The Winter Child

            When rain drops turn to snow, and the wind begins to grow cold and soft, that is when the magic comes.  Always in a different form, though never the same magic twice, it is magic all the same.  And it has a mind of its own.
            On a day of such snow, not long ago, there lived a woman who was neither very young nor very old.  Nor was she dissatisfied with life.  Her house was small, just enough for her to make a home for herself.  There was no need for her to roam the world, for she had already done so—and when one city began to look like the next, and none looked like home, she knew to put such travels aside.  She had no desire for riches, for she had seen the trials gold brings to those under its burden, and knew she was free without it.  And of company, she could think of little more to desire when the North Wind and the Fairy Queen, the birds and the woodland creatures were her companions.  Thus, was she content.
            But the snow had other plans for her.  One night, when the first soft whiteness came, it left behind a form.
            When the woman looked out her window that evening and saw what the snow had left, her head tipped to one side and considered.  A resolution gripped her, and she went to gather what she needed.  A scarf and mittens, a warm woolen hat, a coat with ermine trim, fur lined boots: all were needed, and were readily applied to the snow form that looked so much like a frozen child.  When she had finished her task, she took a step back and nodded, satisfied with an evening’s work, and went to bed.
            But that was not all the snow had planned.
            When the woman awoke the next morning, her handiwork had disappeared.  But she did not have time to think where it had gone, for among the trees came the sound of laughter and stepping through pine needles and trunks toward her came a child—living, breathing, and wearing a scarf and mittens, a hat, an ermine trimmed coat, and fur lined boots.
            A smile broke over the woman’s face, and she stretched out her hand.  The child took it willingly, and that was the beginning of a winter of great fun.  Never had the woman laughed so hard, never had she played so long, and never a thought did she have of the coming Spring.
            But snow does not last all the year long, nor do little children made of snow.  And as the winter melted away, so too did the woman’s little friend.
            Overcome with sorrow, the woman took to her bed, her face turned away from the window and any sign of Spring.  But there came a day when a gentle breeze turned her head toward the window.  The blossoms of a nearby plum tree shown pink—the pink of the child’s cheeks.  And the boughs carried with them a hint of brown leaves, just the color of the child’s skin.
            The woman rose from her bed, a sudden change coming over her, as though her burden grew light.  For it dawned on her that though she had loved and lost, she might never have loved at all.  And though memories of having loved carried a bitter weight, that they were there at all was a sweetness that made them all the lighter.

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