A Description of Clairvaux (third daughter house of Citeaux)
Should you wish to picture Clairvaux, the following has been written to serve you as a mirror. Imagine two hills and between them a narrow valley, which widens out as it approaches the monastery. The abbey covers the half of one hillside and the whole of the other. With one rich in vineyards, the other in crops, they do double duty, gladdening the heart and serving our necessities, one shelving flank providing food, the other drink. On the ridges themselves it is often the monks' work (pleasant indeed and the more so for being peaceful) to collect dead brushwood and tie it in bundles for burning, sorting out the prickly brambles and cutting and tying only what is fit for the fires. Their job too to grub out the briars, to uproot and destroy what Solomon calls the bastard slips, which throttle the growing branches or loosen the roots, lest the stout oak be hindered from saluting the height of heaven, the lime from deploying its supple branches, the pliant ash that splits so readily from growing freely upwards, the fan-shaped beech from attaining its full spread.
Farther on, the rear of the abbey extends to the wide valley bottom, much of which lies inside the great sweep of the abbey wall. Within this cincture many fruit-bearing trees of various species make a veritable grove of orchards, which by their nearness to the infirmary afford no small solace to the brothers in their sickness: a spacious promenade for those able to walk, an easeful resting-place for the feverish. The sick man sits on the green turf, and, when the merciless heat of the dog days bakes the fields and dries up the streams, he in his sanctuary, shaded from the day's heat, filters the heavenly fire through a screen of leaves, his discomfort further eased by the drifting scent of the grasses. While he feeds his gaze on the pleasing green of grass and trees, fruits, to further his delight, hang swelling before his eyes, so that he can not inaptly say: 'I sat in the shadow of his tree, which I had desired, and its fruit was sweet to  my taste.' A chorus of brightly feathered birds caresses his ears with sweetest melody. Thus for a single illness God in his goodness provides many a soothing balm: the sky smiles serene and clear, the earth quivers with life, and the sick man drinks in, with eyes, ears and nostrils, the delights of colour, song and scent.
Where the orchard ends the garden begins, marked out into rectangles, or, more accurately, divided up by a network of streamlets; for, although the water appears asleep, it is in fact slipping slowly away. Here too a pretty spectacle is afforded to the sick, who can sit on the grassy banks of the clear runnels watching the fish at play in the translucent water, their manoeuvres recalling troops in battle. This water, which serves the dual purpose of feeding the fish and irrigating the vegetables, is supplied by the tireless course of the river Aube, of famous name, which flows through the many workshops of the abbey. Wherever it passes it evokes a blessing in its wake, proportionate to its good offices; for it does not slip through unscathed or at its leisure, but at the cost of much exertion. By means of a winding channel cut through the middle of the valley, not by nature but by the hard work of the brethren, the Aube sends half its waters into the monastery, as though to greet the monks and apologize for not having come in its entirety, for want of a bed wide enough to carry its full flow. And should this stream in spate surge forward in a tumultuous sally, repulsed by the fronting wall under which it has to flow, it falls back into itself, and the current* once again embraces the reflux. As much of the stream as this wall, acting as gatekeeper, allows in by the sluice-gates hurls itself initially with swirling force against the mill, where its ever-increasing turbulence, harnessed first to the weight of the millstones and next to the fine-meshed sieve, grinds the grain and then separates the flour from the bran.
The stream now fills the cauldron in a nearby building and suffers itself to be boiled to prepare the brothers' drink (should husbandry have been ill-rewarded by a poor vintage, and malt, in default of grape juice, have to supply the want).  Nor does it hold itself acquitted yet. The fullers, next door to the mill, invite it in, claiming with reason on their side that, if it swirls and eddies in the mill, which provides the brothers with food, it should do no less by those who clothe them. The stream does not demur, nor indeed refuse any request made of it, Instead, raising and lowering by turns the heavy pestles (unless you prefer the term mallets or, better still, wooden feet - the expression which seems most suited to the gymnastic occupation of the fullers), it frees these brothers from their drudgery. And should their gravity be broken by some jest, it frees them too from punishment for their sin." O Lord, how great are the consolations that you in your goodness provide for your poor servants, lest a greater wretchedness engulf them! How generously you palliate the hardships of your penitents, lest perchance they be crushed at times by the harshness of their toil! From how much back-breaking travail for horses and arm-aching labour for men does this obliging torrent free us, to the extent that without it we should be neither clothed nor fed. It is most truly shared with us, and expects no other reward wheresoever it toils under the sun than that, its work done, it be allowed to run freely away. So it is that, after driving so many noisy and swiftly spinning wheels, it flows out foaming, as though it too had been ground and softened in the process.
The tannery is next to capture the stream, and here it displays its zeal in the fashioning of all that goes to make the brothers' footwear.
Thereafter, its water decanted into a succession of channels, it carries out a dutiful inspection of each workshop, diligently inquiring where it can be of service and offering its ungrudging help in the work of cooking, sifting, turning, whetting, watering, washing, grinding and softening. Lastly, to ensure that no cause for gratitude be wanting, that its tasks be left in no respect unfinished, it carries the waste products away and leaves everything clean in its wake, and, while Clairvaux renders it thanks for all its blessings, it courteously returns the abbey's greetings as it hastens away to pour back into the river the waters siphoned off into the monastery. The two currents are indistinguishably mingled and the river, shrunken and sluggish since the diversion, surges forward under the onrush of water.
Now that we have returned the stream to its bed, let us go back to those rills we left behind. They too are diverted from the river and meander placidly through the meadows, saturating the soil that it may germinate. And when, with the coming of the mild spring weather, the pregnant earth gives birth, they keep it watered too lest should I not think it wanted to be passed over in silence when it secretes itself under cover? Like all good springs it sallies out over against the rising sun, so that midsummer finds it greeting the roseate splendour of dawn full in the face. A small but pretty hut, or tabernacle to use a more reverential word, encloses it and protects it from any dirt. It wells out of the hillside only to be swallowed by the valley, and in the very place of its birth it seems to die, nay, even to be buried. But do not look for the sign of Jonah the prophet, expecting it to lie hidden away for three days and three nights: at once, a thousand feet away, it rises again in the abbey cloister, as it might be from the bowels of the earth, and, as it were restored to life, offers itself to the sight and use of the brethren, lest its future lot should be with any but the holy.