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Virgo

In the ancestral times, long, long ago, giants lived in this land.

Virgo was a happy woman. She shared with Adam a homely warm house surrounded by fertile fields, where they cultivated huge potatoes, luscious gooseberries and cabbages for winter. There was pasture for grazing, where they looked after hens for eggs, sheep for wool and a cow for milk. They lived peaceful, busy lives, helping their neighbours with harvesting crops or listening to the Earth when she asked for assistance.

Where growing land was needed they cleared the stones by hand. Adam moved the larger ones and Virgo the smaller, changing the landscape to make pleasant valleys and high ground. Adam and Virgo enjoyed sharing all the planning and construction of the countryside with the earth.

Some hills they shaped rounded. These gave small birds somewhere to feed and rest. Some hills had cliffs, edges and rocky crags where eagles perched and buzzards circled in the windy currents of air. Sometimes the valleys were deep and narrow so that streams of water could rush through them quickly. Others they worked to be wide valleys, with slow languid rivers and clear pools where fish could relax. Here they would create flat pastures on either side so that the river might flood and produce fertile fields for crop growing.

Their long life together was cheerful and fulfilling. But in the spring of one year, Adam had a problem. It was soon to be Virgo's birthday. His gift? What could it be? Sitting by the glowing fire in the evenings he secretly looked at her. She was old now, a little wrinkled, her beautiful flowing hair grey, but her hands were smooth despite the hard toil. He realised that her clothes were getting old as well. Her girdle was broken. With all the hard work she had never bothered to replace it and used old rope around her waist to tie up her skirts. Here he found the answer. But, now he kept a secret from Virgo. He told no lies, but sometimes he was quieter than usual. He needed to plan and think deeply.

As the birthday drew near, quietly, every night, after Virgo went to bed, Adam stayed up. Sometimes she heard the door creak open as he stealthily left the house. ‘Where are you going?’ she’d call out. ‘I’m just bedding down the animals’ he’d reply. Virgo could sense Adam’s change of behaviour, knew something was different, started to be concerned about his secretive dark journeys.

On these nights, while the moon was full and cast long shadows and dark patterns across the land, Adam went out into the woods. There, fresh saplings grew amongst the mature trees. Adam knew that not all could survive as they reached for the light and food. These he carefully pulled up. Young and supple he easily wove them into a beautiful patterned girdle.

Soon, one bright sunny summer morning, it was Virgo’s birthday. Before they started breakfast Adam present Virgo with the girdle. She was delighted, her face radiant in the sunrise, a gentle smile of happiness at the perfect gift. They had planned a day of leisure. It was too beautiful to stop indoors and they picnicked on a hilly slope.

It was in the autumn that Adam noticed the change in Virgo. She became slower and slower on their journeys to the land until one day she lay in her bed and said ‘Adam, I will never rise again. It is time for me to leave you.’ That evening she closed her eyes and Adam knew they would never open again.

In his sadness he took down the girdle he had so lovingly crafted. With a heart filled with memories he walked up to where they had picknicked and sat down. The saplings still had life in them for Virgo had cared for the girdle so well. Then he realised what he had to do. He unwound the saplings and, to commemorate that special day, planted them as a line of trees.

Nowadays, we do not see the giants. But the descendants of those saplings stand in the place which Adam named ‘Virgo’s girdle’.

Page last updated: 13th Jan 2011