November 13, 2004

Lady Spring

On Friday morning I had a bit of an unusual dream. What was unusual about this dream was that it was in a story format. Usually my dreams are random things but don't follow any kind of story, though, like most dreams, this dream was a bit broken up, or my memory of it is. Does my having this dream mean anything? Perhaps. Or maybe it was just someone trying to tell me their story. And with that, I present to you Lady Spring.

Lady Spring's beauty was known all over the world; each year many men would try to court her, but none would succeed in gaining her favor. The reason for this was because Lady Spring thought that no man was good enough for her. She was not mean or cruel about it, she simply was not attracted to any of her would be lovers.
One day Lady Spring happened to come upon a man in a forest meadow outside of a cabin that she assumed to be his. He was seated on a chair, applying paint to a canvas that sat on a simple easel made of wood. She waited to catch his attention before she spoke, so as to not interrupt him in the middle of painting. It didn't take long for Lady Spring to catch his attention; few men would be able to ignore her beauty for long.
"What can I do for you, my lady?" the man asked.
"I am sorry for the interruption, sir, but am very curious as to what you are painting," Lady Spring replied.
The man shrugged.
"Nothing in particular. I'm merely getting the creative energy moving, waiting for it to guide my brush over the canvas."
Lady Spring's nose wrinkled a bit as she caught the aroma of the paint. It wasn't the uncomfortable smell that accompanies most paints, but had a sweet smell to it that she could not identify.
"Your paint doesn't smell like other paints. It has a pleasant scent to it. What is it?"
"Just a little something I mixed up. Painters tend to focus only on the visual aspect of a painting. I like to involve the viewer's sense of smell as well."
Lady Spring nodded. "Very interesting. I shall have to come by later to see what you come up with. Good day!"
The man nodded back as she skipped off and went back to his painting.
One year later, Lady Spring returned to see what the man had come up with. She found him in the same spot as a year ago, once again painting. The man heard her approaching and greeted her.
"Good day, my lady," he said.
"And a good day to you, sir. How did your painting last year turn out?" she inquired.
"This is it. I'm still working on it."
Lady Spring looked at the painting. While there definitely was more on the canvas than last year, she could not see where the painting was going.
"Forgive me for saying, sir, but I thought you would've been done with the painting by now."
"Yes, if I only wanted to focus on the viewer's senses of sight and smell, I would be done now. But I want my paintings to amaze and delight the viewer's senses of touch and hearing. I want it to reach out and touch their heart and soul. It took many years for nature to create this meadow and the forest around it as we see it; I only hope I can come close to mastering in my short life the art that nature created in more years than I will ever live."
Lady Spring nodded and replied "I understand what you are saying. But I am curious as to how you will delight the viewer's sense of hearing with a painting. Paintings don't make sound!"
The man, with a twinkle in his eye, gave Lady Spring a mysterious smile. "You'll see. It's what separates a painter from an artist!"
Lady Spring visited again the next year, but still the man was no closer to finishing his painting. Many more years passed before Lady Spring visited him again. The man was much older while she still retained her youth and beauty. As she approached from a distance, she saw him put his brush down and lean back with a smile. Despite his age, his bright eyes and warm smile were still full of youth; his skin was not touched by spots or wrinkles that affect so many others. Lady Spring quickened her steps in anticipation of seeing a hopefully completed painting.
"You're timing is perfect, my lady. The painting is finished!"
Lady Spring looked at the painting and was breathless. The painting contained rivers, hills, forests, fields, mountains, and, in the background, an ocean. It all looked so life like that she looked back and forth between the painting the the forest surrounding them to see if her eyes were playing tricks on her. She could even smell the pine trees! She looked to the man for approval, who gave a nod. She reached out to touch the leaves of the trees. And again, she was astonished. It felt like the real thing! She was about to speak a question when a sound. She cupped her ear to hear it better. Her eyes widened.
"Oh my! I can hear a river! And the distant roar of the ocean! But how is that possible? We are nowhere near a river, much less an ocean!" she exclaimed.
The man smiled. "It's the magic that only an artist can wield." He sounded short of breath, but Lady Spring was too enthralled with the painting to notice.
"And so many colors...hmm, interesting, not one touch of red in the painting anywhere!" Lady Spring liked that. She didn't care for the color red.
"I thought you might like the absence of red, my Lady Spring."
"So you do know who I am!"
"Of course! Your beauty is legendary. When I saw you, I knew it must be you."
"Why didn't you say anything?"
The man shrugged. "It really wasn't that important. Besides, I wanted you to feel like you could be yourself and not have to worry about yet another man trying to win your love."
Lady Spring raised an eyebrow and asked, "And for one minute you didn't want to try?"
The man shook his head. "I would be lying if I said I never wanted to try. Every minute I wanted to. You inspired me to create this painting. I now give you this painting freely, out of love, and expect nothing in return." He closed his eyes and took a deep breath.
Lady Spring wasn't sure how to react. She looked back at the painting. It was then when she saw something else in the painting. The painting had not changed, but now she could see the man's face in the painting, though the casual observer would not see it. A tear came to her eye and a big smile to her face. She knew that she loved him. "I love you!" she proclaimed loudly as she turned to give him a kiss.
"No!" She gasped in shock. The man was slowly falling back, his eyes closed, but his face in a soft smile. She knew that he was dead. But as the man's body came closer to the ground, he started to fade. Lady Spring stared in shock. Finally, the body of the man disappeared completely. In his place was a single, red flower.
Lady Spring, tears now flowing from her eyes, picked up the flower. She held it against her chest, her arms shaking from holding the emptiness that should have contained the man she loved so dearly. The aroma of the flower reached out to her and slowly took away her tears. Lady Spring dried her eyes with the back of her hand as the scent of the flower brought a soft smile back to her face, as well as a memory. It smelled just like the man's paints did when she met him for the first time so many years ago. She looked at the flower and softly spoke:
"Little flower, as you have raised my spirits, so shall you be named for it. You shall be known as the rose. And forever shall your red color be symbolic of the love the man had for me, of his giving his heart to me."
Lady Spring gently lifted the painting to take with her. With a wave of her other hand, where the man's easel and chair once stood was now a patch of roses. And so Lady Spring left, creating roses wherever she traveled, so that she would always remember the man she loved.

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