Continuing the “Letters From” series, in which Fourteen Stones’s people introduce themselves and their world.
Write a letter, my brother says. Letter? I say. Letter about what? I don’t do that kind of thing. Haven’t in years, not since my wife Virta and I got married and she moved out here to the village. She used to live in Paret, you know, which is the only thing like a city around here. Back then, of course, we did write to each other. Now I’m out of practice.
My brother – that’s Ribas, the zhinin, you met him – he says that I should talk about life here in Lida. Anything you want to say, he says. So that people will know why they should come and see it for themselves. I point out he wrote about Lida already. (I saw that letter of his, and you should take my advice: when he says he doesn’t have a gift with words, don’t listen.) He says, Your take is different from mine, Gedrí. Just try it, will you?
When your brother is older than you and used to taking care of everyone, you don’t have a whole lot of choice when he asks you to do a thing. (He’s also a know-it-all, but nobody else had better say so, at least not in my hearing.) You can argue with him how you like – and believe me, I know how to argue – but it slides off him like straw off the end of a pitchfork.
So. My take on Lida.
Well, I’ve lived here all my life. The farm, which belongs to me now, was my mother’s. You’ve met her too. Ribé and I were born there. The old house is where my family and I live, but to me, the fields and orchard are home. When I was a little boy, Mama and Ribé between them could hardly ever get me to sit down and do dull inside things like mending and scrubbing. If there was any outside work to do at all, digging or weed-pulling or fence-patching, I’d be out there in even the worst weather, usually lugging tools practically as big as I was.
I’m not much different these days, grown though I am, with two children of my own. When Virta married me, she didn’t know much about farming life. I’ll tell you, anyone would be proud to see how she’s taken on the work and learned to love the open spaces, the earth underfoot, the rhythms of plowing and planting. Me, I never did imagine doing or being anything else, so you could say she had to take me as I was or not at all. Some days I look at her, in one of her plain working dresses that she’s embroidered with the kind of fine work she always loved, and I wonder all over again that she decided I was worth it.
What else about the village? If you visited here, you’d have to have a meal at the Sheaf and Barrel. That’s the inn, the only one we’ve got, and we don’t want for another. The innkeeper, Seldo, is an old friend. He’s also one of the two best Capture players in the village – as I should know, because I’m the other. Since you aren’t from Namora, I don’t suppose you know how to play Capture. If you did, though, I’d say you should join one of the matches that go on at the inn some quiet winter evenings. People bring their own boards and pieces and play whoever wants to challenge them. The inn fills up pretty quick, with players and those watching the games and passing cider around. Things usually end up with me and Seldo in a drawn-out battle. Those are the best kind.
I’ve managed to go on a pretty long time here. Seems to be enough to satisfy my brother – though now he tells me I might have to write another letter sometime. I’ll tell you, he knows how to make a nuisance of himself.
For now, while I can, I’ll sign off. Yours,