OF RAINBOWS, AND POTS OF GOLD.
It was a very soggy day. There could be no denying it – today was a really horrible day! Rocking backwards and forwards in her little green rocking chair, Willow gazed wistfully out of the window, staring into the dark sky. It was a sky filled with unrelenting rain.
All that week, coming home from school had been something of an adventure. Disembarking from their bus, Willow and her friends had chased each other home along country lanes, splashing each other by stamping in puddles of water all the way! Arriving home, muddy and wet, Willow had rushed upstairs as fast as she could, wrapped herself in her dressing gown, and sat in her rocking chair, watching the rain stream down her window pane, willing for it to stop. She had done this all week, just as she was doing now.
Today, not only was it raining, but it was very quiet in the house. Willow had already knocked on the door of her room, to no avail. She hated it when it was like that. It was so quiet – it was though no one were there at all. But she was there. There, but not willing to communicate. Willow knew that the whole day would pass without sight nor sound of her. Willow, knowing that this is how today would be, felt herself become increasingly restless.
“Rise above it, dear! It’s only weather! We need a little weather every now and again!”
Closing her eyes, Willow could hear Jay’s encouraging words. Rise above it! It was only the weather after all. Without the rain, how would the grass be green, how would the flowers grow. The earth needed water just as we do, thought Willow.
Slipping off the rocking chair, Willow ran to her cupboard and pulled out her favorite, brightest yellow Wellington Boots. Zipping up her hoody, Willow climbed into her big, clear, plastic raincoat, pulled it snugly over everything else she was wearing, and tied the belt tightly, several times around her waist. Finally, lifting the plastic hood over her purple hoody below, Willow was ready to leave the house.
“I’m going out!” Willow called to the closed door, and to whatever was going on behind it.
“You’ll get wet.”
“I’ll be fine!”
I’ll get wet, she says! Running down the stairs, Willow wondered at the purpose in stating something so obvious. Well, that was her, thought Willow. Her mother had a habit of stating the very obvious, as though it were of any importance.
Water splashed against Willow’s cheeks, and she closed her eyes against the driving rain. This was not going to be as much fun as she had thought it might be. Avoiding pools of water, Willow stepped carefully down the driveway and out towards the trees.
Goodness, it all looked so dark! The woodland surrounding the meadow, usually alight with multi coloured greens of various deciduous and evergreen trees, was now so dark it seemed almost black! Common Beech and Alder trees sagged with the weight of the water they held in their branches, and, even the grandest of the toughest old Hornbeams appeared to lean away from the insistence of this rain. On arriving at the Oak Tree, Willow found that today, patterns on the doorknob swirled, not with clouds, but with waves, above which no sun could be seen. Deepest, darkest, jade-green, the doorknob looked very beautiful, but Willow drew no comfort from it today.
“It’s dreadful out there, Jay!” Willow complained. “Really, it’s horrible! I don’t know when this rain will ever stop!”
Looking up from her book, Jay smiled at Willow who, standing in the doorway, was dripping water from her raincoat onto the floor.
“It will stop when it’s good and ready. Try not to let it bother you so, Willow. It’s only rain.”
Willow paused. She wasn’t entirely sure why it bothered her so, but it did. Willow gazed across the room at Jay. I should take my raincoat off, she thought. But instead, she stood there – motionless -watching Jay. Colourful, in her soft, coral pink jumper, Jay lifted a hand, pushing a stray strand of silver back into the wooden clasp that held her hair in place. A slim band of gold shone on Jay’s finger. Willow had once asked her where the ring had come from. Jay had simply replied that it had come to her when most she had needed it. Jay was like that. Her answer’s to most questions very often only led to further questions.
“Would you like me to read to you? It’s a very serious book indeed, but I would be more than willing to share some of it with you, if you like.”
“No thanks, Jay. I think I’m going to the meadow now. I want to see that everything is as it should be there.”
“I’m sure all will be as it should be, Willow. By all means, do go, and have a lovely time. It’s still quite early after all. I don’t think it will rain all day.”
