The Shouts of Rust

Once upon a time, when the Earth was lonely, a man named Rust made his way to the top of a mountain to shout.
            It was a yearly ritual, and, as I said, the Earth was lonely, so there were few passers-by as he made his way threw winnowing valleys and up steep, curved paths.  The journey itself was a hard slog, and though there might have been meaning in it, Rust didn’t pay much attention.  For him, there was grandeur at the top of the mountain.  And, more than that, there were the valleys, which were beautiful, but made ever more exciting because when he shouted, they shouted back.
            When first Rust took to shouting atop the mountains, the Earth shook slightly.  And all that the valleys did to shout back was merely echo the bellows that Rust issued.  The Earth, it must be said, was at first confused by the cacophony of sounds that reverberated back and forth whenever the mood took Rust to put forth his cry.  Indeed, it was that the Earth shook herself, causing no small tremor over the whole world.  But then, as the Earth grew used to Rust’s loud pilgrimages, it was Rust who shook, for the Earth, well, she began to speak back.
            What began as cries became a conversation between Rust and the Earth.  He would tell her of his problems and needs, his joys and sorrows, and she would speak the same.  Over time a friendship grew, and Rust began to notice something: a pattern in the Earth’s speaking.
            It was because of this pattern that Rust, in his times away from climbing mountains and speaking to the Earth, took to the road to share what the Earth had told him.  He did so not because he was divulging her secrets, but because he had started to understand her wishes.  And he believed they could be granted.
            At first the people who inhabited the Earth paid little attention to Rust, thinking him nothing more than a strange man who offered a life of strange habits.  But slowly they came to see that his words held a certain wisdom, and that by employing them, they led a richer life.
            For these were the wishes of the Earth that Rust conveyed:
            Only take what is needed, even if the Earth offers more.
            From where you sow, give back a portion—for the Earth will be content, and your yield great.
            Whatever you take, add little to it to make it strong, so that when its lifespan has ceased, it can be returned
to the Earth
            Respect the Earth’s rhythms, for in her ways, she offers rest.
            And so, for a long time, this became the way of the Earth’s people, and the Earth was not so lonely.  But there came a day when the people began to laugh at Rust, and thought his words were foolish.  They began to take and take until the Earth had no more to give, and Rust, being her friend, mourned with her to the bitter end.  Indeed he was the last man standing when all had faded into dust.
            He stood on abandoned ground, burnt by toppled mountains and swept dry by exploding salted seas.  No more could he climb mountains.  No more could the Earth return his words, for there were no valleys to carry them.
            He looked up at the stars, for they were all that were left, and not knowing what else to do, he shouted.
            It was without expectation that Rust sent up his cry.  But the stars, see, they answered back.
            And very, very slowly, life grew anew.

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