An Introduction to Stitchtown and the land of Nevernotwuz
Nevernotwuzians conception of the universe is one of a great sphere, very much like a great inverted bubble, inside which all land masses float. They believed that if you traveled on the ocean far enough you would eventually find yourself in the sky. Not surprising, if you consider that when they looked into the sky they would see great whales, enormous narwhals and giant squid floating by, to say nothing of the myriad of fantastic creatures that modern folk have only seen drawn on the borders of ancient maps; beasts that, sadly, to this day, are thought of to be mere invention or misconception. But the sea to which these many creatures have returned is a vast place, much larger than any dense forest and many of these beasts, with their delicate temperaments, have simply gone into hiding. And it has been said that many have ventured even deeper into the sky and have found themselves on other planets.
But let’s travel back in time for a moment to the early history of Nevernotwuz. Very long ago, traveling as they were wont to do in primitive hot air balloons made of animal skins, a small band of airborne nomads happened upon this enchanting place, an oasis of sorts, deep in the heart of the Metaforest. A strange little dip in an otherwise harsh landscape, it is fed by a waterfall that spills into a gushing river that winds across an open meadow. The meadow and the surrounding woodland was home then, as it is now, to a myriad of flora and fauna that one will not find anywhere else. Back in those days dinosaurs still roamed the earth and sky beasts inhabited the sky. Though some of these creatures were fierce most were gentle beasts at heart and were put into service by the Nevernotwuzians, assisting them in plowing the fields, digging holes for wells and helping to fell trees to build shelter. The sky beasts were often ridden as well and ornate howdahs were built for this purpose. It would not be an uncommon sight to see air balloons and great sky beasts drifting lazily over the town and surrounding woodland as the Nevernotwuzians loved to indulge in what we might think of as a scenic jaunt. Their version of a Sunday drive, you might say, though to these people, this was more than just a form of leisure but an important part of their personal philosophy and, indeed, their spirituality. To a Nevernotwuzian, there is nothing as important as learning to simply float.
Apart from the many beasts that have lived in this place, there is a troll who has called this valley his home long before the Nevernotwuzians claimed it and he lives there to this day! A large but very shy creature, he spends all his time in the woods. You might find evidence of him being there, a strange pile of rocks or perhaps or a crude little carving on a mountainside, but you are not likely to ever see him. He lives in a great cave that he carved out behind the falls. He is indeed very old and his sense of time is quite different from ours. In his mind, the arrival of the Nevernotwuz people is something that has happened only recently and he is still not fully aware of what people are. He rarely sees them and when he does they are merely distant specks or strange dancing phantoms viewed through the curtain of water from behind the falls. He often hears their voices, telling stories or singing songs and in fact, he has learned language from these people, but he is not at all convinced that people are real and he thinks that the voices he hears are just voices in his head.
Agriculture and Trade
The idyllic little valley is not only breathtakingly beautiful but bountiful as well. For a long time the Nevernotwuzians simply lived off the land and were quite self-sufficient. As the populations in the surrounding regions grew and people became more technologically advanced, soon the Nevernotwuzians began to see the arrival of great sky carriages pulled by sky beasts. The age of world travel had begun and the Nevernotwuzians began to trade with these visitors. In exchange for the exotic fruits and vegetables they grew they would receive spices and bolts of fine silks and linens. Soon they became an agricultural people planting crops and raising livestock to trade. Word of the quality and uniqueness of what they had to offer quickly spread and their products were soon in great demand. They became quite prosperous and the town itself began to become more populated as people would find themselves there and not want to leave.
Besides being an agricultural people, the Nevernotwuzians were a very creative community spending a good deal of their time weaving, making baskets, throwing ceramic bowls and water jugs, or spending hours making the intricate costumes for one of their many yearly festivals. Any time you might find yourself in this place you would be likely to see them preparing for a celebration of some sort, though the preparation was always a sort of celebration in itself, accompanied by singing or dancing or playful games. It was not often that you would not hear a song being sung or music being played, even if it was just a lone person strolling by, humming to himself while plucking a tune out on a chigwinkle.
