Archive for the 'Riverbank Flowers' Category

Riverbank Flowers

March 10th, 2010

I remember being on the bank of the river when she came along. She was so cute… blonde, petite, so very, very shy. She held a few wild flowers in one hand, and with the other fanned aside the grass looking for the rare glimpses of beauty that you can only find when and where you least expect them.

She looked up, a bit startled that someone else was there, and turned as if to walk away, then stopped, and slowly, with a small smile decided to find out why I was there… She walked down to the river’s edge and looked at herself in the water then over at me… I gave a small smile, did not say a word, and waited. I could almost hear the conversation going on in her head, and that caused me a chuckle that I kept inside. I just looked back out onto the river and watched the calm solid flow go by. I did not want to intrude on her walk, or her thoughts, or her life, although it would have been nice to meet her..

I heard a light sound in her direction and even though I did not want to look around (I was afraid to look disappointed if she was walking away and looked back), I just glanced over as quickly as I could and saw her walking slowly but resolutely in my direction. It was easy to turn my glance into a smile, turn my smile into a greeting, and, standing, turn my greeting into a welcome. She held out one of her flowers to me, a silent introduction that was so appealing it was irresistible. She said her name, and it resonated in my soul (still does to this day). I answered with a small “follow me” gesture and showed her, just up the bank a small group of raspberries that were sweet and ripe, warm from the afternoon sun. The cute laugh she gave upon seeing these was a wonderful reward for a chance find earlier in the day… I gathered up 10-15 of the berries and handed then to her with the words “I wish they were rubies”.

She smiled and curtseyed and accepted them as if they were the crown jewels of a small country. She lay the flowers down on the bank and one by one popped the raspberries into her mouth. When she was finished, we both scoured the bushes for the wonderful taste each of those beautiful fruits gave to the afternoon. We were like children on an Easter egg hunt. Each find was a sweet bond that we built in a few minutes, an amazing stroke of luck, and an introduction arranged by the gods.

We went back to the river bank and talked, and talked, and explored the world in a dream, and the dreams in the world. It was beauty in a moment, and time, like the river, flowed by so softly, so surely. As the warmth of the afternoon turned to the cool of the evening we stood up, and each in their separate direction turned to leave. I watched as she walked away, then in a flurry, like a swift breeze, turned, ran back, gave a little kiss to my cheek, and ran away with a laugh that rode on the wind for what it seemed were hours, but I knew were just seconds…

I stayed on the river bank until the sun went completely down, hoping to capture the magic, and the warmth, and the beauty of the day. When it at last turned to night, I walked back to my car with dreams of raspberries and rubies and a kiss on the cheek.

Riverbank Flowers Redux

March 10th, 2010

When I wrote Riverbank Flowers and sent it to the lady, I was pleased by the romantic quality of the meeting. The lady in question however was struck not so much by the meeting as the parting and found the story sad… I had not seen this angle, and, going home that evening, wrote the continuation…….

Sometimes time doing nothing is a friend, sometimes time doing nothing is an enemy, sometimes time doing nothing is just a week of wasted time.

I had not stopped thinking of the raspberries, the rubies or the girl since she had left me on the riverbank. I had her first name, but no way to get in touch with her, and I sat, feeling a bit sorry for myself, until I realized that a week of wasted time was just too much if I really wanted to recapture the magic. I thought over our conversations, and one thing I did remember, was that she had said that one of her greatest pleasures was a Saturday morning coffee at a small Italian patisserie on the Rue St Elzéar. I spent Tuesday night driving up and down the Rue St. Elzéar, and had never realized that there were so many patisseries there. I did narrow it down to two, a Café Antonio, and a Gout de Milano, both of which sounded vaguely Italian. The first, however did not look like the style of restaurant that she would “love”, and so, at 6:30 the next Saturday morning, I positioned my self, with three newspapers and slim hopes at the second, ordered myself a café, and sat down to wait.

I was on my second paper and my third café when I felt a soft hand on my shoulder, and a quiet laughing voice beside my ear saying, “Took you long enough to get here”. I smiled and turned.

I was happy that she was here, proud that I had figured out the patisserie on the first try, angry at myself that I had wasted a whole week doing it, and sad that I had missed in our conversation what she considered an open invitation and a very broad hint. Even these feelings could not erase the smile from my face, or the renewed sense of magic that had just walked in. I asked her if she would join me for a coffee, and promptly ordered one for her and a large milk for me. I thought that four coffees in a morning would be a touch too much.