Willow didn’t move.
“Willow, are you alright? You don’t look quite yourself today.”
Now to tell the truth, Willow didn’t feel quite herself. Usually alight with energy, full of laughter, always playful, today, Willow felt dark, like the trees around the meadow. Today, she felt the weight of the rain seeping n through her raincoat, and with that, she felt a heaviness in her whole body. Unable to explain it, now painfully aware of the pool of water she was making on Jay’s floor, Willow turned to go.
“I’m fine, Jay. I will see you later on my way home.”
“Rise above it, dear. Try not to let the rain get under your skin.”
Heading out through the break in the trees, Willow felt branches drag across her hands in a way she hadn’t felt them do before. Was she ill, she wondered. No, Willow knew she wasn’t ill. This was different. This was altogether something else.
Where was the fountain? Well, while there was no fountain today, she was not that surprised. Willow couldn’t always see the fountain. In fact, feeling the way she did today, Willow would have been surprised had it been there at all. In fact, mused Willow, perhaps it didn’t really exist after all.
Still on the edge of the meadow, Willow found herself a fairly well sheltered boulder situated beneath a large, very gnarled, old Hornbeam tree. Sitting down, Willow stared out across the meadow, allowing her thoughts to fall, like the rain. Not even sure of what she was thinking exactly, unable to define her sentiments, dissatisfied with any thought onto which she might grasp, Willow allowed her mind to wander, and began to imagine strange things.
First of all, she imagined her raincoat sitting there on this very boulder, but without her in it. How funny it looked…a clear piece of plastic, sitting there outlining her shape, but empty. There on the ground in front of it, stood a pair of bright yellow boots! Empty, and filling up with rain!
Where am I, she wondered. Where have I gone?
Willow felt herself drifting, out across the meadow towards the stream. Full, and appearing more like a river than stream, water flowed swiftly over boulders and small rocks, alive with raindrops that danced across it’s surface. Suddenly, a bright green fish shop up into the air, turned a somersault, dropped back down under the water and disappeared!!
“Rise above it, Willow!”
Did the fish say that?? No, fish don’t talk! Fish don’t jump up out of streams, shouting messages to you! What is happening to me, wondered Willow!
Glancing back towards her boulder, Willow saw that the empty raincoat and yellow boots remained just where she had left them.
“Rise above it, Willow!”
What was that?? Turning her gaze back towards the stream, Willow saw a bird there, staring right back at her. Buffeted by the rain, and clinging to strands of weeds lining the banks of the stream, the bird appeared to be repeating itself!
“Rise above it, Willow!” it called. Then, ruffling it grey and black feathers, the bird rose into the sky, flashing a bright yellow belly, and puffing its white cheeks as it flew off into the rain!
This is too much, thought Willow. Now I am hearing things! Everything is dark, everything feels strange! Everything IS strange! It’s a jolly good thing the fountain isn’t here, she thought. I might dive into it, and hope never to come back!
Aware of how silly she sounded, yet quite unable to smile at herself, Willow drifted back to join her raincoat on the boulder. Squishing her feet into wet boots, she wondered at the audacity of those bright, yellow boots!! How dare they be so bright, so cheerful, she wondered, when I feel so dull, so dark, so listless, and so…so grey
Even in her current state of mind, Willow was curious about how she felt, and why this might be. You might well wonder too, dear reader, should you find yourself feeling the way Willow felt this day. Do I really have lead flowing through my veins, she wondered. Am I really so heavy? Perhaps this rain has truly melted my brain. Feeling as soggy as the day itself, Willow found herself wanting to shout at the sky! I never feel this way! Why do I feel this way today?
“You are only a child! You know nothing of life. DO grow up child! It is extremely irritating now, but perhaps…perhaps one day when you are grown up, we might have something to say to each other.”
I’m allowed to be a child, thought Willow. Jay never says things like that to me!
Hearing that voice in her mind, had made Willow feel very cross indeed. I think I hate her, she decided.
