7th February

Simon of the Peat Bog Moor

Simon Stoblichties was not like other men. Some said he was mad, others that he was the only sane man in a world of madness. Whatever the truth, Simon retreated from society and went out onto the peat bog moor to commune with God, if He was there, and with the mystery of the Universe if He was not.

An old tree that had been struck by lightning stood on the moor, stark, solitary and without its crown. Aided by a carpenter from the nearest village (three miles away), Simon built a small wooden platform. They hoisted it to the top of the tree and fixed it there, and then Simon climbed up, to ‘wait out the bad times’ as he put it.

The carpenter, impressed by Simon’s single-mindedness, promised to send his son to him every few days with food – whatever scraps could be spared. The boy duly came, and Simon would lower a rope and pull up a basket containing the gift, and also send down a bucket containing his waste, which the boy disposed of in a deep part of the bog. Water Simon would not take, relying on heaven for his supply, which meant that for ten months of the year he rotted and during the other two almost died of thirst.

Day after day, through all the seasons, Simon stood on his platform, facing now north, now south, now east, now west. He habitually turned towards the most inclement weather, from whichever direction it came, and seemed glad to suffer its depredations. Only in the very severest conditions would he wrap himself in some old blankets and animal skins supplied by the villagers. Usually he eschewed all coverings, and stood naked before rain, wind, hail and snow. But he never complained, not even on rare sum- mer days, when the scorching sun combined with ferocious biting insects to torment him.

For thirty-seven years, Simon Stoblichties watched sentry-like over the moor. His beard grew to his knees, he outlived the carpenter, and the carpenter’s son was a middle-aged man before Simon died. But whether the bad times were past by then, and whether he ever communed with God, nobody could be certain.

Reader: Matthew Zajac
Fiddle: Aidan O'Rourke
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