With each word in this post, I felt pressure coming off my shoulders. My back is a little straighter I’m not crazy, I’m just in the process of learning to jump a wall just a little taller than myself. I must admit it only feels like I’m just breaking dirt. The soil is rocky on top, sitting over a gold mine. The pick in my hand doesn’t seem to be doing the job except breaking up the monolithic rocks in my mind. What I am finding is that I have to change what’s already up there first, before I plant the seeds to my second garden. Anyway, I’m going to be using this post to teach my students. Hope you don’t mind. Excellent job exposing the difficulties in learning a new language.Just hoping the other side of the wall isn’t just another pasture but a home to dwell in.
Originally posted on Lady Of The Cakes:
I’m talking about my Spanish.
At this stage, I’m not exactly getting a lot of sympathy either. The consensus among my Spanish friends’ seems to be that my Spanish is “good”.
That’s very nice of them, I appreciate the thumbs up, but I don’t agree, and it’s got nothing to do with false modesty. They are, of course, comparing their English to my Spanish, and, generally, their English is a lot better than my Spanish was before I moved to Spain, even though I’d been studying, on and off, for years. In other words, they are comparing apples to oranges.
But I digress. I wasn’t really sure how to convey the nature of my discontent succinctly, until, about a month ago, I came across…
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THE GOLDEN MOUNTAIN
ONCE upon a time a merchant’s son had too much fun spending money, and the day came when he saw himself ruined; he had nothing to eat, nothing to drink. He took a shovel and went to the market place to see if perchance somebody would hire him as a worker.
A rich, proud merchant, worth many, many thousands, came along in a gilded carriage. All the fellows at the market place, as soon as they perceived him, rushed away and hid themselves in the corners. Only one remained, and this one was our merchant’s son.
“Dost thou look for work, good fellow? Let me hire thee,” the very rich merchant said to him.
“So be it; that’s what I came here for.”
“And thy price?”
“A hundred rubles a day will be sufficient for me.”
“If too much, go and look for some one else; plenty of people were around and when they saw thee coming, all of them rushed away.”
“All right. To-morrow come to the landing place.”
The next day, early in the morning, our merchant’s son arrived at the landing; the very rich merchant was already there waiting.
They boarded a ship and went to sea. For quite a long time they journeyed, and finally they perceived an island. Upon that island there were high mountains, and near the shore something seemed to be in flames.
“Yonder is something like fire,” said the merchant’s son.
“No, it is my golden palace.”
They landed, came ashore, and—look there! the rich merchant’s wife is hastening to meet him, and along with her their young daughter, a lovely girl, prettier than you could think or even dream of.
“One day does not count,” the rich merchant said; “let us have a good time and leave work for to-morrow.”
The young workman was a fine, brave fellow, handsome and stately, and the merchant’s lovely daughter liked him well.
“Take it,” she said; “when thou art in need, it will be useful.”
The next day the very rich merchant with his hired workman went to the high golden mountain. The young fellow saw at once that there was no use trying to climb or even to crawl up.
“Well,” said the merchant, “let us have a drink for courage.”
And he gave the fellow some drowsy drink. The fellow drank and fell asleep.
All at once crows came flying, black crows with iron beaks. They took hold of the carcass, lifted it up to the top of the high mountain, and began to pick at it.
The crows soon ate up the horse and were about to begin on the merchant’s son, when he awoke, pushed away the crows, looked around and asked out loud:
“Where am I?”
The rich merchant below answered:
“On a golden mountain; take the shovel and dig for gold.”
And the young man dug and dug, and all the gold he dug he threw down, and the rich merchant loaded it upon the carts.
“Enough!” finally shouted the master. “Thanks for thy help. Farewell!”
“And I—how shall I get down?”
“As thou pleasest; there have already perished nine and ninety of such fellows as thou. With thee the count will be rounded and thou wilt be the hundredth.”
“What shall I do?” thought the poor merchant’s son. ”Impossible to go down! But to stay here means death, a cruel death from hunger.”
And our fellow stood upon the mountain, while above the black crows were circling, the black crows with iron beaks, as if feeling already the prey.
The fellow tried to think how it all happened, and he remembered the lovely girl and what she said to him in giving him the touchstone and the flint. He remembered how she said:
“Take it. When thou art in need it will prove useful.”
“I fancy she had something in mind; let us try.”
The poor merchant’s son took out stone and flint, struck it once and lo! two brave fellows were standing before him.
“What is thy wish? What are thy commands?” said they.
“Take me from this mountain down to the seashore.”
And at once the two took hold of him and carefully brought him down.
“Ahoy! good people! take me along!”
“No time to stop!” And they went sailing by. But the winds arose and the tempest was heavy.
“It seems as if this fellow over there is not an ordinary man; we had better go back and take him along,” decided the sailors.
They turned the prow toward the island, landed, took the merchant’s son along with them and brought him to his native town.
It was a long time, or perhaps only a short time after—who could tell?—that one day the merchant’s son took again his shovel and went to the market place in search of work.
The same very rich merchant came along in his gilded carriage; and, as of old, all the fellows who saw him coming rushed away.
The merchant’s son remained alone.
“Will you be my workman?”
“A rather expensive fellow.”
“If too expensive go to others; get a cheap man. There were plenty of people, but when thou didst appear—thou seest thyself—not one is left.”