As the sun climbed higher into the sky, so Willow’s thoughts fell deeper and deeper into the ground below her. Oh, have pity on her, reader. This is not a nice way to feel at all. Nothing made sense, nothing was comfortable, even her skin didn’t feel right: it didn’t seem to fit her properly somehow. How do I rise above this feeling, wondered Willow, gazing up into the sky and rather wishing that the talking bird might return.
“It’s no good at all, thinking and feeling like this, Willow. Really, you must try to rise above it!”
Turning to see if Jay were behind her, Willow saw that a large, brown dog had wandered into the meadow. Sitting behind her, it appeared to Willow as though the dog were speaking to her! Dogs don’t speak either, thought Willow. But, not really caring anymore, Willow resigned herself to the total improbability of talking creatures. Rather glad of the company, Willow patted the boulder, calling this dog to her side.
Placing it’s head in her lap, the dog sat quietly for a while until, finally, it continued. “We all have bad days, Willow. Just remember, the sun is still there – just behind the clouds! Look!”
Willow looked again at the sky! It was true!! Just there, peeping out from behind the clouds, bright, silvery rays of light could now be seen. The dark grey clouds were moving away into the distance, taking with them, the rain! Jumping to her feet, Willow raced towards the middle of the meadow, and, throwing her head back, stood there, staring up into the sky. The dog wandered off down to the stream, stopping there to stare intently into the water. Perhaps it was speaking to a fish, thought Willow, laughing for the first time in a few days. On hearing sounds in the trees, Willow looked up into the branches and saw that the very bird who had spoken to her earlier was there, chatting away to other birds amongst the raindrops that glistened on the leaves, and lined the branches of the tree.
Slowly, emerging trough the misty sky across the meadow, broad bands of colour began to appear as if by magic. Reds, pinks, oranges, yellows, purples, greens and blues began to merge, soften and form themselves into a bright, distinctive arc across the sky. The sun was out now, and a rainbow shone in a tall, wide band of multi-coloured light!
Wait!! Suddenly, Willow could see the fountain now, sparkling in reflected light from the rainbow, throwing off a multitude of little rainbows of its own! Willow couldn’t remember when last she had seen the fountain looking so pretty! Why hadn’t I seen it before, she wondered. Where did it spring from? These were questions Willow had often pondered, but, above all, Willow was simply happy to be seeing the fountain now.
The entire meadow glistened in the sunshine. Following the rain, everything appeared fresher, brighter and lighter than before. Held within the arc of such a beautiful rainbow, the meadow was adorned with a multitude of smaller rainbows, dancing in the fountain and bouncing off the stream. The meadow shone with blades of grass and leaves, alight with golden raindrops, twinkling in the sunshine.
What was it Willow had heard about rainbow? Oh yes, she had heard that if you were fast enough to reach the foot of a rainbow before it vanished, you might well be lucky enough to find a pot of gold there. Already feelings so much better, Willow decided that she had to try!
Walking swiftly towards the colourful bow, Willow swiftly realised this was not going to be possible. The rainbow appeared to be just as she had been feeling: there, but not there. Visible, but not tangible, the rainbow remained constantly, teasingly, just out of Willow’s reach! Was it merely an illusion, she wondered. A tick of light, perhaps. Were WE merely an illusion, merely a trick in some great mind, she wondered. Pausing to reflect further on all this, Willow began to trace the arc of the rainbow from it’s beginning to it’s destination in her mind.
Then she saw it!! From where she was standing, it seemed to Willow that the rainbow arched over the meadow, and landed somewhere in the woodland beyond. Could it possibly be that this rainbow ended directly at the foot of the Oak Tree?!
Turning from the meadow, Willow raced back out through the gap in the trees, heading for the Oak Tree, and Jay. On reaching her door, Willow gasped!! Not only had the rainbow seem to have ended here, it appeared to have ended in the doorknob itself!! Ablaze with all the colours of the rainbow, the doorknob glistened and gleamed in the sunlight! Of course, she thought! THIS is my pot of gold at the end of the rainbow! This has always been my pot of gold! Right here! I just hadn’t seen it quite this way before!
