Andorra: The Breath that Lifts the Valley

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At dawn, Tao, the shepherd carries his bag on his shoulder and closes with his left hand the door of his chalet, at an altitude of more than 2,300 meters in the Madriu-Perafita-Claror Park. A few touches of orange are still scattered in the mouth of his faithful companion, his donkey! He enjoys a carrot and a last piece of dry bread before the two-day trip that awaits them. Their next break should not be before the Estany d'Engolasters, the same one where a passer-by in need of resources would have asked for alms from a baker, handling his stone - outdoor bread oven. If he refused to help her, a curse would have hit the village, swallowed up by the downpours of water that now form the lake! Better take precautions along the way!

The Shepherd loves to sing, he sings at Easter the Caramelles from house to house on his way. Beyond a hill he can see now the Arantxa family's stone house. Last spring, he stopped by and offered a moment of grace with his traditional song. In exchange, the young girl in the family gave him an egg, wrapped in downy feathers and a handkerchief...an egg with a strange snowflake symbol on its shell. Tao had felt a surprising thrill through his body at the sight of this gift. 

Guided by intuition, he brings this egg along with him in all his walks, in his bag. The blue depths of the lake finally appear. They would almost be confused with the celestial vault that is beginning to light up from the first stars of that summer evening. Sitting there, on a bright summer night, taking a breath for a moment and humming the melodious songs in his head, he thought that one day the stars would eventually fall to the bottom of the lake to stay. The majestic Pic Portelleta dominates the whole valley with its scale and this spectacle that opens before his eyes makes him think, "I am healthy and radiant with energy." Tao likes to practice these positive thoughts, when he allows himself small moments of meditation...

A shooting star...is falling into the lake. An intense white halo surrounds the point of impact and from there rises a foggy nebula covering the entire valley up to Tao and his donkey. Even Tao can't for a moment see his friend. When it finally begins to dissipate, he is surprised to see at his feet pieces of an egg shell... of his egg shell! The snowflake engraved on it...it looks like it's a heart beating...it changes color, its light blue, its shine is awesome! He feels a hand touching his face warmly... He turns around but...he is alone. In the midst of everything, he perceives the wind rising in the grass...as his donkey cut a piece of grass in front of him. He looks again at the shell, but the symbol has disappeared. He picks up the main piece...and under that one stands a flower. Then his lips unconsciously and delicately pronounce its name...Cerastium Pyrenaicum. It wasn't there the moment before. This flower blooms only in August-September, beyond 2,000 meters, but he only knew of its existence as a story of his grandfather who was also a shepherd. The Dama Bianca must be here! Everything is rushing in his head...his eyes sparkle with the desire to pierce the mystery of this mist and see the lady.

Her last apparition, recounted from generation to generation, was at the Cova d'Arans, in the Ensegur region. She had given birth to a legend that was talked about across the Pyrenean Mountains, that of her presence to give wild plants to a child to heal her.

Still disturbed by this divine moment, Tao concentrates on his breath, which is now panting heavily: the fresh mountain air enters and travels through his nostrils, his windpipe, his airways until it fills his lungs. He thinks she was just a fragment of time that made itself a physical being to his eyes and then came back to its existence as an intangible entity. That's why he feels they know each other since forever. Maybe, as she was time materialized in a fragment of a vision, he feels he loves her. Because he had the permission, for the first instant in his life, to honor that strange concept that nobody understands, but which keeps everything real... He decides to go back on the road, lighthearted, once the fog has cleared.

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