The Caldera

By: Madison Moscrip

The Great Grape Vine by Sofi Zapatero


Long before humans were even thought of, the world was ruled by no one, not even God. Every creature had their place, and there was a place for every creature. 

Big Blue was a huge, cerulean lake in the middle of a forest territory that many animals lived around. It was divided into two parts-the mountain-side and the sea-side.

The sea-side residents told their children that the cold winds from the mountain-side froze the hearts of those who reside in its crags and peaks. The mountain-side residents told their young that the lack of danger dulled the senses of those who wandered amongst the trees. 

This is a story about hearts that beat to the rhythm of the seasons, echoed through time…


In the dead of winter, everything is dead. That’s just how it is, and how it will always be, like the way the sun reflects when it sees snow. 

But there’s no reason not to make a warm day out of a cold war, and dire wolf Spali of the sea-side met with dire wolf Trisol of the mountain-side under the overhang of a hawthorn tree, huge and dusted with snow, under the leaf-dappled misty shine of the quarter moon. They looked about the same with their gray and white pelts, though Trisol’s was a little darker, while Spali had longer ears. On the last night they met, Trisol sat down on a patch of moss, and Spali sat between two tree roots.

Trisol licked his neck fur. “Patrols busy today?” 

Spali nosed his front paw. “They were. Our two best hunters came back with only one squirrel. And for you?”

“The rising tide’s covering the cave mouth entrance on the southern side; so we can’t take the stepping-stones from there to Applegate Peak.”

“That’s unfortunate.” 

They looked up at the stars.

The stars shone back at them, ancestors in the cold, unhindering abyss, and both canines felt the eyes of their families, and the wolves that came before them, on their pelts. It wasn’t a lovely feeling, but one of resigned recognition.

A hawthorn branch drooped under the weight of its ice, indicating that it was both too early and much too late.

“So we have time.” Trisol scraped the ground with his left paw.  “The wind hasn’t been too heavy lately.”

“I’m glad about that. It’s been heavier here. A lot of the tribe is in a foul mood. Renne had her pups yesterday. Wriggly little things.”
“It must be hard to feed new pups in winter.” Trisol bowed his head.

“It will be. But the joy of it will surpass the pain it will bring.”
Trisol nodded agreement. “Sometimes, that is true.”

Spali lifted his head. “But we’ll never know the feeling.”

A shadow cast over Trisol’s eyes, and he said nothing.

“Why can’t it be true for us?” Spali’s eyes clouded.
“Your tribe and my tribe are on the brink of war, and always will be.”

Spali lowered his head in sadness.

Trisol titled his head. “But we can be together. Just for tonight. And at dawn, I’ll take the rockpath to the lower caves.”

“Just for tonight, it can be us,” Spali agreed. “Tomorrow, I will be responsible for hunting elk.”

Both wolves inched closer together as they sat quietly beneath the overhang of that hawthorn tree, huge and overbearing, protective within its borders, like a cradle. 

A gust of wind rolled in from the northern-side, and the wolves closed their eyes to protect them from it.

The frost in the air lingered, then settled upon their noses. From above them, a blood-red cardinal launched off of a hawthorn branch and flew into the glistering night sky. 

A cloud inched across the sky and over the moon, blanketing it in perfect, paper white. From the other side of the borderline, some snowmelt trickled down a mountain and through silty dirt, into the caldera of the Big Blue.