This time I got her name, address, phone number, where she worked and wanted to know so much more, but there is only so much you can ask in the first 30 seconds. I was quite sure that I did not want this magic to escape a second time. I gently lifted one of the newspapers and there appeared as if by the connivance of a magician two roses. I handed one to her and kept the second. I could not be sure, but I believe that the smile covered a small blush and brought back to her the flowers, and the memories, and the feelings of the riverbank. I told her that I had not imagined her without flowers in her hand, and had to return the favour of the beautiful gift of our first meeting.

The conversation spread to the news items in the newspapers which covered the table in front of me, and once again I was entranced by the sound of her voice, the feel of her hand (as every once in a while she would reach out and touch my arm, just to make a point), and the cute way she sipped her coffee, and talked, and got excited about things, and, and, and. There is only so much happiness that the human soul can contain, and it felt so good to feel my heart growing in an effort to hold all the joy that this moment was giving me. Somewhere in the morning I remember the soft touch of her knee against mine. For what seemed like the longest time, I did not dare to move. I had half a feeling that she was of exactly the same mind. We talked and smiled and acted as if nothing was different, yet there was an electricity from that simple connection, an energy that built in such a subtle fashion that it was barely recognizable, yet became utterly irresistible. Only when the waiter came with a refill for the coffee was the spell broken, the touch released, and the electricity gone but never forgotten.

I sat back, calmly listening and talking, when all I really wanted to do was stand up and yell at the world that they could not understand true magic until they had sat and talked with this girl, this person, this woman, this…. and it hit me that there are times when you almost have to make up new words for the thoughts and emotions that are contained in wonderful situations. I often think that these situations go by us unnoticed at the time at which they happen, but I was noticing everything, my mind working overtime to store away these memories like a great treasure to be brought our and admired at some future date.

We went through all three papers, a musical critique of almost every song that played on the radio in the café, the sea, the sky, and just as we were beginning to get started knowing each other, it was time for her to leave again.

This was not the mysterious disappearance of the riverbank, but an orderly ritual of courtship, played out by millions over and over again, and yet each time fresh, each time exciting, rarely sorrowful, often just a preview of the joy of seeing each other one more time in the future.

I paid and asked her if I could walk her to her bus. She smiled, and agreed, and as we walked out onto the street, I felt a small, soft hand reach out and gently hold mine.

Riverbank Flowers Remembered

March 10th, 2010

After a few requests for more on this couple, I decided I had to write a fitting end, for, as much as I liked the idea, the meeting had been the plan and the second part a blossoming. I needed a point from which I could write more if necessary, but which would allow me to leave the story as it was, an encapusulation…


It had been a year, although at times it seems like just a moment, at times an eternity. I saw the anniversary as a celebration of happiness, and on an excuse, I am sad to say I cannot remember now, we drove out to the country on that early Sunday morning. I took a route that was quite a bit longer than necessary, and pretended to be quite lost in search of our announced destination (for which she teased me very lightly, but did not scold, did not lecture… and therein lay one of he many reasons I loved her).

I pulled up at a gas station which I knew would be closed, as it is where I had parked a year earlier, and having gotten out and looked around, came back quite forlorn with the news that there was no one here to help us find our way. I suggested that we take a break, just to avoid getting frustrated, and mentionned that I had see a nice path in back of the Garage.

She had always loved walking in nature, and as she had on casual clothing, she agreed readily. We started down the path, and rounding a turn I heard a very soft “oh my…” behind me as she recognised the river, and the bank and the raspberry bushes. She stopped…. and a very soft, beautiful look came over her face. I could have sworn there was a small tear in her eye (although she always denied it after that day).

“I thought you had forgotten.”

I told her that I remembered every time I saw her come around a corner. I remembered each time I looked up and saw her near me. I remembered in countless dreams, and unnumbered happy thoughts.

I reached down into the raspberries and pulled up a small cooler I had hidden the day before, unfolded the cloth to lay on the ground, and set two small flutes on the grass beside us. She sat down, silent and happy, and watched as I poured a little bit of champagne into the two glasses from a half bottle still cool from the ice that had surrounded it.

I reached down once again and came up with a small box which I presented to her as if they were the crown jewels. As she opened it up, a small delicate chain with three small rubies slithered from the box. I picked it up, presented it to her and said “I wish they were raspberries”.

This was not a very expensive gift, as I am not (yet.. she will always add) a rich man, but she looked at these three stones as if they were the world`s greatest treasure, and then looked at me as if I were. I have never had a better “Thank You”. I could never wish for one.

I don`t remember us saying much that afternoon, as we lay back on that riverbank and watched the river flow by, marking the minutes, hours, and the year that had passed. This time we walked back up the path together, her soft hand in mine, her head leaning lightly, softly, gently against my shoulder, and once on that path, she reached up and gave me a light, sweet kiss on the cheek.