May 27, 2015

In Switzerland --- The fountain of Geneva (teaser)

So we arrived, and went almost immediately for a hike around the Stand, a fairly flat hill structure situated above Bürchen, our home here in CH. And Chang takes pictures for his Facebook page. So here are two of them---this was a fabulous day---the first picture showing the imposing Dom, the third-highest mountain of the Alps (4545 m), and the second showing the Saas Valley, right next to it (to the left):

Dom, with the Hohberg, the main glacier, nestling a bit off to the right under the main peak

Saas Valley

And the teaser? What happened to the Green Eyes? Don't you worry, the Green Eyes are back in business with Alex on John on honeymoon traveling through Europe and being told the back story of the Fountain of Geneva, a tale of 2000 years involving the Roman emperor Hadrian and a ravaging nordic tribe, the Muttoni, which has settled in---yes---the Saas Valley. And the DomWell, the Dom hosts the Hohberg, its main glacier, which provides the water for the thirsty fountain. Hadrian is visiting Geneva, is asked to deal with the Muttoni, and has the brilliant idea of assembling an erotic SWAT team, named the Guard of Antinous after his deceased lover.

Okay, here's a fragment with narrator Richard Zugabe, librarian of the municipal archives of Geneva (Hadrian leads his team up the Valais valley into Muttoni territory):

“Late-August, the eternally-snow-topped Alps to the south, the gentle slopes of the Jura to the north, the deep-blue water of the lake glittering in the sunlight, a touch of gossamer in the air, the Antinousians holding hands and sharing the sights---quite a few of romantic liaisons had been formed in the meantime, you can imagine. There was an upset, though, literally, during the crossing, in that the passengers felt a sudden surge of the lake, and then heard the desperate cries of a galley slave who had just lost his penis. Yes, two galley slaves had somehow managed to abandon their oars and engage in a sexual act and the sudden swell had led to a regrettable jaw movement of the receiving partner. Snap. Galley slaves were not supposed to leave their position on punishment by death, but Hadrian was in upper-best mood and pardoned the penis-loser.

“The jaw-snapper was not the only person to lose his life that day, however. When the galleys arrived at the mouth of the Rhone river (the beginning of the Valais proper), a tsunami had hit the entire lake and killed a lot of people---not caused by an earthquake, the tsunami, but by a massive landslide. Hadrian bestowed his heart-felt condolences upon the wailing survivors, then signaled to mount the mounts, and led his team up the bank of the Rhone.

“You’ve never seen it, right? A flat but narrow valley, barely a mile wide, flanked by the two principle mountain chains of the Swiss Alps, rising almost four thousand meters from the valley bottom to the top of alpine giants like Jungfrau, Matterhorn, the Dom, and so on. Eternal snow talks to a brilliant sky---in late summer there’s a bluish sheen to the air, it’s incredible. The steep northern side is covered with vineyards producing a light, fizzy version of Chardonnay, locally called Fendant. The southern side rises more slowly along the fault line of side valleys, the Saas valley among them.

“The night is spent in Sedunum, now called Sion, the last outpost of Roman civilization, where prodigious quantities of the fizzy Fendant, the wine, are secured …yes, Alex.”
“Geneva, how was it called in those days?”
“Genava---almost the same, one vowel difference.”
“Thank you.”
“Also secured are prodigious quantities of Valais honey.

“Around noon next day they arrive at the Potemkin village of the Muttoni-catchers---no longer so Potemkin, by the way, due to the preparations for the Emperor’s visit. Hadrian summons the three Muttonis of his team and asks them to proceed immediately into the valley and communicate his urgent wishes to meet King Hrothgar Kodranson. Kodranson, you can figure, had been identified as the Muttoni’s chieftain by the captured Muttoni. Meanwhile, wine, honey, and the aphrodisiac are blended into a fortified concoction and filled into wineskins.

“Since Hadrian never revealed his intentions, I have to speculate a bit here, but it should be obvious that he calculated as follows. If this crazy tribe is reasonable enough, they will extend an invitation. Otherwise, a full-fledge invasion of the valley would be necessary. Hadrian wasn’t equipped for such an invasion, however, and the intensity of his preparations spoke of the conviction that his softer approach would work.

“It did work, of course, curiosity kills the cat. The three Muttoni show up with an invitation next morning. By return mail, the Guard of Antinous enters the valley. It’s more a crevice than a valley, the white-water Saas gushing down the gorge while the imposing Dom, the Alps’ third-highest mountain, thrones over its western flank. Thick conifer forest nestles on either side, dark-green-light-green, dapper spruce, fir trees, larches. Squirrels frolic about. Paw-fishing bears dabble in the stream, birds of prey circle the sky. Think American West, version 1492. I’m sticking to our reality spectrum here; you can assume that the Antinousians saw other things as well. They saw traces of elves, nymphs, and other busybodies, evidence of Jupiter and Thor---theirs was an enchanted, spellbound age, the modern separation of physics and metaphysics didn’t apply (Caesar’s family claimed descendance from Venus).

“King Hrothgar Kodranson gravely awaits the Emperor at the entrance to his settlement, his blondest, blue-est eyed, barrel-chest-test…you get the gist, I mean these oh-my-God people were lined up as honor guard while the rest of the tribe lurked behind the trees, fully-armed, just in case. Next to Kodranson there stands a younger man---Lars-Lars, we will learn soon---and Hadrian’s impression is that the pair just had a lover’s quarrel. Eye contact is being made Lars-wise, three times. The three Muttoni intermediaries dismount. At this point already---it’s amazing what split seconds can do to people---Hadrian thinks it wise to track the intermediaries movements and commit the forage place of their horses to his memory. Hadrian dismounts and presents his gift to the chieftain, yes, you guessed it, a golden statue of an Antinousian embrace, explicit version. Kodranson nods gravely, he gets the message. The ice is broken, consenting warriors unite.

For the full story, go to the pages of The Bear, here.

1 comment:

Rex said...

Wonderfully beautiful!



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