“Well, all right. Come to-morrow to the landing place.”
They met at the landing place, boarded a ship and sailed toward the island.
The first day they spent rather gayly, and on the second, master and workman went to work.
When they reached the golden mountain the rich, proud merchant treated his hired man to a tumbler.
“Before all, have a drink.”
“Wait, master! thou art the head; thou must drink the first. Let me treat thee this time.”
The young man had already prepared some of the drowsy stuff and he quickly mixed it with the wine and presented it to the master.
The proud merchant drank and fell sound asleep.
All at once black crows came flying, —black crows with iron beaks; they promptly lifted up the horse with the sleeping merchant inside, bore it to the top of the mountain, and began to pick the bones of their prey.
When the merchant awoke he looked here and looked there and looked everywhere.
“Where am I?”
“Upon the golden mountain. Now if thou art strong after thy rest, do not lose time; take the shovel and dig. Dig quickly and I’ll teach thee how to come down.”
The proud, rich merchant had to obey and dug and dug. Twelve big carts were loaded.
“Enough!” shouted the merchant’s son. “Thank thee, and farewell!”
The merchant’s son took along with him the twelve heavy carts with gold, arrived at the golden palace and married the lovely girl; the rich merchant’s daughter became mistress of all her father’s wealth, and the merchant’s son with his family moved to a large town to live.
And the rich merchant, the proud, rich merchant?
He himself, like his many victims, became the prey of the black crows, black crows with iron beaks.
Well, sometimes it happens just so.
Kupala Night is one of the most joyous Slavic traditions in Russia, Ukraine, Poland, and other Slavic countries. It’s a celebration of fire, water, the Sun and the Moon. It’s a time of bumper crops, fertility, and love for all who join in the festivities. They began as pagan celebrations that date back to the time of Slavic, German and Celtic tribes that are still practiced to this day.
What began as a pagan holiday has changed into a Christian Holy day.
One scholar of mythology, Sir James Frazer, believed the holiday originally called Kupala was a pagan fertility rite that was adopted into the Orthodox Christian calendar. The analogue for the celebration of the legacy of St. John comes at the time of the summer solstice. It was a day celebrated as St. John’s Day in Western Europe. Thus comes the name Ivan (John) Kupala (derived from the Slavic word for bathing) joining of the two names in a ritual that is practiced in Russia, Ukraine, Poland, and other Slavic nations. Each celebrate it a bit differently which adds so much more beauty to the whole event.
Some believe the name of the celebration originated from the Indo-European word “kump”- a group or a crowd. There is also a belief that the Roman “Cupid” and Slavic god “Kupala” are ascribed to this celebration. The name ‘Sobótka’, it’s history can be traced to the lighting of bonfires on Saturday, on the eve of the Pentecost.
The night of love
During the eve of the midsummer night eve, it’s believed to be a time that people to fall in love, that those who celebrate Kupala Night will gain happiness and prosper throughout the coming year. Young women will gather and make wreaths of flowers and herbs. Then taking them to a lake would float them on water. The young men then would eye the wreath of the young woman he hoped to gain her attention would then try to capture it from the other side of the lake. If this happened the young couple could then venture into the woods in search of the magical fern flower.
Folklore says that St. John’s Eve was a time for telling fortunes from flowers and herbs and celebrating many rituals like jumping over a fire, which was supposed to purify the body and ward off evil and bad luck. It was believed that during ’Sobótka’ swimming in rivers and lakes was prohibited, while swimming after sundown or before dusk had healing properties.
Here you will get a small glimpse of what each of these celebrations are like, each country is a little different.
Kupala Nights in Russia
Ukrainian Day Ivan Kupala
Kupala Nights Poland
Under the Blood Moon
In a tiny village in the foothills of the Altai mountains the cry of a newborn baby could be heard. It wasn’t unusual to hear a child when it was born, to the neighbors closet to the home this was normal, but this wasn’t any ordinary birth. The moon was just beginning to rise over the snow capped mountains. The air was crisp as fresh snow blanketed the trees, homes, and everything else creating a incredible calm over the village. The cries started slowly at first and those closest knew the latest newcomer had arrived. Mothers who weren’t in attendance quickly gathered what was necessary for such an event. What happened next no one excepted. The moon itself was no ordinary moon, it was a blood moon. An occurrence that had happened only a few times in their history and no one living had ever seen one. The cries grew ever louder as the moon crested the mountains and bathed everything in crimson red light. It was as if the birth didn’t belong just to the mother, the spirit of mother earth herself was there.
Thus was born the one who would lead his people from obscurity, bringing a new light and new message to the world. The only one who had any knowledge about the chain of events was silent, for she was exhausted from giving birth to her first son. She had been visited three times by the spirits telling her of who she was giving birth to, Shavet was to be his name, came the message of the first visiting spirit. The second and third spirits shared who he was and readied her with the knowledge to raise him. All three gave grave words about staying quiet about the true nature of who was to arrive soon. It was only after the third visit that she understood the gravity, at which time she vowed never utter a word about what she had heard. She new the legends of her people all the people did, why was she chosen echoed through her mind. She would soon find out, no sooner than the last spirit left, her labor pains grew in intensity.
This is a small sample of what I’m writing. It would be nice to hear your thoughts of the beginning of “Under the Blood Moon”.