Was It Really There?


We got up to have coffee, like we do pretty much every morning. On this day, though, everything was different. We weren’t in our usual house in Beitou. We found ourselves looking out the large, east-facing glass windows of a double door. A heavy overcast hung low overhead, obscuring even the foothills.

But that is not what made us gasp in wonder.

The sun was breaking through a hole in the cloud cover, somewhere to the northeast on this early summer day. It cast a beam through the mist, lighting up the edges of the trees, tracing the rise of the far ridges that climbed up into the gloom overhead.

A vision emerged momentarily from the mist, then faded from view as the clouds began to roil. We stared. The shaft of light grew stronger, glancing off of this and that, though we could not easily tell what we saw. As the light shifted again, we seemed to be gazing at a castle whose walls and towers were only just visible in the hazy dawn. A castle? No, a whole city, perhaps!

The sun continued to rise, widening the hole in the clouds, illuminating the mists in the vales between the ridgelines. The entire fairy city came into focus for a few brief moments: great walls and towers, a cluster of houses, a massive gate, perhaps. It was all there. Still, at this distance, we questioned whether we were seeing clearly.

The overcast began to lift, too light now to obscure the view. When we looked again, the fairy city had vanished.

Was it ever there? We think so.

Later in the day, I did my best to paint it from memory.

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