Seasons (A Solstice Gift of Story)
Published December 21, 2013 | By Shawna
Author’s note: This is quite unlike most of my writing, written in a distant POV, almost a prose poem. It actually came almost whole-cloth out of an exercise in flow writing a while back, and since it didn’t seem to fit into any genre or market, languished on my hard drive. I thought it was too lovely to stay hidden. I hope you like it. (apologies for the indenting being wonky. WordPress and I are not getting along.
His muse was in the mountains, in the mists on the mountain meadows, in the mournful cry of the dove. She knew this; it was the reason she always came to him, her wild mountain bard with his flute and his flights of fancy. She never asked him to come to her. All through the spring of their courtship, all through the summer of its fulfillment, not once did he come to her tame little farm in the vale with its neat ordered lines. But it was autumn now, with winter hard upon them. She would not make this journey in the bitter snows, nor could she forsake forever the stolid stone warmth of hearth and home.
And so they parted, he watching her go without a word, she leaving with tears but without regret. Both of them knew, without saying, that she would not make the journey again in spring. She was not made for the mountains, though she loved them, was not made for a love brief and insubstantial as the mountain mists.
Through the fall she labored, harvesting, gathering storing. The air of her vale was cider-sweet with apples. The fields turned to gold and then to brown against the storm-gray skies. Always before her heart had been so full of her love for the land and its colors that she had no room for loneliness. But this year she found her eyes drawn up to the mountains in the horizon, all bright aspen and dark spruce. In the mornings the colors were softened by the mists. On sunny afternoons their brilliance broke her heart. Sometimes she thought she heard a wisp of song on the winds that blew down from the mountains. Sometimes she whispered his name, just to hear it.
The leaves faded, fell, blew away. Her pony’s coat grew thick and soft as plush. The days grew shorter, the nights longer and dark.
On solstice eve her Yule fire burned bright, and the sweetness and spice of cider filled the farm home that she had been born in, that her parents had been born in. In the rocking chair by the fire, under the quilt she’d made with her own hands, she dozed and dreamed. The knock on the door that woke her seemed like part of the dream, and the face that met her when she opened the door to black night and swirling snow came from dreams of spring and summer and mountain meadows.
“You cannot,” she said, lying in bed that night with him warm beside her, the passion of their reunion spent. “You cannot leave your mountain.”
“And you cannot leave your vale. Not forever, not for long. But for a time. For a brief time, my muse will forgive a visit.”
“As my fields forgave mine, once.”
“Once, and maybe again?”
“Maybe,” she agreed.
Not for a love as insubstantial as mountain mists. But for a love as strong as mountain stone, a love that grew and changed and grew again with the mountain’s seasons. She, a farmer, knew much of seasons, and of patience.