Once upon a time, there was a flute reed. The court musician had sent his trusted servant down the steep mountain and into the far lands in search of reeds for this special instrument. Meet any challenge, pay any toll, ask any question of those along the way who know about these things, he had told his servant, but bring me the plant from which my master flute maker may fashion the perfect flute reed.
After many months on the slippery sides of steep mountains upon his unshod horse, paying is last coins for tolls, and seeking directions from leaders both pleasant and unpleasant, both wise and unwise, the musician’s servant reached the southern marshes, a new land none had seen before and the home of the tallest, straightest reeds, exquisitely segmented.
With his sharp knife, he hacked at the plants, pulled them out by the roots, wrapped them into tight bundles, strapped them onto the back of his unshod horse with strong hemp rope, and journeyed the many miles to the mountaintop home of the court musician who waited for his servant, impatiently, pacing his hall. He welcomed his trusted servant and, immediately, sent for his master flute maker who, called from his sleep, made his selection.
A long month later, after cutting, slicing, whittling, boring, soaking, and shaping, he brought to the court musician the flute reed. Holding it in his hands, the court musician found this flute reed to be the most perfectly made of all his flutes. He bowed to his flute maker and raised the flute reed to his lips.
Taking its transformation to its heart, accepting the musician’s thrust of breath along its length, and remembering the marsh of its birth, the flute reed sang.