Sunday, March 1, 2015

March 1, 2015 - Winter Flower

A field of beautiful flowers grew under the hot sun of August.  Everywhere the eye could see, color jumped out.  There were exotic roses, delicate orchids, and brilliant lilies.  Hydrangeas competed against delphiniums, and daisies surrounded mounds of tickseed.  Every color imaginable was in that field in every shade from light to dark.  It was a delight to see, medicine for the heart, and joy for the soul.

As August inched its way into September, a great murmuring took place among the flowers.  They began to speak about the story of reincarnation.  The summer flowers had heard it whispered on the wind by the spring flowers.  At first they paid no mind, but as September made itself known, the subject of immortality was the only thing any flower talked about.  How to live forever--that’s what everyone wanted to know.

“Only the most beautiful flowers will live forever,” said the blood red rose.
“Only those with the most fragrance,” said the jasmine.
“Only exotic blooms shall be remembered,” said the hibiscus.

And on it went, with each flower boasting that it should have immortality, that it should reincarnate yearly.  The more beautiful flowers talked down to the plainer flowers, such as the dandelions and the daisies.  Surely, they said quite often, there is no need for such plain flowers to grace the Earth forever.

The defiant little daisy.

Now, it happened that the Sun King was passing by the meadow one day and he overheard their talk.  He laughed at their naivety and told them that they would all be immortal, but only if they followed his rules.  All of the flowers listened carefully to what he had to say.  He explained that each of them would form a seed pod in one way or another.  Then they would all appear to die for a long time, but their life would be hidden in the pod and if they made their pod properly, the Sun King promised that he would kiss each pod and bring them back to life.  All of the flowers were frightened by this idea but excited at the same time.

All of the flowers except one, that is.  A small daisy grew among a stand of unimaginably beautiful roses--beautiful and snobby.  They had always been quite mean to the little daisy, mocking her for her plainness.  They would prick her with their thorns and tell her to leave, but she had nowhere to go, so she toughed it out with those roses day in and day out.  When she heard the plan the Sun King had, she was determined not to follow it.  Come back next year and the year after that and the year after that with these terrible roses beside me??  I would rather be dead, she thought.

So as the summer drew to a close and all the other flowers were busy making pods and sacks full of seeds, the little daisy stood defiant in the meadow, refusing to participate in this so-called reincarnation.  When the pods were all full, each flower in the field bowed its head and appeared to die, its pod falling to the ground around it.  The little daisy was dismayed by the lack of life and greenery and beautiful aromas around her.  Everywhere she looked, she saw brown and black.

Now she was afraid and wished she had done what the others did, but it was too late.  In a panic, she pulled herself up by her roots and found a small underground cavern to hide in.  She stuffed the entrance very thick with dead grasses and leaves, and inside she stayed very warm and dry.

Time went on and all outside sounds ceased.  The little daisy’s cavern grew cold, but not so cold that she could not stand it.  She was glad that she had packed the entrance to her little cave very thick.  She retreated further back and waited, sleeping often and dreaming of brilliant sunny fields full of flowers and warmth.  Her life went on this way--alive but not really living.

One day the loneliness became too great for her to bear any longer.  She missed the Sun King.  She missed the fragrances of the other flowers.  She missed the birds and the frogs.  She missed the busy hum of the insects.  She missed the gentle rains of warm summer evenings.  She even missed the snobby roses.  So she decided she would leave her cave and try to find some of her old friends.

She burrowed for a long time to get back to the surface of the Earth, but she had plenty of time and continued diligently.  At last she came to the entrance of her cairn and pushed through it with all her might.  A huge pile of dead grasses and leaves flew out from the hole and were whisked away instantly in a cold wind.

The little daisy stuck her head out of the hole, but the world she saw was unlike anything she could ever have imagined.  All the green grass was gone.  The green leaves that had changed to brilliant colors the last time she saw them had disappeared.  There was no scent of sweetgrass on the breeze, no delightful aroma of exotic flowers in the air, no songbirds to sing endlessly to the sun.  There was only a thick, white, terribly cold carpet lying on everything.  Any remnants of plant life she could see appeared brown and dead.

