|Gum Gooloo Gum
Gum Gooloo Gum Jublet is the country's
first settlement and its oldest city. Plants and flowers are encouraged to flourish
throughout the city to the extent that the Exian Caleb Sighwater,
whose devotion to Gum Gooloo is legendary, described a trip to the
city as "like walking through one huge garden. The houses sit among
the trees like garden ornaments. There is no running; everyone
strolls." Of course it gets very muddy after rainstorms, but the
Goolooians endure this as they endure everything, with a gentle
good-naturedness that hides an iron will. Or, as some say, an iron
A typical Goolooian will be a patient, dedicated and skilled craftsperson with a highly refined sense of aesthetics. The Umbagollian belief that all things are connected finds expression here in a ritualistic appreciation of nature. "Find beauty, and you have made a connection," they say. Whole days are set aside to observing the beauty of, say, a slug, and hundreds of pages of prose have been dedicated to (among other things) water, the moon, the sky, leaves, fruit, moss, beetles, bats and rocks. Centuries of excursions into the nearby Two Show Ranges have given them an appreciation of contrast and grandeur, great and small: "The small, soft plant grows on the hard mountain peak: the setting sun burns on the cold river water," wrote Ezekiel Vein, still one of the city's most popular writers hundreds of years after his death.
Anyone visiting a friend in Gum Gooloo needs to be aware
that city only has one street. The street winds outward concentric
spiral, starting at the Cultural and Natural History Museum and
coming to a halt several miles later near the gate of snobs and lizards. Some areas of the street are known for their
distinctive characters. 'The Light Apple District' for instance, is
illuminated every night with the light from hundreds of candles,
supported by a fantastic array of candelabras, statues and stands
ranging from filigreed bronze trees to full-sized statues of men
with fire shining through their tissue-paper stomachs, chests and
genetalia. This is the district where the Light Craftsmen have
congregated their shops.
The city also supports networks of
little laneways running between the loops of the spiral. These are
unnamed, manmade tracks, trodden through the grass. The foliage
around these tracks is often so thick that walkers become lost and
end up wandering through someone's back door before they realise
where they are. Otherwise, they are likely to find themselves
emerging into strange grottos where fountains trickle over statues,
and strangely shaped rocks lie in mossy heaps.
and Natural History Museum is a unique Goolooian institution
where the finest stories and artifacts in the country are on regular
display. The city also supports most of Umbagollah's movement-based
performance groups. Visit the Puppetry
College and read an interview with Zenobia Foam, leader of the
Dance Troup. You can also tour the newly-built Dream
Orrery and the School
of Conversation, read an essay about the city's famous clockwork
artists and learn something about a few of the city's districts.
"Rosewater tried to explain. "It's like a park," he said.
"The whole city is like a park with rooms in it. Those are the
houses. And the atmosphere there soaks through to your bones. It is
like a lazy afternoon spent in the sun."
"But not at night," said
Pine. "No, not at night. It couldn't be like a sunny afternoon
during the nighttime, could it? No. Ha ha. No indeed!"
said, "But it is. Even at night" "
(From Caleb Sighwater's
only fictional publication, The Silver Whistle.)