March 20, 2021

The Songs of Spring, By Kelly Jarvis

 

“Where are the songs of spring? Ay, Where are they?”—John Keats 

Far away, where an invisible line divides the earth into two halves of the same globe, high on a mountain top, suspended between the soil and the sky, is the home of the Goddess of Spring. 

It is a humble home, but no palace could be more majestic, for the simple dwelling is surrounded by a luscious garden that clusters outside the windows and spills down the mountainside in every direction, as far as the eye can see.  

Each morning, when the sun kisses the mountain awake with its warmth and light, the goddess and her consort, a man with kind, autumn eyes, rise to tend the garden which blooms all year round. There is a child too, a little girl, who skips among the hills and trees.   

The garden is a vast organic library containing all the flowers that have ever existed on earth. There are rosebushes releasing their romantic scent into the air and fields of phlox leading to flowering arbors formed of pink cherry trees. There are beds of bluebell and bleeding heart. There are bowers of daffodil and delphinium winking in the distant breeze. The feeling of first love and the bloom of new life permeate every path, and the goddess and her consort move among the beauty, their hands deep in the rich soil, as they plant and prune.  

Twice a year, during the Equinox Festivals, the goddess performs her most sacred duty. On the Vernal Equinox she stands beneath the mountain sky and gazes toward the North, inhaling the scent of her garden and breathing it out toward the farthest reaches of the hemisphere. The earth below her breath awakens to spring, and flowers, the goddess’ gifts of love, unfurl across the land. Even in the farthest reaches of the North, where frost always blankets the ground, her magic breath settles upon the snow making it glisten like the dewy petals of morning glories. When the Autumnal Equinox signals harvest and death for the North, the goddess turns her gaze to the South and repeats her ritual, filling the southern half of the world with the joy of new growth, life, and hope.   

On all the other days of the year, the goddess toils in her garden, softly singing the songs of spring. Her tune is caught by cardinals and repeated by the robins, it echoes in the call of peeping frogs and the buzz of bees. And even in the darkest days of winter, when the melody seems lost, the goddess sings it for the poets, so they might capture it in verse and imbue the world with hope that spring, however far away it seems, will always come again. 

In the evenings, when the mountain falls asleep to a riotous display of fading light, the little girl asks the goddess to tell her the story of the day she was found. She has heard the story thousands of times, but each word chimes like a silver bell, and she smiles as the goddess begins. 

“One twilit evening, while I was finishing my work in the garden, I discovered a new flower I had never seen before.  It was an evening primrose, which opened its goblet shaped petals as the full moon rose in the sky. I found you nestled within the golden leaves, a tiny baby, no larger than my finger, with a smile that drove the sadness from my heart. I named you Kora, which means little maiden, and I became your mother.” 

As her mother speaks, Kora drifts off to sleep, the songs of spring dancing through her dreams. 

The world spins, the seasons unfurl, and the little girl named Kora matures into a beautiful woman who serves in the garden alongside her mother. She waters the wisteria and coaxes the crocus forth from hibernation. She plants pots of peonies and sings to the sweet peas which explode with bright colors at the sound of her song.  

One day, she wakes to find hundreds of mortals waiting to meet her, men and women who have heard stories of her beauty and kindness and have journeyed to the mountain in the sky to seek her hand in marriage.  

“The time has come for you to choose a consort, Kora, for the human world must work with the heavens to ensure the return of spring,” her mother explains.  

Kora looks at the crowd; there are princes on horseback, knights wearing silver armor, and shepherds with earnest smiles. She has no idea how to choose. 

Her mother’s consort speaks in a clear, loud voice. “To win the hand of our fair maiden Kora, you must search the world and bring back the most valuable gift you can find.” 

The suitors’ hearts ignite at the chance to compete for Kora’s hand, and they bid her farewell to begin their journeys. 

It is ever so long before the first suitor returns, a nobleman with a chiseled face. “I bring you the softest satin from the East,” he proclaims, unfolding a skein of cloth in the garden clearing. It feels cool against Kora’s skin, but it is not as soft as the clover which grows in the shade of the willow trees, and Kora turns the nobleman away. 

The world spins, the seasons unfurl, and another suitor returns bringing fine wine which tastes like ash to Kora who has spent her life drinking garden ambrosia. Another brings precious rubies and amethyst which pale next to the dark red geraniums and purple heather in her mother’s meadows. When a suitor offers Kora a velvet pouch of expensive coins, the sound of their jingling falls flat against the melodic ringing of the garden wind chimes, and Kora believes she will never find her consort. 

“True love takes time,” her mother says, “and we have much to do in the garden to keep us busy.” 

So, they water and they weed, they plant and they prune, until, many seasons later, another suitor, a lowly shepherd, finally returns. 