She hung her head in sorrow as she came out of her cave, looking in disbelief at the foreign world around her.  She walked a bit on the cold white carpet but soon found that her roots could no longer move.  Within a very short time, her feet had sunk into the white carpet and she could not feel them anymore.  There she stood, firmly planted in snow and ice, unable to move.  All around her the white world stared back at her, unblinking, unflinching, and unkind.  She shivered in fear and cold.

Of course, there is nothing the Lord of Winter does not know about in his own kingdom.  When he heard from one of his crow sentries of the little daisy frozen in a snow mound, he came out to investigate.  Sure enough, there was the small daisy shivering alone in a cold field.  He had never seen such beautiful color before and decided he would walk right up and touch it.

“Ouch!” said the little daisy.
“I’m sorry,” said the Lord of Winter, “but my hand is always cold.”

The two of them looked at each other, both fascinated by the otherworldly appearance before their eyes.  Both blinked several times, unable to believe what they were seeing.

“So you are a child of the Sun King?” the Lord of Winter said.
“I am,” the little daisy replied.  “Have you seen him?  I am a daisy in need of his help.”
“The Sun King does not come to my realm,” he said.
“But why?”
“I require the comfort of the shadows and the cold,” came the swift response.
“Could you find him for me?” she asked.
“He would not dare to approach!!” the Lord of Winter said angrily.

The daisy was afraid of the Lord of Winter.  He did not seem as kind and gentle as the Sun King, but she noticed he continued to stare at her with great interest.

“Can you help me?” she asked.  “Only, I can’t stay alive here for very long.  Can you get me someplace warm?”
“I have no such place,” said the Lord of Winter, confused with this peculiar request.
“I want to live forever.  I want reincarnation!”
“I cannot help you,” he said flatly.  “I rule the Season of Death.  Goodbye, little daisy.”

And with that, he left.

The little daisy stood defiantly in the snow mound, determined to stay alive as long as she could.  By and by, a woman appeared.  She was walking in a distressed manner, crying and wailing as she went, not paying attention to where she walked.  When she saw the little daisy, she blinked incredulously and ran to it.

“Why are you crying”? asked the daisy, who wanted to cry herself.
“I am crying because I cannot have any children,” the woman said.
“Why not?”
“I don’t know.  I’ve tried and tried for a very long time.  I just can’t.”
“Why are you here?” asked the daisy.
“Why are you here??” came the response.
“I did not follow the Sun King when I could,” said the daisy.
“Oh,” said the woman, “I came out in the cold to stay here and die.”
“Please don’t do that.”
“Why not??  I’m useless!!”
“No,” said the daisy, “You are beautiful.  All creatures are beautiful.”  The woman just sat down and cried at that.

“I have an idea,” said the daisy.  “I want you to pull me up and take me home to your house and put me in a little vase with some water.  I promise I will sing to you for as long as I can, and maybe you will feel better.”

The woman looked at the daisy for a long time without saying anything.  The snow was cold and the wind was picking up.  Dusk was upon her.  Should she choose life or death?  At last, she sighed and the pulled the daisy up, who by now was quite cold and silent.  She went back to her home and built the fire up.  Then she found a little vase and filled it with warm water and put the little daisy in it.

Quite soon, the daisy perked up and stretched herself forward in the warmth.  It felt so good to feel the warmth again!  She opened her petals as wide as she could and smiled at the woman.  The woman was delighted with this unexpected beautiful little flower in her house, and she smiled back every time she looked at the daisy.  For several days, they smiled in peace and silence.

The time came, of course, for the daisy to die.  And she did die.  One morning, the woman woke up and found the daisy dead.  She felt sad that the flower had died but knew, of course, that all things have to die at some point.  She put the daisy outside in the frozen compost pile and returned to her warm home.  Her problems were all still there, but she was okay now and was handling them better.  Soon the spring would come, and everything would seem brighter and better, she told herself.  Until then, she would keep the memory of the pretty little daisy alive her in heart, and there it would stay forever.

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