One Hundred and One Legends of Flowers
by Elizabeth Todd Nash
The Christopher Publishing House, Boston, USA 1927
I chose this story to remind us that the cold winter is only a season and that season will end. Soon we will be enjoying a beautiful Spring.
There was an old Indian chief who lived all alone in the Northland. He was very, very old, could hunt no more. He was bent over and his hair was as white as snow and hung like long icicles almost to his shoulders, but his eyes were still bright and glowed, and his voice strong, almost a roar. As he was alone in his hut – a beautiful Indian maiden appeared – her eyes were large and soft, her hair jet black, very long and heavy, in it she wore a wreath of pink blossoms.
Her dress was of sweet grasses. She carried a bunch of pussy willows in her arms, her moccasins were made of flowers and the air became soft and fragrant. The cold wind which had been roaring about the hut went off into the forest. The old chief said “Who are you and whence came you?” She answered “I am the Spring Monitiou and I come from far away in the Southland where the flowers bloom all the time, where the skies are blue, the grass green and the birds and butterflies know no winter, the air is always soft and sweet. I like not your cold weather.” “I am the Winter Monitiou,” the old man said. “I love the Northland, the diamond icicles, the frozen torrents, the soft white snow, the great silence, unless I speak.” “But you have had your reign, you are old, you must rest while I rule in your place” the maiden said.
“No-No-o-o-o No-oo-oo-No” roared the old man. “I will not go. I rule this Northland, with my breath I chill rivers and streams so they lie still. The trees sleep.”
“But when I blow gently” the maiden replied, “the water runs, the trees and flowers wake up.”
“I have the power to shake my white locks and the earth becomes hard as a rock and snow covers the land, and all green things die.”
“When I shake my black locks,” the maiden laughingly said, “the raindrops glisten, the earth becomes soft, the seeds stir, then the sunlight comes and warms the flowers as they waken, the birds and flowers sing “spring is here – Spring is here.” As she murmured the refrain softly the old chief Winter became more and more drowsy, his head drooped upon his breast, his strength failed, he could no longer send out his icy breath. He began to grow smaller and smaller as the sun became warmer and warmer, the snow melted from around the hut and the pine trees. Finally his white hair turned into water and he sank upon the ground. His robe turned into leaves and covered him.
The maiden turned to say “Farewell” but he was gone, then she took the flowers from her hair and laid them upon the ground under the green leaves and said “These flowers I will leave to tell the earth children that Father Winter has gone and Spring has come.”