon slept all winter under the deep snow of the mountains.

In the quiet, just beginning to warm, soft as velvet spring nights, the dragon would be up and about on the mountain. About, because it was hungry...here and there, among the undergrowth, looking, everyone supposed, for something to eat.

The dragon was heard but never seen...the snap of a twig, the crunch of a few dry leaves on the forest floor...or perhaps a disheveled woodpile, where...just the day before it had stood neatly piled. This was perhaps what bothered the people the most, for why, they wondered did it seem to dislike neatly piled wood? Others said, it wasn't that...it was just that small things lived under wood piles...small things that dragons likes to eat.

After all, it had been a long winter and now it was spring and everyone knew that the dragon was very hungry.

After some time and the telling over and over of the story, the mountain became known as the mountain of the hungry dragon. And as it also happens, people come and go from the valley, the seasons follow one after the other and things change. The comings and goings distracted the townsfolk and they began to speak more of who had come and who had gone...and the mountain became known as the mountain of the hungry...with never any mention of the dragon.

So, as it has come to be, in this place in the north with its mountains and its valleys, so white in the winter and so soft and green in the summer, where the people now seem to have less time for stories, there is a mountain that folks call Mount Hunger...but, and I have asked many about the name, and no one, no one in the valley remembers...the why.

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