The Advent of Electricity
The Nevetnotwuzians enjoyed this period of prosperity for a time but soon the encroachment of the modern world greatly inhibited their ability to trade as they once had. The power of electricity had just begun to be harnessed and soon great towers began to be erected so that electricity could be transmitted over great distances. Unlike the electrical power lines that we know of, these power transmitters shot great lighting bolts from one tower to the next, with a great crash and a flash of light that would make the blackest night seem like a summer day for a moment. These regular lighting flashes terrified the sky beasts who would often tear off in the opposite direction leaving the carriages and passengers to crash to the ground. You just couldn’t find a sky beast who was unshaken by the lightning and after a while no one dared attempt this form of air travel. Soon many of the sky beasts simply returned to the sea.
The sky beast drawn carriages were soon replaced by motorized dirigibles and other forms of aircraft, but the lag in time between the disappearance of the sky beasts and this new form of transportation created a sever economic depression for the Nevernotwuzians. Many of the new settlers found they could no longer make a living in this secluded place and moved on, leaving the place to the early settlers who returned, for the most part, to their earlier ways.
The Name Stitchtown
It was at this point in they’re history that the name Stitchtown came about. Really quite a derisive name and not one that many native Nevernotwuzians would use, so called because of the appearance of these now impoverished people who were said to go about in tattered rags. They were a proud and noble people however and certainly did not go about in tattered clothing, but their love of bright colors and tendency to use a variety of different patterns in one outfit gave that impression to outsiders and thus, the name. You might hear a young Nevernotwuzian toss the term Stitchtown around but you’re not likely to hear an older member ever say the word.
Eventually an electrical tower was erected nearby and electricity became available, but not before a road was put in that ran along side the Nevernotwuz river that would wind down the mountainside into the valley. Not long after that a rail line connected this forgotten town to the outside world. A great tunnel was dug through the mountain range and Stitchtown became a way station of sorts, before the trains would continue on to the regions either north or south . If you were to take that lesser used road or travel by rail to this place, you would come upon a small town that looks much like any other. But the place you would find yourself in today would be called Newnevernotwuz, a place far different from the one in the story you are about to hear and we will find out how things came to be that way.
Nevernotwuz in the time of our story.
We will meet many people in this little town and many who have come from far away to make this place their home, a number of them from the nearest metropolis (though it is quite a distance away) called Sea City. But we will introduce you first to Mrs. Button.
Maggie Button, The Old House and The Great Hall
Known as Old Mother Button by most of the town folk, Maggie is a native Nevernotwuzian who holds fast to it’s many beliefs and customs. She lives on a hill located on the southern tip of the valley in a house built on a rock that juts out of the hillside. The house is not impressive at first glance though it is quite large, larger even than it appears from the outside. It is, in fact, the oldest structure in Nevernotwuz. Once a meeting place for the early members it houses the Great Hall which might be said to be located in the basement of the house. It is no mere basement but a great cavern inside a great rock, there are steps carved out and a few windows that have been carved out on one side for light. It is essentially a great amphitheater with natural undulations in the rock formations that are used for seating. There is a creek bed running through it and a bit of a pool as well. Once welcome to all, it eventually became apparent that it would be best not to let the new people in town know of it’s existence and it eventually became a well kept secret, providing the native people with a place to go to hold meetings and private Nevernotwuzian ceremonies.
In the traditions of Nevernotwuz culture, lineage is passed on through the female side of the family. Old Mother Button is the matriarch of this tight knit community, a position that was passed on to her from her mother and her mother before that. Though there had long been a tradition of only marrying within the tribe, Maggie Button broke with this tradition when she married Sam who was one of the people who settled here in the time of prosperity. He planted a grove of Nevernotwuz trees on the button property and they did quite well selling the much sought after Pamagotchi fruit which grew on this strange but very temperamental tree.
The Nevernotwuz Tree
Central to the Nevernotwuz mythology, it is the tree after which the Nevernotwuz people are named. It is also called the tree of hearts for it’s large heart shaped leaves and it’s strange little heart shaped fruit. Looking something like a top or an apple with a bit of a point at the bottom they become heart-shaped when they are cut open. Inside is a wonderfully sweet fruit that could be described as being somewhere between a guava and a honeydew melon but tasting something like a strawberry as well, it has strange little seeds inside that look a bit like buttons but are edible, very much like the seeds of a pomegranate. Though one may be tempted to eat one’s fill of these wonderful fruit you are not likely to do so without making a spectacle of yourself as the consumption of the fruit is likely to cause uncontrollable giggling fits! And once you start giggling it is not long until great soap bubbles will start shooting out of your nose! So it is best to eat them in moderation or at least, in private.
