In Search of Forest Elves and Pixies

Trip Start May 31, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Sunday, May 27, 2007

As soon as I opened my eyes after a very relaxing sleep, I knew I was in trouble. My arms and legs felt as heavy as lead and they didn't respond too much to my brain's commands; it was as painful as if I'd climbed the highest mountain in Wales. Somehow I made it to the bathroom, releasing little yelps and gasps with every tiny movement.  Ed lay laughing his ass off from bed, apparently painless.  So I haven't worked out in over 8 months, so what?!
As expected, the day was cold, wet and grey.  It wasn't raining heavily, just a light drizzle so we could still go out and about without getting too uncomfortable.  We had our vegetarian English breakfast in the cozy little dining room of the B&B and took off.  
There was a leisure walk from the center of the village to a nearby waterfall past the old mining railways which we wanted to see before we left Llanberis. Being the sucker for forest waterfalls that I am, I dragged my useless limbs behind Ed who finally started complaining about some muscle pain and general discomfort.   
The walk started out through the hidden streets of the village, past the still cottages and chalets of its residents.  The only sound we heard was that of our footsteps and the sweet gurgling sound of water trickling out the waterspouts. There's nothing more soothing than the smell of soil, wood, and leaves after a rainfall, and even more so when the mist of the mountaintops have begun falling closer to the earth, trapping the damp scents in its wraith-like cloud. 
Ed and I stopped at every bushel, shrub, and thicket of flowers we found on our passing.   If there was one thing we could tell from the people of Llanberis, was that they had a passion for gardening.  Flowers, buds, blossoms and shoots of every color and size adorned the facades on front lawns of these calm households.  Perfectly rounded droplets of rain rested on their petals and a few buzzing insects lingered by to collect their nectar.  
We continued to walk past the town and into the forest.  We had been told by the nice man at the tourist information center that we had to look out for the old railway tracks.   As we climbed upwards through the mossy mattresses of the forest floor, we encountered the tracks and the path the crossed them. As soon as we crossed over, we heard the sound of a steam engine coming our way, so we positioned ourselves to get a glimpse of the old steam train with its white puffs of smoke.  Llanberis was and still is a mining town, so these old steamers which were now turned into picturesque tourist rides were most probably once used to transport the miners to the copper and slate mines up in the mountain. 
As soon as our attention diverted from the passing train, we turned and entered a realm very different from what we had seen so far around these parts.  We expected a clearing in the forest but this part was thicker, lusher, and we could already hear the purring of the waterfall nearby.  The trees towered above us blocking our sight to the sky, and the forest ground was quilted with moss and thin grass, and every so often you could spot a patch of tiny bluebells tinkling together even at the lightest breeze.  Suddenly all I could think about were my fairy queens and elfish princes.  This was the type of enchanted forest we had come to see, with its evergreen charm and magic.
We tiptoed down the mossy paths, as if not to disturb the placidity of the place.  The waterfall lay just ahead, past some rocks and more bluebells, overlooking a sharp precipice decorated with trees and greenery of every kind.  I know I tend to me very emotional, but this little spot was truly magnificent.  It's places like these that inspire great poems, and paintings, and even great romances, but in me, it inspired absolute serenity and quietude.  
I sat on a stone and observed the waterfall, as the white frenzy poured steadily into a round and perfect whirlpool of mountain water.  From there the water overflowed and fell downwards but we couldn't see where as the drop was too steep and the trees and ferns in between were too thick.  All of this suddenly reminded me of a poem by Federico Garcia Lorca I have always loved because of the image it created in my head, and that image was this place:

   The still pool of air
   under the branch of echo.

   The still pool of water
   under a frond of stars.

   The still pool of your mouth
   under a thicket of kisses.

Ed jumped from stone to stone trying to get a good shot of the waterfall while I sat there just breathing it in.  If you looked close enough, you could see water dribbling from in between the rocks towards the pool, the icy blood of the mountain itself returning to its source. 
Regretfully we had to turn back.  Our tryst in this dreamy place had come to an end and so had our time in Llanberis.  We began our hike back to the car but instead of going back the same way we took another route, past an old Castle overlooking the lake and the broken down slate mountains.  We took a shortcut through the forest, the last attempt to catch a glimpse of a forest pixy or the merrymaking of some elves.  I swear each spot was better than the last, with dips and curves in the earth which created a beautiful vivid playground. Fields of ferns were curling their way out of the ground in unison and oceans of fallen leaves were just waiting for someone to come and jump on them.  Ed did not hesitate one second to start throwing leaves in the air, or at my face.
We sat on the plump beds of damp leaves and sat quiet for a second, staring at the green mist on the canopy of trees.  Up ahead was a shallow stream of quiet water passing its way through the forest towards the lake, so we hurried towards the bridge to watch how the tiny rain drops gently rippled the surface of the water.
It was hard to tear ourselves apart from all this but the rain was getting heavier and we still wanted to make one more stop before heading back to London.  On our way back to the car we found a local honey farm selling organic Celtic wine.  We couldn't resist so we took two bottles of cherry and blackcurrant mead wine to enjoy when we returned home.  So under the downpour we headed out of Snowdonia National Park in search for a different face of Wales to look at. 
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