Dwende, she said used earth mounds only as gateways to their cities which were underground. These cities were supposed to have been above ground a long time ago, but the movements of the earth eventually subsided them to where they are now; and they've been their for a little less than a million years. This, according to my gramma, was why many people still see dwende
above ground: they miss the sky.
Dwende cities do not have a sky, as you might imagine. Instead they have very high ceilings of intertwined plant roots, including tree roots and grass roots. These ceilings were painstakingly grown on by the dwende starting from when they learned that their cities were slowly sinking. It took each city a thousand years to grow their ceilings, my gramma said, explaining why dwende hated people who destroyed trees and why we had to always say "tabi tabi po" - a kind of warning combined with a plea for forgiveness for the intrusion - before we stomped around gardens or pulled up particularly ancient looking clumps of weed.
Being an aspiring archaeologist at that age, I looked at her askance. If there are dwende cities underground, why haven't they been dug up yet? I demanded to know. She smiled at me and patiently explained a little more.
No one has ever dug that deep, she said. Dwende ceilings begin about half a mile under the surface, and the tops of the highest buildings in the dwende cities are about another mile farther down. "So it's hot down there because of the m-m-magma?" I said, struggling with the word but terribly proud to show off that I knew how to use it in a sentence.
"It would be," she said, "but before you get to the magma (big smile at me to show that she noticed my use of the word) there are many big rivers buried deep in the rock."As my gramma explained it, the water of these rivers came from sinkholes near the north and south poles, starting their journey under the earth as chunks of ice. As the ice from the north flowed down to the south pole and vice-versa, the ice melted, taking most of the magma's heat. Not all of it, though, so the dwende cities had warmer climates.
Did they have a sun? I asked. My gramma shook her head firmly: no. That's ridiculous, she said. The dwende didn't have a sun, but the tree-root ceiling has many plants and animals that give off light light fireflies. I nodded sagely. I had discovered fireflies just the night before, so I understood what she was talking about. Animals - and plants - like fireflies, she said, followed a biological clock that told them when to switch their lights on and off. So imagine a million million million of these animals, she told me, all slowly turning their lights on and just as slowly turning their lights off, with some forgetting to do it when everything else has gone dark. That, she said, is biological night and day.
I pestered her for more details, but she said she was tired and that she would continue explaining things to me in the morning. I went to bed that night wondering if I wasn't in some underground city, watching stars that were really just lit up mushrooms and bugs. It made me feel real small and - even at that young age - helped me understand perspective.
More to follow, of course. But in the meantime, other people have written about, and drawn pictures of, a hollow earth too: here, here, and here.
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