Besides having a few strange attributes this tree is really just an ordinary tree and though sacred, it is the symbolism of this tree and it’s fruit that holds meaning for the Nevernotwuz people. In the oft sung song about the tree there is mention of a ‘secret buried deep inside the seeds’. And this ‘secret’, as it is called, is the secret and mystery of regeneration and with that a deep held belief that life is all that exists and all that has ever existed and that death is not some dark distant thing but simply part of the cycle of life. It is this simple distinction in their way of looking at things that they will find clashes with the people of the outside world who tend to look at life and death as polar opposites locked in an endless battle.
To a Nevetnotwuzian the thought of dividing everything we experience into sets of opposites is a foreign concept and they have many terms which refer to things existing simultaneously that don’t make sense to the modern mind. For example, they have a word (hether) which means both here and there, another that refers to the idea of moving and staying still at the same time and a word that means both yes and no. Concepts that are commonplace to a Nevernotwuzian sound like utter nonsense to many of the outsiders and it is this difference that becomes an insurmountable barrier to the integration of these disparate cultures, but ultimately it will be the key to their survival.
Soon after Maggie and Sam are married they have their first child. They name her Pearl. She is as independent and strong willed as her mother and the first of a brood of twelve children. As Maggie broke with tradition and went against the will of her mother, so Pearl will go against the wishes of her mother. She has little use for girlish things and has a fascination with modern machinery. She becomes a self-taught mechanic and finds she is able to make a meager living in these difficult times helping out neighbors with their farm equipment or repairing their automobiles, but her passion is aeronautics and she has read every book and manual she has found on the subject. She trades for spare parts from automobiles and tractors and soon has a small fleet of flying machines that she has built herself, improving her designs with each new project. To her mother’s way of looking at it this is a lot of wasted time, she has made her peace with the fact that her daughter will never make much of an effort to be feminine but she is never quite comfortable with all the new fangled machinery that Pearl loves so much. Of course, if it weren’t for Pearl the place they will all soon call home, the place they will one day proudly call Stitchtown will have never gotten off the ground.
The Gifts of Spring
The Nevernotwuzians have a spring ritual held on a day they call Bloemday that coincides with the blossoming of the flower of the Nevernotwuz tree, a cascade of colorful flowerets form the blossom of this tree, as sweet smelling as the fruit. Before the flower has wilted and just before it is about to fall to the ground the blossom is picked. These blossoms will be placed on a little raft which will be set into to the water as way of giving thanks for the bounty of the earth and to assure a plentiful crop. Though they once used pieces of wood or folded leaves the traditions has become to take a piece of paper and fold it into the shape of a boat. But before the paper is folded it is decorated with a drawing or a short poem is written on it. People often gather at the Button house or make their gifts at home but they will all meet up at the bridge that will take them over the river and up the long pathway to the top of the falls where the little boats will be placed in the water.
The trek up to the top of the falls takes most of the day. Once there the ceremonies will begin. This is also the place where the ancestors are buried and they are honored in this ceremony. Songs are sung and prayers are said while everyone is holding their gifts in their hands then they all proceed to the swirling pool at the top of the falls. Part of the fun is to see which boats will go over the falls first and which ones will be caught in the little whirlpools to circle round and round before they too eventually go over. When the last boat has disappeared from sight songs are sung and stories are told before they must head back home.
A ritual that incorporates the Tree of Hearts that is such an important part of the life of these people, it is the most celebrated of their traditions. It is also a favorite of the children who love making the boats but also enjoy the game of watching them go over the falls. But there is one other who cherishes this yearly ceremony and that is, of course, the old troll. To him these gifts are all for him and he waits anxiously all year long for this day to come. As the beautiful little boats come spilling down the waterfall he waits at the bottom to gather up as many as he can. He unfolds them and looks at the beautiful pictures and all the funny squiggles and takes them all back to his cave where he plasters them on his walls.
More to come…
Created: Jan 06, 2011moonbug Document Media