The Land Beyond the Forest 4
The six horses were packed with food, blankets very early next morning before dawn. A hearty breakfast eaten and the riders dressed appropriately for hiking in a cold wet cave.
They mounted the horses and took off as soon as the sun was barely rising. Cioclovina Cave was their destination. It was in the heart of a remote mountain area near the origin of the Cioclovina River. Luckily it was early autumn because the water in the cave would be low or minimum. They still wore rubber boots to keep their feet warm. Because of slippery loose slimy stones they would be careful and watch each other for safety. They had been here many times and safety of all was first concern.
Everyone wore a miners helmet with light and also carried a flashlight. There were more lights on the horses that would be tethered outside the cave near wild grasses.
Some people feel that this inaccessible cave a former sanctuary was for nymph worship. In Homer, Odyssey, XVII, 209–211 it was written “Cold water flowed down from the rock above, and on the top was built an altar of the nymphs where all passers-by made offerings".
Many strings of blue glass and amber beads also had been found in this cave along with bones of horses. Ceramics also had been found on natural shelves on the wall. It had been a magical place to some ages ago.
Andrei and Márta had been to the cave more times than the others but never told them lest Jim and Sue would worry about their safety.
They stopped for the horses to graze a little and drink. The sun brought warmth and they shed their jackets. The mountains were beautiful and even tho they wanted to stop they went on to the caves. Once there the horses were tended to and they entered the cave. Not much was spoken as everyone was in awe of the beauty of the cave. Every time they visited it seemed there was something new to be seen. Autumn was best to visit because the water was down and there was no waist high wading. It felt as though they were in the depths of the earth experience new finds. Once Márta found a single blue bead. She held it to feel it's warmth then she tossed it back into the water where it belonged. It was getting close to an hour and one half so they headed back to the entrance.
The horses were there waiting for the cavers nodding their heads. Andrei suggested they ride a bit up to a grassy area and have a taste of his Pálinka.
“Yes,my old bones are stiff and need some Pálinka warmth.” blurted out Márta.
“MaMa my old arthritis is telling me I need some of Andrei's Pálinka also.” replied Jim.
“I heard from a little bird that you need to learn to sip the Pálinka.” chirped in Sue.
Up to the grassy plain they set up the picnic food on a blanket. Andrei broke out one bottle of Pálinka and they all toasted to a wonderful day. The horses were each given a handful of oats then turned loose to roam around. They were well trained and never wandered off. They also knew when it was time to go back home there would be another handful of oats or a whole apple each. Sausages, breads, cheeses, fruit and Márta's vanilla walnut cookies were displayed on the blanket. Andrei broke out another bottle of Pálinka. After they ate their fill the singing began. Andrei recited a favorite poem:
Me Without You
By Adrian Paunescu
And suddenly I understood that without you
I’m not completely sane myself,
To run away and come straight back I’m tempted,
To never know my place on Earth again.
So fast did you become part of my blood,
So much part of myself you are right now,
A mere scratch would make me cry,
For fear that I might lose you drop by drop.
There is no springtime anywhere,
With lifeless blossoms now you button up your coat.
With springtime’s bitterness I look for honey,
But you, my love, are there in its place.
And suddenly I know that without you,
I die myself and can’t come back to life,
Although I had been born, as you well know,
To be the one protecting you from yourself!
It was time to go back home. The horses were loaded and each horse got his or her apple. A wonderful day was had by all. Off they went back to their homes. Goodbye my caves.
You are special,
know how to give
a family to make
©Julia A Knaake