“I have come to apologize, my lady, for though I wanted to travel the world and find you a valuable treasure to express my love, I was needed to tend my sheep,” he says sadly. “So, I have brought you a gift of honey from the bees that live in my garden, and I ask only that we sweeten and share one pot of tea together, before I take my leave.”  

He holds out the jar of honey. It glistens like gold in the sun. Kora shivers as she notices an autumn glint in his kind eyes. 

“Will you stay with me and help me sing the songs of spring?” she asks. 

His smile makes her heart skip a beat. 

When they marry, the bees swarm happily round the wedding arbor, pollinating the garden until it overflows with love. 

     

The world spins and the seasons unfurl. On the Vernal Equinox, the goddess takes Kora by the hand and tells her that in six months’ time, the ritual to renew spring will pass on to her. Confused, Kora begs her mother to explain. 

“All things in the garden must grow and die. The fallen petals fertilize the seeds that wait patiently for their time in the sun,” the goddess begins. “When it is spring in the North, it is autumn in the South, for there can be no life without death, no love without loss.”  

“I cannot live without you,” Kora cries. 

Her mother takes her in her arms and sings a song to soothe her fears. “You will never be without me. Six months from now, when you bury me and my consort in the grove of apple blossom trees, you will understand. But for now, we have much to do in the garden to keep us busy.” 

So, they water and weed, they plant and they prune, and day by day, the goddess and her consort grow older and older. 

When they die in each other’s arms on the eve of the Equinox, the Goddess of Spring, gray, stooped, and wrinkled, is more beautiful than she has ever been. 

The new Goddess of Spring, once known only as Kora, buries the couple beneath the apple blossom trees. Her own shepherd consort digs the grave and holds her while she weeps over it. Her tears water the ground and when they dry, the soil blooms with tiny blue flowers that have never been seen before. The goddess inhales their sweet perfume, and parting the soft sapphire petals, finds a tiny baby, no larger than her finger, nestled in the shadowy leaves. The baby’s smile drives the sadness from her heart. “I shall name you Kora, which means little maiden,” the goddess whispers, “and I shall be your mother.” 

Far away, where an invisible line divides the earth into two halves of the same globe, high on a mountain top, suspended between the soil and the sky, is the home of the Goddess of Spring. 

Her garden is a library containing the stories of all the flowers that have ever existed on earth. There are valleys of violets and hills of honeysuckle. There are planters full of pansies, hanging baskets of begonias, and, in a grove of apple blossom trees, there is a carpet of blue forget-me-nots that fills the air with the sweet fragrance of memory. 

The goddess toils in her garden with her consort and her child, surrounded by the floral remains of all the beautiful souls who have given their service to the steady renewal of the seasons. The goddess sings as she works, and her tune is shared by the sparrows and matched by the mayflies, until it reaches the coldest and darkest corners of the earth, filling the hearts of the poets who hear it with the hopeful songs of spring. 


Kelly Jarvis teaches classes in literature, writing, and fairy tale at Central Connecticut State University, The University of Connecticut, and Tunxis Community College. She lives, happily ever after, with her husband and three sons in a house filled with fairy tale books.

Cover Painting: "Spring" by Franz Xaver Winterhalter, 1850

Cover Layout: Amanda Bergloff @AmandaBergloff

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

A beautiful, warm and magical journey to kick off spring! Thank you, Kelly, for the majestic adventure!💗AP

Anonymous said...

This is beautiful. I smile at the line with the Goddess’s voice ringing. I always think that someone I love’s voice sounds like ringing bells. It reminds me of the saying “every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings” and so sometimes I just stop and can’t help but smile as I imagine that surely millions of angels get their wings every time she speaks. I like that line. A beautiful story (as always) from a beautiful author��

Kim Malinowski said...

This is absolutely wonderful!!! I am so touched to read it especially on the equinox! Beautiful! —Kim Malinowski

Kelly Jarvis said...

Thank you both so much! Happy Spring!!!!

Kelly Jarvis said...

Thank you so much for reading, Kim! 💖 Happy Spring!!!

Michele Castiola said...

An absolutely beautiful tale to welcome spring. You have a gift with words!

Kelly Jarvis said...

Thank you for reading, Shelly! 💖

Reilly said...

Absolutely beautiful story!! My favorite line was “Her garden is a library containing the stories of all the flowers that have ever existed on earth”. Can’t wait for the next story!!

Randy said...

Beautiful story. I love how the repetition reminds us that as far away as we get from spring it will always return. I also loved the “peeping frogs.” I heard them today - a sure sign that spring is here. You see the world in a very poetic way and tell your story in such beautiful words. Keep these stories coming! ❤️

Stanley Parker said...

Beautiful story, Kelly!

Anonymous said...

Great story! Can’t wait for spring!

Kelly Jarvis said...

Thank you, everyone, for reading my story! Spring is my favorite season and I am so excited it is finally here! ❤️

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