Almost afraid to touch it, Willow lightly placed her hand on the rainbow, and turned the doorknob carefully and almost reverently, as though attempting not to disturb it.
On entering the room, Willow was met with a cheerful smile from Jay, and an offer of a nice cup of tea! She could even have sugar, if she so wished, Jay told her, because today was just that sort of day! There were certain days on which one was almost duty bound to just relax and do some things one normally wouldn’t do! Sweet tea, perhaps even a biscuit, might just be a couple of those very things, said Jay.
Jay walked into the kitchen, filled her small copper kettle, and placed it onto the stove. “Oh, and Willow, be a dear and do take a look into the empty flowerpot on my bookshelf. There is something in there I would very much like you to have.” Jay called.
Willow walked across to the shelf above Jay’s small desk, and reached up for the little blue flowerpot Jay always had there. Sitting on the edge of Jay’s round bed, Willow slipped her hand carefully into the flowerpot. Immediately feeling someting round, and smooth and cool beneath her fingertips, Willow withdrew gold from the pot!
“Yes, Willow, my ring. I know you find it very pretty. I have no further use for it at all, and, if you would care to, I would very much like you to have it.”
“Oh, I love your ring, Jay! Thank you, Thank you!” Willow jumped up from the bed and rushed over to Jay to thank her with a hug. Not being a lady of demonstrative sentiment, Jay warned Willow to be wary of the kettle, and gently advised her to step back from the stove.
“It will be far too big for you now, of course. Perhaps you might keep it somewhere safe in the meantime.” Jay turned her attention to making the tea.
“I shall wear it on my chain, Jay. Until it fits my hand, I shall wear it around my neck – today, and every single day!” declared Willow, immediately securing the ring to the pretty, gold chain she always wore.
“That’s a good idea, Willow. Perhaps you don’t need to wear it every single day though. Why not keep it somewhere safe?”
Willow nodded, but she was still fairly confident she would wear the ring at all times.
“Save it for a rainy day, Willow.” It was as though Jay had read Willow’s thoughts. ” A rainy day, just as today has been. It might cheer you up a bit!”
Willow was sure it would.
Having spoken to Jay of all she had been feeling that day, of talking fish, of talking birds and of talking dogs, Willow told Jay of how the rainbow had ended up in the doorknob on the door to her very own house. Jay didn’t look at all surprised.
“How is it possible, Jay? What is your doorknob, really?”
“It’s just a doorknob, dear.” Jay replied.
Willow knew she would receive not further answer than this. One day, one day I shall get a full answer to my question about the doorknob. Today is not that day.
Too soon, it was time to go. Having thanked Jay again for the ring, on leaving the Oak Tree, Willow opened the door to find the large, brown dog sitting on the doorstep, watching her as she stepped out into the late afternoon.
“Where did you come from, dog?”
“I’ve always been here!” replied the dog. “You just haven’t seen me before.”
Willow thought about how often this was happening in her life at the moment. On the darkest day, if she opened her eyes, she would be able to see the sun behind the clouds. If she looked deeply into misty, grey skies, she might see a rainbow. Not least of all, if she truly looked hard, she would always see the fountain in the meadow.
“I’ve found gold, in a pot, here, at the end of the rainbow, dog!”
“Of course you did, Willow. There is always gold in a pot, at the end of a rainbow. You just have to see the rainbow.
The Oak Tree will always be where my rainbow ends, thought Willow.
Clutching Jay’s ring tightly in her hand, with one last glance back, Willow saw that the rainbow was slowly fading from the surface of the doorknob.
Willow reflected on the rainbow in the doorknob, on the wonderful cup of tea and delicious biscuit she had enjoyed so much, on the white rug at the foot of Jay’s bed, on the golden ring she held in her hand, and most of all, Willow thought of Jay.
“The gold you find at the end of a rainbow comes in many different forms, dog.”
Deeply lost in thought, Willow turned away from the Oak Tree, and made her way slowly back home.