I was all set to pour a glass of before-dinner-Chardonnay and plump down in my chair with the new issue of Vanity Fair last evening when I remembered Sven. He was my housewarming present from my cousin Maryanne, a good little trouper who bloomed his heart out all the way through September and although he is a rose specifically created by the University of Minnesota for these wintry climes, I didn’t want to take any chances. And next spring I intend to introduce him to his mates – Ole and Lena. They should make a fine trio on the west side of the house beside the drive.
Another cousin, Marlene, who is a mentor for me when it comes to this new world of northern gardening, had a great suggestion. Two actually. Bag the leaves to mulch around a plant and you’ll have less of a mess in the spring. And ring the roses with wire (which also holds the bags in place) so that at the first signs of new spring growth the bunnies will not get an early lunch. In other words, – Let them eat dandelion cake!
So we bundled up and retrieved the wire (actually green plastic) and proceeded to make Sven a nice winter bed.
And it wasn’t a minute too soon. Just as we started back inside, the first white flakes of the season began to blow and bluster through the air.
This morning we awoke to our first dusting of white. Just a prelude, I know, of what is yet to come.
My Hans Christian Anderson volume that sits here upon this very desk, includes the tale of the Snow Queen, my favorite for all of my life. Call it a primeval memory, a harkening to Nordic past, a fanciful call to adventure, but something about the rite of passage and awakening taken by Kay and Gerda as they traversed through the perils of myth and life, have been a touchstone that resounds again and again.
With the ice and the snow comes peril. Hearts are hardened, if even by magic, and the journey to redeem the truth and the love and the rebirth of spring is not for the faint of heart. But there is beauty and unimaginable moments of joy and redemption along the path. And it is worth it.
The story is the warrior’s quest undertaken by a girl. Not Odysseus, not the Grail Knight, not Arthur – but Gerda. And along the way during the perilous winter, she is befriended by the Wise Woman, and the Prince and Princess of Unity, and the Prophetic Crow, and the Robber Girl who gave her courage, and the two Women of Power – until finally she finds her own inner self – and then it was “summer – warm, beautiful summer”.
To recap – the story begins with a parallel world coincidence. A hobgoblin in some other dimension, delights in a magic mirror which distorts and makes ugly all that is illuminated within. Yet the demons which fly upward to mock the angels in heaven with their invention, fly too high and lose their grip and the vile contrivance falls to earth to be shattered into a million pieces, some so small that they pierce the very heart and eyes of the unsuspecting humans. Down below, in a town in Scandanavia, live two playmates – Kay and Gerda – who suffer the consequences when Kay is struck in the heart and the eye and is subsequently whisked away in the Snow Queen’s sleigh to her palace in the ice and snow. Gerda then, sets out on a journey to find and reclaim her chum.
I’ll be looking for my wise men and women on this coming sojourn, knowing it will not be for the faint of heart, and it just might be the ride of a life as well as a rite of passage.